Giant sea trout caught in Norwich

The capture of a giant sea trout from the River Wensum, miles inland from the North Sea coast, will go down in local angling history as one of the most stunning, unusual fishing feats of all time.

The capture of a giant sea trout from the River Wensum, miles inland from the North Sea coast, will go down in local angling history as one of the most stunning, unusual fishing feats of all time. Well-known local match angler Lee Carver, who has achieved tournament success both at home and abroad, hooked this extraordinary migratory fish scaling 23lb 6oz while pike fishing from the yacht station in the heart of Norwich. The fish snapped up the small roach baited snaptackle to 12lb breaking strain line, setting in motion an epic precarious battle along the snow-packed, concrete river embankment. “I'm not a regular pike angler, but I felt like a change from match fishing last Thursday,” explained Carver, a 27-year-old professional roofing tiler from Nayland Crescent, Norwich. I bought some bits and pieces of tackle and some bait to get set up for a spot of predator fishing.

“I decided to fish off the yacht station because there are fair numbers of pike there in winter and, when the float swept away, I thought I had contacted a fairly large fish.

“It was then this mighty torpedo-shape with spotted flanks leapt from the water and tail-walked on the surface for several feet before crashing back again. This happened at least four times and, to be honest, it was a pretty scary experience.

“After about 10 minutes that seemed like an hour, my mate Leo Self held out the landing net and somehow I managed to manoeuvre the fish into the mesh.

“All I could do then was gaze in wonderment. At first I thought it was a salmon. We checked references on the internet and fishing books, which easily identified it as a sea trout.”

The UK rod-caught record for the species stands at 28lb 5oz, a fish landed by Hampshire's John Farrent from the River Test in 1992.

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There are no written accounts or even anecdotal evidence of a sea trout remotely close to this River Wensum monster ever caught from East Anglian rivers or estuaries.

Sea trout (Salmo Trutta) are, in fact, fresh water brown trout that succumb to an irresistible wanderlust that takes them to the sea, where they then adapt and grow successfully to large sizes unless swept up by commercial netsmen in their early years.

Some of these nomads remain in and around river estuaries, while others make for open sea, eventually returning to the rivers to spawn, generally in October or November.

Two well-known local gentlemen of learning - Dr Jonathan Wortley, recently a chief fishery biologist with the Environment Agency, and Ken Jones, who was fisheries officer for the Norfolk and Suffolk Division until he retired in the mid-1980s - were both most surprised to learn of this unusual catch.

“I believe this exceptional sea trout somehow lost its bearings along the coast and came up the River Yare and into the River Wensum on a big flood tide,” said Dr Wortley. “I'm very surprised it managed to survive the commercial netsmen along the coast and reach this phenomenal size.”

But had the fish actually made its way into the rivers system to spawn?

Jones also thought not and added: “It is possible sea trout make some attempt to make the upper reaches of the River Wensum for spawning, but there are no fish passes at any of the old mills that would allow them to achieve this. The furthest point upriver is the New Mills in Norwich, where I doubt whether spawning conditions are suitable for sea trout.”

Its captor added: “The fish was definitely in top condition and not sick, but without any spawn inside. After I returned it to the water it was chasing small fry again within half an hour, so obviously it was hungry.

“I just hope it survives and makes its way back safely to the North Sea.”

t On the big fish scene, sizeable carp were caught again at Swangey Lakes, where Paul Turner of Needham Market bagged the best common, weighing in at 28lb 12oz. Andy Day of Attleborough had the best mirror at 27lb, with two others in the low 20s being taken by Norwich rods Glen Hales and Lee Nobbs.

The best pike reported as the old year went out came from the River Wensum at Lyng - a 25-pounder taken on herring for Dereham's Adrian Curston

On the open match scene, bream featured as expected in the New Year's Day open held on the River Wensum in Riverside, where Mick Hanks of Yarmouth won with 26lb of fish.

The Holt beach open at Kelling was won by George Smith of Grimsby, with 5lb 9¼oz of dabs and flounders.