Predator Fishing Oulton Broad Fishin
We'd been looking forward to this one for a long time. Friendly rivalry aside, I'd been itching to get back to Oulton Broad again, because I'd been really impressed the last time we went afloat on the great sheet of tidal water that stretches out from the suburbs of Lowestoft.
I knew what I was doing this time, or so I thought. I'd leave the bait gear behind (well, most of it...) and lure fish it like the locals do.
The weekend started promisingly, when we dropped onto some gravel pits near King's Lynn for a few hours the previous afternoon with Jon and Paul, who'd made the marathon trip from Cirencester in Jon's Landrover.
After a bollocking for speeding from the bailiff, we heard two twenties had come from one of the bigger lakes on the complex, so we made a beeline for the same area at a suitably sedate pace, dropping into some promising rush-lined bays. For anyone who hasn't fished with Jon, he's one of these characters who rarely blank.
True to form, he had a 16 first cast, following it up with another double later on. Paul and I managed a jack apiece and Rick blanked. We all made Oulton on time, after meeting up with Andy and Lee en route. Peter Waller was already on the water, fishing around the marina in a fur-lined deerstalker which made him look like Deputy Dawg. Jon and Paul decided to upgrade to a motorised day cruiser, complete with cabin. Rick and I followed suit after Rick's immortal words:
"There's no way, not on this earth, that I'm getting in that with you,"
when he saw the 10ft dinghy which had been reserved for us. Andy and Lee decided to go native and brave the elements in a rowing boat, so they rapidly disappeared as we motored off up the broad. Needless to say, there were already three or four boats staking out the area of the broad a 30 had reportedly come from three or four days earlier. We went for the little rush-lined bays at the top end near Oulton Dyke, thinking we'd beat the others to the prime swims. It soon became obvious there wasn't anything very prime about the broad at all. Trolling with the aid of his fish finder, Peter had seen several sizeable fish, including one or two solitary beasts lurking around the bay we'd favoured. Despite offering them a selection of lures, we couldn't find any interested in playing ball. Trevor Salmon came alongside in his new aluminium dinghy, as we were anchoring up at the entrance to a little boat dyke I'd seen several fish come from in September.
"There's a 20 lives up there Chris, just round those rushes," he said.
"Peter catches it every other week." On went a suitably large spoon, which I managed to land on precisely the right spot. Two turns of he reel handle and it was on - all 20 ounces or so of it - accompanied by howls of mirth from Andy and Lee, who'd finally managed to row across the broad. Trevor hadn't seemed bothered by all the little bays, he'd disappeared round the corner into the wide dyke that flows into the top of the broad. We decided he probably knew something we didn't and followed him upriver.
It was colored and pushing but a lot deeper, so after a half-baked try at trolling we tried anchoring up and fishing static deads under the overhanging trees and flooded back gardens. Jon and Paul had already anchored up in a promising run of sunken trees. Shortly after we joined them, Jon had the biggest fish of the day, which looked seven or eight pounds. At least we hadn't blanked. Not only that, Peter and Trevor were still fishless. Last time I made the trip to Suffolk, they'd caught upwards of 30 fish between them and all I'd managed all day was a couple of lost jacks. We tried all down the opposite shore and round the boatyards and sunken houseboat which is reputedly inhabited by the broad's other known 30.
On a mild day, it felt good just being out on the water with lungfulls of salt air and the occasional passing yacht for company. Peter and Trevor disappeared towards the middle of the afternoon, finding a few jacks around the moorings near the hotel where Rick spent his honeymoon. By the time we got there it was time to head home, so we said our goodbyes and returned the boat to the hire station. We were totally done in after a day on the water but Andy and Lee were so determined they fished on for another hour off the quayside, without adding to the day's total.
All in all another enjoyable day. For anyone wishing to try it you can hire a comfy day boat with fuel etc thrown in for £25, which isn't bad between two of you. Thanks go to Peter and Trevor, who not only put up with us again but did their best to put us on fish on a day when they clearly weren't interested. Roll on next time.
Stop Press... There's a lure-only day being organised at a Suffolk stillwater in May 2001, details on the mailing list if anyone's interested.
And now for the gallery of rogues......
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