The Keepnet Swim

Over the years I’ve definitely learnt the value of fishing right next to my keepnet. It’s helped win me countless matches, scored valuable section points and got me out of jail many a time. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a lake, canal or river, fishing right next to your keepnet should never be overlooked. It’s probably not be a place you’ll fish all day, but it’s still an area you should never disregard. Here’s why…

Canal Lessons
Years of fishing matches on canals first taught me the value of a keepnet swim. Growing up on Midlands canals it was a prime area for small fish, but you’d be surprised what else you’d catch there. At one stage I turned fishing around my nets into a bit of an art form and had specialist rigs just for this line.

Pinning the net to the bank was crucial. It not only stopped passing boats washing it around, but also created a feature and safe haven for fish to investigate and swim under; especially perch and gudgeon.

I even made my own ultra-short whips with rigs already attached; some just a metre long. These days there are so many big fish about it’s much more sensible to use elastic instead of a whip and a 4-6 or 6-8 grade helps set the hook and bully fish quickly to the top.  

On some pegs you could catch 100 gudgeon with just a metre of carbon in your hand. Sadly those days have long gone, but perch are still a worthy target. I’d typically still have a ‘normal’ short swim three to five metres out, but the ultra-close keepnet swim is a good place to start or to try whenever a boat passes. Here I would regularly feed a pinch of fine groundbait and trickle a few squatts or pinkies over the top. In winter I used to love flicking pinches of neat joker when it was allowed. Finely minced worm can be better on some canals, with a lively tail segment of worm on the hook.

Sometimes this swim would be almost touching the front of my net. Other days it would be a foot further out, so it all depended on how it plumbed up. If I could find two feet or more I was happy. I’d often plumb tight in to the bank, either side of the net, and have two or three swims on the go, working all three. The best swims had concrete or corrugated ‘tins’ as that generally meant a bit of depth tight in.

I’ve fished countless matches where you could see the bottom close in but still caught fish hiding under the net. Sometimes the fish are so camouflaged that you’d only see them when you hooked them.