Canal Fishing Tips

Further Horizons

Although local rumour can often outstrip the reality with perch, it is my belief that virtually every canal in the country holds the odd two-pounder. A three-pounder is not out of the question, and would be the fish of a lifetime for most canal anglers.

My best fish, a specimen of 3lb 2oz, represents the pinnacle of quarter of a century fishing from the towpath and is a perch I am unlikely ever to better from my local Cut. It was taken on the fly, a less fashionable but utterly deadly way of catching perch where visibility is good. That is another story however. For a far more in-depth look at tricking perch on flies, my blog Flyfishing for Coarse Fish has a dedicated chapter on special flies and tactics for perch.

Canal Fishing Tips Photo Gallery

Tench love to hug cover such as lilies. A pole offers pinpoint presentation.


Another species that exists in surprising numbers throughout canal systems, the tench is a firm favourite with specialists and Sunday anglers alike. They represent a slice of classic British fishing and the inhabitants of our canals can be some of the finest-looking examples you’ll ever witness. These fish are a far cry from the pale creatures of commercial fisheries. With deep, velvet-smooth green sides, bright red eyes and broad fins, canal tench are beautiful to behold and tough to tangle with. They do especially well on weedy, clear waters with limited boat traffic, where they take on a delicious, dark-olive complexion.

If it is an enormous tench you seek, canals are perhaps not the obvious place. Typical shoal fish range from 2-3lb, while a 5-pounder should be regarded as an excellent catch. What they lack in weight they often more than make up for in numbers though, with catches of a dozen or more fish possible if you can pin down their whereabouts. To a pleasure angler this represents terrific sport; to a match contestant, the chance of a winning weight of fish. Either way, the angler who catches tench from the local Cut goes home feeling happy.


It’s a curious phenomenon, but tench invariably thrive best on canals with little or no boat traffic. Why should this be true? Whether it is the lack of weed, or difficulties spawning where there are chemicals and disturbance, populations always seem to be less abundant on shallow canals where boats dominate.

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