There are no Pike left in Norfolk… Yes Broadland anglers have been laying that double bluff down for years but unfortunately there is an uncomfortable element of truth in it now. Yes the ‘Special place’ has always had low stocks of Pike and has always been renowned for being a tough fishery but now its way beyond ‘tough’.
I had my best season in 2011-12 when almost every visit saw big Pike coming to the boat. It was around this time that a dramatic, unnatural increase in Otter numbers seemed to occur. From seeing Otters a couple of times per season I was suddenly seeing them almost every time I went out. That spring saw a Prymnesium Parva outbreak on Hickling and there seemed to be a dramatic decline in Pike stocks immediately after. One season we were catching consistently, the next we were struggling, yes we caught fish but it had got a lot harder. There then followed a couple of years of gradual improvement and towards the end of last season there was real cause for optimism. Then came the devastating Prymnesium outbreak this spring http://fishingsgreat.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/carnage.html
I resolved to keep on fishing anyway. I just love being there; to me there is no place in the Pike fishing world like it. After ten years of fishing the special place I like to think I know my way around, (in fact I’m proud that I didn’t blank for two years) but even so this year has been tougher than tough. Seven full days have produced just four Pike. It’s hard to stay positive when you cannot be sure there are even any Pike left in your vicinity. In the past we always knew we were in with a chance at least. While I think about it I haven’t seen a Bittern this year and can’t even recall hearing one.
Is there any cause for optimism? Well there are a few Pike left; even the Jacks are cherished more than ever, these are the future. There is still plenty of Roach and skimmers so the surviving Pike will not be short of food. Recovery will come in time but how much time?
On my last visit to Norfolk I passed the dredger which is tied up and ready to commence work once again when the temperature falls. Yes the genius minds at the Broads Authority still refuse to acknowledge the connection between a disturbance in the water column and the Prymnesium blooms. They’re not suction dredging either it’s the good old clam shell bucket, an environmental disaster waiting to happen. The trouble is the BA has the “right” to dredge. There is a school of thought saying they might as well get it over and done with now while there is little or nothing to lose. On the other hand it’s more than hypocritical for an organisation that calls itself a ‘National Park’ (even though it fails to meet the criteria for such a title) to do something that is potentially environmental suicide. As we’ve said before, whether or not there is life below the water makes no difference to the weekend admirals, all they need is a sheet of water. The wealthy sailing fraternity is the tail wagging a mangy old mutt called the BA.