West & Fens Fishing: Tough to find a place where man and fish can escape

I've hardly seen a soul on the bank in days. Years ago, anglers would happily fish through what passes for flood conditions in the Fens, moving off the main rivers and drains to one or two slacker spots, where local lore said the fish would go to escape from harsher flows.

But areas that offer both anglers and their quarry a respite, where you might be in with a chance of a few runs, seem at a premium these days.

Run-offs we've seen over the last week or so have been harsh and prolonged. The Ouse is now being diverted down the Relief Channel, instead of being allowed to flow out through the gates into the tidal at Denver.

The channel is up and down by a few feet between tides, with water being allowed in from the Cut-Off Channel, meaning the cut's also up and down. Both rise over the banks as the tide comes in and the gates close at St Germans. When the tail sluice opens, the whole system goes into full flush mode, water running off at an incredible rate even miles inland.

Recent jaunts have seen conditions I've been unable to cope with – whether it's the flow or the amount of floating debris that fouls your lines, making it impossible to present a bait.

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The banks have been all-but deserted for the last week or so, with little apart from the odd small fish caught. Before the worst of the flows began, there were hopeful noises from part of the Ouse, which produced a few doubles and a couple of low-20s.

Few of us can compete with the guy who caught the latter when it comes to experience of the river and all its moods.

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For most, it's just been a painful learning curve.

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