I was busy on Wednesday and couldn’t make the White Acres mid week match, by Sunday I was chomping at
Fossdyke Canal Secrets with Ian Snowden
The Fossdyke canal winds it way through Lincolnshire to connect the River Trent to the River Witham and has over the years offered excellent fishing even when those neighbouring rivers are un-fishable. Packed with roach, skimmers, bream, huge perch to close to five pounds, a 4lb 11oz perch has been weighed in a match, pike and a few tench it offers interesting and varied sport to both match and pleasure anglers. With league and open matches run on the cut all through the year it is becoming an increasingly popular venue for both Midland and Northern anglers looking for fair consistent canal fishing and one such is Lincoln Whisby AS star, Ian Snowden, who has built a formidable reputation on the canal with a number of victories as well as consistently high section points in the team matches.
We joined him behind the Bridge Inn on the popular Saxilby length of the canal for an insight into his approach to getting the most out of
“The canal has changed in the last year or two with big fish figuring more and more in both individual and section results. Before last winter I could concentrate solely on the canals head of small roach and skimmers knowing I could beat the odd lump that might be caught but last winter anglers were regularly catching two and sometimes three big fish meaning my small fish approach alone wasn’t winning as much as I wanted it to. I had to change my approach and look to target those big fish as well.”
“However having said that my main approach to the canal is still based on building a weight of the silvers targeting the bottom of both the near and far shelves where the majority of the roach and skimmers tend to be in the colder months. I’m going to feed ground bait with squatts, pinkies and a bit of hemp today but bread punch and hemp also work well sometimes as does a bloodworm and joker attack.”
“For the bonus fish, which are mostly big perch in the winter, and when I say big I mean it with 2 and 3lb fish not uncommon and 4lb plus fish having been weighed, you need to get up the shelf on both the near and far bank with chopped worm and caster obviously the favoured bait. The really big fish tend to show later in the winter and there is nothing to beat lobworms for them but this early in the year fish to 12oz or a pound are the main targets and ordinary dendrabenas are good enough.”
“Getting the balance between going for the bits and fishing for the lumps is the tricky bit. To build a good weight of the small silvers it is vital to be putting fish in the net all the time and with the weights often being very close, with a few ounces often being the difference between good and average points, too much time spent waiting for a lump can prove very costly. The key is to feed and fish your perch lines in a way that leads to an instant response if there are any in the peg and if an indication doesn’t come within a couple of minutes get back onto the bits and try again later. Obviously once you have got one you have bought yourself some leeway to spend a bit more time looking for more but until you get one those bits have to be your main priority.”
“I would typically set 4 rigs up for a match on the canal. Two rigs for the silvers and two rigs for worm fishing on the near and far bank. For my silver fish rigs I set up a 0.5g Preston Classic 6 float with a bulk about 15 inches from the hook and a couple of number 10 droppers and a 0.4g Sensas Desque wire bristled float with a strung out shotting pattern. I fish 0.08 line direct to a size 22 Kamasan B511 hook on the bulk rig but use a 24 to a 0.06 hook length on the strung out rig and use a soft set number 3 elastic for both. I aim to start and catch for as long as possible on the more positive bulk down rig but often find I can catch better on the strung out rig especially after the first hour or so when the fish become a bit more wary.”
“I use both rigs for both the bottom of the near and far shelves so plumb carefully to find areas of almost the same depth, I could find exactly the same depth if I bothered to mark the pole butt but to be honest when speed fishing I prefer to fish to a full section so settle for having to move the float a few inches when I change line.”
“Because I want my perch fishing to be as quick as possible I set a worm rig up for both my near and far bank lines rather than mess about changing depths. Also the far bank line tends to produce the bigger fish so I tend to fish a stronger elastic, line and hook on that rig especially later in the year when the really big perch show up more often. I use 4×12 Daiwa TD6 floats shotted with a simple bulk and 2 droppers pattern for both rigs with 0.13 line to an 18 B611 hook for the near bank and a 0.15 to a 16 hook for the far bank.”
“I sometimes set up a fifth rig for fish caster or maggot over my far bank chopped worm line with a lighter line and elastic and a smaller hook but I’m not going to bother today.”
Bait and feeding
“Squatts, pinkies and a little bit of hemp with ground bait are my main baits for the silver fish lines and chopped worm and casters a must for the perch lines. I’ve also brought some red maggots to try on the hook just in case. Half a pint of each is more than enough for a match here and my normal approach for the silvers would be to feed 2 balls at the bottom of the near shelf, three at the bottom of the far shelf, using my pole cup for accuracy, and loose feed on a little and often basis over both lines. One of the biggest problems on the canal in the early winter is with really tiny fish (60 or 70 to the pound rather than the 25 to 30 to the pound target fish) which make building a decent weight almost impossible if you get them into your peg so you have to be very careful with the amount of ground bait you put in. Topping up with ground bait seems to bring them in from everywhere so is a last resort tactic, loose feeding is the most consistent method of feeding after the initial few balls of feed.”
“For my perch lines I simply feed a cup full of choppy, casters and a few red maggots onto each line at the start. In my mind the key to not wasting too much searching for big fish is choosing the right time to go onto the lines. You need to wait long enough for the fish to find the feed and settle on it but not too long or they might clear it up and go. For me 40 to 45 minutes is right and if
there are fish there I’d expect to catch one within seconds if not it’s back to the silvers.”
After plumbing up and finding the bottom of the shelves at 6 and 12.5m and choosing two dying weed beds for his near and far bank perch lines Ian starts the session by feeding all his lines with his pole cup. He starts on his bulk down rig at 6m and within seconds is lifting into his first small roach of the day on a single fluoro pinkie. The second is not far behind and a small skimmer makes it three in three put-ins and sets the trend for the first half an hour or so.
As the forty minute mark arrives Ian has some 35 fish in the net for about a pound and a half and is happy with the way things are going. “Before last winter I would have simply carried on catching knowing that over the five hours I could catch enough of these to compete but as I said earlier you do need to look for bonus fish now and now is the time to start having a look. I’ve fed both the near and far banks with worm and would expect the far bank one to be the best in the long run but I’ll start on the close in line to see what’s there.”
Almost before the worm has settled a bobble on the bristle shows there are some perch in buy generic viagra online the swim. Ian leaves it and waits until the float goes under and stays under, he fishes with a thick bristle so that it is visible under the water and he can see what’s going on so he can time his strike right, before striking firmly to set the hook into the bony mouth of the perch. Although not one of the monsters the canal is renowned for at 6oz it is a real bonus compared to the small silvers he was catching earlier. A further 10 in the next 20 minutes adds a very quick 2 ½ lb to his net and really shows how important the perch now are on the Fossdyke.
Interestingly Ian plunders the line until no more indications are forthcoming saying “I’ve tried coming off it and re-feeding it while there are still fish there in the hope that I’ll catch as well again the next time I go on it but it just doesn’t seem to work so now I take as much as I can from the line before re-feeding it and moving elsewhere.”
His 12.5m silver fish line proves to be quieter than he expected and after a couple of fish he leaves it alone and goes onto his far bank perch line at 16m and after the success he had close in is expecting bites straight away. Importantly he is loose feeding both his 6 and 12.5m lines regularly with a few squatts and pinkies. Worryingly his far bank line looks to be fishless but just as he’s about to leave it a small perch obliges persuading him to have another look. It is a full five minutes before the next bite and by the amount of elastic showing it is another small one. Ian quickly ships back only to find several metres of elastic still out when he comes to break his pole down. A pike of about 4lb is the culprit but it lets go of the perch before he gets it into netting range. On the next put in another pike intercepts Ian’s perch but this time he gets the 2lb fish into the net before it has a chance to bite him off. “That would explain why both the far bank lines are not producing as well as I was expecting!”
After re-feeding both his far bank lines Ian sets about fishing his normal match picking up fish steadily from all four of his lines, including a couple of bonus skimmers of a pound each, and despite being hit by another three pike, one of which he landed, goes on to put together a very impressive 15lb mixed bag, not including the pike which don’t count in the matches, saying “The pike have definitely slowed the silver fish sport down today which is often a problem when pleasure fishing on your own. In matches when everyone is feeding I think they spread out more but when you’re on your own they all seem to come to you. The perch have saved me today as I’ve probably had 8 or 9lb of them to go with my 6lb of silvers but in a match I certainly wouldn’t be complaining when the scales man arrived with this amount in the net.”
The Fossdyke Canal is run by the Witham Joint Anglers Federation and day tickets are available on the bank. Annual club books are available from local tackle shops. Parking by much of the canal can be a problem and Ian fished behind the Bridge Inn in Saxilby who allow parking in the pub car park for a £1.00 fee.
For more information about the regular matches on the cut contact Ted Burkes at Whisby Angling Supplies 07976 802306