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Local Open matches are currently few and far between

On June 16 anglers were able to return to the rivers with the annual three-month close season at an end.

Locally we have the River Lark, the River Little Ouse, the River Stour, the River Blackbourne, the Gipping and the Waveney.

But sadly at this time of year weed is a major problem for anglers on all these rivers, so pleasure anglers need to pick their fishing spot carefully.

Bob Haunt. Picture Chris Boughton
Bob Haunt. Picture Chris Boughton

There are some small club matches still held on our local rivers but the weed makes it difficult to hold Open matches.

In any case, most of our local clubs have seen a substantial rise in membership levels since Covid arrived and cannot use their limited fisheries for non-member events.

In the 1970s, 80s and 90s there was a wide choice of Open matches on our local rivers.

Andy Hardy. Picture: Chris Boughton
Andy Hardy. Picture: Chris Boughton

The Little Ouse Championship was a 150 peg sell-out annual match. Sudbury and Long Melford, when they were separate clubs, both regularly held 40/50 peg open matches on the Stour. The Waveney hosted Suffolk/Norfolk Winter League matches for 120 anglers as well as regular Open matches.

Local match anglers who want to compete on rivers at a higher standard than club matches now have no option than to make three-hour round trips to north Norfolk venues in the summer months.

During the first week of this new river season there was a 60-peg Open match (Marbella Cup) on the River Thurne in the Norfolk Broads and three 100-peg matches on the tidal Yare.

The popularity of these river matches is such that they attract top anglers who are willing to travel round trips of four hours or more.

On the Thurne match there were anglers who travelled from Essex, the Midlands, Watford and even south of London to take part. All these matches were sell-outs weeks before the events took place.

My eldest son James Boughton (sponsored by Matrix Wensum Valley Angling) is a very keen river match angler and endured a four-hour round trip from Stamford to fish the Thurne match, which included a long stretch on the particularly horrible A47.

James drew the Martham boats section and was rewarded for his travelling ordeal with a section win from peg 8.

He said: “The river looked spot on with plenty of colour, although it proved to be a tougher day than expected. I caught some small fish short on maggots and seven skimmers on the tip for 9lb 9oz.”

Match organiser Steve Clark reported: “It was a drizzly start to the match with overcast conditions, which should have meant good fishing. Unfortunately, no one told the fish and although it was a fairish match, weights were lower than expected.”

The winner of the match was Martin Spence with 16lb 5oz from the Womack section. Second was Simon Newman with a feeder bag of small skimmers and third was Robert Houlding.

The field included four-time world champion Bob Nudd and England Veterans international Billy Hughes, who was also a section winner.

But match organiser Clarke identified the top star of the day when he said: “A big shoutout for 91-year-old Maurice Mobbs who drove from his home near St Neots. Not only did he carry all his tackle to his peg he also had to weigh-in the section at Potter Heigham. An inspiration to all anglers.”

Locally, Mildenhall AC held their first club match of the new season on the Prickwillow stretch of the River Lark last Sunday.

Kevin Scott took top spot with 17lb 1oz made up mostly of four bream. Fred Challice was the runner-up with 8lb.

Mildenhall Angling Club membership cards are now available to purchase at Londis store in Beck Row.

The club’s next match, on the same section of the River Lark, will be held on July 4. Any member interested in taking part should call 07478 279072

Bury St Edmunds Angling Association have held three club matches since my last report but sadly none on their stretch of the River Little Ouse at Redmere. This will be far too weedy to hold a match on for several months yet. Last year no matches were held there.

The club held their Cracknell Cup on Sunday at Barrow Lake where in-form local match angler Ian Andrews landed two carp for 13lb 4oz from peg 3 to win the cup. Andy Hardy took second spot with 10lb 4oz and Andy Walker came third with 7lb 1oz.

On the previous Thursday, Hardy caught five bream and three skimmers for a total weight of 18lb 8oz to win the latest Veteran’s match at Middle Reservoir.

The previous week the veterans fished the lake at Badwell Ash where 10 anglers landed a massive 274lb in total of fish.

Bob Huant notched up yet another win in this Ron Hubbard Trophy series of matches with an impressive net of mostly carp up to 4lb to win with 46lb 12oz. Dave Williams had 34lb 8oz for second place and Bob Martin’s 29lb 8oz came third. Badwell is clearly the place to go currently for Bury AA members looking for a good day’s fishing.

Bury St Edmunds Angling Club memberships are available from Tackle Up in Bury, Hooked in Newmarket and Just Fishin in Sudbury. Information on the Bury AA club is available on their website: www.burystedmundsangling.org

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