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It’s cold, but angling memories are made of what may follow...

18:12 20 January 2016

Rob Mortimer plays his 11lb 8oz rainbow, which he caught at Larkwood. EDP SPORT 2001

Rob Mortimer plays his 11lb 8oz rainbow, which he caught at Larkwood. EDP SPORT 2001

Archant

Observant anglers will have noticed there is a distinct nip in the air, persuading our coarse fish to reduce their calorie intake.

The most frequent bite is the sting of Jack Frost nibbling at fingers and toes as the mercury falls.

Thermal underwear is recommended because the chill could last until mid-February, according to the longer-term forecast.

Success at the weekend will depend on the fishing fairy at the draw table, where the winner will be decided before a line is cast.

Last weekend was a transitional period when water temperatures lagged behind the atmospheric downturn.

At Barford, aerators were humming away to maintain ice-free venues, but scattered floes resisted and were manually removed.

Phil Walpole (Oddfellows) triumphed with 52lb from the Willow and Dave Jarvis (Suffolk AD) topped the Pleasure Lake with eight carp scaling 76lb.

Stuart Dack (Mariners) was top rod at Cobbleacre with 31lb 2oz in the midweek. Catches then plunged, leaving Jim Randell (Sensas) heading the Saturday card with 5lb 6oz.

At Holly Farm, winner was Rod Finch (Deben) with 35lb 2oz, but in the seventh round of the River Wensum Anglian Direct League, saline road surface water wrecked prospects, leaving Tom Ridley (Angling Direct) the winner with 7lb 10oz.

On the River Chet, Mulbarton club men enjoyed a small roach-fest. Chris Forder netted 21lb 3oz, followed closely by Jason Brewster with 20lb 9oz.

One consolation for anglers suggests a prolonged spell of deep wintry weather is more often followed by a marvellous summer.

This was certainly the case in 1940 when this adventurous seven-year-old caught the fish of his dreams, a thumping great bream. This was in June, when the nation was at war. With British summer time in force, we were almost feral kids spending many hours at the waterside and it was a sizzling summer morning when this boy arrived at the bank of the North Walsham Dilham Canal to discover a military dragline dredger parked at his favourite spot, an army corporal in attendance.

He was there to deepen the canal to create an effective tank trap against the possibility of a German invasion.

“You’ll have to move away and fish further up,” advised the soldier kindly as his colleagues arrived.

The newly-chosen swim was a small area of crystal clear water embroidered by yellow lilies and trailing ribbon weed. Overhead was a near cloudless sky where the only blemish was a thin tangle of vapour trails drifting in from the south west as remnants of a Battle of Britain tussle between our Spitfires and Hurricanes and German Luftwaffe bombers. Slowly descending was a white parachute with no visible body or equipment attached. In the nearby fields, a dozen Land Army girls and a few local housewives were harvesting early potatoes behind a tractor lifter, driven by a man in an industry exempt from the draft to armed forces.

Now settled in his fresh swim, the lad gazed into the water and was stunned by the picture. There they were, a trio of bronze-flanked bream, one of them a real monster in his eye line. With fingers shaking a juicy lugworm was threaded onto the size six hook and gently lowered on braided line into the slow-moving current.

One of the smaller fish went for the bait, which was instantly snatched away from the probing mouth.

Second cast, the big one suddenly took interest, but overkeenness and an early strike scared the small shoal.

Movement in the lily pads signalled their return and this time there was no mistake as the leader of the pack pouted its lips and sucked in the worm. One mighty heave and the ancient cane rod sprang the fish over the young angler’s right shoulder and into the green thicket of thistles, nettles and giant hogweed that broke its fall.

Old Sam, the farm ditcher, arrived and, after stuffing a freshly cut wad of chewing tobacco into his left cheek, he opined: “That’s a good’un boy, must be a four-pounder.”

Although reasonably successful in the challenging world of adult match fishing and landing thousands of bream, that first big one, above all else, remains always in the mind’s eye of its now 83-year-old captor, yours truly.

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