Hot Rods still top Barford Winter Angling League
A thrilling penultimate round of the Barford Winter Angling League left Browning Hot Rods clinging to top spot in the table, with Deben and Big Hits close to snapping at their heels.
It was Big Hits' day on the lakes, with Jim Randell, their international star, clinching top spot with 58lb 3oz, followed by Jim Brooks (Deben) with 39lb 14oz, then Lee Carver, another Big Hit, with 35lb 4oz.
With high section scores, Big Hits were top team on the day with 16 penalty points, then Nash Baits with 21 and a joint tie between Hot Rods and Team JB on 22.
Randell, now nicknamed Wolverine, with his new trendy beard, was pegged on the Willow to take carp on pellet in difficult low water temperatures. With one round to come, probably in spring conditions in two weeks time, the form book could be turned upside down.
Four teams remain in with a chance of claiming the title. Hot Rods are on 77 points, Deben Select 88, Big Hits 90 and Barford Tackle 93.
Daniel Brydon, the league organiser, who has successfully juggled rearranged dates during the harsh winter, commented: 'This fourth round was a triumph for title favourites Hot Rods, whose all-round ability rightly earned them a lead of 11 points over the chasing pack, who are separated by just five.'
Meanwhile, the spectacular Angling Direct riverside series staged on the prolific River Wensum by Pete Swan ended with quality perch featuring.
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The top two weighed in at 2lb 11oz and 2lb 10oz, taking baits intended for roach, emphasising the phenomenal recovery of this species that was almost wiped out by disease in the 1970s.
On the day roach held the key to success, but overall it was Angling Direct's Wayne Anderson with 16 penalty points already established under the best eight from 11 results, who came through as champion.
Swan (Angling Direct) was runner up with 20, then Mick Hanks (Suffolk AD) with 25.
David Gooch (Earlham Silvers) headed the card with 13lb 6oz, with David Roe (Angling Direct) runner up with 12lb 9oz, then Robert Hubbard (Angling Direct) 12lb.
Commenting on the great winter form of the Wensum, Swan said: 'I don't know of another urban river that can produce such magnificent catches of roach and bream. And, considering the conditions, the fact that we never had a single failure is all the more remarkable.
That's why we kept getting a full house match after match.'
While on the match scene the big question among competitors is this: will the weather break into warmer conditions in time for the grand two-day Wensum Valley angling championship, staged on the waters controlled by the Lakeside Country Club at Lyng?
The event covers next Saturday and Sunday and the form of the lakes that contain roach, bream, perch and giant carp and tench, is certain to produce exceptional returns.
The same cannot yet be guaranteed on the River Wensum match stretch, where fish have been hard to come by during the cold spell.
Tony Gibbons and match founder Keith Westgate have both tested the running water of the Wensum with mixed results.
Westgate recalled: 'I caught lots of small to medium roach, small chub and dace before the snow set in, so I know the fish are there.'
By contrast Gibbons failed to get a bite during the freeze up, but still insisted a rise of the mercury could result in quality river catches.
• With just eight days of the current coarse season on rivers and broads remaining, now is the time to select the venues where shoals of roach and bream offer the best sport before the curtain comes down.
Here are some examples to try. The River Bure at Acle, Upton and St Benets Abbey and the upper tidals from Coltishall to Wroxham.
The River Yare between Beauchamp Arms to Langley and the free bank at Postwick is worth a couple of days. The River Thurne below Potter Heigham Bridge and either side of Martham Ferry as well as the River Ant at Ludham Bridge are also fancied.
Adjacent to the Broads, the boat dykes at Rockland, Horsey Mill and the little River Chet below Loddon are worth a visit, as are the two minor canals above Wayford Bridge.
After rivers close on March 14, it's back to the lakes, where catches rose at the weekend at Abbey Waters, where Nat Copti won the Oddchaps with 120lb 10oz of carp.