Long walk in Wensum Valley Angling Championship well worth it

Keith Westgate with the 19lb 3oz winning catch that won him the Wensum Valley Angling Championship a

Keith Westgate with the 19lb 3oz winning catch that won him the Wensum Valley Angling Championship at the weekend. - Credit: Archant

Gentle trickling streams were swollen into mini torrents, meandering rivers overtopped their banks into hundreds of acres of flood plain and even the placid lakes which usually keep anglers fishing during inclement weather were also overcome by the relentless, 24-hour precipitation that dumped two inches of water on ground already saturated down to the aquifer.

However, in such trying times, there's always a few anglers who can find feeding fish. And that was the case in the Wensum Valley Angling Championship at the weekend when the second day scheduled for the Kingfisher Lakes was abandoned as water rose above knee level.

Saturday's first round was staged along the River Wensum at Lyng, where hopes ran high that some fish would feed before nature did its worst.

As it turned out, just one angler ran away with top honours and remarkably he was Keith Westgate, the founder of this popular end-of-season challenge.

His magic peg number 6 was drawn for him by Kevin Humphreys and that meant one of the longest walks along the match lengths.

It turned out it was worth all the effort for, even though the Deben angler lost 25 minutes of the event before he had tackled up, he hit the jackpot.

To sum up, this 53-year-old landscape consultant became quite attached to this aquatic scenery for he romped to a runaway 19lb 3oz winning catch of quality roach, including the heaviest fish of the day at 1lb 10oz.

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'What with the administrative work and a long trudge along the bank, I knew I would not start on time. But I got to work with a stick float rig baited with white maggot and fed in hemp. The fish kept coming and the big one was a real beauty,' the winner recalled.

He continued: 'We were just unlucky for this event to coincide with the heaviest rainfall of the year and on the second day after consultations with the bailiff we had to abandon the lakes where the water was rising. I hope to rearrange this fixture some time in May.'

He concluded: 'I thank the owner of the fishery (Paul Rogers) for use of the water and also the sponsors as well as 'Mr Crabtree' who presented the prizes. There were enough fish caught from the Wensum to justify its inclusion.'

Runner-up was Chris Colby (Beccles) with 4lb 10oz of roach and Beccles veteran Mal Dobson was third with 3lb 10oz.

The pairs trophy was won by Deben's Chris Jackobowski (3lb 4oz) and Steve Watt (14 minute minnows of 2oz) for six penalty points. Runners-up were Nisa Feeders' Nick Larkin (3oz) and Kevin Humphrey (4oz) with seven points, then NDAA pair Tony Gibbons (2½oz) and Bryan Bygrave (1½oz) with eight points.

Gibbons, who arranged the entry and generally assisted with the administration, said there were enough fish caught in such dreadful conditions to suggest the Wensum is well-stocked, especially with quality roach.

'It's a good idea to restage the second day in May when I expect the lakes to show with some fine nets of various species,' he said.

So far, the tidal rivers appear to have escaped the worst of the weather and a staggering match catch of bream featured on the River Wensum in Norwich.

The Dukes club were lined up along Riverside where Shaun James ended up with 53lb 8oz of skimmers and slabs up to 5lb apiece, all taken on worm baiting a feeder rig.

Amazingly, Shaun fished for three and a half hours without a single bite and was ready to call it a day when he noted a movement on his rod tip.

'This turned out to be a line bite but it was an indication that fish were in there,' reasoned the 57-year-old match man, who rates his move to Norfolk from the north as one of the better decisions of his life.

Next man in the frame was Nigel Goose with a solitary bream and a couple of roach, scaling 2lb 8oz, and the only other man to catch was Russell Urry with a 4oz tiddler.

Bream were also evident in the River Yare at Bramerton, where the EAPS club match was won by Steve Cary with 11lb of skimmers.

However, lower down at the Beauchamp Arms, tomorrow's end- of-season open event is cancelled because approach roads are flooded.

On the match lakes, sport held up especially for Billy Rowley who won at Barford with 121lb 5oz.

Jim Randell headed the Cobbleacre card with 44lb 15oz whilst Dennis Goodwin came in runner-up with 44lb 13oz.

On the big carp scene, Rob Stone of Gorleston bagged his personal best mirror at 31lb from Swangey Lakes and Avenue Angling's Beccles shop manager Phil Spinks netted a plump end-of-season Wensum chub at 6lb 3oz.