Cod bonanza for anglers

Local beach anglers are enjoying one of the most prolific cod seasons for many a year. But the message is clear - face the winter weather and enjoy this bonanza while it lasts.

Local beach anglers are enjoying one of the most prolific cod seasons for many a year. But the message is clear - face the winter weather and enjoy this bonanza while it lasts.

Successful fry survival in recent years has resulted in a marked upturn in North Sea cod stocks, almost entirely due to the fishery policy of establishing no-go areas for the trawling industry on the spawning grounds, writes Roy Webster.

This intervention by man and the arrival of the vital cold water plankton on which cod larvae depend has resulted in the growth of small codling up the 5lb range all along the Eastern seaboard.

However, the increase in cod stocks has resulted in a mark-up of quotas for the fishing fleets in the North Sea and the direct result of this is likely to be a hoovering up of large numbers of marketable fish in a matter of months.

And with fewer undersize codling showing up along the beaches it is almost certain that the local shoals of this succulent round fish are likely to diminish over the next couple of years.

At present demand for lugworm bait often outstrips supplies. For what with north Norfolk worm beds being ravaged by fierce tides, all the existing worm-bed diggers are hard pressed to fulfil over the counter bait sales. At the popular Pownalls fishing tackle shop in Regent Road, Great Yarmouth, a spokesman said they were managing to cope ... just.

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“We try to gauge our intake of lugworm to meet demand and in the main we manage to achieve this to supply our customers' orders,” he said.

The cost of lugworm right now ranges up to £20 per hundred depending on quality. So this, added to transport and tackle expenditure, means the beach angler has to take home at least a couple of decent cod for the family freezer as a reward.

Those anglers who live close to the golden sands between Happisburgh and Winterton can, with a little time and effort, dig sufficient numbers of quality worms for a single session.

The beaches in form for cod at present are along the town and further south at Hopton or beyond where one angler is reported to have bagged nearly one dozen cod to 8lb in an evening session.

However, the sport remains hit or miss with some rods yet to catch a cod worthy of the frying pan. So for now the old motto holds good: If at first you don't succeed ...

On the freshwater match circuit, one of the Browning Pownalls match group Mark Bradford won individual honours in the final round of the Barford Winter League last Sunday with a carp catch of 176lb 4oz.

He was fishing from Peg 3 at Colton and reeled in 25 fish on float tackle and red maggot fished mainly in the margins.

Both Pownalls teams finished respectively in fifth and sixth positions in the table with Carp Vader retaining the title they won last year.

Results - Individuals: M Bradford (Browning Pownalls) 176lb 4oz, G Burden (Unreliables) 144lb, P Ashford (Carp Vader) 92lb.

Final league table: Carp Vader 32, Unreliables 29, Barford and DAD both 26, Pownalls Boys 21, Browning Pownalls 19, Them Together 11, Barford Reserves and Thetford both 10. Individual Champion: W Martin 35 section points out of a possible 36.

Elsewhere, Ray Kent of Gorleston Jolly Boys won at Mill Farm with 59lb 12oz while Stephen Rouse of Ormesby was runner-up at Hill Farm, Banham, with 50lb 1oz.

On the main rivers the tidal reaches appear to have undergone a mass migration of coarse fish

this week.

Anglers with fish finders on the River Thurne between Potter Heigham and Candle Dyke detected only the odd pike, which suggests the roach and bream have moved off either into the Potter Heigham Boat Basin or up-stream into Heigham Sounds, Deep Dyke, the Martham Boat Dyke or to the dead end at Somerton.

Prospects for pike and perch are rated excellent on the Trinity Broads with late afternoon the most likely period for success with dead-baits and artificial lures.