Norwich and District Anglers’ Association ends Wensum lease

The Norwich and District Anglers' Association (NDAA) have given up the lease on the famous Wensum Fisheries due to declining member interest.

Recognised as one of Norfolk's most successful angling organisations enjoying direct consultation with the Environment Agency and the Broads Authority, a well-attended NDAA annual meeting in the Canary Club last week voted unanimously to end the 27-year tenancy on the Costessey complex comprising three well-stocked, mature gravel workings and a short length of the River Wensum.

Explaining the decision, chairman Tony Gibbons said after a brief debate members agreed the fishery had been subsidised in recent years by the majority contributing towards the rent benefiting the few remaining members who still enjoyed the mixed fishing.

'Like all major angling organisations we are having to accept that numbers are falling and, in our case, serving a membership which had changed its ratio of under to overs 65s from 70/30 to 60/40pc, all in one year.

'This follows the national trend suggesting fishing has become a pensioner pastime with junior recruitment at an all-time low.'

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On the plus side, the popularity of the NDAA's holdings on the tidal Rivers Bure and Thurne, especially among match anglers, is beyond dispute with competitors turning up from the Home Counties and the Midlands.

Norwich day ticket sales illustrate the numbers of visitors lining up along the rivers and locals using the fishing dinghies.

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In his address, Gibbons stressed the day had arrived when boat repairs and bank maintenance was paramount and had to be completed before next season.

He agreed with members it was a sensible policy to invest cash on facilities that were popular and thus it was agreed unanimously that subscriptions for next season will rise to – full adult £20; senior citizens and registered disabled £15; juniors frozen at £1; day permits at £3; boat hire for two anglers £5.

'Our policy is to provide top-class angling at reasonable cost,' insisted Gibbons. 'Some of our boats are 30 years old and need repair as do some of our stagings and walkways. It is only right that we set aside cash to complete these renovations before next season opens on June 16.'

It was agreed able-bodied members should volunteer for working parties on dates to be announced once the weather improves.

The chairman concluded: 'Angling's over-riding problem nationwide is recruitment of the young. We have got to face up to it and try and do something to attract the school kids, an uphill task.'

Keith Westgate is hoping that will not be the case persuading match anglers to compete in his forthcoming Wensum Valley two-day freshwater angling championship scheduled for March 9/10 on the waters of the Lakeside Country Club at Lyng.

Details for this event, fished on lake and river, are as follows.

Day one: WVFA Pairs Trophy. £20 plus optional pools. Draw 8.30am, fishing 10.30am-3.30pm.

Day two: The Lakeside Individual Trophy. Entry £10 plus pools. Draw 9am, fish 11am-4pm. Results announced in the bar at 6pm.

Overall champion for the WVFA Cup, the top aggregate points scorer from both days. Prizes also for heaviest fish caught each day.

Entry to Tony Gibbons 01603 400973 by March 6.

Accommodation is available at the Lakeside, call Sam Curtis on 01362 854431.

In the meantime, anglers who respond to an invitation to test the quality of the River Wensum match stretch should perhaps remember that any fish they catch and retained in keep nets are less likely to respond on match day. Pike anglers are reminded that the Lenwade Bridge is staging a pike open on Saturday, February 23, draw 8am. Entry is £15 to Mo Morrish, 01603 872248.

On the local match scene, low water temperatures produced patchy results, the lucky anglers drawing on isolated shoals of carp. Dennis Goodwin, of Aylsham, won the Cobble Acre midweek with 70lb 5oz, Warren Martin, of Matrix, headed the Barford Open with 52lb 10oz, while top of the UG club on the Pleasure Lake was Lee Carver with 64lb.

The River Wensum in Norwich maintained form with bream available from most pegs. Colin Hinsley headed this Earlham Silvers event with 25lb 13oz, with Liam Brown close with 24lb 1oz.

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