Barford set to retain title
A top team of match anglers representing one of Norfolk's well known fishing tackle companies is poised to retain the Barford Teams of Five winter league title.
Competing under the Latham's/Nash Bait banner, Daniel Brydon's ace outfit, already in pole position in the table, tightened their grip on the tournament further with a brilliant penultimate round victory achieved in Sunday's relentless rainfall.
Turning in an all-round performance they chalked up a runaway 12 penalty section points that left them with a comfortable cushion over their nearest rivals Dynamite Deben, whose 19 point score left them trailing 10 points adrift as they enter the final challenge in two weeks' time.
Vince Cross, signed up from Bury before the start of the campaign, was quickly out of the starting blocks and remained ahead of the field to finish with a catch of 65lb 4oz from peg ten on the Railway Lake.
The winner's fish consisted of small stock carp and F.1 hybrids averaging around 2lb apiece.
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He was backed up by team mate Paul Goldstraw, with 50lb 8oz from the Willow Lake, and those two were separated by Dave Jarvis of Daiwa AD Gold with 53lb 9oz, his team joint third on the day with Hot Rods and Barford Tackle on 25 points.
Brydon, also the league organiser, as well as team skipper of Latham's, said the constant downpour brought welcome water for the rivers and lakes, but he would have preferred it to have held off until late afternoon.
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'It was not easy out there, mobile phones became waterlogged and useless, but even so our lads came through with flying colours.
'With the carp spreading out in the rising temperatures I think it will be harder for us to blow out in the final showdown, although I would stress we have not become complacent,' he declared.
All the hot money is riding on Brydon's brotherhood of proficient piscadors to retain the title they won so handsomely last term.
In the meantime, the up-to-date news from the tidal rivers is most encouraging and suggests that the annual spring migration of roach and bream into the middle and lower reaches of the tidal rivers is almost complete.
Anglers visiting the banks of the River Bure at St Benet's Abbey and Acle, the River Thurne at Cold Harbour, the River Yare at the Beauchamp Arms and Langley and even the little River Ant at Ludham, report excellent catches over recent days, and expect this sport to continue until the coarse season ends next Wednesday.
Stalham club member Mike Brown, a retired police officer from Ludham, has been patrolling the beat on the rivers Bure and Thurne where he copped a number of anglers slipping splendid fish into their keepnets.
Fortunately these were all well-known lads fishing legally and above board and Mike himself spent two hours of positive angling among them.
'The tidals have been brilliant,' he enthused. 'Kevin Fuller of Norwich had some massive bream catches to over 50lb and I had nearly 30lb in no time at all, while at Cold Harbour another Norwich rod and former Broads champion David Roe had around 20lb of quality roach.'
Similar reports came from the River Ant where Huntsman club member Steve Miller, formerly of the old Jarrolds club, bagged some giant roach, while on the Yare, Yarmouth's Kevin Paynter heaved out quality roach to 1�lb.
However, following weeks of low sea tides held up by easterly airflow water levels on the tidals have been up to two feet below the mean high water mark. But two days of fierce north westerlies would have lifted the North Sea and the run off from more than 48 hours of constant rain could meet a storm surge of salt water.
Thus, it remains in the lap of the weather gods whether toxic saline will force inland to affect end of season prospects. Fortunately the odds are on the anglers' side even if the water begins to overlap on to the floodplains.
The benefit of nearly three inches of rain will prove the saviour.
The usual 'February fill dyke' that arrived about a fortnight late may be regarded as life support for coarse fish species that were on the threatened list of wildlife from a spring drought in the non-tidals.
As a result the final week of the season is likely to produce some quality barbel and chub and that augurs well for competitors angling for the two-day trophy awarded at the Wensum Valley freshwater championship this weekend.
It has also been announced that funeral directors Jackson and Starling will again sponsor the Cromer Lifeboat charity event staged on the Cobble Acre Lakes.
The date is Wednesday, April 25, limited to six pegs, so book now (01692 503014).