A lover of clear, overgrown waters, the beautiful rudd is a fish worth catching on any canal. Watching shoals of these playful fish at the surface is a truly fine way to waste a summer’s afternoon. Introduce a fishing rod and it gets even better.
You won’t find rudd abundant on all canals. They seem to do best in weedy places where water clarity is good. They have a wide diet and are as happy gorging on plant growth as the bugs hiding in it. The wild, shallow canals of the West Country and Ireland strike me as perfect rudd habitat: wild, undisturbed and rich in insect life. In these lush places, rudd can grow large. Indeed, it’s not unusual to find specimens over a pound, and even the occasional 2-pounder on the right canal, even where the local roach barely reach half that size.
Shropshire Union Canal Fishing Permit Photo Gallery
My own introduction to the world of rudd fishing began at the back of the Double Locks Inn on the Exeter Canal, where a tub of maggots and four metre whip provided about all the excitement a ten-year-old could handle. And what wonderful looking fish rudd are! With bright golden scales and deep red fins, they possess a deeper profile to the roach and a charm all of their own.
Quarter of a century later, these fish are still a firm summer favourite, although the fibreglass whip is usually replaced by a carbon pole or flyrod. One of the reassuring factors of rudd fishing is that it requires no elaborate equipment or bait whatsoever. Light tackle is a must, with a lightly-elasticated pole or match rod ideal. As far as getting one to bite, maggots, casters, floating bread and artificial flies all have their place.
Nor are rudd difficult to spot. Sometimes in the winter they are taken on bottom-fished baits, but the real cream of rudd fishing is from May onwards when the fish act exactly as nature intended. With a quick eye and a gaping, upturned mouth, rudd are tailor-made for feeding in the upper layers of the water.
This lifestyle lends itself perfectly to visual fishing and while you might happily plant a seat box in a single hot spot, it’s even more enjoyable to don a pair of polarising glasses and travel light in search of rudd shoals.
Groups of smaller rudd can number hundreds, but for the true rudd addict, the jackpot is locating those much smaller, scarcer pockets of large fish. A fish of a pound or more represents an excellent size; a sample of double that weight would be the fish of a lifetime, an old specimen that could be the survivor of fifteen years or more.
Rudd paradise: a warm day on a neglected, rural canal.