Friday, 26 June 2020

Fenland Escapades Part I

 This part of my fishing is probably what I have missed the most, those drives into the Suffolk and Norfolk fens in search of the most beautiful of all our summer targets, it can only be the Rudd. Large bars of gold, that glisten in the summer sun and watching those crimson fins cut through the surface of the water as they charge down the crust, what else could you possibly want to catch when these are available, if you can find them.

 Elusive at times it can takes hours to find them, but with a boat to hand and pretty good knowledge of the waterways where I have dabbled in I do feel confident in finding some fish. So having picked Brian for this trip we left London at 0230 and headed north-east..ish some 96 miles to a location I'll refer to a base camp. Unfortunately it was where I'd learn that a large puncture would deem the boat out of service and HMS Rudd would have to watch from the sidelines as we both conceded to the fact we would spend the next two days on foot.

 Not a great start. Knowing that we would be walking a lot we kept the gear to a minimum and did our best to find fish to begin with and once a couple of small fish were tempted I set about looking for something that would pull back a bit. Finding that something a bit bigger however was not proving to be an easy task. The lack of access to open water really limited us as to where we could target fish and even if we saw something decent the problem of landing potential fish was then assessed and often thought better of it, even with a 3m reach plus the net!

Get me on the scoresheet.

 By 10am I'd only seen one decent fish that I reckon was over 2lb and the sort of fish we were both eagerly searching for. A decent helping of crust went out to try and get the fish to feed confidently but all I could see smashing the bait was tiny Rudd up to 6oz or so, then out of nowhere after ten minutes or so a decent bow wave headed for a piece crust, about the size of a £2 coin and it vanished, just what I wanted to see. I knew at this point I could be in business.

 Using a loaded fat top float I launched it to the other side of the drain and drew the bait into position, roughly centre of the track where the Rudd last appeared and hoped that the big Rudd would feed again. Not even a minute went by and a cheeky little Rudd started nobbling the edges of the crust when all of a sudden the crust just vanished, a large swirl was then followed by the float vanishing too, the take from heaven. On the light gear ( 12ft Greys float rod, Shimano 3000 exage FS reel loaded with 5lb straight through to a size 8 wide gape hook ) the fight was brilliant until it darted into a weed bed under my feet and was trying its very best to get into the reeds to shed the hook.

 With my heart pounding and polaroids steaming up I did my best to stay in control as I was getting beaten up by a determined Rudd. By this point Brian was neck deep in nettles with an outstretched arm and full length net, ready to gently coax the fish in as it finally came free of the weed bed! I can honestly say it's been sometime that I last experienced a battle that close, it could have easily gone the other way.

 This was the sight I was met with when I put the rod down and composed myself.

That 22'' landing net has seen some fish!
  Composed and ready to go we weighed her and got a few snaps before having the pleasure of watching her waddle back out into the unknown world, to which she may not possibly see a hook again.

A big drain Rudd at 2lb 5oz. BOLM!
 That is what I like to see. Those Fenland Rudd are just a different gravy all together, if I lived out there, I couldn't see myself targeting another species. Nevertheless, it was great to see it on the bank, but, the task I felt now was to help Brian find a new PB to cherish on the journey home, with a day and a half to go the odds looked good at the point of releasing my prize. Big Rudd often stick together and if packs of small hungry Rudd are around its quite often a good idea to move and by judging the size of the ripples coming off the bait it would suggest the remaining big fish moved off.

 Back to the drawing board again.

 For around six hours I ended up walking a 3mile section backwards and forwards, armed with my bucket of bread and catapult loading up areas that looked good for a big fish and would watch the water to see what responded and it took most of the afternoon to find another good Rudd and this time Brian was on it, the presentation spot on, the timing just perfect and the Rudd could not resist, 1lb 14ozs of pure fenland drain gold was his and a new PB too.

 Conditions however then began to dictate the direction our trip was heading and with storms skirting us for some three hours we finally came in the direct firing line of a fierce front where the pressure plummeted instantly and rumbling sheet of torrential rain headed straight for us, lightning and thunder filling the air we beat a hasty retreat to the car some half a mile away and we timed it almost to perfection as my back just started to get the first drops on it and Brian closed the boot and dived in the car as the heavens absolutely opened. At this point we had already decided to cut the trip short, A: The lack of boat was a severe disadvantage ( even given the fact we both caught good fish ) and B: The weather forecast was to predict heavy rain throughout the day in spells and in truth, that would take the shine off what was a very tough, but rewarding day on the drains.

 We will be back soon, with a non-leaking boat.

Oi! my prize, one last time :) 


  1. Glorious fish and well deserved by the sound of it. Is there a better looking fish than a big rudd?

    1. I don't think there is, I don't get much more excited than watching a big Rudd roll into the net! especially in the summer, the colours are stunning.

  2. Tough day but a couple of well earned bars of gold. And ferocious nettles!!

    1. It was mate but I really think we made the best of it, it would have been tough to take a blank or just a handful of baitfish.


Back to Plan A.

   I am well behind on this post, life has just been far too busy for fishing and all that comes associated with it, to tell the truth I am ...