Norfolk raises its glass to a vintage year of angling successes

Sam Honeywood caught this fine-looking 17lb 1oz pike on a smelt dead bait. Sam was at a stretch of r

Sam Honeywood caught this fine-looking 17lb 1oz pike on a smelt dead bait. Sam was at a stretch of river in Norwich nice and early and managed to catch this fish within the hour. His friend James Hubbard managed to land one around 9lb as well. - Credit: Archant

So, what was so special for you anglers fishing in the Norfolk Broads and rivers during 2015?

It's a no brainer! For, beyond doubt, it has been a year of spectacular recovery from the ravages of a storm-tossed sea and a series of deadly outbreaks of the killer algae Prymnesium Parvum.

Chemical imbalance obstructing successful spawning in some areas has substantially been overcome and, despite a serious downturn in rod licence sales, the growth of match participation on our rivers can be rated phenomenal on venues where the Environment Agency has vastly improved bank access during the flood alleviation work.

And, boy, did anglers appreciate it? Key events staged by Andy Wilson-Sutter on the River Yare attracted record attendances this century. But, far from being overawed by invaders from north, south and west, our own local talent flourished.

The marquee tournament on this river was the ever-popular Nisa Feeder contest, sponsored by the enthusiastic Nick Larkin.

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The best eight-of-14 match marathon proved a cliffhanger right to the wire when Yarmouth Sportsmans' veteran Brian Weavers won in the equivalent of a photo finish, beating Deben's Paul Abbott by just two ounces – 153lb 11oz to 153lb 9oz – after 90 hours of pure concentration.

The annual Keith Ford Memorial that raised £750 for the East Anglian Air Ambulance was won by Deben's Steve Kindlysides, who had back-to-back winning catches both days for a runaway aggregate of 55lb 8oz. Steve Clark (Maver Image) won the Riverfest qualifier with 20lb 6oz and Wilson-Sutter also made it with his zone winner of 15lb 7oz, but alas neither featured in the final on a flooded River Wye.

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Heaviest Yare bag of the season was 50lb 6oz of bream netted by Suffolk angler Will Freeman (Preston Innovations). And another Suffolk rod, Craig Ablett (Breakaways Tackle) lifted the National Feeder Championship with 25lb 4oz.

Suffolk again featured when Dave Reeve ended the 2015 River Yare fixture list by becoming champion with 19lb 4oz of roach.

On the northern rivers, the competition was equally fierce. The early-season open winner at Cold Harbour was Reg Bryanton (Deben) with 33lb 12oz, while Robert Hubbard (Angling Direct) scored on the River Bure with 39lb 12oz at St Benets.

Richard Watson (Ipswich) opened up at Martham with 20lb 5oz, setting up a skimmer bream bonanza in the NDAA teams of three league, won by Yarmouth Weavos trio.

The long-running NDAA Broads Championship was a triumph for Nick Larkin with 23lb of Thurne roach and bream, netted at Potter Heigham. Then Jeanette Halliday and Tony Anderson, of Angling Direct, shared honours at the midweek league, both recording 16pp and 70lb 7oz.

Further afield, Angling Direct's Glen Hubbard sealed victory at the Anglo-Dutch festival in the Netherlands for the second time to pocket four-figure winnings.

It would be remiss not to include the popularity of the commercial lakes in this annual summary. Barford Fishery attracts thousands of pleasure and match anglers each year and the four-day festival victory by resident Paul Ashford endorsed this with a four-match aggregate of 310lb 8oz, while the top 10 on the card weighed in almost 3,000lb.

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