Tony Gibbons’ champion effort at Wensum Valley Freshwater Angling Championship

Spectacular match returns from the Wensum Valley Freshwater Angling Championship at the weekend may have shattered the case for any culling of the local otter populations or reducing cormorant numbers that live off the river.

Previous contests have proved beyond doubt that expert match anglers have always had the edge when it comes to providing the potential of the River Wensum system.

That has been underlined again, especially by the Norwich and District Anglers chairman Tony Gibbons, who along with his pairs partner Brian Bygraves almost swept the board of the top awards.

On Saturday Gibbons bagged quality chub and numbers of small fish species below the Lenwade Mill pool. His four chub scaled up to 4lb 10oz and his remaining 44 fish consisted of roach, dace, perch, gudgeon and minnows for a total of 28lb.

Bygraves lifted out 10 small carp and a few roach for an outright win on the lakes, finishing with 20lb 8oz.

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This boosted the aggregate of the two Norwich men to an unassailable 48lb 8oz winner.

On Sunday, Gibbons went on to complete the double with a lake victory, netting two 5lb bream, three carp to 4lb and more small fish totalling 31lb 5oz. And that sustained effort earned the 68-year-old veteran the title of Wensum Valley Freshwater Angling Champion 2012 as well as the Bridge Inn Trophy.

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Bygraves was the Sunday runner up with 25lb 5oz from the lakes, followed by Chris Jakubowski (Deben), with four river chub and small fry totalling 23lb 4oz.

Top specimens were a chub of 5lb 5oz for Mo Morrish (Lenwade) and a 6lb 6oz carp for Jim Dobbs (Lenwade).

Recalling his winning tactics, Gibbons said: 'On Saturday I fed the river with loose casters and pinned two white maggots on a size 18 hook to 2.5lb breaking strain line.

'I decided to use my old centre pin reel rather than a fixed spool or a pole in order to run the bait through naturally with the flow. Using such fine float tackle I had to play the chub carefully and on day two I pole-fished casters on a size 20 barbless hook to 3.5lb line to take my best bream and carp.'

Gibbons, who assisted Keith Westgate in promoting and organising this event, added: 'The management of the Bridge Inn fishery were brilliant and gave us an indication that they would be happy to allow us the venue next year.'

This was verified by Westgate, who has already announced plans to stage a Wensum autumn festival at Lenwade on October 20 and 21: 'This championship has probably left the otter and cormorant cullers with red faces,' he declared.

'These results have proved beyond doubt that our River Wensum has lived up to its reputation of being one of the best rivers in the country.

'It produced 26 chub of top quality but also many small fish which must be good for the future.

'Our new format of bringing in the Bridge Fishery lake complex with the river has added interest to the competition and that is why anglers will be offered a chance to experience a new event in the autumn as well as a repeat of the winter championship on March 9 and 10 next year.'

The match sponsors Nisa Feeders, Preston Innovations and Premier Baits will have been delighted with this result and will be asked for their valued support for the coming events, as will the Bridge Inn.

This competition saw out the final weekend of the coarse season in great style and today will be anglers' last chance on local broads and rivers.

A late decision to run an open event on the tidal River Yare last Saturday resulted in fair catches of roach and bream all along the line.

Top rod was Yarmouth's Karl Gibson with 14lb 6oz from Langley, while on the River Wensum in Norwich, club winners were Colin Hinsley of Earlham Silvers with 27lb 10oz, with Pete Swan with 24lb 12oz, all bream, while the Dukes' winner on this venue was Jason Lowe with 21lb 8oz of similar fish.

On the big fish scene, carp are reluctant in fluctuating temperatures and the best at Taverham Lake was a 20lb 2oz mirror carp for Mark Kirby, of Lowestoft, while in the adjacent River Wensum, chub anglers bagged up with 15 specimens over 5lb.

• Worried anglers concerned about water quality and declining fish stocks in the River Waveney can have their say at an open crisis management meeting in the Swan Hotel Harleston, on March 29 at 8pm.

A proposal to form a River Waveney Trust is expected to go ahead to tackle what is widely regarded as a worsening ecological crisis.

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