Lock rolls back the years
Few hardy anglers facing the chill air of a white hoar frost along the banks of a crystal clear Weybread Ocean Pit managed to tempt fish in the annual Avenue Angling East Anglian pike championship on Sunday.
It was a gruelling seven-hour session worsened by inconsiderate absentees who had booked in by telephone and failed to turn up.
At the end it was Lowestoft senior citizen Alan Lock with two fish totalling 13lbs who stepped up to receive the John Farrow Memorial Trophy and the top cash prize of £250.
The new champion, a 68-year-old retired crane operative who moved to Suffolk from Nottingham in 1964, had been a regular on the pike match scene since the championship was first launched.
He did not require mechanical assistance to lift his small brace of pike on to the scales that were tempted on dead baits fished in the shelter of a dying weed bed.
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Speaking of his first championship victory, he said: 'I have been placed a couple of times but I love this match and am delighted to have won it at long last.'
Whether the Norwich and District Pike Club organisers will adopt that hard line is doubtful, but chairman Steve Roberts made no attempt to disguise his sense of being let down: 'Nearly 20 anglers failed to turn up on the day and this meant pegging arrangements were chaotic with huge gaps in the final line up,' he complained.
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'In future we may have to consider entrance fees up front.'
Runner up was another well known Suffolk pike enthusiast Nick Pottle with two fish totalling 12lb 11oz (£150), followed up by Norfolk rod Darren Robinson with the heaviest of the day at 12lb (£50).
Inevitably there will be an inquest at club level on a number of issues concerning this important event for anglers whose opportunities for pike matches are limited.
'We may have to consider switching to tidal rivers where pike are more numerous and more likely to feed in cool conditions,' said Roberts.
For the more traditional matchmen the hugely popular Silver and Gold Series on Barford Lakes got off to a splendid start on Sunday when the home pair Daniel Brydon and Warren Martin sealed a narrow victory over Deben duo Rod Finch and Steve Kindleysides.
Both sets scored three section points but it was former Fish O' Mania champion Martin who had the edge with a carp catch of 81lb 2oz from the Willow Lake, while Brydon added two more points gained from a mixed net of bream and roach scaling 15lb 5oz from the Day Lake.
Runners up Finch and Kindleysides totalled 78lb 7oz and although Attleborough's Wiles and Major scaled 88lb 7oz, they were placed third with four points.
For joint Barford match organiser Kevin Ford, the day was special.
'The anglers caught plenty of fish and I was able to get to Carrow Road just in time to watch the Canaries gain three vital points from West Ham,' he chuckled.