Broads pike numbers are beginning to boom

'The only good pike is a dead one'.

Quite a number of anglers may secretly harbour that view, but one intrepid gentleman – Tony Myatt, of Twickenham – came out of the closet and confessed as much in a national angling weekly magazine.

Needless to say, the pike fishing fraternity was not amused after devoting much of the whole year defending their sport against careless minorities treating their quarry with lack of due care and attention, not to mention some flouting bylaws governing live bait movement between venues.

In fairness to the Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain and our own Norwich and District Pike Club, pages of literature are in circulation describing humane techniques of catching Esox and describing the safest means of removing the hooks.

So the question is: Does Mr Myatt have a point?

Plainly, the answer is no. Healthy population of pike and all other fish predators is a true litmus test of water quality and the capacity to support a rich and varied biomass of flora and fauna.

Right now the Broads pike numbers are beginning to boom – not that many monsters of yesteryear, but nevertheless two 40lb-plus monsters and a buoyant younger generation coming through to restore confidence that all is well with this important species.

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Pike suffered most during the tragic fish loss from the outbreak of the fish killer algae Prymnesium in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Those who lived through that catastrophe cannot deny that pike fishing languished in the doldrums in the River Thurne Valley while silver fish species managed to recover quickly.

Unfortunately, the monster pike that managed to survive were targeted by thoughtless anglers who should have exercised restraint and at least a dozen specimens between 30lb and 42lb were heaved out from the Martham Broad area and Horsey during a crucial period of the 1980s when leaving them to spawn unmolested would have paid enormous dividends.

Happily, with prey fish stocks booming pike numbers are on the up again, with specimens over 20lb reported from most popular venues.

No, Mr Myatt. The only good pike are live ones and long may they remain so.

In the meantime, Ireland's fishery authorities are proposing to ban barbed treble hooks for pike fishing and to outlaw worms as bream bait in measures to protect salmon stocks.

There are top pike anglers in this country who have come out stating that the use of treble hooks results in an unacceptable number of fish casualties.

• On the match scene the most outstanding catch last week was placed on the scales after the Barford Thursday open, won by North Walsham angler Dennis Goodwin with a wonderful winter carp catch of 105lb 12oz.

The Linda Thompson Memorial Open on the river Wensum at Riverside was a grueller in low, crystal clear, ice cold water in which only tiny roach were feeding.

David Gooch (NDAA) lifted out 140 of these fingerlings for 12lb 5oz below the turning basin and next peg down Tony Gibbons (NDAA) had 11lb 4oz while David Roe (DAIWA AD) was top on the Yacht Station with 10lb 10oz.

Along the beaches the fourth round of the North Norfolk division of the National Sea League at Salthouse was a dab fest with more than 600 of them weighed in.

Steve Boyce (Avenue Angling) topped the card with 6lb 10oz and his team were winners with six penalty points.

With two rounds to come Holt Right Gear head the table with 30 points with Avenue Angling their main challengers on 35.

Specimen carp were few and far between from lakes that were frozen over yesterday morning. Waveney Valley produced a number of specimens to 30lb last week, but with the mercury rising prospects are more promising.

This also applies for pike enthusiasts with a wide range of venues beckoning. The best of them include to top of the Stalham Cut leading to the boatyards and Sutton Staithe, the river Wensum in Norwich, the urban flows of the river Bure between Coltishall and Horning, the river Yare from Trowse to Postwick, the river Thurne around Martham Ferry, the mooring dykes adjacent to Rockland Broad and the Whispering Reeds boatyard areas and Catfield dyke off Hickling Broad.