Time to spring into action as lakes take centre stage

David Cairns with a nice fish around the 6lb mark, caught at Blackdyke.

David Cairns with a nice fish around the 6lb mark, caught at Blackdyke. - Credit: Archant

Pack away the winter woollies. Spring is here. And the close season-exempted lakes are likely to be bubbling with feeding fish by the weekend.

That's the promising outlook from the stillwaters, where the banks are already decorated by daffodils, camelias and wild flowers blooming in a kaleidoscopic conflict of contrasting colour.

It was last Sunday's celestial equinox that officially transferred winter to spring and that must have impressed the weather gods.

The mercury is rising, promoting a fabulous Easter parade of fisherfolk seeking both competition and pleasure.

So where are the well-stocked waters to head for?

For match anglers, it is a chocolate orange choice, with every segment likely to produce the taste of a winner well into double figures or better.

That was evident at Colton on Saturday, when Norwich rod David Cooper exhibited a triumphant haul of carp totalling 113lbs. Bergh Apton is another venue likely to top the ton mark.

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Other match venues well worth the entrance fee are the Barford Lakes, where five days of consecutive open events commence tomorrow (01603 759624).

The Wicklewood fishery, where Mark Stenton won the Robert Kett fundraiser (£152 for Dementia UK) with 23lbs and then Stan Karn lifting the Wroxham club match with 68lb 4oz, is strongly fancied and so is Cobble Acre, which caters for match and pleasure anglers alike.

The Monday event at Mill Farm is not to be missed either. This week it was won by Simon Parker (DAD) with 67lb 8oz.

For the giant carp specialists, the choice of venues is almost as wide as areas of the Norfolk Broads.

The stand out locations are Catch 22, the Taswood fishery and Waveney Valley Lakes.

Day ticket waters that also contain most other coarse fish species are Broome Pits, Chapel Road at Roughton, Gimingham Lakes, Martham Pits, Reepham fishery, Shallowbrook at Costessey, Swangey Lakes, Taverham Mill Lakes, Weybread fishery and Weybread gravel pits. Further detail on their websites.

Adult anglers, especially senior citizens, who remained housebound during the icy blasts, will welcome the more comfortable clime. But shall we see a sudden influx of teenagers keen on pursuing Isaac Walton's gentle art?

Not if the entry into last week's Angling Trust under 17 league is any guide. Just one lad booked his place in to the match venue at Barford from an area including Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.

A devastated Barford fishery manager, Sarah Thomson, commented: 'We had a poor turnout last year, but this latest development was ridiculous. I just hope we can do better at the next round here on March 20.'

That is an update on the present and immediate future, leading to timely review of our rivers and broads, whose season ended for the 93-day break last week.

Considering the doom-laden picture painted all over the area following repeated sea surges and punishing outbreaks of the fish killer algae Prymnesium, it can be reported that the quality of the fishing thereafter fell little short of a miracle of biblical proportion. From day one on June 16, there were quite wonderful catches of roach and bream, ending with the highlight of the season, the spectacular broads record perch scaling 5lb 12oz bagged by Tunstead teenager Edward Frost in January while fishing the River Bure at Horning.

Perch consistently featured in winter competitions and won the River Wensum Angling Trust league for Dukes' clubman Colin Urry.

On the River Yare the season went out with a roar after match and pleasure anglers weighed in some magnificent winter roach up to 2lb 4oz.

And the most unlikely catch of the season? The 6lb 8oz sea trout caught by Buxton's pike expert Andy Siddall on the upper reaches of The Bure, 35 miles upstream from its usual North Sea habitat.