Is Norfolk angler Percy Britain’s oldest fly fisherman?

Percy Norton, still fishing at the age of 102, pictured at the Norfolk and Suffolk Flyfishers' Socie

Percy Norton, still fishing at the age of 102, pictured at the Norfolk and Suffolk Flyfishers' Society lakes at east Tuddenham, near Norwich. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

His eyes might not be quite as sharp as they were when he first picked up a fishing rod, the best part of a century ago.

Percy Norton, still fishing at the age of 102, pictured at the Norfolk and Suffolk Flyfishers' Socie

Percy Norton, still fishing at the age of 102, pictured at the Norfolk and Suffolk Flyfishers' Society lakes at east Tuddenham, near Norwich. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

His eyes might not be quite as sharp as they were when he first picked up a fishing rod, the best part of a century ago.

But Percy Norton is still flinging fluff for trout at the ripe old age of 102.

Daughter Marilyn Cross and fellow anglers are roped in to act as fish spotters during the retired butcher's weekly forays to the Norfolk and Suffolk Flyfishers' Society lakes at East Tuddenham, near his home in Mattishall.

'There's one, two o'clock,' she says as the silver flank of a rainbow trout flashes in the sun, as it turns to engulf a hatching nymph.

Percy Norton, still fishing at the age of 102, pictured at the Norfolk and Suffolk Flyfishers' Socie

Percy Norton, still fishing at the age of 102, pictured at the Norfolk and Suffolk Flyfishers' Society lakes at east Tuddenham, near Norwich. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant


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Mr Norton flexes the rod back and forward, sending the line swishing through the rings. The fly lands close to the rainbow's nose, but it swims straight past it.

Fishing club chairman Tony Hull reckons it's time to change tactics, tying on a long-tailed damsel nymph to Mr Norton's nylon cast.

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'I think he's the only active fly fisherman who's had the card from her Majesty,' he said, as he tugs the line to tighten it.

Mr Norton, who might well be Britain's oldest angler as well as the club's oldest member, started fishing at the age of seven, when his father took him on trips to the Wensum. Coarse fish were returned to the river. Trout weren't quite so lucky.

'I used to go tickling trout,' said Mr Norton, scooping an imaginary trout from the air beside his seat. 'You used to lay on your belly beside the river and tickle them out like that and out they'd go.'

For a while, it seemed as if the trout of East Tuddenham were a charmed bunch as they swirled to and fro in pursuit of a hatch. But Mr Norton finally got a bend in his rod, when a tea-sized two pounder took the bait.

Wounds he suffered in the Second World War are the only thing which has put a stop to Mr Norton's fishing.

He suffered injuries to his chest and stomach when a shell exploded close by shortly after the Normandy landings, as the Allies advanced inland.

Mr Norton, who was serving with the Dorset Regiment, said: 'It was just after D-Day, I was in hospital 12 months, they said I only had three months to live.

'I think it was one of our own shells dropped short, it got three of us out of six.'

Eighteen months later, he was still very much alive and fishing again.

'There's no walking about, you can stop where you like,' he said. 'When you go fishing, you go for a rest.'

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