Most of us anglers, from time to time, could be accused of taking our fishing a little bit too seriously. Wanting to catch the next personal best Perch or monster Carp or Pike? We’ve all been there and we’ve all done it.
Sometimes however, it’s all about going back to those early days, when we had to fish those free stretches of canal or communal pond. The fishing wasn’t always easy, but we made the best of what we had and more often than not, learnt a great deal in the process.
So come with me on a journey to the jewel in the crown of the Welsh Riviera – Cwmbran. And let me show you that even places that look like they might not be worth bothering with, can provide a bit of sport on the right set up.
Cwmbran might not immediately start ringing bells in the ears of fishermen, until you mention that situated less than a mile away from the outskirts of the town is the fabled Llandegfedd Reservoir – home of the British record pike.
In stark contrast to the 173 hectares of deep open water at Llandegfedd, the humble Monmouthshire – Brecon Canal narrows to just a few feet across in some stretches, and its average depth through Cwmbran is between 2 – 4 foot.
If you can overcome the odd shopping trolley and abandoned shiny trainers found at your local urban canal, I guarantee you will be involved in some canal fishing action.
Unlike most stretches of canal that I have fished in my time, the stretch of the Monmouthshire at Ty Coch is full of small nook and crannies, with features a plenty. The topography of the area leads to a vast array of fish holding features such as locks – where depths can plummet to 20 foot – and basins, small pond like area’s that fish love to hold up in.
It’s not harsh to say that most canals can seem slightly devoid of ’classic’ fish holding features on some stretches. The stretch of Ty Coch – South Cwmbran, however, is a treasure trove of likely spots, which actually made me feel like a small kid fishing tight little swims on a narrow meandering stream, and not a fully grown adult on a stretch of some dirty old canal.
When canal piking it is best to adopt a mobile approach on your first few visits this allows you to cover a large area. As you visit the venue more you will start to find those productive areas and will eventually be able to hone in on spots most likely to hold fish.
I fish sprat’s, classic sink and draw style, with a small spinning rod twinned with a little reel loaded up with braid. I top this off with a run of the mill pike rig, so it really could not be simpler. Lures can also work very well but if the water is coloured, as is the case with many urban stretches of canal, a bait with a bit of a smell will often produce when lures fail.
Due to the piercingly cold wind, I only fished for half an hour or so on this stretch, but I did still manage this little beauty of a Jack Pike.
Not a monster and maybe not even worth a mention in some people’s eyes but the combination of my little spinning rod and style of fishing made me feel like an American pioneer out in the wilds, fishing for bass.
This is a good feeling, not often experienced whilst fishing South Wales’ canal network. Therefore, I thoroughly recommend it, albeit perhaps for uniqueness alone.
While you may not catch the fish of a lifetime and your friends might consider you slightly mad, this kind of fishing is fun.
Next time you’re suffering from a string of blanks, maybe you should just grab a small rod, a little bait and a few essentials, and head off for a bit of urban canal fishing.
And next time you see a group of kids, fishing in a place that you wouldn’t think fit to wash your socks in, remember we all were there once. And wasn’t it great?