First Published in English.

If there’s one place where you can find some respite from this winters atrocious weather and get some action then it on a canal. I love canal fishing and today I’ve come to one of my favourites, the Basingstoke Canal just outside Aldershot in Hampshire, for a few hours in the hope of some roach on bread punch. Just to enforce just how much rain we’ve had recently it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a steady flow on this canal, it’s also carrying some colour which is amazing as two weeks ago it was gin clear! It’s far from perfect punch conditions, that’s why it’s always important to bring at least one back-up bait such as maggots or worms as it’s so easy to get caught out at times. 

Kick-starting the swim

The swim I’ve chosen is in a known silver fish area and a few weeks back a match was won with nearly twenty pound of skimmers and roach, yet conditions have dramatically changed so although I’m confident of a few fish, I’m not quite sure just how it will fish. I’m going to feed three lines, one down the middle to my left in the main boat channel and two to the far bank cover. The line down the middle is going to be my first punch spot and I’m going to kick start this with a couple of small balls of fine liquidized bread squeezed around a stone in order to get it down to the bottom quickly. One of my far bank lines, slightly left of centre, is also a punch line and is fed in the same way, with the other far bank line to my right fed with a couple of balls of Champions Choice Black Magic groundbait and a few maggots just in case the punch doesn’t work. 

Bait preparation

There are quite a few ways to prepare bread for punch fishing but when fishing a canal for silvers I want to toughen up each slice slightly so it’s doesn’t simply fall of at the slightest movement or every time I lift into a bite. I always use medium slice white, something like Hovis is ideal, then remove the crust, place each slice in a microwave for 20 seconds before compressing using a rolling pin. Each slice is then cut in half and once I have around 12 half slices I place them all into a plastic bag and into the fridge overnight. When I’m on the bank, just one half slice at a time is removed, placed on a flat, hard surface before punching using a metal headed punch as and when I need them. The ideal punch size for canal fishing is between 3mm and 5mm. To prepare the perfect liquidised bread feed is simple, just remove all the crusts and liquidize the remaining slices in a blender. A little tip for producing really fine crumb is freeze the liquidised bread, then remove and whilst still frozen blitz in a blender again. The more you freeze and blend the finer your liquidized feed with be.

Metal punches cut through the bread cleanly.

Slim bodied delicate floats are best for punch fishing on canals. 

Sphere Feeder Ultra Lite hooks, brilliant.

Microbore Elastic, thin, smooth, reliable and long lasting.

"In just a couple of hours I have caught over 50 roach."

A small stone in the middle will get the feed down quickly. 

Use a pole cup for accurate baiting.

A couple of balls at the start should get them going.

I’m really pleased with the mornings catch.

Delicate rigs

I’m fishing the pole at approximately 12m to the far bank and for my punch fishing I’ve made two rigs up which are almost identical apart from the depth they are fishing. The reason for this is I’m going to be switching these continuously and don’t want to waste time having to plumb up every time I change position. The rigs are created using Cenex 0.13mm Fluoro Carbon Hook Line with a 0.11mm bottom. Float choice is important and need to be more of a delicate slim bodied shape as bites can be very finicky. For the far bank line I’m using a 4xNo10 and down the middle a 4xNo12 along with Sphere Feeder Ultra Lite micro barbed size 18 hooks attached, perfect for punch fishing. Both floats are shotted using a string of tiny shot, six inches from the hook and all positioned slightly apart. I’ve decided to fish an inch over depth from the off and if the roach are feeding aggressively then I will come up in the water. 

No consistency

I arrived just before first light, a great time for a practice session on a canal as the banks are quiet and the fish seem to feed with more confidence. First drop in on the middle line and the float disappears, the culprit a roach. Another half a dozen come to hand before the line is shattered by a jack pike, a common occurrence here and another reason to feed and fish more than one line. A switch to the far bank once again produces a few small roach before going quiet, pike maybe, so I try the maggot line which again produces a few tiny roach before dying. I don’t think the reason each line produces a few then goes quite is due to predators as this section is very shallow, only two and half feet at best and I’m sure I would see some disturbance or even have a roach attacked whist shipping in, so I just think it’s a pattern where a few fish are caught before spooking. This pattern continues on the punch lines, yet on the maggot line bites completely dry up so I decide to feed another punch line, before rotating these which seems to keep the fish coming. Amazingly last week lots of skimmers showed here, great match weight makers, yet today all I can catch are roach, the best around 10oz and a few small perch. Obviously the massive change in conditions has seen the bream move on, shame. 

Knowledge gained

Its mid morning now and being a weekend the tow path is becoming increasingly busy, probably the reason that the bites have slowed up considerably, however with getting on for fifty roach and a little more knowledge on just how the canal fish’s in these conditions will certainly put me in a good position for the friendly teams of four matches that will be fished here in the coming weeks. 

Jamie’s Tackle

0.13mm and 0.11mm Cenex Fluoro Carbon Hook Line 

Sphere size 18 micro barbed Feeder Ultra Lite Hooks

1.3mm Lime Green Xitan Microbore Elastic

4×10 & 4×12 slim line pole floats

Jamie’s Bait

Medium sliced bread, punched and liquidised 

Champion’s Choice Black Magic Groundbait, maggots and worms as back-up