Anglers hard hit by freeze

Roy Webster’s Angling

Hardy anglers braving arctic weather in the past seven days have been greeted by vast sheets of ice covering many venues, including all the main broads.

And, where open water has been available, catches have plunged. Flowing rivers were clear, but with water temperatures hovering just about zero, fish were hard to come by.

The River Thurne was especially dour and keen local rodman Kevin Paynter, who had racked up excellent bream bags at Martham before the weather worsened, managed to catch only the odd bream at the weekend.

All lakes with mechanical means to keep the water circulating produced a few carp but others without this facility were sealed by inches of ice.

The Sportsmans club match at Barford was won by Gary Hunter with just one carp scaling 11lb 8oz, then Mick Bunn with 11lb 3oz and Mark Colman 6lb 5oz.

Stalham club members managed to compete on their boatyard lagoon after clearing minor ice floes.

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Roger Farmer weighed in an excellent catch of roach and perch to win with 15lb 5oz, followed by Mark Charlewood, 8lb 4oz, and D Hammond 7lb 14oz. Top pair were Farmer and Kevin Lawson with an aggregate of 16lb 14oz.

Stalham spokesman Mike Browne said conditions were so bone-chilling a number of the more elderly anglers, including himself, had been forced to pack up fishing. “After three hours sitting out there in the freezing cold, I felt I was in danger so I decided to head for the car and thaw out,” he recalled.

The Zenith club members visiting Holly Farm, South Walsham, fished through similar conditions, and the carp were not keen either. The result was R Gregson 21lb 6oz, J Rowell 20lb 10oz and T Daniels 12lb 10oz.

Beach anglers have also been unable to catch fish fit for the pan. Yarmouth North and Central beaches have been sparsely populated with rods, whose rewards consisted of mostly small whiting and dabs with the occasional rare codling above the statutory 36cm size limit.

On the opposite side of the estuary, the shoreline between Gorleston and Hopton also produced a few codling. But the quality of the fishing hardly warrants an investment of �15 or more on lugworm baits, let alone the risk of losing even more terminal tackle on the increasing number of “hefts” out there.

Some years back the inshore seabed was dragged to remove much of the underwater clutter. Thousands of yards of fishing line with hooks and lead weights attached were trawled up, resulting in several years of trouble-free fishing. Perhaps now is the time for a repeat of this worthwhile exercise.

And the outlook for weekend anglers? In a word, bleak.

Further snow and sub-zero temperatures are forecast but for hardy carp anglers it is worth knowing that the two fisheries at Burgh Castle are being kept ice-free. There’s no reason to hold your breath anticipating staggering catches, for the fish hate this wintry weather as much as their hunters.

However, the biggest sufferers from this steep decline in angling activity will be the fishing tackle shops. What with the weather and the economic downturn, the fearful finger of bankruptcy has already beckoned.

The most famous, long-running fishing tackle supermarket Bennetts of Sheffield has been visited by the Official Receiver and more businesses are expected to succumb.

Freshwater fixtures. Marsh Trail Lakes: Open Saturday, December 18, Lake C. Draw 9am, fish 10am-3pm, �15 per head all-in fee. Optional gold/silver pegs standing at �200.

For booking/details, contact John on 07766 697873/01502 586284.