Excitement mounts ahead of new season
- Credit: Archant
The new coarse season arrives on Monday – on a crest of a wave of optimism.
It is spurred by the fact that the considerable damage wreaked on fish stocks by last autumn's salt water incursions will turn out to be no more than a minor punctuation mark in the annals of Mother Nature's efforts to transform our famous waterpark from a vibrant freshwater habitat to a somewhat less attractive salt water estuary.
The first of the early season litmus tests likely to raise the spirits could be the result sheets of Monday's high octane challenge event on the River Yare (draw 8.30am at the White Horse, Chedgrave).
According to match promoter Andy Wilson-Sutter, this open match is already close to being fully booked along the bank below the Beauchamp Arms. This venue is in immaculate condition thanks to the combined efforts of the Environment Agency and willing volunteer working parties.
'I cannot praise the Environment Agency enough for their diligence improving our river banks, preserving fish stocks and making the whole area safe,' he said. 'Personally I'm sick and tired of hearing and reading unwarranted criticism of the EA from the Angling Trust.
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'Thanks to them and my volunteers, we now have 110 pegs available and no longer require waders to reach the water and it is possible some clubs can also be accommodated at weekends as well as our league and open events.'
And the prospects of spectacular catches?
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'There was at least one catch of fish exceeding 40lbs from our match venue on the final day of last season.
'This was in mid-March and was a fair indication that many fish survived the floods, mainly due to the EA releasing millions of gallons of fresh water from the upper River Chet and other fish escaping to areas beyond the saline limit,' concluded Wilson-Sutter.
Next up is the River Yare Nisa Feeder league on Saturday, followed the next day by round one of the pairs championships (draw for both 8.30am at the White Horse).
Pleasure anglers seeking sport on opening week have wider choices than match anglers.
For example, the River Ant is still teeming with bream and roach that escaped into the little river last autumn. There is free bank access from Ludham Bridge to How Hill, but boat anglers can score fishing the area from Barton Broad to How Hill, where bream to over 6lbs and roach to over 2lbs were taken last season by after dark and early morning anglers.
The upper River Ant between Wayford Bridge and Hunsett Mill is hotly fancied, especially around the Stalham sewerage outfall. Other early season venues are Horsey Mere and the broads at Hickling, South Walsham and Wroxham.
Early season tench can be huge on the enclosed Trinity broads, where fishing dinghies are available from the Filby Restaurant. Norwich and District members may book boats for Decoy Broad, where huge bream and perch are available.
On the non-tidals, chub will be the main quarry on the upper reaches of the Wensum, Yare and Bure.
Warren Martin, Norfolk's 2012 Fish o'Mania winner, narrowly missed qualifying for the rich Maver Match This final. He finished runner-up with 170lb 11oz, at Decoy Lakes, Whittlesey, just under 16lb adrift of winner Tony Dawson with 185lb 15oz. However, he went through with the top five to the British Pole Championships.