Accuracy is key when pole fishing. One way to hit the same exact spot every time is to pick a ‘marker1 with which to line up your pole. This could be a branch or post on the far bank, for example. Your aim is to keep your loose feed and rig in one tight area consistently. If you can concentrate the fish, so much the better.
Pole fishing isn’t for small fish only, as Dave Sellick demonstrates with a cracking bag of canal tench and bream.
Manchester Ship Canal Fishing Photo Gallery
The same is true of striking with the pole. That eleven metres or so is like a giant lever, making the smallest lift capable of setting the hook. It’s a good job they’ve become lighter, but the sight of a row of anglers grimacing over their lengths of carbon is still an endearing image of canal fishing in Britain. Nevertheless, with practice and a modern long pole, fishing at distance can be comfortable as well as deadly. And with practice, anglers can still feed bait, eat a sandwich or roll a cigarette while retaining full control.
Playing fish is a matter of steady control. From the stretch of elastic you’ll quickly get an idea of the size of fish you’ve hooked. In the case of a smaller fish, your first move should be to draw it smoothly away from its shoal mates to avoid spooking them.
Bigger fish will need more tiring out, although playing it steady is often better than a sharp pull in the early stages, which can cause your adversary to power off angrily.
Perhaps the riskiest stage of the fight is when you break down the pole to remove sections, so try to do this smoothly, with the elastic well stretched.
The pole tip is often kept up during the fight, but you can also use a low tip to draw a fish away from the far bank or even to sink the line under trailing branches or other snags. The one thing you mustn’t do is point the pole at the fish, which could cause the pole sections to separate!