One big disadvantage you face at the moment is this cold spell. Even pike and perch will be less inclined to chase food. Any lures will have to be put on there noses.
Work any lures slow and deep possibly even bouncing them off the bottom. Cover all the water casting in a fan pattern.
Fish will bite lightly in cold weather so you may notice the line moving sidewise or the lure suddenly feeling a bit light - or heavy. Or think you have bumped a small limb. Or if it is a sinking lure and it takes too long to reach bottom. Or a diving floater that takes too long to surface when you pause it.
Strikes are cheap. Free in fact. And it is easy this time of year to have 5 or 10 strikes during the course of a days angling and never know it.
chrisg - lure angling is so much a confidence thing that you might do well to give a try at easier waters that are known to produce on lures. Get a couple of fish on so you know that lures will catch for you. Then back to your canal to catch.
If there are pike and perch in the water, they will take lures. The problem - and especially in winter when things are slow - is to figure out exactly what they want on a given day. May be surface or shallow diving or deep diving/bottom bumping. May be on a slow or medium or screaming fast retrieve. May be green or red or yellow or white. But once you have worked out what they want on a given day, you should catch fish.
Also a matter of where. Even canals have features and things to look for/try are:
- around boats if there are any anchored.
- around structures like docks or similar if there are any.
- around any deep pockets in the bottom and if it is pretty level, a pocket can be an area only 6 inches deeper than the surronding.
- margins are always a good bet.
- edges are always a good bet. For instance, if the shoreline is mostly one sort of grass with occasional patches of a different sort, they are where they meet is an edge. Same with grass vs. bare bank. Likewise any place there is a sudden change in depth. Even a slight one.
A technique you can try that should produce perch and probably some pike is as follows (and I don't know the exact UK terms for the rig but surely someone will)
- Light rod and line of around 4 lb b/s
- Sliding float with a stop knot and bead that will pass thru the rings so you can adjust the depth of the float and still be able to cast.
- Jig tied to the mainline. I'd prefer one with a barb that I'd crushed down over normal barbed or barbless. Try white, yellow, green, and combinations with maybe a bit of red.
- No wire. If you get into pike, you will lose lots of them but with the light line and near-barbless jig having all its weight away from the barb, a pike can shake it loose quickly. And they are cheap enough to not hurt when you lose them.
- Cast out with the stop knot set to keep the jig a foot or two off the bottom. Let it settle. Give a twitch every 10-15 seconds and watch your line for strange behavior.
- If nothing at a location after casts to near side, middle, far side and maybe 2-3 casts to each place, move on and try again.
I use this technique for mid-winter fishing and it does work. The light line is essential since you will want to use jigs in a 1/32 to 1/8 oz size and heavy gear ruins the action. I use what we call a noodle rod - basically limber and action thru from tip to handle. 4 lb line or maybe 6 lb if using a 1/8 oz jig. Maybe.
Obviously with this rig you can't horse a fish to the bank. More like gently guide them there. But in cold water and with the light gear, they won't get too tired and will be fine after release.
If you should happen to find the pike doing lots of the striking on this rig, you can change to a heavier jig, a light, limp 49 strand wire, and heavier mainline (8 - 10 lb maybe) & rod. Probably not nearly as many takes but you will land lots more of the toothy critters.
Some people recommend a bright, flashy lure if you are going to try spinning in coloured water. You could always try some which make noise or perhaps add one of those rattling beads that sea anglers use to your trace.