Fenland Gold

Being an all round specimen angler is more than just deciding what species you want to target on a particular day, it is carefully and regularly monitoring weather temperatures, pressures and changes, looking at catch reports and river heights and making a decision on which species that it suits best. Then you need to consider venues, angling pressure amongst lots of other subjects and try and make it all fit around your personal and family life.

For YouTuber Matt De La Bruyere, who you may know from Fanter Fishing on social media, that attitude has brought him numerous personal bests. His most recent, a whopping Rudd from a Fenland drain. Here, Matt takes up the story:

"I work Monday to Friday and have a young family so the majority of my angling is during the weekends, as much as I'd like to just pick up the rods when it's “perfect” and go catch them I just can't always make it happen.

Early August 2020 and England had a mini Heatwave, temperatures were reaching mid to upper 30’s in some parts of the country and featured hot muggy nights which did not drop far below 20 degrees, even being a southerner this was considered hot.

At face value these conditions are far from ideal for most species,  however there are always going to be opportunities at some points of the day. A clear, hot and humid morning ticked all the right boxes for an early morning Rudd session, and there was no question on venue and that was the Fenland Drains, this meant to get my fishing fix for the weekend a 3am alarm would be set and i needed to travel around 3 hours for potentially 90 minutes fishing, Let's do it.

These reed lined and shallow drains span for many many miles throughout the Fenlands and Cambridgeshire and offer arguably the best Rudd fishing in the country. That being said it's not just as easy as turning up and catching big fish, like all specimens these fish have survived a long time and grown big because they have good genetics and particular skill sets which have enabled them to avoid predation and capture. Clocking up 10+ miles on your pedometer is not uncommon when trying to locate shoals of the larger fish or spotting individual large fish cruising through swims. In General i like to think that at least 80% of successful fishing is based on location, the remaining 15-20% can be made up of conditions, tactics and correct tackle, and then a few percent for bait and angling ability, oh and a sprinkle of luck, if you can get as many of these percentages in your favour you maximise your chances.

In a nut shell you don't need to be an award winning master angler to catch big fish, but you can only catch the fish that are in front of you, so pack some comfy footwear.

I got to the particular stretch I had in mind at about 4:15am, it was just starting to get light but still needed my mobile phone's torch to thread my 5lb mainline through the eyes of my rod. The tactics for the session were to target the large rudd on the surface with floating bread, and over time I think I have perfected my drain fishing rudd setup. The korum Glide rod (with its extension piece) at 14 foot gave me a huge advantage when fishing amongst 10 foot reeds and also being a power float rod it can easily cast or underarm the bread out, but had the backbone to stop the fish getting into the thick “weed-bergs” which sometimes cover large areas of the drains providing an excellent safe haven for these specimens.  This was paired with a Korum Axis reel, with a Loaded blob threaded onto the line acting as a miniature controller float and a Size 10 Allrounder Supersteel hook on the business end, no weights , no fancy swivels just a simple effective setup.

I had a few ideas of where I might find the Rudd in general, i knew if i found them then i could throw some freebies in and judge the size of the fish by either sight or how they are taking the bait. If you have never seen large rudd take bread off the surface then it sits somewhere in between carp competitively feeding on bread and a pike hitting a surface lure, they can be super aggressive feeders and you will often see a bow-wave approaching your bread when a biggun has your hookbait in its cross hair, however this isnt always the case as we will see shortly.

This particular swim is in a section where the water widens ever so slightly, one end is almost capped with weed with just a small corridor carved into it most likely by kayakers.

I started throwing individual bread sections about the size of a 50 pence piece, a few in the far margin, some in the middle and two pieces quite literally under my feet. Before the second piece had even touched the water the first piece was already being attacked by a group of small 5-8oz rudd in the middle of the swim, pecking at it, ripping off chunks and then heading to the next piece.

Pretty much all of the bread had been ravaged within a couple of minutes, with no definitive evidence of a specimen. You could quite easily feed these shoals of small fish all day and can easily fall into the trap of repeatedly baiting and hoping that a big one comes along, often your time is better spent walking another 50 feet and trying there.

I was just about to move to the next swim when I noticed a swirl at my feet, i saw a whole piece of bread disappear under the water and not return, I also couldn't see the second piece. I threw another piece in and could just make out a large dark rudd come up and engulf the lot without a second thought, i knew it was big but wasn't sure just how big.

My hookbait was already on the hook as these opportunities need to be taken immediately. Crouched behind reeds and making sure my rod tip wasn't visible flicked the hook bait in the same spot, i stood still and quiet as gnats buzzed around my head like formula one cars and feasted on my arms and legs, i grabbed my line and pulled it from the spool to test the drag, this has almost become a nervous reaction to me when in a situation like this. I said “please come back” to myself and then suddenly a mouth appeared next to my bait and with the most delicate of movements sucked in the bread and sunk down into the water, it was one of those surface takes where the water barely moves. With a sharp upward strike the fish was hooked and i knew it was big straight away, these fish battle so well, the banks are unkempt and full of snakes so you have to be careful, but i must admit my mind was purely on this fish getting in my net, it was racing into the weed but i had no issues steering it away once i slid down the bank into stinging nettles and damp folded over reeds. I positioned the net so I could guide the fish directly into the net, after a few nervy minutes the fish popped to the surface and drifted sidewards into the Latex snapper net,  its bright gold flanks illuminating in the first light.

Lifting the net and looking at my prize I was shaking, I had never seen a rudd this big, I left it securely in the net against the bank whilst I prepared the unhooking mat, scales and camera.

Hooked in the top left hand side of its mouth I needed the disgorger to get the hook out, it's so reassuring to know how well they get hooked on these super sharp hooks, I use them for such a large variety of my fishing.

I knew this Rudd was over 2lb which was enough of a buzz for me, but when the needles swung around to over 3lb my face represented the cheshire cat, 3lb 4oz. “Wow wow wow” i said.

I got some early morning shots and slipped the magnificent fish back, it was quite literally just me and the wild deer for about 3 miles so self shots were in order, as a Vlogger on Youtube I am used to doing things solo so this was no huge issue.

The rest of the session did not throw up any large Rudd but I enjoyed a number of smaller aggressive fish , and soon enough the dog walkers came, the deer disappeared and the water was being disturbed by labradors chasing sticks and kayakers enjoying the morning heat, time to go home.

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