League action hits jackpot as the Thurne strikes again

Ben Pointer holds his 27lbs 9oz catch from Billingford Lakes

Ben Pointer holds his 27lbs 9oz catch from Billingford Lakes - Credit: Archant

The scenes on the banks of the River Thurne on Saturday were perhaps reminiscent of Billingsgate fish market during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Coarse fish then were in great demand as a staple foodstuff. Fortunately the plundering of many tonnes of broads pike, perch, roach, tench and even slimy bream to satisfy market forces – one royal household in one year ate its way through 1,587 carp, 140 pike, 140 tench, 160 eels, 25 bream and 15 perch – was outlawed by acts of parliament.

And that is the point where any similarity between 19th century fish markets and last Saturday's staggering capture of 1,350lbs of roach and bream ends; after being weighed, they were all returned alive.

This was a record return for the NDAA league that coincided with an Environment Agency announcement that fish surveys this autumn had revealed some of the most dense shoals of coarse fish ever recorded on our tidal rivers.

Tony Gibbons, the chairman of the NDAA and a member of the Broads Angling Strategy Group, where fisheries officer Steve Lane reported his splendid news, said Saturday's catches, headed by Steve Clarke's 53lb 2oz, were certainly the best since the competition began many years ago.

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'We pegged the River Thurne from Potter Heigham to Martham and finished with massive catches of roach and bream for an average of 30lbs per man. More than 40lbs was required to make the top six,' he said.

'That's why our rivers are rated the most prolific and fairest venues in Britain, despite last year's casualties from the sea floods.'

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Clarke, a 56-year-old financial adviser from Saffron Walden and captain of the experienced Maver Image trio that head the table, said his catch consisted of 100 skimmer bream and 45 roach.

'I drew a peg on the Potter Heigham stagings and caught fish from the first whistle on a pole rig, fishing worm or maggot about six to seven metres out.

'My team-mates, John Southgate, who won his section, and Jimmy Brooks, second in his, ensured a four penalty-point victory to keep us in the hunt for the shield.'

The best of the rest were triple broads champion Lee Klimczuk (Bait Tech) with 48lb 15oz, Warren Martin (Unreliables) 45lb 12oz, John Southgate (Maver) 44lb 2oz, David Roe (Angling Direct Black) 43lb 10oz and Mark Pollard (Suffolk AD) 42lb 6oz.

Sections: S Clarke, J Southgate, R Johnson.

Teams on day: Maver Image 4pp, Unreliables 13pp (100lb 3oz), Angling Direct Black 13pp (99lb 5oz).

Leading standings: Maver Image 3pp, Daiwa AD Gold 5pp, Unreliables 6pp.

League action is suspended for a week to accommodate the River Wensum Autumn Festival. This is a two-day event on Saturday and Sunday on the Lenwade Charity Lakes and River Fishery, organised by member Keith Westgate. The river stretch above Lenwade Mill, which is expected to produce quality roach, chub and dace, will be closed to members on both days, as will the Long Lake.

Cost per angler of competing for teams of three, or individuals, to raise money for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, is £10 per day plus optional pools. The draw is at the Lenwade Hotel, where meals will be served and spectators will be made welcome on the fishery or in the hotel to join in the raffle to swell proceeds. Entry or further information from Keith Westgate 07771 553029 or Tony Gibbons 01603 400973.

The first Angling Direct open event of the season on the River Wensum resulted in catches of small roach along Riverside where Colin Urry of the Dukes club won with more than 21lbs of roach.

Match lake results continue to reach three figures, with Colin Reynolds (Costessey Crown) winning the Barford Open with 134lb 2oz, while Paul Manthorpe headed the Veterans with 137lb 12oz at Bergh Apton.

On the carp lakes Kevin Smith of Lingwood reported the best of the week at Taswood, a 35lb 2oz common.

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