Steve is our good king Wensum-las

Local anglers can prepare for a surprise Christmas gift from the Environment Agency.

Popular Steve Lane, in charge of the EA's public fishery bank renovation on our rivers, has announced that one of the most prolific stretches of the non-tidal River Wensum above Norwich is to be given a facelift.

'This project has been part of our plans to improve and release more coarse fishing access on our rivers and we are due to start this week,' he said when outlining the plan to Norwich and District Anglers' consultant Tony Gibbons.

The work is a joint effort between the EA and Norwich City Council between the Harford roundabout on the bypass to Wensum Park on one bank and Mile Cross to Sweetbriar Road on the other.

Fallen trees currently blocking the water course will be removed, fishing stages will be renovated and made safe to the point where this fine fishing for roach, bream, tench, carp , chub and pike can be fully exploited by pleasure and club match anglers alike with sufficient space for all-comers in possession of a rod licence with no further charge.

'Anglers have long-established rights to fish along these banks,' explained Gibbons. 'This is just another example of how Steve Lane and his men are conscious of anglers' needs on the free waters. City fisherfolk can look forward to some great sport on this natural waterway well within walking or cycling distance of their homes.'

One city angler who was delighted with this news was David Harmer, of Woodcock Road, who, in a letter of complaint about the river condition, said: 'The River Wensum through Norwich has become what I would describe as a tip. 'One of my favourite venues was off Swanton Road adjacent to the recycling plant. Now it has become impenetrable with rotting fallen trees in the river and the banks strewn with rubbish,' he complained. 'I have caught tench, perch, roach, bream and common carp to 11lb from this area in the past but now the whole area appears to be neglected and infested with rats.'

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He concluded: 'I am pleasantly surprised by this excellent news from the Environment Agency and the city council, especially when these authorities are facing financial cutbacks. 'Certainly I look forward to visiting the river again when the work is done.'

Gibbons added: 'A lot of the rubbish along the banks had been blown off the nearby tip, which of course is the source of the rat problem. However, I am confident that we're moving in the right direction on this and anglers can look forward to some top-class sport on this final section of the non-tidal River Wensum during the Christmas holiday break.'

Until the rat problem is dealt with, anglers should be aware that these rodents carry the Weils disease bacteria (leptospirosis), which can be washed into the river in their urine. It is therefore imperative that anglers cover any cuts or abrasions on their hands to avoid what can be a fatal infection.

The East Anglian Pike Championship scheduled for the Weybread Ocean Pit on Sunday will be fished in falling air temperatures down to single figures with anglers facing chilling north east winds.

Water conditions could be crystal clear and competitors may well have to work hard with their dead baits with increasing vim and vigour to persuade the sluggish predators to take interest. Late entries to Phil Cotton 01508 578701.