Canal Roaching

As the nights start to draw out it frees up a little more time to enjoy the odd afternoon into evening session. Canal roach are my chosen target this year and I’ve been enjoying a few sessions after them with my mate Martin.


The canals I’ve been fishing are not your normal sized canals. Averaging around 25 yards wide and with depths of 10ft, there’s plenty of water to cover. The roach aren’t evenly spread too, which means a bit of local knowledge and watching the match results saves a lot of wasted effort.


The stocks of fish are pretty good. Some huge perch used to be present, and probably still are, but not in the numbers of a few years ago. Chub are also common and grow to well over 5lbs, along with the odd tench and carp. Plenty of eels and large numbers of bream in the 2 to 4lb range make up the majority of the stock, along with the shoals of roach. Most of the roach are small, but there are some good fish present, in fact I’ve seen 2 pound fish, and heard of a few more over that weight. I also know many good anglers who’ve caught fish to over 1.10, but sadly most of my good fish have been around a pound, or just over. There are also a few large roach bream hybrids which get your hopes up that you’re attached to a monster roach!


Tactics and tackle can vary. I like to fish with an ultra light rod and fine lines which makes the fishing very pleasurable. Some anglers use a pole, but I love the versatility of the running line, teamed with some small, sensitive Image floats, from the old days when canal fishing was popular. They come in two tip thicknesses, a fine tip called the squat model, and a slightly thicker tip for caster fishing.


Most of my fishing is done either in the middle of the canal or right under the rod tip. Sometimes you need to fish hard on the bottom, but some other times you catch them really shallow, it just depends on how many roach you get feeding and how they compete for the bait. More often than not I fish up in the water just to avoid the bream and eels which feed more as the light starts to fade.


Bait is nearly always casters. I’ve had some good catches on hemp, but sometimes it can be a little slow, or the bites unhittable. I’ve tried bread and fished it into darkness, but bream seem to love it and I’ve even caught them in the middle of winter. Maggots and worms don’t get used at all because of the eels. I know one angler who caught a 2lb+ roach on worms intended for perch, but that was in the winter.


Sadly I haven’t taken that many good photos because more often than not I’m packing away in the dark, trying not to leave anything behind. One year I will give the canals roach my full attention, just to see if I can catch that magic two pound fish. Having said that, roach of a pound or more are top specimens, especially from canals.