Union Canal revealed as high-quality pike and predator fishing hotspot, and tips for success

Angler Ben Steer hooked into a beauty on the Union Canal within walking distance of the centre of Edinburgh and underlined the high quality predator fishing that can be had on your doorstep.

Ben Steer has landed prize pike in the Union Canal.
Ben Steer has landed prize pike in the Union Canal.

He estimates that the pike landed was around 7lb and it was trapped on day two of his first dead bait campaign. It is a personal best and it follows reports on the Union Canal social media pages that big fish are to be had in various places on the waterway from the city and into West Lothian.The canal, of course, runs from near Tollcross to Falkirk and that is one of the drawbacks as a pike, which can also be found in rivers and still waters world-wide, can be hooked in a spot one day and could be miles away hours later.Pike fishing is undoubtedly a growing attraction as the fish provide excellent sport and the equipment needed does not break the bank. For example, Steer tempted his fish on a £12 rod with a fixed spool reel which came as part of a spinning pack he acquired for £20.A steel trace, he said, is required because of the sharp teeth of the fish and they normally come with two treble hooks for under a fiver on the internet and his bait was a whole sardine found in a local supermarket. Sprats or herring would also do as it is the smell which attracts.

Steer, who lives in Edinburgh, said: "Pike tend to be in places like boat turning points, man-made objects like bridges, weirs and marinas where they can sit waiting to ambush their prey."They can also be found under overhanging trees and sitting just off the crease in a river where they don't have to expend much energy but can dart into the flow to catch their prey."He added: "I have specific places I fish however you may hook a pike in a location and the next day the pike is gone but, as the weather gets colder, they tend to shoal up."Steer has also caught a 5lb pike on a 9wt fly fishing rod in the canal and he added, in his view, a carp rod would also suffice but it should have a 2.5lb test curve.He also provided one essential piece of advice. It is to watch for the teeth of a pike which can cause you real damage and unhooking an angry pike can be awkward. The advice is to put your hand where the gill plates join the chin and the jaws should open.You also need long forceps and a mat to lay the fish.

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There are a host of videos on YouTube – one is entitled Fishing Tutorials, a beginners guide to pike fishing – explaining how to fish for and unhook a pike. Experts say it is best to put the pike between your legs in case it starts to twitch. Flies also tempt pike and Edinburgh-based Dave Lindsay, Dave Mcfluffchucker on Facebook, makes predator flies "that scary fish eat".Still on coarse angling and six hardy members turned out for the last match of the summer, a rod and reel event, organised by Edinburgh and Lothians Coarse Angling Club on the Outer Snake at Orchill, near Auchterarder.The weather was not good but, fortunately, is stayed dry for set-up and the weigh-in in between, it was pretty wet.Geoff Lowe, the club's chairman, won with 16lb 14oz with Roz Cassidy second on 12lb 2oz. John Perella was third with 5lb and Andy Paterson and Chris Bolton weighed in on 4lb each.Meanwhile, Jock Kettles, Scotland's international fly fishing skipper from Bonnyrigg, won the Army-run Celtic Cup, at the Lake of Menteith. Kettles also claimed the associate champion title.Kettles served 22 years in the 1st Battalion, The Royal Scots. He fished as member of the Army team until he retired from the services and won the Inter-Servces title.He then became an associate member of the Soldier Palmers and the Army Angling Federation and Kettles explained that the Celtic Cup is a boat league run on a points system at the Lake of Menteith throughout the season for serving members of the forces and associate or retired members.Quint Glen, fishery manager at the lake, said that the water temperature is cooling and he recently introduced some slim fish between four and 10lbs.Gus Armour from Fife and Billy Brash from Midlothian capitalised, tempting 47 to the boat with 17 fish of 4lb plus.The lake's board, made up of most of the landowners around the lake, have agreed to further discount young people fishing there.Free fishing is available to all those aged 25 and under if they are out with a senior (26 years and older). If there are two young people (25 and under) in a boat they pay single angler prices.Finally, there will be no electric start available on the Coulam wheelie boat as the pinion drive has worn out. Anglers must use a pull start.On the sea fishing front there are still spaces for the Scottish flounder Championship at Lunan Bay near Montrose on Sunday, October 10. Registration is from 7.30am to 8am and fishing is from 9am to 2pm. There is a three hook and 18cm limit on measure.Lothians anglers are in the field and Dalkeith-based Mike Kyle, one of the organisers, said that the competition will be pegged south of the river so bring suitable clothing like waders - for the crossing. He added: "It is a relatively long walk."Tickets for the Paul Roggeman European Open Beach Fishing Championship 2022 are available to buy online at www.eobc.co.uk.Over 1,000 anglers from all over the UK are expected and there is a massive prize fund in the competition set to be held in East Yorkshire from Friday, March 11 to Sunday, March 13.

Jock Kettles.

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