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Chris Boughton's angling column: Remembering a fantastic day on the Fenland drains




A combination of cold weather, flooding, cold water and rivers in spate has resulted in our local fisheries being very quiet in the last couple weeks.

A few hardy souls out on the bank but no reports of any catches of note.

Even the Bury St Edmunds Angling Association lake at Badwell Ash, which is usually a banker for catching a few fish, no matter what the weather, has produced very little.

Bury AA Annual Presentation May 1991 -Dennis Flack far left & John Hosking at the front. Picture: Iliffe Media
Bury AA Annual Presentation May 1991 -Dennis Flack far left & John Hosking at the front. Picture: Iliffe Media

Kettles Fishery, which is also usually a safe bet for a few fish, decided to stay closed initially after the government u-turn on angling and only re-opened on Saturday.

Barrow Lake was briefly frozen but thawed when we had the milder spell this week but there are no reports of anyone catching there or at Water Lane Reservoir.

There have been a few pike caught at Redmere with one angler reporting banking six over two sessions but no doubles.

Blue sky and sunshine at Middle Reservoir on Sunday. Picture: Alison Price
Blue sky and sunshine at Middle Reservoir on Sunday. Picture: Alison Price

Middle Reservoir, which is a popular Bury AA fishery, has seen a few anglers braving the cold but is tough going at the moment.

There were nine anglers at the Reservoir on Sunday but no reported catches, despite the sunshine. But then we did have sleet and a dusting of snow on Saturday.

Some of the lakes at the Suffolk Water Park have been frozen, but at the time of writing this report the lakes were all ice free. There have also been some problems with flooding at this fishery.

Memberships are still available for Bury St Edmunds Angling Association (contact club treasurer Steve Bull on 07831 494001) but the club is currently not selling day tickets.

Practising for Div 4 River Nene National July 1990: Andy Flight, John Hosking, Darren Newport & Ray
WicksPicture: Chris Boughton
Practising for Div 4 River Nene National July 1990: Andy Flight, John Hosking, Darren Newport & Ray WicksPicture: Chris Boughton

For our local day ticket waters, it is best to phone and book at least the day before intending to fish. Covid rules, fishery rules, contact details and opening times can be found for Kettles Farm Fishery (near Rattlesden), Jeagor Farm Lakes (near Holywell Row) and Suffolk Water Park (near Claydon) on their websites or Facebook pages.

Looking back at the history of this angling column; John Easdown compiled it during the eighties, Lakenheath farmer Dennis Flack took over for the early nineties followed by John again who carried on until 2008. Both wrote popular articles which is very apparent from the feedback that I have received.

As well as compiling this article John was general manager of the Bury St Edmunds Angling Association through some very difficult years for angling locally and nationally. John was also a qualified angling coach and a die-hard match angler.

I fished with him in the Bury St Edmunds Angling Association team (sponsored by Tackle Up) a few times in the old Norfolk and Suffolk Winter League. John preferred river fishing and usually appeared when the matches were on the River Cam.

River Cam Norfolk & Suffolk Winter League December 1990 - Rene Mitchell. Picture: Chris Boughton
River Cam Norfolk & Suffolk Winter League December 1990 - Rene Mitchell. Picture: Chris Boughton

Dennis and I fished in the Bury St Edmunds Angling Association match fishing team (also sponsored by Tackle Up) that won promotion from Division 5 of the NFA National Championships in 1989.

It was held on the 16ft and 40ft drains on the hottest day of that year (July 22) and was back in the days when national competitors were bussed to their pegs (no cars allowed). The buses were well past their best which was understandable considering they had to transport maggots, wet keepnets and muddy anglers.

The ‘executive coach’ collecting anglers from my section broke down and we were stranded deep in the Fens, miles from anywhere for nearly three hours after the match finished. We had all run out of fluid and were baking in the still strong sunshine when, thankfully, an ice cream van appeared from nowhere.

Bob Bonny, who was spectating that day, told me that one of the anglers, in another team, had a heart attack (there was no breeze and there is no cover on the flat open Fenland drains).

These Nationals were large matches, in this case 107 teams of 12 (nearly 1,300 anglers) split between the two drains. Quite a logistical job organising the bussing of all the anglers and their tackle to the pegs. Even though I nearly baked in the heat waiting for the return bus it was still a good day for me.

The team was a mix of young anglers (Ray Wicks, Darren Newport, Andy Flight, Carl Hitchcock) and experienced team anglers (Bert Borrett, Dennis Flack, Mark Stamp, Peter Hinton and Rene Mitchell). Then there were the not so young but not so experienced either, first timers (Ian Andrews, John Hosking and me).

Local match fishing legend Bert Borrett top scored for our team with a magnificent 106 points, second in his section.John Hosking also did very well scoring 100 points for the team in his section. We only had one poor score and finished 18th which was good enough for promotion to Division four for the following year on the River Nene.

This 1989 Division 5 National piece is based on a results page from the Angling Times, that I kept, plus my dodgy memory. So, apologies in advance if I have recalled anything incorrectly. Just email me any errors and I will confess in next week’s article! Also, please email your catch photos and reports to chrisbougton@outlook.com

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