Angling: Waters are springing into life in the Leeds area

Lee Smith with part of his 103lb Bobco series winning catch.
Lee Smith with part of his 103lb Bobco series winning catch.
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As the days get longer and temperatures rise, anglers are coming out of winter hibernation for a taste of some terrific early-season catches.

Our local fisheries, whether commercial carp bagging venues, canals or local gravel pits, are all showing signs that the coming season could be a cracker. Information is the name of the game, if you’re a specimen angler then you have your work cut out.

Catches and venues can be guarded secrets but a few hours walking the bank can be an eye-opener to fish that you wouldn’t normally hear or read about.

Only this week, I witnessed a scale-perfect mirror carp from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal below Hirst Wood that weighed just short of 21lb. Other fish of similar size were visible and no other anglers were to be seen.

Listerhills AA and Idle and Thackley AA control most of the canal around this area and are open to new members – what a place to start!

Moving to the bigger navigation canals, we are lucky to have two that are producing big weights every week.

Reports are of huge catches of bream from the New Junction at Sykhouse with the added bonus of a monster chub possible. Just last week, a catch of three chub went to the scales on a local club match that weighed 17lb, the biggest a lump of 6lb 10oz and that size would be a PB for most Yorkshire Chub specialist anglers – all for the price of a £3.50 day ticket. A few miles above where the Junction enters the Aire and Calder around Great Heck other exceptional catches are falling to midweek pleasure anglers with caster/chop worm combination feeder being the main method for bream catches to 50lb.

For those not wanting to watch a tip, balling it in on an 11m pole line can throw up some good catches of roach with the odd bream ready to pull your elastic as a surprise. Mirfield AC now control the fishing from Heck to Whitley Lock.

The commercial pools just seem to be getting better and as match results don’t lie or exaggerate, they can be used to decide your first trips of the season with confidence. Though last week one result needs some explanation: as match weights get bigger, fishery bosses are doing every thing they can to protect their fish from net damage and stress, weight limits in each keepnet are normal on most fisheries, but under-estimating can be costly as Bait-Techs’ Dean Smith found last week.

Dean, in my opinion one of the top commercial anglers in the country, missed out on smashing the Oaks record from peg 15 on Beech, his new record weight of 304-11 was reduced to 240lb for breaking the 70lb limit in each of his four keepnets.

To make things even harder to take, Matt Higgins weighed a brilliant 247-10 and was promoted to first place with Dean coming second.

Other big weights were recorded with Leeds angler Dave Wright winning the midweek open at Carlton Minniots Woodlands complex. Any winning peg is obviously good on the day but peg 31 on Skylark not a recognised flier produced a super 162-13 of carp up to double figures most falling to pellet fished shallow at 14m. Nearer to home Leeds and District’s new Moor Monkton Fishery has started to show its potential for both pleasure and match, with the latest BobCo-sponsored event producing two ton up weights both to different methods.

Lee Smith came out on top with 103lb of pole caught carp from the match lake pushing Garry Miller, drawn on Cyprio, into second with 100lb of shallow waggler caught carp.