Extracting Gold from the Fens

Luckily for me I managed to get the week off work starting on June the 16th, my first chance to fish rivers or drains since March the 14th. I racked my brains on where to go, what to fish for, and came up with a day after big rudd on the drains of the Fen flatlands. I love fishing for rudd in the fens. They can be so easy to catch one day, but so hard to catch the next. I hoped that they would be easy to catch having had no angling pressure for a few months.

I headed down on the evening of the 15th with minimal tackle, a bag with a few bits and bobs in such as scales, camera, bread, plus a few spare floats and hooks. The only other gear was a landing net and my rod. I planned to have a look at likely looking areas in the evening then fish them at first light in the morning.

After a long walk where I spotted almost nothing, one area came alive just before dusk. Big rudd were rolling everywhere and some looked very big. I constantly flicked out a few bits of crust for them. All were taken almost instantly. This carried on until darkness closed in, when the drain went flat and calm, except for the odd carp that crashed out. I just sat on the bank waiting for dawn to arrive. There had been a couple of other anglers walking around and I didn’t want to lose my spot.

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As the light intensified on the so called glorious 16th, I stalked the drain with my rod baited with crust. As I thought nothing at all topped. A few crusts here and there drifted away on the slow current, but nothing showed any interest. Eventually, just as I was giving up hope, I heard a slurping sound and saw there was some sizeable rings in the water. I crept to the spot and flicked out a couple of decent sized pieces of crust. After a painstaking wait of about 5 seconds, both were engulfed by the same fish making splashy rolls. I knew all I had to do was make no mistakes and she was mine.

I checked my hook, it was sharp and proud of the crust. The waggler was a short but stumpy carp missile type float, requiring 4 swan shot, so I could easily cast a piece of crust the required distance. The 3.5lb line should be just the right balance for finesse and being able to land hard fighting fish in the thick weed. It was the moment I’d been waiting for. A gentle cast saw my waggler land a few yards away from where the last crust had been taken. I eased it slowly back into the zone and waited. A second or two later and my crust was slurped in, the waggler slid across the surface and my strike saw the rod hoop into its fighting curve.

These battles aren’t to be enjoyed with all the weed in the drains. I quickly bullied the fish into the landing net. As she slid in I could see a deep golden flank of what looked a very big rudd. On the mat though, it was obvious it had lost a lot of weight through recently spawning. I reckon this rudd would have been around the 3lb mark a few weeks earlier, but for today the scales settled just under 2lb 11oz, so I called it 2lb 10oz, a new PB by 1oz, a cracking start to the new river season.

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No other large fish were seen topping, but I did manage the odd pound plus fish from here and there. Some of the rudd over 1lb 8oz are in absolute mint condition and will hopefully see the big rudd continuing to prosper in these secluded drains. I did spot a cormorant working the drain though, lets hope it doesn’t do too much damage.

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After a drive home I returned the next evening, though I wish I could have stayed all day to fish the evening on the 16th. Again, the drain was very quiet, apart from one very big rudd that took a couple of my crusts. Sadly, I couldn’t fool it into taking any that were on my hook! Just as time was running out, my float started to slide across the drain, despite me not seeing anything take my crust. A strike met solid resistance and despite this fish battling very hard, I bundled it into the net along with a few of the sunken ‘cabbages’

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This fish was smaller than my 2lb 10oz fish, but still took the needle of the scales past 2lbs. It was a fat stocky fish. If my larger rudd had been as fat it would have tipped the scales over 3lbs, but it wouldn’t have been any less pretty.

I think that’s my rudd fishing done until later in the summer. They do get a lot of pressure in the first few weeks of the season. Hopefully I’ll catch them when their guards are down again!

Searching for Silvers

As the weather started to warm up I headed to the silver bream mecca, Mill Farm. I hadn’t visited this lovely venue for a number of years and wanted to familiarise myself with the Specimen Lake, the lake that now produces the largest silver bream.

Some anglers will wonder why I like silver bream, others won’t even know what one is. The ‘silver’ is the same shape as the more widely spread ‘common bream’, but has less scales and pink to orange tinted fins. Because of these coloured fins, many anglers assume that they are catching roach / bream hybrids. The main difference between a hybrid and a silver is the silver bream has a large eye. Here is a photo of a silver bream, but you must remember that this was caught in quite coloured water. In clearer water it will have slightly more colouring to the fins, a bluish tinge to its flanks, and the eye will have slightly more colour.

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The trip didn’t start well. On the fishery webpage it stated what times the main gate will open. I arrived 30 minutes before this to get one of the more favoured areas. Imagine my surprise when I noticed the car park was almost full and everyone was already fishing! It was so bad I only just got the last peg on the lake, tucked away in a corner that I didn’t fancy at all.

I tried my best though, catching a few silvers over a pound and some nice roach on a mini bolt feeder set up. As this method died through the day I switched to fishing a small pellet on the waggler at range. I slowly started building this swim up and caught some lovely fish, silver bream to just over a pound and a half, plus some clonking roach. I was thinking I’d got things cracked when that line dried up too.

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Because I was in a corner the only other place I could fish was the margins. As expected this line threw up just a few bream, but also some nice perch and carp to almost 20lbs which gave my light waggler float outfit a good workout.

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I went home with mixed feelings. I’d had a decent catch from a tough area of the lake, but couldn’t get my teeth into my real target, the larger silver bream that run to over 3lbs here. Next time I’ll make sure I arrive a bit earlier!