Broadland’s rivers miss national vote

It was hailed as the biggest survey every conducted on our national rivers.

Organised by the Angling Trust with the RSPB and the World Wildlife Fund, the Our Rivers campaign has given anglers and the general public who love all things natural the chance to vote for their favourite and least favourite river.

The people seized this splendid opportunity to tick various boxes and at the end of this interesting investigation it was the River Wye, which flows through the west of England and Wales, that topped the favourites list.

Local anglers may wonder why our own fabulous Broadland rivers failed to get into the top five of the best, considering they had produced in this century the heaviest pike of 45lb 8oz ever caught from a running river, massive perch to more than 5lb and phenomenal match returns of bream and roach.

However, the true value, or perhaps lack of it, of the survey may be judged by the results that named the Thames as not only the second best waterway in the land but also the worst. You just could not make it up.

What can be the purpose of conducting such a meaningless investigation?

Can it really be logical that anglers and members of the RSPB and the WWF do not value one of our most important conservation areas in Europe, ie the Broads, and decide it was not worth the rating? Perhaps there have to be other reasons why our prolific Norfolk natural fisheries and wildlife reserves were overlooked.

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Norwich and District Anglers chairman Tony Gibbons believes he has some answers.

He said: 'The fact this survey was conducted on the internet may be one of the reasons why so many Broads anglers and nature lovers did not participate.

'I also believe there is another factor – the reluctance of the Angling Trust, supported by sections of the media, to accept that the great improvement in the quality of Broads fishing is almost directly due to the efforts of the Environment Agency resulting in many miles of free fishing for local and visiting anglers.

'As chairman of the NDAA, I have been approached for an opinion on services provided by the EA and my response always is that we are exceedingly happy with the way our rod licence money is being spent. This may not be what they wish to hear but it happens to be the truth.'

He added: 'Broads anglers, local officers of the EA, the Broads Authority, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the Norwich City Council have an understanding of what is required in return for our licence revenues and rates. And that is why we have many more miles of free fishing available than we did 20 years ago, and there is more to come.'

The vast majority of local anglers will agree with the analysis that our own Wensum, Bure, Yare, Thurne and Waveney are the top rivers for coarse fishing in England and Wales. Unfortunately, it seems, the rest of the nation does not think so.

One of our rivers deserving a mention in the Trust revue is the Wensum, a venue for all weathers that never fails.

With many lakes frozen over, match anglers lined up along the river in Riverside to be rewarded with a most marvellous roach bonanza that could not have been equalled anywhere else in the country in such Arctic conditions.

In the Saturday pairs challenge, Tony Gibbons scored the top catch with 25lb 7oz, taken on caster float fished close in.

Peter Swan (Earlham Silvers) was runner-up with 18lb 8oz and, with Wayne Anderson, chalked up 15 winning section points followed by Gibbons and Dave Roe (Angling Direct) with 14 points.

Winner of the Dukes club match on this venue was Shaun James with 26lb 15oz.

Pete Swan headed the Earlham Silvers card with 18lb 1oz and R Napper topped the Zenith club outing with 14lb.