It’s time to make the most of the angling season’s final days

Thomas Pinchin, 12, shows off a magnificent 35lb pike taken from Manor Lake, at Rockland St Peter n

Thomas Pinchin, 12, shows off a magnificent 35lb pike taken from Manor Lake, at Rockland St Peter not bad for the first real fish of his fledgling career on the banks. - Credit: Archant

Tempus fugit. It does not require translation of line 284 of Virgil's Book Three to inform us that 'time flies', writes Roy Webster.

Or that the conclusion of the current coarse season on our rivers and broads is looming large.

For anglers of advancing years, this season has flashed by like a time capsule on warp drive – here today and gone tomorrow.

For the more down to earth younger generations, there are but 17 days to get out there and end the term with a roar rather than a whimper.

Aside from successful match anglers who have already counted their winnings, what are the options available in order for the rest of us to wake up on March 15 bathed in a glow of self-satisfaction?

A steady rise in water temperatures would certainly heighten the piscatorial potential. This would stimulate all species populating the tidal rivers that link the broads into one fabulous winter fishery.

The simplest means of illustrating these venues is to arrange them alphabetically. Heading the list is the River Ant that runs from Wayford Bridge to Barton Broad, where a dyke branches off to Stalham Boatyard and Sutton Staithe.

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Historically this slow-moving piece of water has been highly prized by generations of predator anglers who have fished the Stalham sewerage outfall above Hunsett Mill and the Stalham lagoons.

At Barton, Paddy's Lane and the Neatishead Dyke is also predator country, as is the downstream section of the River Ant from Irstead to How Hill.

At Ludham Bridge there is excellent bank access thanks to the Environment Agency and along there legions of silver fish attract quality pike like the example pictured last week on this page, caught by Michael Spinks.

The tidal River Bure is also famous for its predatory species. The popular boating venues between Wroxham and Horning have produced pike to over 30lb, as well as at least one perch close to six pounds and another two over five pounds.

Needless to say, the other residents are bream up to six pounds and roach to three pounds.

On the River Thurne, at least 20 specimen pike are known to have succumbed to the toxic saline that surged inland in 2013 and 2014.

However, according to well-known Great Yarmouth angler Kevin Paynter, there remain sufficient bream at Martham to produce worthwhile winter catches of aggregates to over 20lb.

The Thurne headwaters at Hickling Broad and Horsey Mere produced exceptional catches of bream, roach and quality perch, but few specimen pike of note.

On Hickling where the fishing rights were granted to the riparian owner by the controversial 1808 Enclosure Act, and then enforced by Mr Justice Romer in 1892, angling is allowed free of charge, courtesy of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

But what with the outbreaks of prymnesium parvum and a high saline level that fishery scientists judge to be too toxic for pike larvae, experienced pike anglers, with some justification, insist stocks are well below the desired levels.

This is also the case on Horsey Mere, where the owning National Trust will issue pike permits from March 1-14 inclusive.

The tidal River Wensum is a pike and perch angler's winter wonderland. Huge concentrations of silver fish over-winter in this suburban waterway and on every round of the Angling Direct League, at least one pike has zoomed in to snatch a roach as it is being reeled in.

Below the River Wensum runs the River Yare, once Norfolk's most important commercial artery.

This has not produced the expected sport with bream this winter, especially from the usually reliable Bramerton bank.

However, it is clear that vast numbers of fish have survived the sea surges and roach were being caught this week along the Beauchamp Arms stretch and from Rockland Broad, where pike and perch are numerous.

According to up-to-date reports, the main pike action from boats has shown between Trowse and Surlingham, especially off the sewage plant outfall where bream gather in large numbers.

Finally, the River Waveney around Beccles at this time of the year is a hugely popular piking venue. That's hardly surprising considering the enormous numbers of roach and bream over-wintering there.

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