If there is one factor more responsible than any other in the scarcity of quality rudd on our canals, it is the ceaseless habitat destruction and alteration of waterways. Anglers are sometimes just as culpable as boat enthusiasts and local councils in their appetite for hacking back weed and plant growth to fashion open, featureless and convenient stretches of canal. In doing so, they remove both the cover and invertebrate life rudd thrive on.
Perhaps it should come as little surprise that many of my favourite rudd haunts are overgrown and neglected sections of canal. While it’s true that every water benefits from some maintenance, I’ve had the best sport of all in rich, weedy water. It’s amazing how quickly anglers will declare such swims as ‘unfishable’ as soon as pegged swims disappear and vegetation flourishes. But if you’re prepared to travel light and get stuck in, the rudd fishing can be phenomenal.
Shinnecock Canal Fishing Report Photo Gallery
Even the weediest quagmire can be tackled with floating bread or a fly rod. Sadly, rudd are often an easy target for poachers and they are not the hardiest fish, so the best fishing tends to be well away from access points, where casual anglers can’t be bothered to walk.
We’ve said little of flyfishing thus far, but in terms of both selecting larger fish and the sheer pleasure of the exercise, this is my absolute favourite method. Slow-sinking wet flies such as spiders are excellent, while sunny weather is ideal to try dry flies. Virtually any small pattern will work on fine tackle, but dark and soft hackled is best. Some of the most exciting midsummer activity I’ve witnessed has been the rudd keying in on flying ants, and whether they’re taking the real thing or not, small, dark terrestrial flies are avidly taken in humid conditions.
Sublime viewing: a pair of plump fish hug a raft offloating weed.
So my final advice to the rudd angler is to travel light and keep an open mind. If you only fish comfortable swims and miss out all the overgrown pegs, you’ll only ever realise a fraction of the potential of your chosen canal. Free-lined bread can be excellent, but my best catches have been with the fly. Sessions of half a dozen or more rudd of over a pound, on light tackle, represent truly memorable sport. And best of all, rudd fishing can be brilliant on those scorching hot days that you might easily assume were better for sun bathing than making a red letter catch. Hence, to my mind at least, no summer would be complete without a few afternoons chasing rudd on a quiet part of the Cut.
A rudd snack: undergrowth equals insect life, such as this hawthorn fly.
Humid conditions and a weedy canal signal prime rudd fishing.
Flyfishing is the most exciting method of all, and often selects the bigger fish.
Watching a juicy pike float is one of the highlights of the canal angler’s year.
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