After investigating a bridge in Part Two of my lure fishing adventures I moved to a new section of the Shropshire Union Canal and decided to try a canal lock instead. This lock was rather unique in that it was a double or ‘staircase’ lock. I had a lovely little area to fish just off the bottom lock gates and the swim had some outstanding features. Firstly there was an overflow from the upper canal which brought both oxygenated water and natural food to the swim. On top of this I had a moored canal boat and two jetty’s on my left and on the right I had the lower lock gates and a bridge all in an enclosed area. Beyond the bridge was a section of boats moored two abreast and at the end of the boats was a second bridge, the area in general had loads of cover and just screamed ‘predators’ but the lock in particular looked like the standout swim to be in.
I made a couple of videos of the two trips I’ve made to this lock, for the second one I had my new Sony Handycam with me and you can see a detailed look at the swim and see how I got on by looking at this video below.
This trip was about 3 hours in total but at least half of that was spent filming boats going through the locks as it was a busy day for boaters on the canal. When I eventually got fishing I picked up a perch around 6oz almost straight away, the fish fell to a 2” Relax Kopyto Shad that was being fished on a 2 Gram Jig Head with a size 2 hook. It came from a cast that landed just an inch or two off the far wall and the fish took almost instantly. Getting a perch bite tight against the far wall got me wondering what else was lurking at the foot of my own bank. Fishing light lures tight against the canal wall is one of my favourite tactics and you’ll see from my previous blogs that it’s a very productive method of fishing. I was always going to try my own wall but that first perch made me get to it a lot sooner. After a few minutes of working my lure against the wall I found a second perch, again this one was about 6oz.
After the two perch the pike action started to kick in but unfortunately things didn’t go my way, the first pike I hooked managed to throw the hook when it tail walked close in. the second pike was even more disappointing as I got the fish right into the edge. I actually had my fingers in the groove under it’s chin at one point but the fish gave one last thrash of the tail and the hook pulled again so I wasn’t able to lift it out for the camera. I hooked a third pike and again same as the first fish, it threw the hook when it thrashed on the surface.
By now it was obvious the lock was a very good place to fish but I wasn’t having it all my own way with 3 lost pike on the bounce. Looking back at this session now I’ve decided to use my landing net when I fish this swim again, I reckon I’d have got at least two of those pike to the bank if I hadn’t opted to ‘chin’ them out. I also lost a third perch during this time and eventually I decided to change my jig head, I was having far too many losses with this hook, it still felt sharp and looked ok but you never can tell so I changed it just to be safe. This change of hook brought a change in fortune and I banked a third perch, this one was in the 6oz range too but as perch are my primary target species I was happy enough although I’m certainly trying to target bigger fish than this. The pike are enjoyable too and they certainly put up a good scrap on ultra light gear so I’m not disappointed if I see a jack come to the surface instead of a perch, they all count in my book.
Prior to my second trip I’d been at this lock the week before but instead of just targeting the lock I had a look along the boats and the second bridge. I fished in between all the boats mostly for nothing but I did eventually find a small perch with my 1” Relax Kopyto Shad. Despite the boats and bridge looking really good all I could manage was a couple of missed bites once I’d passed the bridge. With so little to show from this area I figured the lock itself would probably offer my best chance of a bite.
For this trip I was using a 1” lure and looking for as many perch as I could find. I hooked what I thought was a big perch, it was a heavy fish and it didn’t charge round like the jack pike usually do, unfortunately the hook pulled so I’ll never know if that was the big perch I was looking for. I didn’t actually find any more perch after that loss but I did get some pike, in fact the lock looks like an exceptionally good pike swim now I’ve been a couple of times. My first pike came not long after losing that decent fish, there was no way I was losing this one, the pike hit the lure hard and virtually inhaled it. When I chinned the pike out I found my little Relax Kopyto Shad right in the back of its throat and I needed some Long Nosed Pliers to remove it.
After the first pike I decided to have a go with some heavier lure gear. I actually carry a dedicated lure set up with me just for pike and it consists of a Savage Gear Bushwhacker Lure Rod and an Abu Ambassadeur Multiplier Reel loaded with 30lb Power Pro Braid. At the business end I had a 20lb wire trace made with Fox Easy Twist Wire and the lure was a Rapala Jointed Shad Rap in firetiger, an outstanding lure that really should be in every lure anglers tackle box. The pike setup accounted for a second jack right at the end of my session, not long after the battery had died in my Go Pro Video Camera, just my luck really. I did get a decent photo of the fish with my normal camera though. These two trips to the canal lock have confirmed that this particular lock is a very good spot with potential for both pike and perch. In keeping with my strategy of searching features and finding the best spots to fish, the lock is now the first area that’s made it onto my ‘must visit’ list. There’s plenty of the Shropshire Union Canal left to search and hopefully I can move on and find a few more areas that are as good as this one.
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