Angler Mal Dobson rolls back the years

Completing a hat-trick of three consecutive victories in match angling is considered a pretty powerful performance.

Therefore making it six in a row is more of a story from the book of fishing fantasy. It simply does not happen.

Well, it has now, after a pensioner who resumed match fishing after a 25-year lay-off completed this phenomenal act of piscatorial prowess, transporting the stuff of dreams to reality.

Mal Dobson, who hails from Aldeby in Suffolk, is the 68-year-old retired businessman whose match angling career was curtailed by the more pressing demands of running a concrete manufacturing plant.

But after a quarter century break, he resumed his favourite pastime just over four years ago, hoping to make up the lost years.

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A more unlikely candidate for winning half a dozen events on the trot would be difficult to locate.

But it was he who pulled off this quite remarkable match fishing feat at venues staged by the Norfolk and Suffolk Veterans.

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He illustrated his potential last year with an unbroken chain of four wins with the Veterans.

'Just a stroke of luck,' he declared modestly.

But this term in the Veterans series, at Topcroft Tuesdays and Aldeby Thursdays, he proved that it was more than luck with his big six sequence, which produced nets of 63lb 6oz, 42lb 4oz and 61lb 7oz at Topcroft and 38lb 2oz, 28lb 10z and 12lb 2oz at Aldeby.

His achievement is all the more remarkable since this proud angler had to manage a difficult transition from the old fashioned rod and reel method for bream and roach on rivers to the more sophisticated technique of employing a long carbon pole combined with the new fangled artificial cereal baits on the wide acres of the commercials.

He takes up the story. 'I went fishing as a youngster then spent 12 years in the Royal Navy, when my fishing was confined to catching mackerel for the pot.

'After being demobbed I joined my local angling club, but soon I was obliged to hang up my tackle because it was a case of business first when I started out on my own.

'To say I noticed a difference when I took up the sport again on my retirement would be an understatement.

'I had to learn a completely different art for the carp on commercial lakes.

'I sat behind some of the top anglers watching and learning, and after a couple of years I think I got the hang of it, understanding the importance of fish habits and various changes in water conditions.'

In short, Mal Dobson was holding his own, much to the admiration of the Veterans match organiser Joe Beckham.

'Mal joined us about four years ago, admitting he was quite a novice at lake fishing.

'He learned the business rapidly and now he ranks among the best of our group, emphasising that while luck is important it is always skill that comes out on top,' reasoned Beckham.

This week the Veterans returned to their winter venue, the rectangular moorings off the River Waveney at Beccles.

There, roach, bream, perch and the odd sizable tench are the main species. Dobson will be hoping to prove he is equally successful on this competitive silver fish venue.

Elsewhere on the match circuit, only a few anglers who braved the elements were rewarded for their discomfort.

Exceptions were Simon Wheeler (Dynamite) who won at Cross Drove with 107lb 14oz and Shaun Greatbatch (Hinderclay) with 112lb 2oz at Bridge Farm.

At club level, Richard Yates, the Costessey Crown winner, netted a 20lb carp to boost his catch to 54lb 8oz.

Norfolk's well-known travelling sea angler Mark Colman faced storm-force driving rain in the Dover annual sea festival, reduced to two days because of high seas.

Colman, the British herring record holder, caught at last year's festival, landed 38 whiting, six pouting, three dogfish, one codling and a 2kg pollock that boosted his aggregate to 15kg for a top-10 finish.

On the commercial fisheries, pike action at Taswood is hectic, with numerous specimens to the high teens falling to dead baits.

The top three carp there were in the mid-20s for Paul Harper, Richard Abbs and Kellum Watson.

• Andrew Wilson-Sutter's new appointment as chair of Waveney's Sentinel Leisure Centre Trust will not affect his involvement promoting the tidal River Yare match fishing facility between Rockland and Langley.

This week he gave that welcome assurance while outlining the Environment Agency's plan to reinforce the crumbling riverbank approaches – work that could result not only in safer access, but increased space to accommodate more anglers in his popular Saturday league.

'While I was honoured to take the chair of the Leisure Trust, I can reassure anglers it will be business as usual on the River Yare, with one important difference – the River Yare championship will be staged on the opening day of the new season, Sunday June 16, when I expect a full turnout of impatient anglers keen to wet a line after the 93-day layoff.'

He went on: 'As for the details of the league, the dates and times of these fixtures will be available shortly.

'At present I am actively liaising with the Environment Agency regarding the riverbank restoration scheme, which inevitably will improve the approach paths as well as building up the river margins.'

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