Ducklings put anglers in a flap

Angling: I was watching a couple of families of ducks the other day at a lake in which I have an involvement. Age-wise the two clutches of offspring are about a month apart and it was interesting to see how the worldly knowledge of the two sets differed.


I was watching a couple of families of ducks the other day at a lake in which I have an involvement. Age-wise the two clutches of offspring are about a month apart and it was interesting to see how the worldly knowledge of the two sets differed.

The younger lot were doing all the wrong things so far as their association with anglers was concerned. They had no anxieties or fear and swam straight under poles and into lines much to the annoyance of the anglers.

More important and dangerous, however, was their interest in baits and they constantly chased loose feed and hooked baits that were cast. The patience of anglers waiting for the birds to get out of the way was severely strained and these tiny-feathered friends were even diving to try to pick up baits beneath the surface.

The clutch of older birds, which had been through this phase of course, had learnt valuable lessons – and it showed. If they came across an angler using a pole they deliberately swam all the way round the pole no matter how long rather than try to go under.

The same applied to waggler anglers and the birds clearly looked out for the float and then swam round it – sometimes giving it a peck or two, presumably to see whether it was edible.

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I have been concerned to notice that the numbers of these ducklings has slowly diminished. At first I wondered (but couldn't believe) whether some casualties were down to angler carelessness. My own observations and talking to lake regulars, however, discounted that theory.

The public have access to the banks of this lake and, of course, it is an attraction for walkers and duck-bread-bearing-children and mums. It also receives attention from youths bent on mischief and one group, to everyone's natural misgivings, carried air rifles.

Perhaps equally naturally the gradual disappearance of the ducklings was blamed on these lads although to be fair nobody had actually seen them shooting irresponsibly or at anything other than tin cans.

Then one of the anglers reported to me that he had seen a coypu on the lake's island. I found it difficult to accept the validity of this sighting because of the very successful coypu extermination programme some years ago.

Then, shortly afterwards, a more positive identification followed. A mink. Suddenly all was clear. Why hadn't we suspected it from the beginning? No doubt it (they?) was picking off the more susceptible young birds first before getting round to the adults.

A marksman did the necessary and it appears at the moment that the animal may have been a singleton. Fingers are crossed and watchers are vigilant. The mink is a vicious, highly efficient killer, alien to our countryside and they must be controlled.

Where they exist in numbers there is an almost total dearth of the usual water birds and voles found on rivers and lakes. They don't do the fish any good either!


            When a water suits fish it is surprising just how rapidly they grow and put on weight. Some seven years ago when my club had newly taken over Abbey Heath Lake in Thetford the carp in it were mainly just in or just out of double figures in weight.

            Since that time they have increased in size impressively. It was exciting when the first few 'twenties' were caught and fish-spotting anglers oh'd and ah'd at the groups of sunbathing carp, admiring their bulk.

            Now, a couple of years later, those fish are setting new standards and so far this summer three different 27's have been banked and everyone is keyed up waiting for the first 30. Bets are being taken on that event occurring before the end of the warmer weather and frankly I wouldn't put money on it not happening.



            The specimen lake has produced some big fish this week, with pike to 12 lb. being caught in the shallows on lures.  Day ticket angler Will Clark had a successful day's fishing on his first visit to the water, landing mirror carp of 12 lb. 10 oz. and 19 lb. 12 oz. in quick succession.  Biggest fish of the week was a 24 lb. mirror carp that fell to Garry Moseley from Southend.  

From the 1st July the Specimen Lake is the local venue for the Angling Times Nash Carp Masters, running for the next 40 weeks.  This will be run on a weekly basis with a T-Shirt for the captor of the biggest fish of the week.  If you have caught one of the top five fish from the venue at the end of the competition you will qualify for the 'fish-off' to determine who will go forward to the regional, and perhaps even the grand final. 

All you have to do is turn up, and go fishing, any carp caught need to be witnessed, weighed and photographed for a chance of winning the £10,000 prize money.

The Traditional Lake has been in excellent form again this week with plenty of bream and tench coming out on pole and feeder.  We have had several people bagging up on the bream, and have seen several large perch and rudd being caught on maggot and worm. Mr Wright from Ipswich fished a 5-hour morning session on float, alternating between bread and sweet corn over a bed of ground bait.  He estimated his catch at 35-40 lb. with 5 tench to 3 lb. 8 oz. and 10 bream to 4 lb. 

Geoff and Carl Lawrence fished the Canal Section on Sunday, and had a fantastic day catching lots of small roach, rudd, perch and carp up to about 12 oz.  12-year-old Grant Canham enjoyed his lesson with on-site professional coach Vince Morgan so much, that he carried on and fished the Canal for the rest of the afternoon, catching plenty of small carp.   For further information on the 'learn to fish' campaign, or to book a lesson with Vince please contact him directly on 07718 713478.

We will be holding some junior open matches on the canal during the school holidays.  These will fish well using either float tactics or the whip.  The draw for every match will take place from 8:30 am in the café over a bacon/sausage roll and a drink, which will be included in the price of the ticket.  We will also give out prizes to all entrants, including a trophy for the winner.  To book a place in the first of these matches please contact Dan Sparrow on 01473 832327.

Junior match details – 13 years-old and under – Tuesday 23 July: draw 8.30 am.: fishing 10 am until 1 pm: entry £5

16 years old and under – Wednesday 24 July: draw 8.30 am: fishing 10 am until 1 pm: entry £5.



As is typical for this dreadful summer it rained all night for a recent FMS Evening League match but the good news is that the fish have spread out now after a second spawning. League competition is hotting up with Keith Fairweather on 108 points and David Cobbold on 106.

Weights have gone up week on week with carp, tench and hybrids making up the bulk of catches. First on this the seventh match was David Cobbold with an amazing 85 lb. of fish caught on his magic paste and maggot on peg 23. The next two places were filled by Mick Godfrey with 61 lb. 4 oz. and Keith Fairweather with 53 lb. 8 oz.

Forthcoming matches include – 28 July at Swale Pit (Kidney Charity); 31July at Hinderclay (open) and August 11 a FMS water exchange event. Names to Vic at Viscount.



The opening match of the season saw 21 members fishing Breakaway's match lake at Melton. The top three places all went to anglers who had to wait until the last half an hour for the fish to feed. Barry Annal had 4 carp to 6 lb. for a total of 19 lb. 5 oz. to take top spot. Colin Smith (16 lb. 12 oz.) and Barry Thain (13 lb. 6 oz.) had bream to 6 lb. in their nets to finish 2nd and 3rd respectively.

B.T.'s Swale Pit was the venue for the next match in which 17 anglers took part, most of which managed to get the carp to feed, landing them proved to be the difficult part. Barry Thain, using cat meat (yuk!), landed 29 lb. 10 oz. of carp for 1st place. Runner up spot went to Keith Gostling with 19 lb. 6 oz. followed closely by Ken Elmy with 19 lb. 5 oz.

Three matches of the Evening League have been fished at Elton Water Bank. The first week saw Bob Wessels catch five tench for 16 lb. 3 oz. and take the top spot. In week two Chris Jakubowski come in first with four tench weighing 15 lb. 10 oz. Bob Wessels again grabbed top place in week three putting 6 lb. 7 oz. on the scales. Heading the league after three rounds are Bob Wessels (29pts), Trevor Elmer (22pts) and Steve Airey (20pts).

The first of the weekend carp matches being held at Barham B Pit saw Miles Barrel land a 14 lb. specimen to take the lead in the series.



            Sixteen anglers fishing Bullocky Fen in a GAPS versus Hadleigh DAS first round match (which Hadleigh won) for the Ipswich Building Society Trophy weighed in 119 lb. of fish. It must be said, however, that Robin Leach who was a guest and not part of the actual match caught almost half of that weight. Winner Les Tatum (GAPS) had 7 lb. 15 oz. with Fred Evenett (GAPS) with 7 lb. 13 oz. and John Scarff (Hadleigh) 6 lb. 10 oz. following. 

            Next match, for the Brassy Hill Trophy, is on 17 July at Barham B Pit.




SPORTS EDITOR : the picture is of Abbey Heath Lake bailiff Kevin Bloomfield holding one of the water's fast growing carp.