Marc Cavaciuti's winter canal carping tactics revealed!


I compare canal carp locations to the pike and zander anglers on the vast Fen drains. They talk about miles upon miles of featureless banks, devoid of any fish, yet if they find an overhanging tree or a bush, that is the place the pike and zander are with the prey fish, this applies to carp too.

Some stretches of canals are featureless and as we all know carp LOVE features. Luckily some stretches of canals can be full of them and this is where I start my search.

In the height of summer last year, I told my fiancé I was treating her to a romantic kiss and cuddle filled walk along the canal with stops at a few pubs along the route for drinks and dinner," how romantic" she said, "i spoil you" was my reply.

The second I pulled into the car park, I put on my fishing trainers (my tree climbers), polarised sun glasses and cradled a bag of pellets. She laughed at me and had me sussed: "Aren't I lucky…?"

The areas that I saw carp were noted and kept for the quieter cooler months once the boat traffic would calm down and the busy banks would settle.

The carp I found were around the boats, boat moorings, the deep water near the lock entrances and any trees or snags that would overhang. It became apparent on those summer walks that the carp could be locked in by the locks in a mile stretch of water, and would all be found in these features. However, in the same section of water before the boat moorings and snaggy far bank started, it appeared to be lifeless.

As I mentioned earlier, I target the canals in the cooler months. The boat traffic slows down as do the walkers and the fish are at their biggest weights and prime condition.

With it now being dark very early, I could finish my day shift at work and then prebait an area under the cover of darkness with relative ease. Pre-baiting anywhere is a massive, massive edge – however, there aren't many waters you can do it without someone jumping in on your hard work. On the much quieter canals you can and I see this as the biggest edge in canal carping.

The mix I use is simple and cheap, a couple of kilos of corn, half a kilo of boilies and some pellet in each likely looking area. The size of boilies is dependent on the nuisance fish and possible presence of crayfish.

The area mainly being baited was in between the far bank boats. The heated boats provide much needed shelter for the cold water canal carp.

Canals have inherent problems with snags from the boats themselves but also shopping trollies and even dead bodies! To be in with a chance of landing one of those special canal carp, rigs need to be simple and strong.

My starting point is 15lb Touchdown with three feet of Kable lead core leading onto the Heli-Safe system. I like using a 3.5oz lead on the Heli-Safe with the drop off bead being three to four inches up the leadcore, allowing my lead to sink into the canals soft bottom yet leaving my hook link sitting nicely above the soft layer.

End tackle-wise, I favour a simple six-inch N Trap Semi Stiff hook link fished D rig-style on a size four Kaptor Kurve, coupled with a Dark Matter anti tangle sleeve. A very simple rig but, more importantly, very strong. The rig changes to a multi rig if there are large amounts of bream or chub - this is so I can quickly change the hook after each fish.

Due to boat traffic, back leads are a must. I prefer attaching a flying back lead after I have cast out and gingerly lowering it into the canal’s main channel off the marginal shelf. I attach it backwards (the flat end facing the rod tip) as this helps it to travel back to the lead core when you hook a fish, making sure it does not to get caught in the tip ring due to the water pressure on the larger surface area forcing it down.