Rivers given facelift in time for new term

Roy WebsterLocal anglers are preparing to turn the clock back 40 years when the new coarse fish season opens on rivers next week. And visitors are in for a pleasant surprise too.Roy Webster

Local anglers are preparing to turn the clock back 40 years when the new coarse fish season opens on rivers next week. And visitors are in for a pleasant surprise too.

On the glorious 16th they will be greeted by miles of new free fishing along the tidal embankments of the rivers Ant, Bure and Thurne whose tangle of vegetation has been cleared during the Environment Agency's (EA) flood alleviation scheme that has gone ahead with full consultation with anglers at every stage.

In addition the NDAA holdings on the River Bure at St Bennet's and the Thurne at Cold Harbour has been given a facelift, as has the Great Yarmouth permit stretch of the River Yare where there is more to come following work in progress at Whitlingham.

This welcome scenario takes local rod and line sport back to the halcyon years of the 1960s and 1970s when the Broads angling championship attracted more than 600 match men and women to these teeming bream and roach venues.

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The EA invites local angling clubs to visit the free banks, for the moment without requiring to book up in advance.

The selected free venues are the River Bure at Upton, the Ant between Ludham Bridge and Johnson Street and the Thurne between Martham and Potter Heigham.

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The NDAA match banks on the Bure are almost fully booked but days are available on the River Thurne at Cold Harbour (details on 01603 400 973).

Norfolk's angling liaison officer Tony Gibbons said: ' During the flood protection work the EA have been most sympathetic to our sport, levelling the banks for easy access and creating convenient parking where possible.'

As for the Broads proper, more especially Hickling and Horsey Mere, there are massive shoals of bream and roach available for the boat angler, while on Rollesby and Filby Broads predator anglers are looking forward to spinning for pike and perch.

On the non-tidal rivers anglers who watched Monday night's television programme, Springwatch on the River Wensum must have been encouraged by the numbers of barbel, perch, chub and the illusive roach and dace which some claim have all been devoured by marauding cormorants. Wildlife film maker Hugh Miles screened no less then eight different coarse fish species alive and well in their natural environment.

And providing the weather men are correct, the upper reaches of the River Wensum, Bure, Yare and Waveney should receive a welcome freshener over the next few days producing perfect conditions for anglers seeking massive chub and barbel.

However, a word of caution for zander anglers. It is understood that at least one ardent conservationist, angry over the lack of law enforcement under the Wildlife and Countryside Act concerning the alien zander, is prepared to bring a private prosecution against any person spotted releasing a live zander to the water.

Even so, the Director of Public Prosecutions possesses powers to curtail such private proceedings in the public interest. Furthermore an angler who wishes to take home a zander for the table may continue to do so, for if the Crown Prosecution Service is not prepared to lay charges for releasing this alien it automatically follows there will be no proceedings under the Theft Act against any angler who lawfully removes a fish.

The EA has also clarified the position on eels caught in competition. These may be retained for the weigh in after which they must be immediately returned to the water.

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