Union Canal angling proving popular - with some expert advice given to fish it correctly

The light nights have tempted many to dig a rod out of the cupboard, with some venturing to the Union Canal – including parents with their children – and the water is easily accessible by car or public transport.

By Nigel Duncan
Saturday, 10th April 2021, 7:00 am
Canal fishing is becoming increasingly popular.
Canal fishing is becoming increasingly popular.

According to Geoffrey Lowe, chairman of Edinburgh and Lothians Coarse Angling Club, it is not expensive to dip a line in the water.

Youngsters under the age of 18 fish free, while permits issued by the Scottish Federation for for Coarse Angling are £5 for OAP and registered disabled while adults are £8 a year.

Lowe, an experienced angler, said that it was important to travel light and be prepared to be mobile when canal fishing as fish move around constantly.

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However, there are a number of areas in the Lothians where anglers regularly target fish, including around The Bridge Inn at Ratho, particularly in the early morning, the basin at Linlithgow and also at Harrison Park in the City of Edinburgh.

The Leamington Lift Bridge, near to the city centre, is another 'hot spot' and it always pays, said Lowe, to fish nearer to the city as the water temperature increases.

Casting a line near barges is also recommended as fish hide from predators underneath boats and in weed.

Drop shotting is one of the trendy 'in' methods currently, but Lowe said that can become technical and it is always best to keep things simple.

He added: "If you have a spare two hours then popping down to the canal is an option, particularly if you have a youngster who wants to experience fishing."

Equipment can be bought online so accessing what you need is easy and Lowe suggests a light spinning rod with a small, coloured spoon or light lure as an option.

If you want to float fish then that is perfectly possible in the water which is around 4ft deep. Then maggot bait, if you can get hold of some, would be the preferred option. You can always try bread and a line breaking strain of around 6lbs would be best with a with a few floats and hooks and some light shot. That's it.

The water was crystal clear this week which adds to the difficulty but you never know your luck.

Meanwhile, the Edinburgh club always welcome new members and have a provisional fixture list for matches this summer, all at Orchill near Auchterarder. The dates are: May 1, 15 and 29; June 12 and 26; July 10 and 24; August 7 and 21; September 4 and 18.

Elsewhere, Scottish-based tackle manufacturer Diawa are heavily promoting their range of new seat boxes for coarse fishing. The Tournament 800, D500 and D90 have a unique 180 degree rotating locking handwheels.

The D90 comes in at less than £400 which Mark Sawyer, tackle editor for Angling Times, says is his favourite in a social media posting.

On to fly fishing, and The Chairman's Trophy is awarded each year by Malleny Angling Ltd, who look after Harlaw Reservoir and part of Threipmuir in The Pentland Hills near Balerno, to a person who, in the chairman's opinion, has contributed a great amount for the club.

This is the first year that it has been awarded posthumously and the first to two individuals.

The late Davie Sinclair and Jim Wright, known to anglers as Bandy, have been loyal servants to the club.

Chairman Jim McComb said: "Davie sadly passed away last year but his great pal Bandy carries on. They were both dedicated Black Springs anglers with a passion for catching brown trout.

"They were – Bandy still is – bailiffs at the water and did a lot to promote and look after the club."

Incidentally, Bandy regularly has the first bailiff shift on a Sunday and gets to the water from his home near Longstone by walking to the bus at around 5am and then walking from the middle of Balerno to the water. That's dedication.

Meanwhile, Bowden Springs near Linlithgow continues to log significant catches. Jaine (cor) Duncan topped the list with an 11lb rainbow while Dylan Johnston reported a 9lb rainbow on a rabbit lure while Paul Dancer netted ten including an 8lb-er on buzzer while Vincenzo Manning landed a near-9lb brown trout in a bag of eight.

Rosslynlee near Penicuik continues to be among the most popular local fisheries and debutant Neil Barrett made an impression with 11 hard-fighting trout on FAB and buzzers.

M Johnston also landed 11 and favoured patterns are damsel, diawl bach and buzzer plus CDC.

Sean McGarry, recently featured in the Evening News, was back and he landed ten on buzzers. Owner Nicola Perfect reminded anglers that Rosslynlee is fly fishing only.

Bait has been found on the opposite side of the water across from the lodge. If an angler is found to be using bait they will be asked to leave the fishery.

Tweeddale Millenium near Gifford has also been receiving glowing reports. John Donaldson said he "lost count" of the fish he had and added: "It must have been about 25."

Yellow dancer and black snake patterns worked for him at the start of his session but the fish went onto buzzers when the temperature increased.

He added: "The smallest fish was 3lb with lots around the 6lb mark and a couple close to 10lb."

Linlithgow Loch report that Falkirk Fly Dressers kept 15 trout for 37lbs mostly on boobies and cormorants and Falkirk Municipal had a decent session keeping 19 fish for 51lbs and returning six. Best flies were damsels and black and green lures on midge tip lines.

Outwith that, Mr Malcolmson and partner returned 20 fish all on buzzers and Dr Mike Boyle returned six on damsels while

Mr Saunders returned six with one around 5lbs and a couple about 4lbs while Mr Burns returned 19 tempted on buzzers and damsels.

Loch bosses continue to stock weekly and the loch holds a good head of fish and they confirm that boats are available for most days for full day or four-hour sessions.

Scot Muir secretary for West Lothian Angling Association said a few nice trout are starting to show in the river and the early ones have been tempted by nymphs (black magic).

He added: "Now that the water is starting to warm, and a few olives are hatching, some dry fly action is available."

Finally, if you need gear, then Fishers of Penicuik confirm that they have re-opened for order and collect. Their phone lines are open from 9.30am. However, don't turn up without booking a collection slot.