Catches bring optimism after North Sea incursion

Left to right, Adrian Callendar. Nigel Williamson and Robert Houlding show off their spoils after winning the Wensum...

Left to right, Adrian Callendar. Nigel Williamson and Robert Houlding show off their spoils after winning the Wensum Valley Autumn Festival at Lenwade Bridge Fishery. Picture: KEITH WESTGATE - Credit: Archant

Mixed messages led to mixed emotions for anglers following the serious incursion of a tumultuous North Sea into Broadland. However, the news this week from the storm lashed tidal rivers is tilted towards the good rather than the bad.

Matchmen lined up for last Wednesday's open along the River Thurne at Martham rang in to report vast numbers, estimated at thousands, of small dead bream being carried by the flood tide.

'Dead skimmers were passing at about a dozen per minute until the tide changed,' recalled a dismayed organiser Mike Brown.

But while the evident death toll could not be disguised, the anxiety lifted when every angler weighed in double figures, headed by Tony Gibbons (NDAA) with 21lbs 12oz.

'After the weigh-in it was encouraging that numbers of live fish had survived in the river to lift our hopes that the mortality rate is localised and minimal overall,' declared a relieved Brown.

His view gained more substance at the Broads Angling Strategy Group meeting when the EA's fishery officer Steve Lane exhibited underwater camera footage confirming legions of fish had survived the sea surge.

'We were amazed and delighted to view those images that gave us hope for next season unless our fish stocks are victims of further disasters this winter,' declared BASG member Gibbons.

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On the River Bure, quality roach were reported caught by anglers topside of Acle bridge while on the River Yare small roach featured on the Rockland/Langley reach.

There is similar good news from the River Ant where bream, roach, perch and pike are abundant between Ludham Bridge and Barton Broad.

Pike anglers who have successfully been targeting the River Thurne around Potter Heigham bridges witnessed at least half a dozen double figure specimens rescued. The majority of the predators there will have escaped up river above Martham or via Candle Dyke to Hickling and Horsey.

And to cap all this positivity the Broads Authority is working with a number of stake holders to adapt to climate change and sea level rise.

Simon Hooton, Head of Strategy and Projects, said: 'The BA is working with a wide range of partners to create a catchment plan to manage water quality, resource levels and flooding.

'The draft plan is likely to be published in the spring'

So for anglers the message is clear. Acquaint the BASG with your views on this subject ( or via your angling club secretary).

Away from the river attention was focused on the match lakes at the weekend when two charity events were completed.

The Wensum Valley Autumn Festival cut glass trophy was won by Colchester-based Tendring T Anglers (Nigel Williamson, Robert Houlding, Adrian Callendar) with 55lbs 4oz caught from the Lenwade Bridge fishery where a total of £200 and still counting was raised for the EA Air Ambulance.

Nigel Williamson was top of the day one card with 29lbs; winner of day two Tony Gibbons had 11lbs 8oz.

The overall individual champion was Nigel Williamson with 39lbs 2oz that won him fishing tackle prizes donated by Preston Innovations and Nisa Feeders.

The Barford Lake Charity Open, raising £660 for Prostate Cancer UK, was won by Matt Wiles (Attleborough MG) with 76lbs 1oz followed by David Cooper (Norwich) 66lbs 4oz.

On the big fish waters, carp of the week was a 34lbs 8oz Taswood ghostie for Craig Hill of Stalham with fish in the 20s for Steve Cudden, Saxlingham, Brad Brown, Gorleston and Norwich regulars Stu Payne, James Durham and Callum Bogges.

At Swangey, carp in the 20s were caught by Lowestoft duo Daniel Parr and Charlie Connolly and Jim Burdett of Norwich.