THE Wey Navigation looks like a canal but flows like a river, writes Will Raison. Like any venue it can be difficult at times and there are some bad sections but even then I enjoy the fishing because it’s not a peggy venue – wherever you draw, the pegs are fairly even. In the poorer areas it comes down to angling ability to sort out a few bites that 

Will in big fish action on the venue that looks like a canal but flows like a river.

could get you a section win on the day.

As far as the resident species are concerned, these days it’s mostly roach with the odd chub, odd big perch and in certain areas quite a lot of gudgeon that are likely to form the weights. There are occasional skimmers to be had too and these tend to be 6oz upwards with a 1lb fish being a big one.

In a good swim on a good day in winter I would be expecting bites early. Harder areas can be slow to start with but improve as the day progresses and especially as the light drops late on when the bigger roach show and they feed more and more aggressively. A good target weight is 8lb to 10lb on a good day while on the harder sections, 2lb to 4lb is more realistic.

Bloodworm and joker are not allowed all the way through this navigation. The area where these baits are allowed offers about 150 pegs but you could put a National on here if you wanted to include the rest! We are at the start of this area just below Parvis Bridge; upstream of it bloodworm and joker are not allowed.

The venue is used in winter leagues and while there are a few opens, a lot of clubs book it too. Generally it is similar in depth all the way through and the Blackboys end is considered the better area but in a 100-pegger it could be won from anywhere. It comes into its own during the winter because in summer it is plagued by weed and then the evening matches are normally won with big eels.

I have been coming to the Wey Navigation since I was eight years old. I used to come here, to this very spot on the concrete, when I first passed my driving test. The first-ever winter league match I fished for Dorking was on here and I won the match with 8-12-0 roach on bloodworm so it holds very fond memories for me. I was opposite the scout hut at the White Hart and it’s an area still capable of winning now.

The only thing that has changed is that there are less and less bonus fish now. When I first started coming here there were quite a few noted chub and skimmer pegs whereas now they are rare. For example, last week in a winter league one chub was caught. That said, now it is probably a much fairer match venue.

The flow is constant and it is usually a good pace. Today the Navigation is clear, which a lot of people don’t like, but I actually prefer it because I know the fish will be gathered in the deeper water down the track. Today I am hoping to fish at around 10 to 11 metres and I will try just one line due to the clarity. I want to concentrate all my fish in that one area. If there was more colour I would have a second line in about 12 inches of water right across that I would feed with just one ball of grey leamed joker and loose feed pinkies over it.

When the water is coloured, pinkies are brilliant Navigation baits with reds or fluoros most likely to catch. I brought some today but when I saw clear water I knew they would not work. Today it’s a bloodworm-and-joker attack with a few casters added to the feed. The casters will attract and hold odd big fish, skimmers, perch and roach.

You don’t necessarily need to fish casters on the hook because those bonus fish will eat bloodworm, but if a bonus fish swims through, those casters will hold that fish rather than let it swim on to the next person.

I like to start off with about six balls of feed cupped in at about half a metre downstream of where I am sitting so I can run my rigs over the feed on the riverbed. The feed is a 50/50 mix of Sensas dark damp leam and Sensas Super Canal Black. The dark colours being important as the clarity of the water means that the fish won’t be comfortable over lighter feeds. The way to prepare this mix is to mix the groundbait first, wetting it so that it is quite stiff, as I want it to go down quickly without breaking up in the flow.

To get the best from the venue Will advises a bloodworm and joker approach.

Once the groundbait has been wetted evenly I riddle it off and then put it to one side. The leam is then riddled into a separate bowl to remove any lumps. Then you can riddle the leam into the groundbait and mix the two together. The leam adds weight to sink the balls straight down in four feet of water. The groundbait adds food value and makes it quite active. However, I am going to give away a secret now. For some time I have been adding coriander powder to my roach groundbaits as it is a highly active attractant. The time to add it is now that the mix is ready. Just sprinkle a handful of dry coriander powder onto the mix and work it through. It adds an active element to the mix.

Now the mix is ready for the addition of the joker plus a handful of casters. I like to separate enough of the mix into a separate bowl to form the initial six balls of feed. Then I measure out 50ml of joker so I know exactly how much I am using, which helps me to subsequently work out whether I fed too much or too little when I reflect on the results.

I like to start on double or triple joker, running through just off bottom. It is rarely the case that fish settle immediately on the feed so I like to give them a little time to find it. By using a running-through rig I can nick odd ones off over the top. The more bites I then get on this rig, I can then think about changing to a holding rig to slow the bait down right over the feed. The running rig incorporates a very slim, new Desque pattern of float, which is very, very sensitive. When you don’t have to control a float, and by that I mean you don’t have to restrain or hold it but can let it run with the flow, this slim pattern offers no resistance on the strike.

To fish overdepth by two or three inches with bloodworm, looking for better stamp fish, I use a round-bodied Jean Francois pattern which I can hold back and edge through the swim slower than the pace of the flow.

Rig lines in both cases are 0.10mm diameter to 0.06mm diameter hooklengths with a size 20 Black Gamakatsu on the deeper rig and a size 20 Green Gamakatsu on the running rig. The black versions are slightly stronger.

Shotting for both rigs is a bulk of No10s with three No11 droppers underneath. The hooklengths are 16cm long with the last dropper just above the trace at 17cm from the hook.

Kamasan No2 elastic is matched to the running rig with the same manufacturer’s No3 on the holding rig. I like to have a decent amount of line from pole to float so I can cover a decent area of water. I reckon four feet is about right and I will run the float several metres downstream of the feed because small fragments like the coriander will break away and be washed downstream, attracting fish from below.

Proof that there’s great fishing on offer if you approach it right.

The running rig soon produced a good run of small roach with triple joker hook bait presented a couple of inches off bottom. After half an hour I decided to switch rigs to the holding rig three inches overdepth with a single bloodworm on the hook. With this rig you have to hold it on a tighter line to slow its progress right down, basically easing it or inching it over the groundbait. This soon produced bites and the stamp of fish were slightly better, including one or two net roach.

Then it went quiet so I went back to the running rig but that too had slowed down. I didn’t re-feed though as I thought it may be due to a better fish. I was right as I hooked a big perch, well over 1lb, that unfortunately slipped the hook.

After the perch I carried on catching roach and got up to about 64 fish when it all went quiet again and then I hit a pike that took a small roach. The fish must have come off when the pike spat it out but the Gamakatsu hook stuck in the 4lb-plus jack’s lip.

Despite being on 0.06 mm diameter bottom and a light elastic I landed the snapper which usually count on here so had it been a match I’d have been laughing! It just shows what you can do with balanced gear. Actually I was able to scoop the pike because I could see it in the clear water. Pike actually think landing nets are a snag and will come towards them so you can basically con ’em!

It leads me to a funny story about the Navigation. It was a Super League round and we (Dorking) were one point ahead of Essex County. I drew next to Nuddy (Bob Nudd) and we fished a very close, hard section. I was fishing double joker in close for gudgeon when I hooked what I thought was a big perch. It turned out to be a 1lb pike and when I got it in, the Essex runners were telling me to throw it back as it didn’t count. I put it in my net and later found out it did count! As it was, I won the section with half an ounce to spare without the need of that pike!
That said, it signalled the end of my catching spell but I was well happy with my three-hour efforts.

Venue Fact File

Wey Navigation

Location: River Wey and Godalming Navigation, Walsham to Weybridge Town Lock
Controlled by: Wey Navigation Angling Amalgamation, 20 miles of navigable waterway
Contact: Howard Whiting, honorary secretary, on: 01932 242978
Rules: Daylight fishing only
Tickets: £3 a day or £20 a season, available on the bank (2005)

Match Fishing