When Coarse Angling Today magazine announced it would no longer be running as a publication I made a mental note not to allow the fact I no longer had magazine deadlines to meet to stop me from writing regularly. Prior to this I had been writing articles and blogs almost monthly for the best part of 4 years, maybe longer. Well 9 months has passed since that mental note was made and unfortunately my desire to put my angling into words has waned somewhat. It’s not been a conscious thing but when you have a busy life away from fishing the last thing I really wanted to be doing was sitting in front of a computer when I could be on the bank. With limited time available these days it made sense to fish rather than write when the opportunity arose.

All of my friends and those who know me from magazine articles and online blogs will know me as a river angler, predominantly targeting barbel and pike. Unfortunately for 3 months of the year we river anglers are still bound by an archaic rule which states we mustn’t fish running water. This means those of us that wish to carry on fishing must pursue a different avenue of our pastime. For me this means for a few months a year I choose to fish for carp. Most years I have a venue or two in mind for a spring campaign, which will satisfy my angling appetite until I can cast a line into running water. Well it’s safe to say my carping through 2016 has been nothing short of pants! I didn’t have a venue in mind, nothing planned and the extortionate cost of fishing carp day ticket waters meant that they were to be a one off as fishing them weekly would have seen me in serious trouble with her who must be obeyed!

I did have a very enjoyable few days at Linear Fisheries near Oxford in April with a friend. We fished the Hardwick side of Hardwick/Smiths and I managed a few nice carp to low twenties, however it seemed I missed the carp feeding frenzy by a few days as not long before my trip people were reporting catches of 20+ fish in a 2 day session. By the time I arrived the fish had spread out a bit so sport and bites were hard to come by. That said it was a new venue for me, I caught and enjoyed myself so can’t really ask much more than that.

Another venue I had a few sessions on was a local park lake. A good friend had some stunning carp from this venue a few years ago and while it was far from easy the fish were worth the effort, or so I thought. This particular venue is the opposite of everything I look for in my angling. There are strict on and off times which miss both dawn and dusk, it’s busy and being a public park there are always people about. For someone who is quite anti-social when it comes to fishing and likes his own company, this venue would test my patience. My very first session saw me hook into two carp, I lost one and landed a stunning low 20lb mirror carp. I was over the moon with this fish and I hoped it would be the start of a good spring. Well as the weather got warmer the park got busier with both visitors and anglers. Coupled with the fact you couldn’t get on there before 8am and had to be off at 5:30pm I decided it wasn’t going to be for me as it was the exact opposite of a venue I would usually choose and while I suspected this might be the case on my first visit at least I gave it a go.

So where did that leave me? Day ticket lakes were off the agenda, local club lakes had far too many rules, regulations and were too busy. However, there was one option left and why I hadn’t bothered with it before escapes me, the canals! Living in the West Midlands I have fished the canals on and off for 10 years, they are free fishing and for the most part, you can come and go as you please and they are stuffed full of carp if you look in the right place. A good friend has eel fished the Midlands canal networks for the best part of 20 years and caught some very good carp on baits intended for eels, so after a chat we arranged to meet on a stretch of canal that was new to me but Nick assured me that plenty of carp resided in this area. Over the next few weeks I visited several times a week. Not always fishing but looking for fish and baiting up. Quite frankly the amount of carp present was obscene and when it was warm there were fish everywhere! You couldn’t walk 30 yards along the tow path without seeing a carp cruising around or bubbling up whilst it fed. I was keen to get started so for over a month I fished an overnighter every Saturday plus a 7-11 evening session once a week. My first few sessions went well and I caught a decent amount of carp, no monsters but I did have a lovely brace of commons for over 30lbs, with both rods going off almost simultaneously. The fishing was consistent but the big fish didn’t put in an appearance and gradually over time and as the weather continued to improve the fish started to disperse to the point I was no longer seeing a single carp on my visits. With several miles between locks the fish could have been anywhere and I strongly suspect they had moved off to a new area in readiness to spawn.

I’d had a thoroughly enjoyable few weeks fishing the canal and come next spring I know exactly where to head to for my fishing fix. We are now almost 4 weeks into the river season and I am yet to get off the mark on running water. In all honesty the rivers in my area have started slowly and the catch reports are very patchy with lots blanking. With my fishing currently far from setting the world alight I’m hoping things will soon come together and next time I write I’ll have some tales of barbel and maybe a river carp or two.

Until then tight lines and thanks for reading…