Fish feeling the draught

After a week of balmy breezes from the south, temperatures plunged at the weekend.

And, if anglers, wrapped in another layer of thermal underwear felt the draught, think of the poor fish. They did not exactly relish the sudden chill, especially silver fish species in the commercial lakes.

However, before the Arctic conditions set in David Cooper (NDAA) won the Barford midweek with an exceptional catch of 124lbs of carp to 5lbs feeding at a depth of only five feet.

Once the water falls below 4 degrees fish metabolism is instantly altered and aerators plugged in to combat the worst efforts of Jack Frost to double glaze the surface upsets the whole thermocline of the water column, where under normal cooling circumstances there remains a layer of warmth where fish feed.

Still water roach especially are switched off during harsh climatic conditions and those anglers who pinned their faith on them in Sunday's open event at Cobble Acre received not a single bite.

By contrast, carp anglers on Sunday who patiently waited and waited until they caught one specimen and maintained discipline until they caught a few more, won the prizes.

And heading this piscatorial party of hopefuls was Jeanette Halliday, rubbing the matchmens' noses into the mess they made of it at the Barford League seven days earlier.

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This time round this Angling Direct campaigner, on behalf of feminine fishing, opted for her favourite sweetcorn tactics to end with four carp totalling 25lb, just sufficient to beat Brian Bygraves (NDAA) with 23lb 14oz.

At the Aldeby Hall open series, the winner was Chris Knights (Harleston) with eight carp totalling 35lb 4oz, with the few silver fish showing skimmer bream only.

At Mill Farm, the Saturday winner was Steve Kindlysides (East Harling) with a decent carp catch of 62lb 4oz but, by Monday, sport had declined with Rod Finch (Deben) top man with 36lb 8oz. At Bergh Apton, Paul Manthorpe won with 16lb and the winner of the UG at Barford was Sam Bartram with 22lb 8oz.

Natural waterways offered the best prospects in such sub-zero temperatures and the Dukes club on the River Wensum's yacht station benefited with excellent nets of roach and bream, the winner a comparative newcomer, Liam Brown, with 22lb 8oz.

The Beccles Cut is never a letdown and, last week, it was small roach and perch producing the top bags in the midweek veteran events, respectively won by Joe Beckham with 8lb 5oz and Mick Hanks, 6lb 7oz.

• As expected, the successful Springwatch programme depicting the revival of our native European otter provoked the usual torrent of complaints that the programme failed to devote sufficient footage of the damage to fish stocks.

However, the whole purpose of this excellent documentary was to show the viewer how, with the aid of man banning hunting and toxic pesticides, bringing in wildlife protection laws and releasing into the wild 107 home breads by the Earsham Otter Trust until 1999, this endangered species managed to haul back from the brink of extinction.

In addition the piece advised fishery bosses and angling clubs to invest wisely in otter proof fencing.

Angling magazines and our own Eastern Daily Press sports pages report monster match and pleasure catches from rivers and Broads indicating that fish are thriving in our natural waterways despite populations of fish-eating predators in this country consisting of 2,000 otters, 46,000 mink 12,000 pairs of great crested grebes, 14,000 pairs of herons, 6,000 pairs of kingfishers, 5,000 pairs of inland cormorants as well as numerous visits from flocks of gulls and the somewhat rarer red-necked grebes, red and black-throat divers, marsh harriers and ospreys.

Why the Angling Trust, also complained about the BBC coverage, is not at all clear.

Perhaps a more appropriate alternative would be for the Trust to persuade Springwatch producers to screen the massive success of our river fish overcoming pollution and disease thanks to the strenuous effort to improve the water quality of the natural habitat.

They could also highlight the damage caused by overcrowded keep nets, deep-hooked fish on trebles and the annual toll of silverfish for use as bait. All these issues are steadily being addressed by the huge majority of caring anglers and sensible administrators within the sport.