Stripies meet their match during River Wensum Valley Championship
For many years the humble perch (perca fluviatilis) has been regarded as bent pin prey for little boys and even some adults who have amused themselves catching this belligerent species on rudimentary tackle, writes Roy Webster.
This prompted the observation, attributed to Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) that 'float fishing is a stick and a string with a worm on one end and a fool on the other'.
Unfortunately, television coverage has done little to dispel this witty but sarcastic notion among the non-angling public, or encourage our kids to take up Isaac Walton's 'gentle art'.
Among our 10 grandchildren, just two girls watch TV coverage, especially the exceptional River Monsters which, like Robson Green's Extreme Fishing, is more adventure than the other boring shoestring programmes available on Freeview.
However, now it can be reported there has been among match anglers something of an epiphany when it comes to perch fishing. This species once dismissed as a damn nuisance or worse for scaring off the match anglers' roach is now being hailed as a worthwhile winter quarry, especially in urban venues.
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This sudden change of heart was instigated by the 2015 Angling Direct King of the Wensum Colin Urry. For, as reported on these pages, the 51-year-old Dukes clubman pinned his faith on perch to win the title with nine section penalty points.
This gained more than a passing interest among his contemporaries and league organiser Pete Swan, who finished runner-up with 11 penalty points on Sunday, said: 'Colin won his title because he went for perch and this proved a game changer. On Sunday all the leading weights featured these plump fish which are due to spawn within days.
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'Bream did not feature and that shows up in the league table where the top five are divided by only five points.'
Unfortunately, the area of high pressure accompanied by bright sunshine and a full moon wrecked competitors' hopes in the River Wensum Valley Championship.
'The water at Lenwade was so clear it was possible to spot fish swimming. Persuading them to take a bait was a real test,' recalled Tony Gibbons, joint organiser with Keith Westgate.
Best fish weighed was a superb chub of 5lb 6oz for Derby's Lee Bennett, but with Saturday's pairs title decided on points, he and his partner Kevin Humphries were runners-up with 6pp, one adrift from Ted Spurgeon and Barry Hickford of Colchester with 5pp.
In the individual competition on Sunday, Humphries, with one chub totalling 3lb 10½oz, and Bennett, with 3lb 3oz of roach, filled the top two places.
Bennett lifted the individual trophy with an unblemished 2pp from his total of 8lb 13oz.
It was a similar outcome on the tidal River Yare.
Winner was Richard Watson of Nisa Waveney with 2lb 4oz, including a roach of 1lb 7oz.
Match organiser Andy Wilson-Sutter lamented: 'Earlier in the week I witnessed a roach catch of nearly 20lb from the venue, but once the river ran clear on Friday we knew it would be a grueller.'
On the lakes, carp responded at Barford, where Jim Randell won the Oddfellows with 153lb 8oz, James Ducker was Wymondham winner with 122lb, Dave Jarvis (Suffolk AD) headed the Saturday card with 72lb 3oz, Mill Farm winner was M Alexander with 79lb 4oz and Dennis Goodwin completed the double at Cobble Acre with 54lb 7oz and 63lb 14oz.
News also came from the River Bure at St Benets that NDAA members Kevin Fuller and John Barker shared a catch of 91 bream between 1lb and 5lb with an estimated total of nearly 200lb.