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Rudd schoals have gone

PUBLISHED: 09:06 11 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:17 03 July 2010

Remember the spectacular shoals of rudd on the upper River Thurne between Martham and Somerton? Alas they seem to be no more.

These were the much sought after blood-red finned beauties of the hazy, lazy days of summer lurking among the rich green growth of lily pads waiting to pick off any unsuspecting water insect dropping to the surface to deposit its clutch of eggs.

Remember the spectacular shoals of rudd on the upper River Thurne between Martham and Somerton? Alas they seem to be no more.

These were the much sought after blood-red finned beauties of the hazy, lazy days of summer lurking among the rich green growth of lily pads waiting to pick off any unsuspecting water insect dropping to the surface to deposit its clutch of eggs.

According to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust warden Richard Starling, not a single rudd has been caught by an angler this season from the area whereas two seasons back they were fairly plentiful, writes Roy Webster.

“Last year I did not see or even hear of a decent rudd coming out either from the river near Martham Broad or from the dead end at Somerton where dozens of these species have over-wintered for many years,” he said.

“It also seems the roach have disappeared too. I can only guess that these fish have become victims of November's huge salt tides or they have been poached by fish thieves. It is most disturbing and I have to wonder where it will all end,” concluded the warden. He is mightily concerned by the lack of action by the authorities to protect the Broads from the rising seas.

He continued: “I've had talks with some of the people in the Broads Authority and the Environment Agency and I am not at all convinced that there are any real plans to keep out the sea. Unless there is a change of policy we face a wildlife disaster up here and the few bitterns we have are likely to perish in a salt water habitat.”

Most certainly river anglers hoping to make catches in the tidals cannot buy a bite from a fish, and the Stalham Club are confining their activities to the local boatyard basins at Richardson's complex. Even there sport has been pretty dismal with match returns well down in single figures.

“The fish are fairly widely spread but there are not enough of them,” declared club president Len Reeves, who revealed that Sunday's winner was Dave Dearman with 5lb 11oz then R Austrin, 4lb 15oz and W Beckett, 4lb 14oz.

The commercial match lakes at Barford proved rather more satisfying for Gorleston Jolly Boys whose winner was Barry Rilings with 42lb 7oz then G Hunter 20lb 4oz and R Varley 19lb 11oz.

There was success for Ormesby's Stephen Rouse at the Hill Farm Lake open match which he won with 20lb 14oz.

On the big fish scene, catch records on the prolific Taswood Lakes in central Norfolk show that the heaviest fish of their season which closed for three months at the end of December, fell to Caister's Darren Stamp.

This was a magnificent mirror carp of 37lb 12oz that just beat the 37lb ghost reeled in by Norwich rod Paul Girling.

The Caister contingent visiting Taswood were the Stamp family, Duggie Collins and Alan Waldron who often featured in the weekly catch lists that totalled for the nine months season 53 carp over 30lb and 427 over 20lb - a new record for the prolific fishery that has a waiting list for season tickets.

“The Caister lads always do very well here,” declared Susan Ellis who runs the seven lake fishery with her husband Richard. Day permits resume on April 19.

On the beaches, sport remains at a low ebb for sea anglers with the early promise of decent codling this winter remaining unfulfilled.

Boat anglers fishing off Hopton close to the sprat shoals have managed to locate some decent fish up to 7lbs, but onshore anglers have only caught the odd fish to 4lb with many more undersized from the town beaches and the harbour.

The hungry hoards of cormorants blamed by anglers and fishery bosses as a major contribution to the decline of fish stocks in the shallower broads and rivers, have been thinned out following the introduction of a culling permit system.

Natural England reports that official returns show the cormorant population in England and Wales has fallen by 18 per cent since the first culling permits were issued in 2001/02.

For the year ended December 2006 there were 404 permits issued resulting in a total cull of 2,500 birds. A similar return is expected for 2007.

At Fritton Lake more than 500 cormorants were roosting in the trees up to three years ago. But since culling began at the Somerleyton Estate the numbers of birds pestering the fish have fallen to no more than a couple of dozen.

Fritton's fishery warden Ray Davis said: “The permit system has worked well here and the fishing has improved enormously.”

Diary date: Martham and District Angling Club AGM, Martham Social Club, Tuesday, January 15, 8pm.

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