New format for Wensum Valley event

The Wensum Valley Fresh Water Angling Championship this year is offering a brand new format that could reward riches and glory to lake and river anglers alike.

This two-day match angling extravaganza on March 10-11 sponsored by fishing tackle firms Nisa Feeders and Preston Innovations, will be staged on the prolific three lake complex of the Bridge Inn, Lenwade and on the adjacent famous stretch of the river Wensum.

Day one on the Saturday brings the Pairs Trophy competition, the draw 8.30am in the Bridge Inn where breakfast is served and accommodation available (01603 872248), fishing from 10.30am to 3.30pm. On day two for the individual Bridge Inn trophy the draw is 9am, fishing 11am to 4pm with special heaviest fish prizes to be won on both days with the pairs event decided on points.

This tasty end of season event is expected to attract top match anglers but entry costing �10 must be booked with Tony Gibbons on 01603 400973 before the closing date of March 7.

Event promoter Keith Westgate said: 'Anglers can enter one or both matches that can produce massive carp to over 20lb as well as bream and roach from the lakes while the river Wensum that will include the fabulous swims below the weir could turn up bumper barbel or choice chub. We are catering for anglers conversant with all techniques suitable for still water and river conditions and I want this to be an annual event.'

Following the scientific research by the Environment Agency's Helen Beardsley that established the link between phosphate and the growth rate of roach surviving in the river Wensum, pertinent questions have been asked in the Eastern Daily Press and elsewhere about areas of the river where effluent from sewerage treatment works had not been a factor in feeding this nutrient into the fishery.

According to published data the sources of phosphate entering rivers up stream of sewerage works were domestic soakaways, the spreading on the land of human sludge and farm animal slurry as well as untreated domestic sewage fluid seeping in via ancient land drainage systems.

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In addition aquatic bird roosts – for example the 250,000 black headed gulls resting on Hickling Broad and Horsey Mere – were also a major contributory factor directly responsible for the massive fish mortality caused by excessive blooms of the Prymnesium Parvum algae in 1969 and 1970.

Although most of the extreme human practices were eventually forbidden by building and agricultural regulation the percentage of phosphate entering non tidal rivers other than from sewerage treatment, remained at a constant 18pc of the original total before stripping began.

By contrast the tidal rivers and Broads were well supplied with phosphate from the detergent used washing dishes and cutlery on the summer hire fleet vessels that was drained directly into the water rather than into the on board sewage tanks.

It is a complicated subject but out of all this information two simple salient points emerge.

Helen Beardsley has shown there is insufficient phosphate entering non tidal rivers today to maintain quality roach populations with adequate nourishment while on the tidal navigable rivers and Broads the opposite is the case for the species is booming at levels not seen since the end of the Second World War.

This was certainly not the case during the early years of the 20th century when many rivers were often little more than open sewers.

More efficient and reliable disposal systems were not developed until 1912 but as more houses were built for the growing population natural river fisheries came under pressure again when the plant failed to cope with overflow.

Dangerously high biochemical oxygen demand during flash floods led to serious troubles for the fish stock in the North Walsham canal and stretches of the tidal river Yare.

Despite these set backs in the early to mid century huge roach were caught on what was then rudimentary fishing tackle compared with today's high tech stuff.

Dilham primary school girl Helen Mason heaved out a spanking 3lb roach when a bunch of us kids were fishing the canal in 1941 and another beauty of 3lb 4oz from the same venue fell to Ted Howard of Worstead in the 1950's.

n On the big carp circuit milder temperatures prompted fish to feed, the best reported a 31lb 10oz specimen bagged from Taverham Lake by local expert Mark Gray.

Chub also featured from the Taverham Mill Pool with an impressive seven pounder witnessed and weighed which agurs well for the remaining two weeks of the coarse season.

At Waveney Valley sport also picked up with a number of double figure mirrors and commons to 30lb falling to permit holders.

On the tidal river Bure, Acle was a choice venue for Geoffrey Browne of Gorleston who caught bream and roach every cast.