Far Bank

Beer & bream in the city

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

THE bus is run­ning late. It’s five-some­thing in the morn­ing and I’m headed for Nor­wich city cen­tre with Jim Suther­land.

Usu­ally he’d be be­hind the wheel but to­day we’re go­ing fish­ing, as he glee­fully tells the driver.

It’s way too early, to put it mildly, but Nor­wich and the River Wen­sum are wait­ing for us in the early morn­ing light. Broad and nar­row streets wind be­tween old and new build­ings and we pass old churches and cob­bled lanes, street art and a thou­sand-odd shops.

The Wen­sum is low and clear at the bot­tom of the tide and there are fish ev­ery­where, spot­ted through rail­ings and un­der road bridges. There’s an idling jack pike, shoals of roach, and now a shoal of bream nos­ing through. Pieces of loosefed corn dis­ap­pear al­most as quickly as we can of­fer them.

I as­sem­ble a quick link leger rig, slip on a grain and cast un­der­arm into the gap be­tween the weeds. Al­most in­stantly, a bream stoops and gob­bles, the rod bulges and it’s so straight­for­ward I won­der if I’m still asleep and dream­ing.

We chase more bites up­stream un­til the morn­ing rush builds and the sun­light re­veals a busier world of peo­ple. One of the things I love

most about ur­ban fish­ing is how friendly the lo­cals are. This is free fish­ing, with no ‘mem­bers only’ signs, so no­body gets pre­cious and every­one has to get along.

How the fish­ing world has changed, though. Here, on a river down which John Wil­son once trot­ted a float, there are few signs of tra­di­tional angling. Good roach are ev­ery­where, yet no­body’s fish­ing for them. All the young guys are throw­ing lures or look­ing for carp, which is fine with me.

The other great things about city cen­tre angling are the lo­cal char­ac­ters, bars and hid­den spots. We watch a large and fiendishly wary chub. We grab an in­dus­trial-sized break­fast at Nor­wich’s Tech­ni­color mar­ket as a thun­der­storm hits, and when

the sun breaks out again we also grab an ex­cel­lent pint of IPA from The Fat Cat and Ca­nary, a craft beer pub run by Chris­tian, an­other fa­nat­i­cal an­gler.

Ev­ery few yards re­veal some­thing new. The more in­dus­trial edges of the river work for perch, as Jim shows with a lure, but it’s the roach that catch my eye. Our fi­nal swim is by a sluice gate where a nice push of cool wa­ter should work.

The fish­ing is sim­ple, just a small feeder and a big chunk of bread­flake. I won­der if there might be a 2lb roach or even a barbel down there, but that’s prob­a­bly just the beer talk­ing. The quiv­er­tip pulls round, a roach kicks. Jim lights a ci­gar. Why did it take me so long to dis­cover Nor­wich?

Morn­ing on the Wen­sum, right in the heart of Nor­wich.

A craft beer on the river­side – per­fect!

City bream – we found plenty of these fish.

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