Rudd entertain at the clay pit

November 11, 2020 at 5:26 pm

In a contrast to last week’s freezing conditions, spring like weather drew me out of Lockdown this week to a local pond that I have never fished before. While out walking, I had often peered through the chain link fence and wondered who had the fishing rights to the tree lined water, guessing that it was private property belonging to the golf course that it bordered. Fast forward a few years and the golf course is being built on and the fence has made way for a foot path, leaving it open to fishing.

The one problem is that the pond is close to a busy road with no parking nearby, but a convenient grass verge allowed my wife to drop me and my tackle off. Problem solved. A short 50 yard walk saw me settle down into a well used swim judging by the litter, lager cans, empty sweet corn and meat tins being scattered among the bank side vegetation. Twenty yards away is an empty litter bin with KEEP BRITAIN TIDY in gold lettering on the side.

I had a scout round, filling my bait bag with a variety of bottles and cans, then dumping them in the litter bin, my good deed for the day.

The manufacture of bricks was once the area’s main form of employment and clay pits were common around the town, the popular Jeanes Pond being one that still exists today, while most have been filled in to make way for housing estates. This pond has all the characteristics of a clay pit, being very deep and in the hollow of an old watercourse.

I have no idea how deep this pond is, but the sides shelved away quickly, being five feet deep at 4 metres out and seven feet at 5 metres, when I plumbed the depth. As an unknown quantity, I had brought worms from my compost heap, just in case it was full of perch, as well as my usual bread punch. Due to the depth, I opted for a heavy 2 gram antenna rig, that works well at Jeanes Pond, the shot, bulked 18 inches from the size 16 barbless hook, getting down to the bottom quickly.

Having broken the top three section of my pole a few weeks ago, I was keen to try out a replacement section, that I had adapted from one gifted to me by a good friend. Once the heavy elastic had been refitted down the middle, the new section was a close match to the original pole. I mixed up ground carp pellets and damped down liquidised bread, then squeezed up a couple of small balls, one over the 4 metre line, with the other at 5 metres. Setting the float just off bottom at 4 metres, I cast over the feed and waited for signs of interest in the 6 mm punch of bread. It was not immediate, the antenna gently raising and lowering fractionally after 5 minutes, before slowly sinking when a small rudd swallowed the bread.

Not a bad start, with no surface activity, I had wondered what fish were in here. Dropping the float back in had a speedier response, the float settling, dipping, then submerging.

A better rudd. I even got the landing net out for this one. Without putting in more feed, the rudd had got the message and were now taking steadily. I now switched to a small red worm to see if there were any perch about. The float dived a way and I lifted into another rudd.

The rudd really went for the worms, the float sliding away and out of sight before it had settled.

After several rudd, I was having to search for more worms in the bait box, while trying to get a reluctant worm onto the hook was proving fiddly and I went back to the punch, as it is so much quicker to bait the hook. I had moved out over the 5 metre line and added a foot to the depth, but was getting lift bites, striking on the lift and getting some better rudd.

Raising the float back up to the five foot depth, the bites were more positive and regular tight balls of feed kept the fish there. I had one of those bites when you know that it is a big fish before you strike, the float slowly sank and steadily continued down and out of sight. The elastic was coming out of the pole before I lifted and I quickly attached another section of pole as the fish continued down and across. It kept going without slowing, bending the pole round. The the float pinged back, it had come off. Judging by the empty luncheon meat cans, the regulars here come for the carp and this was a large one.

The fine wire size 16 hook was opened out slightly and I bent it back. Time for my lunch time sandwich and a cup of tea. It was now quite warm and I took off my big heavy jumper. The sun had come out from the cloud, being directly in front of me and I had to shield its reflection with my hand to see the float. I fed another ball of feed and went up to the 7 mm punch, then went back to catching rudd.

This one was a lipless wonder with no top lip. The pond is very clear, but these fish are pale for rudd, which is unusual, more like those from murky waters like gravel pits.

The local fishermen that remember these old clay pits, say that they were full of crucian carp and I was hoping to see some today, but despite the bread now coating the bottom, there was no sign of bubbles on the surface from the bottom feeders.

I tried fishing deeper, but the lift bites returned and I missed more bites, this rudd being an exception among a stream of much smaller fish. I shallowed up again, but the bites had become difficult to hit, still being small fish, so scaled down from a 7 mm punch to a 5 mm. The bites improved and so did the fish.

It seemed that the rudd were no bigger than this and there would be no crucians, or manageable carp, so after a period of “just one more”, I made the decision to pack up after this last one.

I couldn’t complain, the sun still shone, I’d watched a heron fishing opposite, seen wagtails, long tailed tits and even a flock of green parakeets robbing a wild rose bush of hips, all for the price of a few pence worth of bait.

Three and a half busy hours had put over 6 lb of rudd in my net on a warm sunny day. If this pond has not been filled in by next spring, I’ll give it another go. I’m sure there are a few surprises in store.