Left to rue a draining day and one that got away

WEST AND THE FENS: You can write what I know about fishing drains on the back of a stamp with room to spare.

But a desperate search for somewhere fishable over the weekend led me to my least favourite kind of water.

Saturday was grim, with the Ouse deserted all the way from Denver Sluice to Littleport bridge. It only took one cast to see why, with three ounces of lead and the biggest floats I could find needed to hold on the marginal shelf and lines continually getting wiped out by bits of debris hurtling along below the waterline.

The main river and just about everywhere I looked were totally out of sorts. Instead of heading for the stillwaters, I thought I'd persevere on Sunday.

This time I forced myself to fish a tiny land drain.

I say forced because ditch would be a better description.

But there was a plan hatching. Would the fish be seeking refuge from the fierce flows of the main river?

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Half a mile yomp from the car and the drain was so narrow I could touch the far bank reeds with the rod tops.

Three feet of water, slightly less coloured than the main river, flowing hard but do-able with half an ounce of lead and a poly ball, instead of six times as much weight and a shark float.

I nearly fell down the bank with shock when the float moved upstream against the current. The fish was almost under my feet when I pulled into it, or rather snatched the bait right out of its gob without planting the hooks. It rolled on the top and disappeared with a great swirl in the direction I'd come from. So I followed it down the drain, leap-frogging the rods every 10 minutes or so, like it says in all the books.

Whenever the sun came out, I could see the silver flashes of roach in the current. This little drain was full of food fit for any pike.

But the day passed uneventfully – apart from the missed chance first chuck. Son of a ditch.