Keen match anglers ready for June 16

Keen match anglers from eastern England and the home counties are becoming more excited by the hour at the prospect of resuming high octane action on Norfolk's prolific tidal rivers.

The opening day on June 16 cannot come quickly enough for competitors homing in on the River Yare Saturday league with a maximum of 90 rods already booked in and other hopefuls on a waiting list to participate in this 16-round extravaganza, sponsored by Nisa Feeders.

Andy Wilson-Sutter, who volunteered to keep the league going following the tragic loss of Keith Ford at the start of last season, said he was amazed at the great interest generated in this well-established tournament.

'Keith Ford took on the job of developing and administering angling on this great river stretch between Rockland and Langley. More and more match anglers entered the league because of the fabulous fishing available and that is why we have a full house for the new season and heavy bookings for Sunday clubs,' he said.

'I was with the Environment Agency officers last week discussing plans to renovate more bank space in order to accommodate another 10 competitors or more in the future. I would emphasise the Agency has put in a lot of effort for anglers on our rivers and that sends a valuable message to those who repeatedly criticise the EA. Cooperation is not created by ill feeling, especially towards organisations upon whom we depend for our sport.'

The Norwich and District AA chairman and consultant Tony Gibbons, who meets frequently with Norwich-based fishery officer Steve Lane to thrash out piscatorial policy on the Broads rivers, endorsed that advice.

'I spend a lot of quality time with Steve Lane identifying areas that can be built up for safe angling. I think we all agree that angling has become a valued recreation for an ageing population needing convenient car parking facilities which we hope to provide by talking to sympathetic land owners,' he explained.

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Gibbons is expecting great interest in his association's major events on the Rivers Bure and Thurne.

They are the summer league for teams of four on June 24, July 8, 29 and August 19 (vacancy for two teams); Teams of four championship September 23; Two-day festival October 3 and 4; Norfolk Broads Championship October 6; Individual Championship October 14.

'I am expecting an increased entry in these events and in addition more clubs are booking our banks. I think this is connected with the economic recession and the value for money fishing available,' concluded Gibbons.

Read these pages next Wednesday for the latest bulletin on new season prospects.

• Are there fundamental differences between crayfish traps and those set to catch fish live baits?

Images on the internet suggest they are one and the same thing, for at least one website advertises these contraptions as 'crayfish/live bait traps'.

The discovery of an otter apparently drowned in one of these unlicensed devices set in Womack Dyke off the river Thurne has raised considerable doubt whether the trap was there to catch edible signal crayfish or something else.

Bona fide eel catchers suggest there are so few of these alien crustaceans in Norfolk's tidal rivers it is more likely the unlawful mesh was in place to trap coarse fish.

One veteran eel man commented: 'I have trapped signal crayfish in the non-tidal River Bure, but it's many a year since I have seen one in a tidal river or broad. I think the otter drowned in Womack entered the trap to catch fish and could not find an exit.'

According to angling forums using live bait traps is common practice with little control due to a diminishing bailiff force. There are proposals to beef up waterside surveillance by volunteer groups, but until this happens in the Broads it is up to individual anglers to keep an eagle eye out for suspicious activity.

This may mean laying in wait until a poacher arrives to empty the contents of a bait trap and the next step would be to report the incident with vehicle details on the EA hotline 0800 80 70 60. If it was ever proved the death of just one otter in the Broads was due to dodgy angling practice it could lead to the shutters crashing down on angling access to the privately owned Sites of Special Scientific Interest be they river bank or Broad.