2018 has been a challenging year with one problem after another affecting fishing on the Leeds Liverpool canal.

Many parts of the canal were the subject of persistent attention by cormorants causing a lot of damage to fish stocks and disruption to their normal feeding habits. 

As an Association we have been in discussions with both the Environment Agency and the Canal and River Trust to try to combat this problem, however remedies are very limited because the canal is a public right of way and even if (and it’s a big if) we were given permission to cull some birds we would not be able to do so because of the public right of way.

Weed growth and particularly lilies have been a major problem for years, in certain areas the Canal and River Trust have been working on this, but with limited effectiveness.

Whilst we were trying to deal with these problems and others, there was a catastrophic breach in the canal at Melling. The results of this were devastating, with thousands of fish lost, miles of canal rendered unfishable for many months. This in combination with the hot weather meant weed sprung up in a way we had never seen before. Three new species of weed were identified none of which being native plants. 

The weed had two negative effects, it made fishing impossible for miles of the canal and deoxygenated the water making the fishing very poor. In addition to all this in common with many other water’s eels were hard to come by for a reason yet to be confirmed but suspected to be a swim bladder disease.

However, the breach was fixed, and the canal reopened but too late for enough boats to go through to push back the weed. However, we expect boat traffic to return this spring which (we hope) will drive back the weed. The weed may have had one benefit because so far, we have not seen any numbers of cormorants on the canal, so fingers crossed. 

We took the decision to stock again this year, we put over 10,000 fish in the canal at Lydiate and this seems so far to have been successful. It is our intention to continue with this policy on a regular basis and care for the water in every way we can.

The good news is, since early October the canal has been fishing very well and match results have been the best for years and we all hope this will continue. 

Going forward we will continue to work with all the agencies connected with the canal to improve fishing on the canal for all. However, we all must do our bit so please use the canal with consideration for others pick litter up, even if it not yours, encourage your friends to fish the canal and of course join the Association.


Good luck 


Peter Gradwell


Liverpool and District AA