We’re alive and kicking

The controversial theory that predators are destroying Norfolk Broads' fisheries has foundered on the evidence of spectacular new season catches for match and pleasure anglers alike.

The opening day extravaganza organised by Keith Ford on the tidal River Yare was an absolute humdinger, the highlight a heads up confrontation between DAIWA Angling Direct adversaries Doug Botley and Tom Boulton.

Botley, in the hotly-fancied peg number 23, enjoyed early action among the bream and roach, slipping an estimated 40lb into his keep nets in the first two hours. Boulton, with canny know-how and careful baiting, coaxed fish upstream into his swim at peg 22, but was unable to close the gap to worry his neighbour, who finished with a stunning haul of bream and roach totalling 76lb 12oz while the former Norwich fishing tackle dealer Boulton made runner-up with 39lb, followed by Lewis Murawski (Anglers' World) with 35lbs 8oz.

The spilt tide scarcely affected the quality of the fishing in water nicely coloured. The bream and roach accepted various baits ranging from worm, caster, maggot and corn to pellet.

Ford, who forecast a brilliant season on the river Yare, said: 'Dog roach are topping all over the river. I think it will be the best start to the season for decades.'

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Amazingly, only 48 hours after the Thursday spectacular the venue staged the first round of the Nisa Feeder League. Conditions were more difficult when a heavy flood tide was held up by drainage from the uplands.

By contrast it was the lower sections that produced the leading catches with the winner Chris Vandlervliet (Maver Image VDE) with 38lb 4oz of bream and roach from peg 144.

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Three pegs upstream another Maver maestro, Andy Mead, also employed feeder tactics to make runner-up with 30lb 4oz then the action moved to peg 22 where Andy Moss (DAIWA AD) was third with 26lb 10oz.

The catches emphasise that most certainly fish populations have not been seriously plundered by otters or cormorants for every section was won with double figure returns.

The tidal river Bure was on great form until a suspected saline penetration surged inland on a huge Spring tide on Saturday night.

However, the first 48 hours of the new term relinquished quality catches of bream and skimmers from the NDAA banks at St Benets and further upstream chairman Tony Gibbons said it was a fish a cast at Woodbastwick.

The River Thurne fished superbly on Thursday and Friday when Martham angler Paul Jarmy reeled 40lb of bream from the Cess Road bank.

On the main Broads a spokesman at The Whispering Reeds boatyard described 'massive hauls of bream' for anglers fishing on Hickling after sunset while on nearby Horsey Mere the warden witnessed hefty catches of bream to over 5lb from the bank off the coast road.

Trinity Broads' enthusiasts failed to catch bream from the crystal clear water, but roving pike anglers reported numbers of fish on spinners and lures.

The non-tidal rivers benefited from more than half an inch of rain that rose levels on the river Wensum by some 12 inches. The flow also accelerated and Taverham Mill permit holders bagged chub to over 5lb and similar fish were reported at Lenwade and Costessy.

On the commercial waters the fish of the week was a giant 50lb 4oz catfish winched out of Waveney Valley Lakes, a first of its species for James Harroven.

The Halesworth angler tempted the monster on halibut pellet baiting carp hook to 18lb breaking strain line.

'This was an amazing first for James who must have battled for half an hour with one of our finest before it was in the net,' declared impressed bailiff Andrew Goldsmith.

Numerous carp in the low 20s were reported from Taswood Lakes, falling to Norwich rods Karl Wright, Jay Jermy and Mark Shears and for Ben West, of Long Stratton and Gary Smith, of Rollesby.

On the main match lakes Andy Leathers (Browning HR) won the �50k Maver qualifier at Barford with 82lb 11oz while Mark Bradford (Fakenham) enjoyed a hectic three hours winning the Barford evening outing with 100lb 14oz.

Cross Drove produced a 134lb winner for Jim Barrowman (Anglers' World) and W Chapman won at Mill Farm with 100lb 4oz.

The Nar Valley Fisheries reported three 30lb-plus carp, the latest a mirror of 33lb caught by Mark Thorpe from Lake Geneva.

The carp in Willow Pool have now spawned so should be ready to feed well this weekend. John's Pond has started well with bream to 7lb and tench to 6lb.

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