Beer & bream in the city
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.