The ‘Glorious’ 16th?

I’ll start the blog a little before the so called glorious 16th. I had a couple of weeks at the end of May to go tench fishing. I never had a fish on both a gravel pit and a reservoir. I just can’t seem to get my timing right regarding the tench. I have to book my dates off work almost a year in advance, so if the tench aren’t playing ball, its tough luck. Now, I know it might just be me that’s rubbish at tench fishing, but in my defence, out of 13 other tench anglers on the same venues, at the same time, just 1 tinca was landed, despite fish rolling in our swims. I could go on about natural food etc, but I’ll just finish things by saying my bobbins never twitched!

I consoled myself by doing some fish spotting on the local canal. The bream were spawning and the roach were starting to go as well. The water was pretty clear now, giving a good insight into the canals potential. The shoals of roach were vast and there were some real lumps to be seen. I took some photos with a long lens, but it distorts the sizes a bit. You can judge the girths in some pics

And length in others.

There were stacks of quality specimens, showing that I was just scratching the surface with my catches in April. The amount of fish between 12oz and 1lb+ was staggering. Then there were the better fish, with more than a handful between 1.8 and probably over 2lbs. A quick shot from Martins iPhone gives a better indication. And you have to remember that this is just part of a shoal!

I think they might be worth some serious effort when the rivers are out of bounds or un fishable!

Anyway, back to the ‘Glorious 16th’ I’d decided to target the rudd of the Fens, a large network of drains in the flat, middle east of the country. I didn’t bother last year after a poor start to the season a couple of years ago. Back then, Martin and I spent all day trying to locate some good fish. We only saw the one roll, which resulted in a cracker of 2.8 for me, but the place was a shadow of it’s former self.

It was a lovely hot day as I drove down, which I knew would be perfect conditions to locate any surface feeding rudd. As I crossed over the River Trent, I thought there was a massive car boot sale on the banks, as I could see white vans for miles. Then I realised it was every man and his dog waiting for the start of the season. I hoped the Fen drains wouldn’t be as busy!

When I arrived at the drains the countryside was a picture. Lush green fields, trees swaying in the breeze and big rudd rolling in the drain! I could hardly contain myself not to cast in until the next day! A walk up and down revealed some other anglers who had pre baited some swims, but I wouldn’t be fishing near them. There seemed to be no real hot spots, the rudd were rolling as far as the eye could see, probably taking insects off the surface.

I tackled up on the bank in readiness for the next morning, and fed a few bits of crust to see if the rudd would take them. Some were taken, but they mainly seemed pre occupied with natural food. At least I’d sorted the main thing out. I’d located some good fish.

I had a snooze on the bank, setting my alarm before 3am. I awoke just before this and could hear voices. After getting my bearings, I noticed a few lights moving about in the drain itself. A closer inspection revealed some anglers in boats who’d floated into position in the dead of night. I hoped things wouldn’t get any busier!

I saw a few rudd swirling right in front of me so I flicked a few crusts out. They were taken instantly. I couldn’t resist the urge to start. I thought my large pellet waggler float should be visible in the first embers of the morning light. Thats one of the reasons for using them. They cast a large piece of crust easily and are highly visible. Later, as the light intensifies, I usually change to a dumpy crystal waggler that shouldn’t spook the fish as much.

I had to use my head torch to hook my piece of crust on a size 12 hook. Prior to casting in, a few more crusts were fired both up and down the drain, to get any feeding rudd looking for more bait. I cast out to the far bank, then eased my float back into the middle, where I could see the silhouette of the tip on the mirror like surface of the water. A small ripple appeared just beyond the float, where the crust should be. Had something taken it, or was it a small fish with eyes bigger than it’s belly? The float started to slide away so I struck and made contact with a good fish. In these weed choked drains there’s no time to really enjoy the scrap, so I bullied the fish into the edge, using the 3.5lb line to my advantage. The netting process was a bit hairy as I’d taken my head torch off, but I managed to bundle whatever it was into my net. Shining the torch onto it revealed the deep, golden flank of a specimen rudd.

Putting my hand around it to tease the hook out, I thought it might make 2lbs. My Rueben’s proved me right, with the needle settling on 2lbs 2oz. What surprised me though was how warm the water was. I know we’d had a couple of hot days but i never expected it to be this warm.

I placed a large keepnet in the deep margins and placed her into that. I didn’t want any other fish in front of me to be spooked as there were still fish rolling for my crusts. The next cast saw a large fish erupt through the surface to take my bread. This was going to be easy I thought, and I was partly right as I played the second good fish of the morning to the net.

By 6am I’d managed to land 10 good rudd to a best of 2lbs 5oz. I had weighed one other fish over 2lbs, but I never weighed the others. I’d have estimated them between 1lb 8oz and probably just under 2lbs, plus I’d also had a few fish between 8oz and a pound that managed to fit a chunk of crust in their mouths!

I’d caught the first 5 from my original peg and placed them into my net. The others were landed around 50 yards away, so I’d returned them straight away. If I’d caught a large specimen I’d have put it into the net for a photo. What frustrated me was the fact that big rudd were still rolling regularly in most pegs from time to time, but they weren’t interested in my bread. If I fed 5 bits of crust, one would be demolished, but the rest ignored. They were a bit more crafty than they used to be!

As the sun peered over the horizon I took a quick photo of my catch on the mat.

I tried to do a quick self take of one of the ‘2’s, but found out I’d left my camera bank stick adapter at home. I still took a quick effort with the camera resting on my bag!

What struck me as I watched them all swim strongly away, was that only one of my rudd seemed to have been marked by a cormorant. In the past, nearly every fish has had heeled up slashes on them from the ‘black death’

I hoped that this was a good sign and hopefully mean these fish will be here for many more years.

When I got home I looked at all the photos of fish what other anglers were catching that they’d put on the internet. I couldn’t help but notice how skinny and out of condition most of these fish looked (to me at least!) especially the ones caught close to my home. I walked down my local rivers and there were loads of anglers all trying to catch the same fish. One would move from a peg and another would move straight in. Again, the fish they caught were skinny and looked in poor condition to me. Some barbel and chub were still spawning on the gravels, but anglers were still trying to catch them. This leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and I won’t fish the rivers for a few more weeks, when they’ve fully recovered. Especially in this hot weather. How many barbel will be going belly up after a scrap in oxygen depleted water? After all, they already look in poor condition before being caught.

It’s about time the closed season was reviewed. Forget the bullshit about tradition. The fish people are catching this week look in poor condition and this hot weather won’t be doing them any favours. Fish will be dead after being caught. Surely a closed season from mid April till July will be far more beneficial for the majority of fish. Still, that would ruin the ‘floppy hat brigade’s’ life, not having a ‘special day’ The weather and seasons are changing, I think us anglers should be following suit.

Anyway, rant over. Without sounding like a hypocrite, I thought the Fenland rudd were in fantastic, plump condition. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t have fished for them.