Waveney Valley: Meadow was a field of dreams

Lovely stuff indeed this week all along the length of the fishable river! Plenty of fish at the Cherry Tree's Falcon Meadow feeding on maggots presented slowed down on a weighty float.

Beccles was yielding superbly conditioned roach and nice sized hybrids on both the pole with a couple of grams, and the feeder with a minimum of an ounce of lead. Barsham for boat anglers saw a good shoal of fish roaming its un-fished Norfolk reed-lined Suffolk bank. While opposite, the heavily overgrown Norfolk bank with its willow scrub extending some 20 feet out into the water, has been an excellent area for pikers. Peter Jacques from Norwich patrolled this area for five hours up to dusk, and took nine pike from 4lb up to 19lb 3oz not quite breaking the 20lb barrier, but with four double figure fighters an excellent performance on slowly drawn and twitched dead baits.

The Beccles Quay and Marina sprung back into form with some decent weights and fine, fat perch, many over the 1lb mark, ready to spawn, sometimes milting in the hand, feeding avidly. Even the little ladies of 5ins appeared to be ready to spawn and quite bloated. Mid-week, success came from bigger baits with patience, presenting a large worm, then five maggots on a size 10, laid on to the bottom, a foot or so from the bank metal piling. In a cramped 8' wide swim, on the side opposite the Harbourmasters Hut, the chosen method produced a pair of 2lb plus fish, 29 smaller perch, and a nice 3lb tench. These were gleefully landed by the incredibly enthusiastic duo of 13-year old for Steve Allen from Lowestoft, and his pal Lee and proudly showing the contents of their keepnet. A swim so selected because, 'Mr Crabtree's book recommends wooden pilings in the water' – indeed, age-old tips in new keen hands are so durable! Not just a very good performance, but one that bought untold joys and beaming smiles in holiday week, with a great example too, of how to scrounge bait when you have run out from nearby tolerant adult anglers.

In the upstream water at Mendham Bridge where the Harleston, Wortwell & District have part of their terribly under-fished five miles of river, a good bag of roach popped up. While 25lb plus of 5– 7' roach may not be of the biggest quality, it is plenty of action and bodes well for the future. Memories are rekindled of the Angling Times Winter League early days when the young keen Collett ran 100-peg morning matches on stretches of the Upper river. At the Bridge the 12-foot deep, wide, water here had pegs both sides, and on the day produced 34lb and 29lb of roach opposite to each other.

There were seven other double-figure bags of fine roach to the pound with broad tails, a tinge of gold around their heads and truly brilliant orange fins. Maybe a few of this strain are left and the true Waveney roach will return as hopefully the River recovers from its cormorant, mink, and pig-effluent abuses of the past.

Commercials have been good value, and with around 20 in the immediate area always difficult to locate the best catches from. Topcroft up the hill near Hempnall soon surged back into action with its wide, open, and shallower waters more sensitive to rises and falls in temperature. The feeder well out on the far end was the most prolific with common carp to 8 lbs making the best showing. Just one white maggot was all they wanted, ignoring anything bigger than a size 18 hook.

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