As winter approaches I thought I’d hang the carp rods up for a while and do some ultralite lure fishing for pike and perch on the Shropshire union canal. I’ve crisscrossed the canal many times over the last 25 years when going to and from various carp lakes around Cheshire and I’ve made mental notes of the features I’ve stumbled across, mainly in relation to carp but features hold other species too, most notably pike and perch so I had no problem finding a starting point to target some of the canal's predators.
I had a late start on Halloween and I arrived at my chosen section of the ‘shroppy’ just before midday. It was a calm day, no wind but no sunshine either, probably not the best conditions for catching pike and perch but not the worst either. There were plenty of boats on the canal and these would certainly work against me catching, I knew I was going to have my work cut out with the canal being well coloured up and visibility of no more than a few inches, I would literally have to land my lure on a fishes nose to get a bite.
I started off with a small Mepps Comet Spinner and fished around and under one of the Shropshire union canal's many bridges, my thought being a small lure that made a noise my help me get a bite. I tried the bridge area for a good 20 minutes without success so I decided to put my rucksack on my back and start working away from the bridge area and along the canal. As I left the canal bridge I changed lure to a small Relax Kopyto Shad which was just 1 inch long, this was fished on a 2 Gram Jig Head with a size 4 hook and was attached to a 20lb Wire Trace. The wire trace was a bit heavy but the 1” relax kopyto shad was proper ultralite fishing and it would allow me to pick up any smaller perch along the way. I thought going small would increase my chances of getting some bites and as I get to know the canal I could increase my lure size and start targeting bigger fish. More than anything I was hoping that going ultralite would at least get me off the mark!.
An hour later I’d covered most of the reed bed without a single pluck at the lure and I was starting to think this particular stretch of canal wasn’t going to produce any fish. I was working my small lure close to the bottom and as tight to the reeds as I could get and out of the blue my lure suddenly stopped zig zagging along the bottom and held firm in the same spot. I applied some pressure thinking I’d caught a twig on the bottom when a fish suddenly shot out from the reeds. My Ultralite Lure Rod is weight rated and is suitable for lures weighing from 3 grams up to 12 grams so it’s a really light rod and the plump little perch I’d hooked certainly put a nice bend in the rod. The fish eventually succumbed to the pressure and after flapping about on the surface for a few seconds the perch rolled over and I was just about able to swing the fish out and into my hand.
Finally I was off the mark and a decent perch it was too, I didn’t weigh it but at a guess I’d say it was about half a pound, I took some pics including some close ups of my little Relax Kopyto Shad which was half way down it’s throat, he’d hit my little lure good and proper. Once unhooked I put my perch back in the edge, no easy task with so much reed growth but he went back ok and I gathered my tackle and started again with the same lure. I worked the same area where I’d just had a fish because perch are known to shoal together but no more fish were forthcoming and eventually I covered the whole reedbed with nothing else to show for my efforts. With time moving on I decided to head back to the canal bridge where my car was parked and have a brew and a bite to eat before trying the reedbed on the other side of the bridge.
Once I’d had a bit of a rest I walked about 300 yards along the towpath and the whole length was reed lined margins so I had plenty to go at. Eventually I figured I’d gone far enough so I started again with my 1” relax kopyto shad to see if I could catch a perch or maybe a small pike. This side of the bridge was as tough as the other half, I slowly made my way along the reeds working my little kopyto rubber lure as close to the reeds as I could get. Despite my best efforts I had nothing until again I’d covered about three quarters of the distance back to the bridge.
I was just covering some water were the reeds were a little nearer to the bank when again I thought my lure had caught bottom, it hadn’t and as I applied pressure to bring the lure up an angry little pike shot off along the margins with me hanging on and trying to stop it going any further. Despite it just being a jack it was hard work on an ultralite rod that’s not exactly designed to have a backbone. After a couple of efforts to get into the reeds I eventually had the pike under control and I brought him in through a tiny gap in the reeds and lifted him out and onto the grass before laying him on the unhooking mat once I’d unclipped it from my Nash Rucksack. I didn’t weigh the pike, at a guess it was two, maybe two and a half pounds tops but it was good sport on the ultralite lure setup. Again I took a few close up pictures using the macro setting on my camera to get a close up of the lure and of the mouth and teeth of my pike, you can certainly see why nothing gets away once a pike hits a fish, especially with all those razor sharp teeth.
I returned my pike through the same gap in the reeds I’d landed it from, gathered my gear together and carried on working my kopyto shad along the reeds as I headed back to the bridge. No more bites were forthcoming and when I arrived back at the bridge I decided to call it a day. I’d spent a couple of hours working my lure along the edge of the canal and I couldn’t complain with one nice perch and one nice pike caught despite the canal being busy with boat traffic.
This section of the Shropshire union canal is certainly worthy of further investigation and as the boat traffic dies down over the winter and the canal clears a little I think I might find more success on this section of the canal. Even if I don’t I can always move on to somewhere new, the Shropshire union canal has plenty of other areas worthy of a look both in Cheshire and in Shropshire. There is plenty to go at and I’m sure there are plenty of decent pike and perch to be caught, all I have to do is keep at it and I’m sure more fish will come.