River specialists to gather for special Wensum events

Festive cheer for Sprowston angler deadly Derek Chandler who landed this bure beauty. This 22 Pounde

Festive cheer for Sprowston angler deadly Derek Chandler who landed this bure beauty. This 22 Pounder was caught on dead bait near Wroxham. - Credit: Archant

In the mid-1980s, a gleeful gathering of cheerful match anglers weighed in a total of more than a tonne of River Wensum roach caught during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Ten events were staged along the convenient accesses along Riverside Road, Carrow Bridge, Hospital Meadow, the Yacht Station, Norwich City FC and Jarrolds printing works car parks.

Alas, there would be no repetition of such a yuletide fishing fiesta to report on these pages any time in the foreseeable future.

For, in the intervening years, the match angling picture in the Norwich area has been more than slightly blurred around the edges.

This trend is not due to any alarming shortfall of River Wensum fish stocks, but to a rather more disturbing decline in the number of anglers still embracing the inimitable specialist skills demanded by competitive river fishing for wild species.

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In addition, there is a serious lack of suitable car parking for the aged and disabled within a few short steps of the river banks.

Even so, the remaining devout disciples of piscatorial presentation involved with river fishing will have their chance to display their finely-tuned skills along Riverside at the Jim Boulton Memorial Open on Sunday and the Linda Thompson memorial on New Year's Day, both raising funds for the EA Air Ambulance.

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The events' organiser, Pete Swan, is expecting a sell-out field (entry £15 at The Angling Direct tackle shop).

So, what are the prospects for these caring anglers?

If recent results are any guide, a 20lb-plus catch of roach and perch is expected, despite the prospect of overnight frosts cooling the water habitat.

On the lakes, there was fierce competition at Barford, where ties were recorded twice on Saturday.

On the Match Lake, Terry Bolingbroke (Mulbarton) and Mark Henry (Angling Direct) could not be divided with 70lb 15oz, while on the Pleasure Lake, Norwich rods Ben Smith and Brian Bygraves both scored 51lb 9oz.

Those are the listed venues for the up-and-coming Barford League for teams of five, the first round Sunday, January 4 (entry to Daniel Brydon 07766 658948).

And just to record a sample of some of the tremendous carp caught from the commercials.

The stand-out venues were Taswood, Catch 22 and Cobbleacre for a whole batch of 30lb-plus specimens.

On the Broads, it has been a year for both good and bad news for the angler. As reported last week, spectacular match catches featured on all the main tidal rivers.

But the downside was the effect of yet another sea surge penetrating the Broads in the autumn, wiping out an estimated 25,000 fish.

Fortunately, more than half a million of varying species survived in the Potter Heigham boat basins and another 250,000 sought sanctuary in the River Chet, a tributary of the big River Yare, fed by fresh water via the ancient Chedgrave mill race.

Of the main Broads, Hickling and Horsey produced staggering catches of bream for locals and visitors alike during the summer and autumn and, despite a far from ideal saline spawning habitat, a number of pike were caught too.

Most pike in the Thurne Valley swim in the purer water between Somerton and Martham, while on the other tidal rivers the top choices were River Ant from Barton to Wayford, the Bure from Coltishall to Horning, the Yare from Trowse to Surlingham and the Waveney from Geldeston to Beccles.

Despite gloomy forecasts, the non-tidal rivers have produced quality catches, including a fair number of pike to the 20lb mark.

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