Wensum’s city stretch has plenty to offer
- Credit: copyright Archant Photographic 2
Where in winter can a match angler weigh in 24 bream scaling 74lb 9oz and within five minutes be sinking a warming rum and pep or visiting the food vendors to order a lavish Indian takeaway or chunky chicken and chips – or perhaps a tasty skewer of kebabs and even a traditional sit down mixed grill?
Of course, we are talking of the fine city of Norwich, where the River Wensum meanders between ancient structures and modern development, bestowing nature's gifts upon grateful fisherfolk before they seek refreshment at the end of the day.
It was along the banks at Riverside towards Carrow Road where the Canaries chalked up three most precious survival points on Saturday that Pete Swan, the organiser of the Sunday League, heaved out this Wensum wonder catch.
The 60-year-old Angling Direct squad man shared a huge shoal of bream with Ray Thurston (Zenith), who finished runner-up with 51lb 8oz, both of them surprising catches considering the clarity of the river.
'We all expected roach, but rising water temperatures induced the bream to feed and within the hour I had switched to a maggot feeder rig to catch bream that ranged to 5lb 8oz and averaged three pounds,' recalled Swan, whose haul on the Wensum has been bettered only by Angling Direct colleague Glen Hubbard, who recorded 98lb 1oz three winters back, and Nisa's Nick Larkin's 84lbs.
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Now the competition for the title has been so fierce there are seven anglers in the mix for this King of the Wensum title, with just two rounds to come.
Meanwhile, the second round of the Barford Fishery winter league was another fingertip trembler clinging to the precipice of success on all three lakes. And at the end of a frenetic five hours it was yet another league organiser Daniel Brydon boosting his team Sax Angling into a thrilling match tie of 17 penalty points with title holders Browning Hotrods.
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Brydon, who put a match winning 61lb 9oz net on the scales, caught from Willow peg five, commented: 'I cast a maggot feeder to the far bank and netted a number of F1s.
'My team is now in a position to challenge Hotrods for the title.'
Another Sax man, Andy Leathers, was also in tune, winning his section with 56lb 14oz from Railway 48, followed by Angling Direct Gold's Alan Tuck with 55lb 10z from Pleasure Lake Five.
However, the Sax band's harmony continued with 52lbs caught by Will Freeman from Railway 34. But Hotrods fought back with Richard Bond netting 49lb 10oz from Railway 38 and Neil Adcock, 47lb 11oz, from Railway 4 to force the tie.
'This was a splendid league match with carp feeding on every lake,' said Saxmundham tackle shop boss and team skipper Brydon.
'And if the winter remains kind, we can expect more of the same and hopefully no postponements.'
On the big fish waters, quality pike reported from Swangey Lakes have induced more predator hunters to visit this venue that once boasted a specimen of 38lbs in 1999, two years after possibly the same fish came twice in at 34lbs.
At the weekend a number of specimens to the mid-teens were weighed in by Lee Sims of Dereham and Tony Dent of Norwich, the latter also reporting a common carp of 20lb 4oz, and Kevin Scarff of Thetford a mirror of 20lb 10oz.
At Catch 22 it's been new year action with specimen carp for season and day ticket holders. Darius Ruston noted a 34lb 2oz common among five other 20s, Chris Claxton netted the best of the week, a 36lb 2oz mirror, while Jason Shaw banked a mirror of 34lbs and a common 30lb 2oz.
n This week many local anglers will be in mourning for John Buxton, who passed away aged 86.
Mr Buxton managed an almost impossible task of balancing water wildlife welfare against the perennial problems of imposing a special closed season to protect migratory wildfowl on Horsey Mere during the winter months. Angling was forbidden from November 1 to the end of February, but the mere opened up for the final 14 days of the coarse season, ending on March 14 and reopening on June 16.
During the latter part of the 20th century Mr Buxton suffered considerable verbal abuse from anglers caught fishing out of season and on one occasion he was pelted with smelly herring pike baits.
Yet instead of exercising his undoubted powers to close Horsey Mere against all anglers, John Buxton persevered.
With the aid of the more refined pike fishing enthusiasts, imbued with a sense of common decency, the fishing permit arrangement continued. Mr Buxton welcomed civilly all inquiries from the angling media, all of whom, including this correspondent, held him in great esteem.