What would you consider to be a big snake lake?


For years it lay untouched and unloved until restoration work began, resulting in the canal being reopened as a leisure facility in 2001. Now it offers a rural haven for lovers of the countryside, and a fantastic fishery for anglers who want something a little different from their normal commercial packed to the rafters with F1s, carp and barbel. Blocked off at both ends, the restored stretch is the width of a long pole, relatively unhindered by boat traffic and – crucially – offers anglers the chance of a net-bulging catch of silverfish.

One man who remained oblivious to the stretch until around eight years ago is Shakespeare Superteam Captain, Darren Massey. Born and bred in nearby Tamworth, and a canal angler for more than 30 years, Darren was surprised when a friend told him just how good the Moira was. “I live 12 minutes away from the venue. I must have driven over it countless times, but I’d never fished it, or even heard of it if I’m being truthful,” Darren told us. “Only on my first trip did I realise quite what I’d been missing out on, when I landed more than 30lb of silverfish.” Never having been officially stocked, the Moira offers visiting rods the chance to bag up on skimmers, roach, rudd, tench and perch, with 40lb-plus bags being commonplace during the summer months. When it comes to fishing the Moira, Darren feeds two lines, one at 5m and a second at 10m, down the central track. The main problem with the place is that it is very weedy,” he added. “But there are open matches every Wednesday and the organisers rake out the swims prior to the matches, so a lot of the pegs are clear up to halfway across.” To get the most out of his session, Darren approaches the abandoned cut much more aggressively than he would normally. This is purely due to the large head of fish that have naturally found their way into the watercourse. On the inside (5m) line, Darren will prime the swim with a pole cup of liquidised bread and punch crumb mixed in equal measures. The reasoning behind these ingredients is that skimmers prefer the higher food value offered by the liquidised bread, whereas the roach prefer the lighter punch crumb. Over the top, he then sprays red maggots as these give him an alternative hookbait, perfect for targeting the larger species like perch and tench. “The inside line is fished at the base of the shelf, where the natural food collects,” Darren said. “The longer (10m) line, on the other hand, is better for a combination of fishing on the deck and up in the water.” When it comes to his long line, Darren mixes equal amounts of Sensas Lake, Canal Black and Roach, before adding around 30 finely chopped worms and 100 casters. The resulting mixture is made into six large groundbait balls and cupped in. The line is then allowed to settle, while he spends the first hour fishing the inside swim. All the while, though, Darren will be catapulting 10 to a dozen casters every five minutes over the top of the groundbait in order to encourage the fish into the swim and to hopefully get them feeding confidently up in the water. Using a doubled No6 elastic with all three rigs, due to the weed and to tame the larger skimmers and tench he may encounter, the mainline is 0.12mm straight through to the size 16 Sensas 3405 hook. For the inside line he uses an ST9 4 x 14 float, while the longer line has an ST8 4 x 14 on the deck, and a 4 x 12 up in the water. With a good 6lb taken in the first hour on the short line, Darren moved out to his longer swim and never looked back. Initially catching on the bottom, the number of swirls indicated that the fish were well off the deck, so he quickly swapped over to his half-depth set-up, using single caster on the hook. He also stepped up the feed to 10 caster every two minutes to increase the competitive feeding. After only four hours’ fishing, he had well over 40lb of mixed silverfish in the net. “I’ve fished halfway down today, but really every peg is this good,” he said. “In fact it is a brilliant place to bring kids, as they can’t fail to catch. I only wish I’d discovered the place 30 years earlier!”


Fishing is possible along the entire length of the canal, preferably on the opposite bank to the towpath. A day ticket costs £5, and an annual one £50. Tickets can be purchased from Moira Furnace Museum when open, or money will be collected by the bailiff.

Address: Furnace Lane, Moira, Swadlincote, Derbyshire DE12 6AT

Contact: 01283 224667