I first started fishing for Carp on the Canal in the mid 80's. I was first introduced to them when I was about 12 and I was with my pal fishing a local canal for what ever we could catch. We'd been fishing all day catching Gudgeon, Roach, Bream, Dace and a couple a chub when a chap further up hooked into a fish that he couldn't stop further up from us. As kids we couldn't believe what we were watching, this chap had his rod bent double and there was nothing he could do with the fish except follow it up and down the canal allowing it to go where it wanted to because he was only on 2lb bottoms (2lb line from his mainline to hook).
After about a 20 minute battle all I can remember the chap saying was, my misses is going to kill me because I'm late for my dinner and me thinking, stuff your misses - let's see this fish. After another 5 minutes and him getting frustrated about his dinner getting cold, he tightened up his clutch and the inevitable happened, with a flick of it's huge golden tail ( that's all we saw of the fish) it broke his line and the fish had gone! I was gutted for the chap but the bloke was just p*ssed off because he was late. Later on in life after getting divorced, perhaps I now understand why he was panicking to get home lol.
When I got home I was planning my next trip already or actually trying to bribe my mom to drop me down on the next weekend. Since the age of about 5 I'd been catching carp from a small pool in front of a Pub called the Rose Inn at Baxterley, so when I saw the tail of the fish I knew it was a carp that the chap had lost. On a Saturday night just as the pub opened, my dad used to take me for a couple of games of pool before it got busy while mom was getting tea ready and I got talking to a chap I know that fished contests on the canal. He was telling me how a lot of anglers in the matches were getting broke on the same section of canal and one actually landed a carp of around 9lbs. I was buzzing and told my mate that night on the phone and we were back down there in the morning.
In those days (about 1986) I never had any carp gear, didn't really know people targeted carp, I caught all my carp on my dads old fishing tackle. The roach pole (as they were known then) hadn't been out that long and I had on of about 8mts. I set it up with what was then the strongest elastic you could get which was number 8 to 6lb Drennan silcast main line and a slim Jim float with a size 12 hook. For bait I was using lob worms and I was fishing one foot over depth with the tip of my float just under the water, so if a fish picked up the bait it would lift the weight holding the worm down and pop the float up.
I was set up opposite a small boat but had been told to fish the middle of the canal because most if not all canals has a trough running straight down the middle and a lot of grubs and natural food can live in it because it can get silted up. I'd been fishing like this for hours watching my mate catching loads of small fish when I saw a huge fizz of bubbles from the front of the boat, so I positioned my float right in the middle of them. Within seconds the float shot up and I struck into a very strong powerful fish that shot off under the bridge. I got up quickly to try and follow it but it turned and came back towards me and I had to push my pole through the hedge to keep up with the fish. The fish started swirling right under my feet so I broke my pole down to try and get better control but as soon as I did this the fish shot off back under the bridge and bang, the pole sprung back and the fish was gone. I just sat on my box not really being able to process what had just happened because it all happened so quickly. My mate had ran up to help me and he said he could remember seeing the elastic of my pole stretching all the way to the bridge and when I checked it was the elastic that had broke, I was Gutted!
We never saw anything else for a couple of months until we were fishing a little further down on a hot summers day. We were fishing either side of an elder berry tree on the opposite bank and there was weed on the surface about half a foot away from the bank spanning about 2 feet wide. Whilst fishing we saw 3 or 4 carp coming up for the floating casters amongst the weed by where we were fishing not being slow to change we both put baits on the surface and both landing carp to around 5lb each, not massive but I'd rather have a 5lb carp out of the canal than a carp twice or three times its size out of a muddy whole in the ground.
Since those early days I've always loved Carp Fishing Canals and small rivers, mostly fishing on my own with no one in sight, except the dog walker or person in lycra jogging past. The way I go about tackling a canal is to think of the canal like a train track and the carp are the trains going up and down it. Then I find spots where I feel the carp may live, hang out or stop and feed whilst on their journey.
If you can find a moored boat or boats, this is a great starting point because a lot of the owners will feed the ducks nd also the carp if they see them taking the bread. Also the the hulls of the boats are a warm place to be in the winter, so carp love hanging around them. Reeds beds, lilies, overhanging trees or bushes are great places to start and never overlook your margin because the carp will patrol everywhere.
Once I find a spot even if its featureless I make it my Train Station and what I mean by that is, it is the spot I keep baiting up. I will start baiting my station about 2 weeks before I start fishing there, if you know there are lots of carp already there you wont need to go this far but a lot of the canals I've fished don't have many carp in one area of the canal and I need to stop them as they are travelling past.
Once I start fishing I won't fish the station ( baited spot ) but will fish within 10 yards or so of it, hoping that if I do catch carp and its not from the station they will keep feeding from it as they will see no danger there because I've not put a baited rig on it. I will fish a standard carp rig with a wafter hookbait with a small pva stocking full of crushed boilie, bread and pellet. I'm not that keen on fishing pop ups on the canal because I worry with the movement of the water, weed or debris can easily get caught up on the hook as its held up in the water. I'm not saying this is the perfect way to fish a canal for carp but its a method I've done and shown others and it has worked.