Clubs must take action to protect fish stocks

Hardcore fisherman Matt Bradbeer lands another nice rainbow in the snow at Larkwood.

Hardcore fisherman Matt Bradbeer lands another nice rainbow in the snow at Larkwood. - Credit: Archant

So what do you think of the fishing right now?

As this is a family newspaper, better not answer that question.

Just pray that this current white out weather does not develop into a repeat of 1963 – the worst freeze-up ever recorded.

That year many of us who believed we were the prime stuff of East Anglian match fishing were cut off in our prime, denied access to our favourite winter river venues that froze over with more than a foot of solid ice, able to bear the burden of an Austin A40 van driven on the River Ant from Wayford Bridge and onwards to the lower reaches of the River Bure, not far from Caister-on-Sea.

These were truly glacial conditions and even the sea along the North Norfolk coastline produced ice crystals.

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While anglers had to grin and bear it, the real damage affected fish stocks and that became starkly evident as soon as the general thaw set in.

As the water warmed up, bloated bodies of bream, roach, pike, rudd and perch rose to the surface in their thousands in lakes and ponds throughout the United Kingdom.

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There were as many putrefying in the bottom mud.

The most serious fish kills were in still waters fringed by trees and shrubbery, whose decaying leaves and aquatic weeds combined to produce methane gas, thus reducing the vital dissolved oxygen in the water to levels below the critical 4ppm.

There was mass suffocation among most freshwater fish species with tench, hibernating in the mud, a notable exception in many Norfolk estate lakes.

Right now angling clubs and fishery owners should take immediate action to protect their fish.

Ideally aerators are the tools for the job, but lacking this machinery physical effort is demanded, breaking ice frequently augmented by bales of wheat straw inserted in the margins.

Fish often gather around those areas, but since they are present gasping life giving oxygen and not generally feeding, the advice is not to worsen their stressful existence by fishing for them in such hard times.

There was no fishing at all on the commercial lakes at the weekend and the Barford Winter League was postponed.

Rivers were still open and once again the River Wensum flowing through Norwich produced.

Sixteen hardy anglers lined up to compete in the open event on Sunday armed more with hope than enthusiasm of netting worthwhile returns.

But once again Norfolk's most famous natural fishery, after making banner headlines in the national angling media last week, came up with the goods, more especially 11lb 4oz for winner Pete Swan, the match organiser.

He landed three decent bream early on and made up his catch with roach.

Robert Hubbard was runner-up with an all roach catch of 7lb 10oz, then Wayne Anderson with 5lb 12oz, all three members of the Angling Direct match squad.

'The water was cold and fairly clear. I caught my three skimmers early on and then switched from the feeder to the float to bulk up with roach.

'Considering the conditions these results were outstanding,' said Swan.

The only other match to report is the veteran's midweek in the Beccles Quay, won by Joe Beckham, whose rod did not bend with the tiny roach that totalled 1lb 15oz.

Lol Higgins was runner up with 1lb 14oz, then David Roe with 1lb 1oz.

But, take heart, a thaw could arrive next week.

• The Angling Trust has announced the dates and venues of the Fish 'O Mania qualifiers. They are: April 6 Viaduct Fishery, Somerset; April 13 Preston Innovations Pool, Shropshire; April 17 Makins Fishery, Nuneaton; April 20 Colemans Cottage Fishery, Essex; April 24 Gold Valley Spring Lakes, Hants; April 27 Tunnel Barn Fishery, Warks; May 4 Maver Larford Lakes, Worcs; May 8 Monk Lakes, Kent; May 11 Oaks Lakes, North Yorks, May 18 Barford Lakes, Norfolk; May 25 Aston Park, Sheffield; May 29 Messingham Sands, North Lincs; June 1 Partridge Lakes, Warrington; June 5 Woodland View, Worcs; June 15 Woodland Lake, North Yorks; June 26 Lindholme Lakes, Doncaster.

One from each qualifier to fish the two-day final at Cudmore Lakes, Staffs, July 14 and 15, when Norfolk's 2012 winner Warren Martin will hope to successfully defend his title.

• The adventurous seal that swam inland to finish up in Drayton Lakes, adjacent to the Great Ouse River in Cambridgeshire, is not lost as some have suggested.

In fact a number of seals have completed this journey along the manmade, tidal New Bedford River that runs 20.8 miles from the Great Ouse estuary near King's Lynn to the dead end at Earith where surplus water drains from the Great Ouse through the sluice gates and out to sea.

This animal evidently entered the Great Ouse at Earith through a sluice gate and wandered another 10 miles before hauling out and dropping back into the Fen lakes.

Adult estuary seals have made this lonely journey to Earith previously, as they have in the Norfolk Broads, 18 miles into Norwich. All have previously returned to their natural habitat.

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