Once a vital part of the transportation network around Birmingham, the West Midlands canals have recently been cleaned up and now offer the coarse angler some fine fishing waters
A map of the West Midlands shows a myriad of waterways built around Birmingham in the canal boom era of the 19th century. Although some are now polluted and many exist only as pleasure craft waters, several remain in as clean a state as when they were built. The major canals are the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal, the Staffordshire and Worcester-shire Canal, the Worcester and Bir-mingham Canal and the Grand Union Canal. Each gives handy fishing and some excellent sport can be enjoyed.
Birmingham Anglers’ Association
The Birmingham Anglers’ Association controls most of these waters, and the angler would be well advised to obtain annual membership. This is available at most local tackle dealers or at the Birmingham AA Headquarters.
The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal flows from Stratford to Birmingham, passing through Wilmcote, Wootton Wawen, Preston Bagot, Hockley Heath and Earlswood to join the Worcester Canal at King’s Norton. It is a narrow waterway, opened in 1815. During summer, fishing is somewhat hampered by heavy pleasure boat traffic, but there is good sport to be had from early autumn.
The Birmingham AA controls fishing rights along the Stratford Canal for 25 miles from King’s Norton to a point near the junction with the River Avon. King’s Norton, due south of Birmingham, is reached via the A441 through Edgbaston. Fish can be caught nearer the city, by Yardley Wood, Shirley, and Ilshaw Heath, but the better fishing starts at Hockley Heath at the junction of the A4023 and the A34.
The B4439 edges the canal from Hockley Heath to Lapworth and then crosses this canal and follows the Grand Union Canal down to Warwick. There is some fair roach fishing at Lapworth with the odd bream and crucian carp, while a little farther down, from Lapworth to Lowsonford, Preston Bagot and Wootton Wawen, sport improves. These places are south of Hockley Heath. Lapworth is reached via the A34, then the B4439; Preston Bagot via the A34 then the B4095, and Wootton Wawen is reached directly via the A34. Lowsonford is due south of Lapworth, reached via a minor road which follows the canal. From swims above Bridge 51 near Wootton Wawen double figure catches can be made during an evening’s fishing.
Sport then deteriorates due to recent canal improvement work which necessitated draining. This continues as far as Wilmcote, but- at Bishopton, tench and roach begin to show again. The best recorded pleasure catch from this canal was 77 lb of tench caught near Wootton Wawen a decade ago.
The Worcester Canal
The most popular canal venues for local anglers are perhaps those found along the Worcester Canal. The Birmingham AA again controls most of this, from King’s Norton as far as Blackpole Bridge near Worcester. The A38 and the A441 follow most of its length, and there is easy access to the canal from several major or minor roads which cross between them. In the area of Alvechurch, on the A441, fishing is improving and roach are on the increase. At Stole Pound and Tardebigge, reached from Redditch via the A448, there are also bream and the odd fair-sized carp, The reservoir near Tardebigge is privately controlled. From Tardebigge to Stoke Prior, at the junction of the A38 and the B4091, anglers fishing the flight of locks with floated bread baits may be rewarded with a double figure catch of carp.
Favourite contest venues
Some of the best bream and roach swims are found above Hanbury where the B4090 road crosses the canal. For pleasure anglers, the ‘boat turn’ often yields catches of 30 lb plus, and favourite contest venues are found at Oddingley, Tib-berton, Pershore Lane and Tolla-dine. These stretches are reached via the A422 east of Worcester then turning left through Crowle to join the canal, or alternatively via the A38 north of Worcester then turning right to join the canal. The last section from Tolladine to Blackpole is currently the best for sport, with roach and skimmer bream predominating. From here and through Bilton to Worcester, fishing is controlled by the Worcester and District United Anglers’ Association. It has no day tickets, but issues honorary cards, and has other excellent waters on the rivers Severn, Teme and Avon.
The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal stretches from Worn-bourne Lock, through Swindon, Cookley and Kidderminster to Stourport. It holds roach, bream, carp, tench, gudgeon and even chub. Wombourne is reached via the A449 due south of Wolverhampton, which then continues south skirting the canal as far as Kidderminster. Stourport is south of Kidderminster reached via the A4025.
Whitmore Reans Angling Club r From Wightwick, just west of g Wolverhampton on the A454, 3 through Wombourne to Bolterham, near Bridge 42, the Wolverhampton-based Whitmore Reans Angling Club controls fishing rights. From there to Stewponey Bridge, where the A458 crosses the canal, the Birmingham AA controls the water. Good catches are often made at Greensforge using bloodworm, pinkies or maggot fished with a roach pole close in, or casters fished near the opposite bank.
The Kinver Freeliner Club issues day tickets for the stretch from Stewponey to Hyde Lock at Kinver, and. The Kidderminster Angling Association controls the fishing rights along the Stourbridge Canal which joins at this point. Recently some good roach catches have been made in this canal, and on the Kinver waters bream to 4 lb, roach to l3/ilb and carp of 6 lb have been caught. The Birmingham AA then controls the water starting at Bridge 29 continuing through Caun-sall, Cookley, off the A449, and Wolverley, where the B4189 road crosses the canal, and on through Kidderminster to Stourport.
The Grand Union Canal, for its whole length from London to Birmingham, is let to various angling clubs. The Birmingham AA controls a 3 mile stretch from Shrewley near Warwick, reached via the A41 then the B4439, to Hatton on the A41. Currently, excellent roach catches are being made here, and quality perch, bream and the odd carp are also taken. A crucian carp of 3 lb was caught near Bridge 58 in 1967.
The Coleshill DAS controls a fair length of the canal fishing near Kno-wle, Warwickshire. This takes in the section from Bridge 71 to Bridge 78 and day tickets are available along the bank as they are for the Massey-Fergusson AC waters which are up and down from the Navigation Inn at Lapworth.