Yare a tower of strength as season gets off to a good start
- Credit: Archant
Keen anglers who were on the riverbank long before Monday's dawn celebrating the opening of the new coarse season, received a shot of ecstacy more potent than any unlawful substance available on the streets.
Long before the match men settled down for their opener on the newly-tailored River Yare, it had become abundantly clear that vast shoals of fish had survived the autumn battering by the angry seas.
At first sight, the uninitiated might have thought this was a special organised day out from an old people's home – many pensioners were in evidence along the River Bure at St Benet's Abbey.
Among them were well-known veteran Keith Fickling, still as bright as a button at the age of 85, along with his 72-year-old club-mate Albert Farrow.
By 10am, both had netted skimmer bream and perch almost every cast until the tide changed.
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'I have been here at St Benet's on opening day almost every season of my fishing career,' said Keith.
'My love of tidal river bream fishing is as strong as ever. I just could not take to the carp lakes.'
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One bright spark among the dying embers of young generation anglers was 19-year-old Macauly Sparrow of Catfield.
He had pre-baited his secret swim top side of the old abbey and was catching fish long before daylight arrived.
'My best bream came in at five and a half pounds in a total catch of between 40 and 50lb,' he said.
'It has been a great start for me.'
It was a similar successful story on the River Thurne at Cold Harbour where the Sutton village trio of Ron Hill, Dave Browning and Brian Thompson bagged nets of skimmer bream, roach and rudd as well as pristine perch over the 1lb mark.
Now to the new season's River Yare match taster.
As forecast, this was a bream bonanza won by Deben's former national champion Rod Finch, who topped the card with a stunning catch of slabs to 5lb taken on the feeder and worm from peg 126.
The popular bait wholesaler boosted his week's takings by £240, a just reward for repelling the concerted challenge from some of the top bream specialists from East Anglia and the Home Counties.
Shaun James, of the Dukes Club, was runner-up with 38lb 7oz from peg 56, followed by Paul Hudson (Deben) with 35lb 11oz from 51, Robert Hubbard (Daiwa AD) with 34lb 10oz from 113, while almost every section was won with more than 20lb.
For match promoter Andy Wilson-Sutter, these results confirmed that our tidal River Yare venue is among the best of Britain and, more to the point, did not suffer huge fish losses from the massive salt tides.
'We had a superb turnout on Monday, an excellent new match HQ at the White Horse, Chedgrave, and not least today's catches showed great promise for the 2014 match calendar,' he said.
On the match lakes, David Cooper (Norwich) headed the Railway open with 169lb 10oz and Chris Vandervliet (Bait Tech) won at Cross Drove with 141lb 11oz.
Giant carp featured on the specimen lakes with the top fish at Swangey a 33lb mirror for regular George McDowell, of Thompson. Special mentions for 12-year-old Katie Rank, of Mulbarton, who landed a 22lb common, and 11-year-old Ben Rowe, of Norwich, with a 19lb personal best common.
At Taswood, the best fish was 32lb personal best common for Gorleston's Herbie Patz, with other 30lb-ers for Norwich roads Guy Sherwood and Chris Denton.
n For the second week running, Norfolk match ace Warren Martin has narrowly missed out on a national qualifier.
He was runner-up in the Woodland Lakes Fish o'Mania with 135lb 2oz, 10lb adrift of the winner, Preston's Andy Power.