Hope on the horizon for fisheries thanks to thaw
The bitterest wintry December anglers have suffered in living memory appears to have relented by a few degrees, but the legacy of frozen lakes lives on with quite a number of commercial fisheries still laid over by a stubborn ice pack up to three inches thick.
Yesterday the popular Melton Ponds was still a no go, double glazed by an impenetrable barrier of ice in a worse-case scenario. It was a similar grim report from the Lenwade Bridge Lakes, but at Barford fishing on some of the waters was expected to go ahead this weekend.
At Melton, Jean Bush said: 'We have had to cancel all our club competitions and we don't expect the waters to be ice-free for several days yet.'
At Barford, Pam Thomson said the mechanical aerators had been running on some of the match lakes and open events would go ahead. 'It's been very difficult for us to try and keep our anglers happily fishing this winter but we need a steady thaw before we can contemplate selling day tickets for our pleasure lake again,' she said hopefully. It is likely her wish will be granted later this week.
At Cobbleacre in North Norfolk, bailiff Bob Anderson said he had managed to keep at least one lake open for fishing but it had been a thankless task against the deep frost. 'We put in a super-human effort to remove ice that was up to three inches thick then we managed to keep the water clear with the mechanical paddles. I can guarantee we will be open for angling this weekend,' he promised.
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It was a similar encouraging report from Waveney Valley with some lakes now fishable while others were still ice-bound. One angler fishing one clear pool reeled in three carp, the best 23lb.
'Somehow we have managed to carry on fishing on some of the lakes but, like everywhere else, revenues have suffered,' said fishery warden Andrew Goldsmith.
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At the Lyng Kingfisher Lake, syndicate members have been assured that pockets of clear water will be fishable this weekend. 'It's not ideal but our members at least will be able to cast a bait for the carp,' said a spokesman.
Chapel Road Lakes at Roughton have become free of ice this week and all forms of fishing will be on the go this weekend.
'With the help of the ducks and other waterfowl stirring up the water, we have managed to get through the worst of the weather but now the whole fishery is available,' explained bailiff Terry Woods.
On the main Broads, prospects are vastly improved. Yesterday, Hickling Broad was completely clear as was Horsey Mere. The Trinity Broads still carried ice in the sheltered margins at the weekend but were expected to be fishable for boat anglers for the remainder of this week.
The Stalham boat basins, where the local club competes throughout the winter months were fishable. 'There is still a bit of ice around the edges but I think conditions are passable,' said a boatyard spokesman.
Club catches were fair on Sunday with a top weight of 10lb of small roach for Chris Timms.
All the main rivers will be in fine winter fettle and, needless to say, the Wensum in the heart of the city will remain the target of many coarse fish enthusiasts, be they match or pike anglers.
And the Wensum's non-tidal chub are expected to feed, so stand by for more brilliant catches from Swanton Morley down to Hellesdon.
On Sunday the Zenith club fished Riverside where Jason Rowell heaved out 27lb 13oz of bream including a couple of five pounders.
The tidal River Bure at Wroxham and Horning is teeming with quality roach, while for bream, a boat trip down to Postwick on the River Yare could prove most rewarding.
These are just some of the many venues that will become available following the slow thaw and, if one of your favourites is not listed here, an up-to-date bulletin will be available from the fishery boss over the phone.