Tidals a real hit for Mulbarton Angling Club’s Simon Parker
Keen anglers who visit tidal rivers in autumn and winter may have noticed this activity is hit or miss.
But not members of the Mulbarton Angling Club, whose annual night visit to the River Yare almost invariably produces massive catches of bream, and last week's escapade was no exception.
Winner of this after dark six-hour Bramerton bream bash was the club's fishery officer Simon Parker, who heaved out 36 slabs to 4lbs apiece to clock a club river record of 103lbs 1oz.
Secretary Peter Dimmer, with 53lbs 7ozs, was runner-up, followed by the chairman Chris Forder, with 47lbs 11ozs.
Afterwards a breathless Dimmer said: 'The bream were prepared to take almost any bait.
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'Simon's fish were all taken on worm, my 20 fell to corn and Chris caught his on a variety of baits.
'We commenced fishing at 5pm and finished at 11pm and in all my years with the club we have never known a night like that.'
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In direct contrast to night angling, fishing the tidal rivers in daylight is a different proposition, with seasonal fluctuation of water conditions causing severe disappointment.
This has been evident on the River Thurne this month, when catches were in ounces at the end of a recent open match, suggesting the fish had mostly departed.
They had not. For days later well-known Kevin Paynter and Kevin Fuller heaved out staggering catches of bream up to 7lbs apiece from the popular Martham Cess bank, suggesting it is not so much the expertise of the hunter that counts most, but the lifestyle of the hunted.
So, there is little doubt that climatic conditions rule when it comes to selecting the right day to visit the tidal rivers.
This means careful study of the weather charts for overnight frost followed by bright sunlight in crystal clear water is the litmus test whether to load up the rods or catch up with the gardening, the latter more advisable.
One exception to this cardinal rule is the River Wensum in Norwich. Shadows and warmth from tall buildings offer protection and this was the case at the weekend when the Angling Direct open event on Riverside was won by Steve Borrett, who scaled 13lbs 15ozs with the next two just ounces adrift.
Boatyard lagoons and other off-river moorings are favoured for winter fishing. For instance Rockland Dyke is a select winter venue for the East Anglian Piscatorial Club, who staged the first of their series there, the winner Paul Cooper with 23lbs 15ozs of pristine roach and perch.
In fact every boatyard lagoon at Wroxham, Horning, Barton, Potter Heigham as well as the dykes at Matham, Catfield and Horsey are winter havens for shoals of coarse fish attended by hefty perch and mammoth pike.
However, while some of this fishing is free courtesy of the riparians, it should be understood that the public right to fish tidal waters cannot be transferred to private boatyards and moorings where proven permission has to be granted to avoid a criminal charge under the Theft Act.
Small feeder rivers such as the Chet at Loddon are splendid winter venues and the top of the River Thurne at Somerton is noted for a rare shoal of rudd that co-exists happily among the legions of roach.
The rectangular mooring off the River Waveney at Beccles is also a proven winter venue, with the first match of the veterans' series last week managing a winning bag of 37lbs 11ozs of bream for former Broads champion David Roe.
Commercial fisheries remain the favourites of many local anglers but those venues are also influenced by the vagaries of the weather.
In winter these present an exercise of trial and error because of changing water temperatures and often fish feed high up the water column because overnight frost has resulted in the dense cooler water sinking to the bottom.
These conditions at Bergh Apton resulted in Paul Manthorpe carding a 125lbs 8ozs winner with the Veterans.
• Following last week's revelations of local angling club decline, there is now evidence that recruitment of young anglers locally is dismally low.
The inter-school challenge match at Barford in July was supported by only five schools and since then a coaching session at Barford attracted only seven lads, all pupils from the Aylsham High School.
Participation in these courses is recommended at around �25 per angler for two hours, while adults are asked to pay �40 for two hours and up to �80 for five hours.
To become a qualified coach at Level One, a candidate has to fork out �220, and for Level Two �440.
Whether these entry fees deter the working classes, already under financial restraint, from becoming a coach or sending their offspring for tuition is at present unknown.
However, it is all too clear that woefully few youngsters are booking in to local coaching courses and that was confirmed by Steve Roberts, the respected Norwich and District Pike Anglers' chairman.
'I qualified a year ago and so far my services have not been required. No one knows for sure why the kids are staying away. Maybe it is cost or simply a lack of interest.'