A FAMOUS old venue is back on the fishing map via an unusual source... a steam train.
The connection of a steam railway and a revival in angling has come through transporting anglers and their heavy tackle to their pegs.
That unlikely but true scenario has led to attendances rising steadily but safely at iconic Rudyard Lake, near Leek, Staffordshire.
Annual visitor numbers to the 168-acre, 2.5-mile-long lake and surrounding grounds, created in 1797 by famous engineer John Rennie, average more than 500,000, including significant numbers of anglers.
Match organiser Nick Broadhurst told Angler’s Mail: “Rudyard has always been a great natural venue, stuffed with fish.
“Access to swims was a big factor in why attendances fell off the cliff over the past two decades.
“After lockdown, we approached the venue’s managers and secured the service of their narrow-gauge railway to transport anglers and their tackle down the east bank, which would otherwise be a very long walk.
“That’s made a big difference to how we can run matches, and anglers have responded really well,” he added.
With a socially safe draw, weigh-in and payout system established, Nick’s July matches were soon attracting sellout status, capped at an entry of 30, prompting him to run a 40-entry two-dayer.
The current popularity of feeder contests targeting bream and skimmers, which has long been a part of the North West match scene, is another reason behind the Rudyard rejuvenation.
Feeder is not the only way to score at Rudyard, as Stafford match ace Paul Boothby proved with a terrific 35 lb 14 oz winning catch on pole in a recent 30-pegger.
“The last time I’d fished Rudyard was in 2003, in a Super League round for Drennan North West. I won’t be leaving it that long again for my next visit,” said Paul.
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