Veteran angler Dave is biggest catch of the day

Roy WebsterA rich kaleidoscope of bank-side crocus, interspersed by burgeoning buds of wayward daffodils on the point of bursting into golden yellow, decorate the waterside.Roy Webster

A rich kaleidoscope of bank-side crocus, interspersed by burgeoning buds of wayward daffodils on the point of bursting into golden yellow, decorate the waterside.

Frogs and toads are croaking happily in the shallows where they conduct their annual spawning ritual and waterfowl are hastily gathering nesting material, desperate to make up for lost time from winter's tardiness in giving way to spring.

Needless to say, this welcome scenario illustrating Mother Nature's elemental urges brought out anglers in force at the weekend. And, as suggested on Friday, the first three-figure match catch of the spring was posted among the sudden upsurge of activity on the lakes, pits and ponds.

At the Lyng Kingfisher Lake, the first sizeable tench came out at 7lb 1oz for local rodman Mick Munns and the carp list was headed by a 22lb 12oz mirror for Caister's Chris Birdman.

Waveney Valley produced the heaviest carp of the weekend - a 33lb common for Matthew Spurling, of Diss, who also netted the first spring catfish at 23lb, while Jonathan Bailey, of Long Stratton, recorded a common carp of 27lb.

Swangey Lake was on form, with carp to 22lb for Thetford's Stephen Oxbury and Rockland's Rod Carter. The match lake there was also producing, especially for the Wymondham club winner Albert Farrow with 65lb 2oz of bream.

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Elsewhere on the match circuit, Great Yarmouth's Karl Hodgins hauled out the heaviest 'catch' of the weekend when he rescued disabled angler Dave Docwra who toppled into six feet deep water at the Burgh Castle fishery while over-reaching to net a hefty roach.

After retrieving his tackle box, his pole and various other angling accoutrements from the water, the veteran former England international drove home for a quick change of clothing and returned. Alas, he could not add much more to the 5lb of roach already in the net for the remainder of the shoal had taken flight during the disturbance. In this final round of the series, Jolly Boy Lee Arnold clinched the championship with 18 penalty points.

Dean Mason won the Oddchaps contest at Barford with 105lb 1oz, Stephen Rouse headed the Wagglers' card at Melton with 92lb, Bill Bullock (Dereham) topped the Railway charts with 85lb 5oz and the Dukes winner at Cobbleacre was Colin Urry with 85lb 3oz.

The ultimate round of the North Norfolk Division of the National Sea League qualifiers was won by Trevor Elliott (Avenue Angling) with 2lb of flatfish.

Top team were Holt Blue with six penalty points but champions of the series were Gorleston Tackle with 55 penalty points, then Avenue Angling 60 and Holt Blue 67.

However, series organiser Tony Thomas has been assured by the National League officials that all of the teams competing in the North Norfolk qualifiers are guaranteed entry to the final showdown scheduled for Norfolk beaches in November.

'Because we are doing the arranging and pegging out the beaches, we have been awarded this concession,' explained Thomas.

t As a May General Election begins to loom larger, the political parties once more are on the stump for the angling vote, which apparently they still believe amounts to four million.

This is nothing new, for promises to grass roots anglers have been pledged at previous polls ever since the re-organisation of the sport from local to national level in the early 1970s. All of them came to nothing.

Norfolk's own angling celebrity John Wilson MBE and others met Shadow Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon, who said the Conservatives, if elected, would create 'an angling think tank.'

Worryingly, it seems much of the discussion focused on the predation of otters, for sensible anglers already realise that this can only result in losing the support of the general public, whose emotional response to the question - angler or otter - has always supported the UK's much-loved aquatic mammal.

The controversial proposal to bring in a sea rod licence has also been resurrected. The last time this notion was put to beach anglers they slammed the door on the Environment Agency and declared they simply would not comply. It was decided a sea rod licence was not enforceable and it was quietly deleted from the Marine and Coastal Access Bill.

The other names in this 'high-level' consultation were Martin Bowler, a TV presenter and columnist, who, like Wilson, deplores the growth of the otter population, Chris Logsdon, a fishery expert and owner of a lake complex, and Tim Norman, a river fisherman with first-hand experience of fish predation on some of the nation's most famous natural waterways.

Finally, the Environment Agency has got to grips with an administrative hiccup. It halted temporarily the issue of new rod licences, which come into force on April 1, at post offices. It seems anglers had been refused a new licence because they were unable to produce the renewal document not received from the EA.

'The problem is now resolved and anglers are buying their new licences at the rate of 3,000 per day,' said an official.