Anglers ready for the big thaw
The snow has melted, the lakes, Broads and boatyard lagoons are thawing out and the immediate future for hardy rod men and women hoping for winter sport during the final four weeks of the coarse season is shining considerably brighter.
Come the weekend quality carp, hefty pike and decent catches of roach and bream are expected and matches anglers' expectations were lifted by Steve Kindleyside's 82lb 9oz winner at Barford.
As the season runs down silverfish species maybe caught from the most unexpected winter venues like the middle river Bure at Acle and the tidal river Yare below Rockland dyke.
But for seasoned members of the Norwich and District Anglers Association (NDAA) the long term prospects following a season of superlative sport on all their waters are good. The urge to renew membership should prove irresistible following the decision that all subscriptions and fees will remain unchanged at the annual meeting in the Canary Club last week.
These are some of the more salient points from chairman's Tony Gibbon's address.
The four rounds of the NDAA league produced 3,140lb of bream and roach and other competitions on the fabulous rivers Bure and Thurne tidal banks boosted the total to 5,500lb for a match average of more than 11lb per angler.
Membership remains buoyant, day ticket sales are up and interest was maintained by the special qualities of the Wensum Fishery lake complex.
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'The quality of fishing on all our waters has never been better since the association was formed in the early post war years,' declared Gibbons enthusiastically who added that much of the new access was due to the efforts of the Environment Agency during various flood alleviation schemes.
'I would warn anglers to use these accesses or lose them otherwise rod licence cash will not be allocated to maintain tidal embankments that anglers don't want,' he warned.
The NDAA control the majority of the river Bure bank between St Benets Abbey and Thurne Mouth, the river Thurne from Cold Harbour to the confluence with the river Bure, the river Bure at Woodbastwick opposite Horning Ferry and adjacent to Decoy Broad, the fishing rights to Ranworth Inner Broad, the Woodbastwick Decoy Broad and the Wensum Fisheries at Costessy comprising three well stocked lakes and a stretch of the river Wensum.
Anywhere else in the country with such an abundance of quality fishing facilities would command membership fees well into three figures. However the policy of the NDAA has always favoured offering value for money recreation for local and visiting anglers, and below is the impressive list of sweeteners.
Adult annual subscription �18 plus �3 joining fee for new members, Senior Citizens and registered disabled �10 (�3 joining fee), Juniors �1 accompanied by an adult, Wensum fisheries an additional �55 from May 1 and �45 from June 1, the Broads boat hire �5 per day for up to two anglers.
Thus the standard sub for the season is 50 pence per week for adults, 28 pence for concessionaries and three pence for juniors.
Meanwhile there is good news regarding Bawburgh Lakes – the home of giant carp, bream, tench and pike.
Concerns that these mature gravel pits could be closed to anglers have been lifted by the latest report that the complex has been purchased by a well known name in the sport, Ben Sharp, from Essex, who says he is keen to maintain the fishery as a haven for both anglers and nature alike. Further details on fees and rules from www.bawburghlakes.com.
Last week the plight of the European eel (Anguilla Anguilla), now considered a seriously endangered species, was highlighted in a national angling magazine where a self-appointed expert declared that predators were the problem.
He was correct until he played the old cormorant card. In fact it is recognised that it was not these birds that plundered this species to around 5 per cent of 1980 levels but the most relentless predator of all who pillaged the North Sea of its edible fish stock – man!
From the summer of 1966 when a certain Dane Mr Norgaard introduced the Dutch Fyke net into the Broads, eel netting became big business.
In his book Broadland Tom retired river bailiff Tom Cable wrote: 'The word got around that there was a fortune to be made from eels and the Broads became a second Klondike and it spread throughout the country. Every eel irrespective of size was taken and sold. None of them cared that it took years for an elver to reach maturity.'
As a result of this new found source of fishery wealth Fyke nets sprang up in every catchment area in the land and the species, threatened further by climate change, never stood a chance of sustaining its numbers.