Anglers waiting for a break in the freeze

FROZEN solid in a massive white-out, for anglers it was mission impossible on every Broad, most rivers, major boatyards and even on lakes where mechanical aerators were losing the battle against temperatures plunging up to 17 degrees below zero.

Midweek events went ahead before the vice of the stingiest December weather on record clamped down. But by the weekend many events were called off, writes Roy Webster.

Commercial fishery managers should be made aware that water is the only liquid on the planet to expand on reaching freezing point, and this physical property is the insulator that protects the fish stocks from freezing to death.

The climate has now reached a point where continuous disturbance of the water with paddle action could result in the formation of ice crystals from the bottom up rather than the other way round when temperatures become uniformly 0C, which represents a serious threat to all aquatic life below the surface.

The open event at Burgh Castle was called off but the Stalham Club members visited their lagoon, where swims were hacked out of the ice.

Denny Hammond won this grueller with 2lb 2oz and the only woman club member, Amanda Greenaugh, was runner-up with 1lb 13oz, with the remainder gazing at empty nets.

Along the beaches, a number of intrepid town anglers competed in the Tackle Xchange Christmas Fair event at Kelling.

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In the face of freezing breezes, Martin Waters (Carlton Colville) won with 4lb 2oz of mainly flatfish, Mark Gooch (Lowestoft) had 3lb 12oz and Paul Tovell (Gorleston) 3lb 9oz.

Organiser Tony Thomas said: “Considering the biting weather these were reasonable returns.”

A best-selling national angling magazine has awarded Broads rivers the Venue of the Year accolade.

n The Angling Times has come out in favour of the prolific natural waterways of the Broads water park.

Endorsing the local angling verdict that Broads rivers are the most abundant wild coarse fisheries in the country, the paper described the esteemed international nature reserve as “back to its best”.

Cynics may regard this sudden change of heart as an effort to boost the readership of the main body of Broads anglers who were somewhat put out when the paper supported the Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain, which forced the Norfolk Wildlife Trust into an embarrassing U-turn over the live-baiting controversy.

This followed a proposal to outlaw the retention of all fish from Hickling Broad and other NWT-controlled waters after warden Richard Starling declared the Trust was responsible for protecting all flora and fauna, including all species of fish.

His call for a live-bait ban was supported by the Norfolk and Suffolk Anglers Council but the decision to implement was overturned by the intervention of the pike anglers.

Perhaps the debate regarding taking fish for any purpose from these wildlife reserves could be reopened.

Angling Times reporter Richard Grange, who marked up the Broads rivers as the best in the country, has listened to local match stars Robert Hubbard and Nick Larkin.

Larkin told the reporter that fish stocks in our Broads and rivers were sufficient to support match and pleasure angling as well as predators such as the cormorant, otter, heron, bittern great crested grebes and kingfishers.

“Our rivers have been getting better and better year on year, not just in terms of the fish to catch but in nature generally,” he said.

Hubbard added: “Our River Yare used to be seriously polluted by industrial effluent, but since this was stopped fish populations are excellent.”