Lure Fishing for Pike on the Canals was merely a pipe dream many years ago. With solution at its worst only fish seem to be left in these historic waterways was stickleback.
Nowadays with strict penalties that was put in place have been rewarded with an healthy influx of fish species now thriving in canals across the UK.
When i was just a boy living very close to the Fazeley Canal in Birmingham, i regularly played down by the canal.
Armed with a big fine mesh landing net of my dads, i used to scoop the water to see what was living in this soup like water.
Wow!, pulling up the net i never seen so many stickleback in my life. There must have been 400-500 small fish all three spined varieties in the bottom of the net.
Some 8 years ago i revisited the canal and was taken back by how clean it looked compared to the soup like water of the past.
I looked at the water carefully and noticed there was no stickleback to be seen.
Very unusual as it was in the Summertime, i could only presure 1 of 2 things. They had perished in the pollution or had been eaten.
This left me with some state of uncertainty and wanted to know more.
I research the Fazeley canal and started reading stories of catches of large roach and bream.
This was great news knowing the canal was making a comeback but it didnt answer the question of why the stickleback in the humugous numbers had disappeared.
I took a small whip tackled up with tiny pole float rig and small hooks and fished a section of the Fazeley Canal at Bodymoor heath.
Did not take long before i started catching little roach and gudgeon.
Before long i caught a Perch, maybe these are the culprits that have eaten all the stickleback?
Quite content that i had solved this puzzle i never pursued the matter any longer.
Few more years went passed and the Birmingham Anglers Association netted out the stretch at Bodymoor Heath. They took out hundreds of pike one weighing 16lb and 300 small Zander.
I was shocked when i read this, they was removing the predators as anglers in contents complained they was becoming a nuisance plus eating the fish that they wanted to catch.
Pike fishing on the canal had finally arrived, not just the Fazeley canal but most of the canals across the country.
Lure fishing for pike is one of the most rewarding pastimes in the angling world so it is no wonder its rise in popularity continues.
If you’re new to the world of pike fishing, you could be forgiven for approaching it in much the same way as other disciplines but it really has its own set of rules that should be followed.
The pike is a stunning fish and an exceptionally well-equipped predator, having swum our waters for over 50,000 years.
Each fish has a distinct and unique pattern and has evolved into an almost perfect machine.
They lie in wait often in weeded areas, ready to ambush their prey.
They feast on smaller fish and amphibians that are found in their natural habitats which range from rivers of all sizes, reservoirs and of course, canals.
So bare in mind when lure fishing for pike on canals close imitations of the natural prey is a good way to approach this sport.
The beauty of canal fishing is that it is a lot safer than river fishing, which can put the angler in danger particularly given the best time to fish for pike is through the winter months.
Lure fishing for pike on the banks of a canal is highly accessible, often meaning you can park nearby and with the added benefit of towpaths, you can wander up and down to bring activity to your lure.
Canal fishing requires less equipment too meaning that in this busy and hectic time, its overall far more accessible as a form of fishing than many others.
You can even take the younger, aspiring fisher-folk to give them a real taste of a life on the banks and keep the tradition alive into the next generation.
As pike often hang around in groups, if you spot a swim, it makes sense to re-cast in the same area, offering them an easy meal.
They can go without food for a considerable amount of time so they easier you make it for them, the more likely they are to bite – literally!
Some of the best lures for catching pike on canals in coloured water, which target pike my number one lure is a Rapala Jointed Shad Rap in firetiger.
This lure is superb in murky or coloured water, there is a load rattle inside the lure that create a big rattling sound and emits a pulsing vibration.
Its jointed tail section creates a slightly exaggerated action that can often provoke an attack from predatory fish.
These truly unique shads, does not only have the most incredible lifelike swimming action, they also posses an unparalleled appearance and colours.
Using soft shads are deadly for perch as well as pike. Great fun with soft body shads coupled with a jig head catching lots of small pike and perch, but just as likely to catch much bigger fish on the canal.
Westin ricky the roach is deadly for pike on canals. Fished with a stinger you will get great sport with all size pike and decent perch. In no doubt zander find them just as appealing. The 110 cm version is a good size with all predatory fish taking this bait, but you can get the bigger 6 inch versions to target bigger pike. Fish them slow retrieve with twitches and jerks works best. This pattern is the original roach but perch patterns work extremely well too.
You’ll of course need your rod and reel, but specifically for canal pike fishing, what kind of lure is best?
If you’re going to be fair-weather angling, pike can be known to attack the surface swimmers so a surface lure could be your best chance of success.
And when they do go for it, you’re in for a visual spectacle too because they will really launch themselves! It can be exciting.
There is a very good reason why those who want to trap the bigger fish go for a bigger lure a smaller animal won’t try it, they will simply avoid preying on something too large.
So the bigger the lure, the more likely you are to hook a bigger fish!
Pike will eat small fish, amphibians and even small rodents so any lures replicating one of those could exemplify a tasty meal to them.
There are also the ones designed not to break beneath the surface and constantly bob about, causing disruptions which attract them (known as poppers). So why not give a few different ones a try to see which works best in your area?
You should be landing all the pike you ever want to in no time at all!
Bridges along the canal are an excellent lure fishing for pike spot to target lots of small fish congregate around the bottle neck leading underneath abridge which inevitably attracts predators like pike to seize their prey.
Casting a lure down the sides before you walk across potential fish lying in wait can be very productive.
The reason for this is that these structures offer shade and refuge for all kinds of fish, and that means prey fish enticing in the predators.
Bait fish love cover, whether its deep water or structure over the water, anything overhanging their shoals makes them feel more settled as it reduces the chance of predation from above suggesting bridges are the perfect climate to get a pike.
The locks along canals also be fish hotspots.
As with bridges, these areas of structure that provide cover and a sense of security for bait fish while also giving ambush points for predators.
The other advantage is that being designed as areas where boats will be manoeuvrings, they are deeper sections of water, giving prey fish extra confidence, putting more water over their backs in subdued light levels.
Locks see a flow of water delivering not only food particles but also oxygen, which can add a real boost in warmer months.
Taking all of this into account its worth taking a ‘sstelth’ approach when fishing locks. With the depth and structure, predators can be found close in, so gentle steps.
Brick walls transmit heavy footsteps into the water. Fishing jig head with a soft shad under the rod tip is the way to go.
For many fishermen, boat traffic can be a nuisance, but for the lure angler it can work in their favour.
Moving boat traffic, if you are fishing a clearer canal, the silt that they stir up can give predators the opportunity to hit bait fish in reduced visibility.
Knowing this, casting your lure after a boat has passed increases the likely hood of a striking predator. Especially if zander are around.
Moored up boats are also a target area.
Iit’s all about structure. The dark and sheltered underside of a boat hull is a magnet for bait fish and then in turn to predators.
Wintertime a boat with live in occupants is quite a hotspot. Discarded waste food finds its way into the canal providing free food offering to bait fish.
Bait fish will hang around for ages in anticipation of a free meal. Predators too will not be too far away as they hunt the large congregation of small fish.
Although canals are man-made looking bodies’ of water in the UK, since their construction many have had their edges softened by the emergence of nature. Trees, brambles, rushes, and trees all have made canals their residence, and they all help to cover areas of water the lure angler should target.
As with the man-made structure, over hanging trees and brambles offer cover for shoals of fish. Unlike the man-made structure though they offer a more nerve heart pulsing prospect on the cast, with trailing branches and leaves looking to grab any lure that gets too close. The trick is to cast as close as your nerves permit, and then leave the bale arm open.
Allowing the line to be slack while the lure drops means it won’t head back towards you, but falls straight down, allowing you to present you lure closer to the cover your targeting.
The first movement of the lure can provoke an attack from a lurking pike or perch and the zander if they are present.
Travel light to fish in more built up areas, you’re best to opt for a lure fishing kit or a short easy to pack away rod.
A lure fishing kit includes: a reasonably short light weight rod, reel, line (lure anglers prefer braid), landing net and unhooking mat.
Finally, assortment of lures and on many canals small soft lures designed for targeting perch, jack pike & zander are a good option.
The savage gear MPP2 travel spinning rod is the most comprehensive Modern Lure and predator fishing rod series we ever made!
Covering all types of modern lure fishing, from swimbaits, jerk baits, soft lures and big lure trolling! All high modulus carbon fiber blanks, with perfect action and balance.
Hitch Hiker Trigger llure rod for the travelling angler is Light Sensitive blanks, perfected for modern lure fishing! A superb stylish stealth design, combined with top-quality components, makes the Black Savage Range stand out. Awesome Power, feel and Precision!
Street Fighter Lightweight spinning Rod 3-14g 210cm
Designed for street-style lure fishing, ideal for canals and drains. Versatile light lure rod3-14g casting weight210cm Lightweight and balanced Features reflective whipping on tip for fishing under street light Stylish but muted design Features.
Fox Rage camo finish on split Eva handle Lightweight reel seat Hook keeper. Great value for money
Designed for street-style lure fishing
Versatile lightweight lure rod
3-14g casting weight; 210cm; Lightweight and balanced
Features reflective whipping on tip for fishing under street light; Stylish but muted design; Features Fox Rage camo finish on split Eva handle
Lightweight reel seat; Hook keeper
Selecting a fishing reel to lure fishing on canals is depending on the tactic you decide to approach a session.
Most anglers prefer to adopt a lightweight approach with the benefit of hooking perch and zander as well as pike.
Tackle of finesse to use small lures and soft baits with lightweight jig heads. These refined tactic make it much easier to detect bites from perch and zander.
Targeting pike a more beefed up method is prefered in order to use larger lures but without over doing it.
Canals are not like rivers or lakes but are mostly a narrow body of water and a reels that holds hundreds of metres of line is pointless.
Here are some good options for lure fishing reels for a canal in both forms of lightweight and the heavier reel for pike.
Ultralight Spinning Reel 180g
FISHINGGHOST Reel 500
The FISHINGGHOST Ultralight Spinning Reel 500 Fishing Rod spinning reel is the ideal reel for any ultralight rod.
With 180 grams it offers the perfect balance for every Ultralight rod.
The cord capacity is (mm/m) 0.12/150 0.15/120.
The body is made of high quality plastic and the computer balanced coil runs ball bearings quietly and perfectly balanced.
The Gear Ratio 5.2: 1 allows a fast drill. The FISHINGGHOST Reel 500 impresses with its design and compactness.
8 + 1 Ball Bearing, Gear Ratio 5.2: 1
Instant anti-reverse system with aluminum coil
For left or right-handers with ergonomic EVA handle knob
Computer balanced rotor technology
Cord capacity: (mm/m) 0.12/150 0.15/120
Okuma Jaw spinning reels feature Okuma’s latest body design, present fashion, technology and strength. Jaw not only focus on functions but also the appearance. The reel equips with 3BB+1RB stainless steel bearings, CFR(Cyclonic Flow Rotor Technology). Jaw is a reel for general purpose and the best choice for the beginners.
Advice is to choose either the 20 or 30 series in the Okuma Jaw reel series. There are the right balance in order to lure fish on a canal.
If you have a trigger handle lure rod a baitcaster reel is the obvious choice. Not everyone has the confidence to use a baitcaster but it is well worth getting used to. For lure fishing baitcaster reels can be used for all forms of lure fishing except maybe a really ultralight set up were very light in weight baits are to be used.
Here is one baitcaster reel that is very popular and reliable that wont break the bank.
Black Max Reel Gear Ratio Recovery 66cm Abu Garcia
Enjoy maximum performance at a great value with the Abu Garcia BMAX3 Black Max Low-Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel.
Packed with cutting-edge features.
This stylish baitcast reel combines a super strong machined aluminum spool with an ergonomic bent handle that promotes comfort during all-day fishing trips.
The reel’s Power Drag system provides the smooth drag needed to tame hard-pulling fish, while the low-profile design and recessed reel foot offer a relaxed feel.
The BMAX3 also delivers exceptional cast ability thanks to its MagTrax brake system, which exerts consistent brake pressure to boost your cast’s range and accuracy.
And with its Duragear brass gear, this casting reel is built to last for hobbyists and seasoned pros alike.
4 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing provides smooth operation
Line capacity : 145M/0.30mm
Gear ratio : 6.4:1/recovery : 66 cm
Machined aluminum spool provides strength without adding excess weight
Weight : 207g
Alway remember to use wire traces were pike are present plus have a good unhooking mat. Unhooking mats that double into weigh slings are a better choice if you want to weigh your catch.
Long nose pike unhooking pliers and glove
NEVER go pike fish without the correct unhooking tools, pike saftey is paramount to protect this magnificent predator that has been around for at least 500,000 years.