Pollard lands a Broads double
Bedfordshire angler Mark Pollard regards Norfolk's tidal rivers as his personal piscatorial paradise, for his match record on our natural waterways is second to none.
Four times Pollard has competed in the Mead Sport and Leisure-sponsored Broads Championship, and last Saturday he won this grand prix of rod-and-line sport for the second time.
In four starts, the 47-year-old management executive in the fishing tackle and bait trade has finished runner-up in 2006, champion in 2007, third in 2008, missed in the event in 2009 and returned to achieve his latest triumph on the River Thurne with a mixed bag of roach and bream scaling 41lb 7oz.
An 11th-hour change to the venue brought in the Cold Harbour stretch to make this year's championship an all-Thurne competition.
'The water in the River Bure was crystal clear on Friday afternoon and I took a snap decision to leave it out and it paid off,' explained match organiser Tony Gibbons.
Pollard, fishing under the Foxmatch/Dynamite Baits banner, was happy with peg number 77 below the Martham Cess boatyard.
'I was told this was a decent draw, but had no clue of the correct tactics, for this river had not been put under serious match angling pressure in recent years,' he explained.
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'I tossed a fair bit of bait well across the river in case the bream were among the reeds over there and started fishing with the pole at 10m baiting with a single red maggot, while feeding in hemp and caster continuously buried in little balls of groundbait.
'I caught a roach first cast and several more before I flung the feeder rig to the far side to test the water for bream. I caught more roach and I then made the vital decision to stay on the pole float rig for the remainder of the match, even though a few small bream were being netted around me.'
Pollard failed to realise that his nearest challenger was only five pegs away, concealed between moored boats at peg 82, and catching.
He was Shakespeare angler Dave McCall, composing his own personal drama among the roach and small bream to end up with 40lb 8oz, just 1lb short of riches and glory.
'I hadn't a clue the match had developed into such a close-run thing,' declared the new champion, who pocketed �300 as well as receiving the Cyril Wigg Perpetual Trophy, the Mead Memento and a week's free holiday insurance for his family from the main sponsors as well.
'I think my best fish, a 2lb bream, tipped the balance in my favour, I could not have performed any better with the fish in front of me and I regard the Norfolk Broads rivers as unrivalled by any other match venue in the country,' he concluded.
That view was echoed by Wolverhampton's runner-up McCall, who pocketed �240.
'I've had a great time here and will be back for more,' he promised.
First local rodman in the main frame was Wymondham's veteran Albert Farrow, who won �180 for his third-placed 38lb 9oz from peg 62, while Mick Brown, a retired policeman from Ludham, was fourth with 37lb 6oz from peg 67, where he will remember forever the loss of a 5lb bream at the net that would have won him the title.
Afterwards, Gibbons commented: 'I took a calculated risk to shift part of the venue from the River Bure to the River Thurne and it paid off.
'There 21 catches over 20lb and only one section winner had less than double figures.
'We paid out a total of �1,420 in prize money and about �300 was raised by the raffle and other contributions to the NDAA charity fund.'
Sunday's final round of the Suffolk Winter League for teams of five on the Suffolk Water Park produced the expected outcome as Norwich-based Daiwa Angling Direct Black lifted the title having headed the field since the second round of six. The squad was selected from Glenn and Robert Hubbard, Mick Bartrum, Andy Moss, Tom Seaman and Kevin Bland and finished third on the day with 19 section penalty points but, with the comfort of seven league points ahead, they topped the table with 20 points, followed by Bait Tech, 27, and DAD Gold, 28.
Team boss Glenn Hubbard said the series had proved a great success for the Daiwa Angling Direct sponsors.
'Apart from winning the title we also had the top two individual scorers of the series, Andy Moss and Robert Hubbard, and our Gold team came third.'
On the local lakes, a number of three-figure returns were headed by Bob Anderson, winner of the Cobbleacre event with 152lb 5oz at Colton, and Paul Ashford (Barford Tackle) was the midweek Colton Open winner with 102lb 9oz.
Norwich carp specialist Graham Woolsey heaved out a giant common of 37lb 7oz from the Lyng Kingfisher Lake, while at Waveney Valley 16-year-old Toby Young, of Wortwell, netted catfish of 36lb, 35lb and two 20-pounders during the Saturday deluge.
At Taswood, Paul Baker of Caister, David Cole (Beccles) and Vince Greenaway (Hempnall) each bagged a common around the 25lb mark.