Fishing in Suffolk

The landscape to the north is well known for its prolific waters, but few anglers have yet discovered the merits of Suffolk’s large rivers, tidal estuaries and coastal fishing.

The River Waveney starts as a very small stream but quickly matures into a beautiful river. Good fishing starts in the Diss area where the Diss Angling Club controls many stretches. This area holds the same species as much of the River Waveney – good roach, dace, chub, perch and pike.

At Hoxne, the River Dove joins the main stream which flows down to Needham, and tench and a few bream start to appear, despite the clear water. The Anglian Water Authority has some day ticket fishing in this area and again at Weybread where the Harleston, Wortwell and District Angling Club controls some attractive sections of the bank, particularly productive for big roach and chub. Day tickets are available from Denny and Sons, tackle dealers in Harleston.

The river then winds through pic-turesque farmland via Mendham, Homersfield and on to Earsham where one can fish free on the common. Downstream at Bungay, the Waveney stretches around Bungay Common providing good roach and chub fishing for 50p a day. After the town, the river reaches Wainford Maltings where the Anglian Water Authority controls day-ticket fishing, but much of the best fishing here, especially for bream averaging over 4 lb, is controlled by the Bungay Cherry Tree Angling Club. The club has a fine stretch of water reaching half-way downstream to Ellingham, a long piece further upstream at Flixton, and a piece on the tidal reaches. New members are always welcome.

The tidal Waveney

At Ellingham, the Waveney becomes tidal with little access other than by boat, until Geldeston where the Anglian Water Authority controls a short stretch on the left-hand bank which is free fishing.

Downstream from the old lock at Geldeston, the river widens and harbours some good stocks of roach and bream. It flows through Barsham Marshes towards Beccles where the Anglian Water Authority controls more free fishing with access via Pudding Lane and Farm Road.

Downstream from Beccles on the Gillingham side, two miles of water are controlled by the Anglian Water Authority. Their next piece of free fishing is at Worlingham on a 170-yard stretch of the Suffolk bank. The Waveney in this area is a deep, wide and strongly flowing river with good shoals of bream and quality roach. It passes Burgh St Peter and then reaches the junction of Oulton Dyke which provides access to Oulton Broad.

In the Broad proper, flow is not really noticeable, so light float tackle can be used to take roach and bream. There are also some pike and just a few perch. The large perch of yesteryear which made Oulton Broad famous have been absent for some time. There is little bank fishing, but boat fishing is better, and boats can be hired from J Mallet of Camping Boats near Marsh Road.

Downstream from Oulton Broad, the Waveney passes through wide bends down to St Olaves, and then to Haddiscoe where the New Cut flows off from the Norfolk bank linking the River Waveney to the River Yare at Reedham. This cut offers free fishing for 2$ miles, but the flow is very fast.

The River Gipping is not considered a worthwhile coarse fishery until it reaches Stowmarket. From here it flows to Baylham and offers good sport for roach, dace, bream, perch and pike. Depth fluctuates from 3ft to 6ft with the occasional deep hole.

Ipswich, the Gipping becomes tidal and is known as the Orwell Estuary.

Similar to all Suffolk rivers, the Deben starts as a small, clear-flowing stream and matures into a full-blooded estuary in its tidal reaches. Much of the upper river is private fishing with clubs controlling large pieces of the bank at Cretingham, Kettleburgh, Easton and Wickham Market.

Near Wickham Market at Clever-ing Bridge, over three miles of the River Deben is controlled by the Woodbridge and District Angling Club which issues day tickets. Anyone interested in joining should contact the Secretary at the Rod and Gun Shop in Woodbridge (Tel 2377). Good catches of quality roach are regularly taken from the club’s waters, along with some bream, dace, perch and pike which run on the small side.

Sea species

Below Wickham Market, the river flows to Ufford, and at Melton Mill Pool becomes tidal. The tidal reaches offer free fishing and good sport with mullet, flounder, eels and the odd bass.

The River Lark rises above Bury St Edmunds and flows to Barton Mills where it flows beneath the All Norwich to London road. These upper reaches are fast, clear and shallow, harbouring trout, dace and some good chub. However, much of the fishing is strictly private. It is not until the river changes its pace to a more sluggish river at Mildenhall and towards West Roe and Isleham that bream and numbers of roach are found. Much of the fishing in this area is controlled by the Lark Angling Preservation Society which issues tickets.

Downstream from Isleham Lock, the Lark travels on down towards Prickwillow, with typical Fenland bream fishing to be found all the way until it merges with the Great Ouse at Littleport.

There are also several lakes in the area. Redgrave Lake lies off the A143 road close to the village of Botesdale, and can be fished with day tickets at £1. This long, wide, clear-watered and weedy lake offers superb tench fishing during the summer months in truly peaceful surroundings. Good bags, with fish averaging 4 lb, are regularly taken, together with perch, rudd and bream. In the winter, fishing is very good for pike, which have been caught to over 30 lb.

Fritton Lake lies off the A143 close to the village of St Olaves, and is available on a day ticket costing 80p for bank fishing and £3 for boat fishing. This huge lake, the largest in East Anglia, is for most of its two-mile length over 10ft deep. Huge shoals of bream averaging 4-6 lb are there for the finding – and for this one must groundbait heavily. Other species include roach, perch and some large eels and pike. There is some bank fishing, but boat fishing is much better.

Good pit fishing

All three pits hold good stocks of roach and bream, plus some good tench, and the smaller pits, called No 1 and No 2, hold really good stocks of mirror and leather carp. The average size of these is 3-8 lb, with larger fish over 20 lb taken each season. High protein and cat food bait work well here, either freelined or link-ledgered. Some good-sized pike are also to be found.

Although covering only 50 miles, the Suffolk coastline offers superlative sea fishing – both off and inshore. Bass have been very much in evidence during the past few years and are a welcome addition to the summer shore species of dabs, flounders, plaice, sole and eels. Offshore, and in addition to the species mentioned, good skate, tope, dogfish and the occasional conger are to be found. Whiting and cod predominate from September.

Travelling southwards along the coastline from Great Yarmouth, t Hopton and Corton offer easy access to the beaches, as does Lowestoft WL where in addition to the beach there is Claremont Pier, and the South Pier harbour entrance – a long concrete promontory with plenty of room. Good mullet are taken here.

Offshore anglers are well catered for by skippers Bob Smith (Tel Lowestoft 61660) and Bob Williams (Tel Lowestoft 66183) who specialize in skate and tope during the summer, and cod during the winter months. Additional information can be obtained from Sam Hook’s tackle shop (Tel Lowestoft 65821).

Travelling south of Lowestoft, Pakefield is another good spot, followed by Kessingland, Benacre and Covehithe, with good beach access all the way to Southwold.

Southwold offers good all-round sport in the harbour, particularly for bass and mullet, and also from the pleasure pier. Additional local information can be obtained from Southwold’s Angling Centre (Tel 722085).

Beach fishing

To the south of Southwold are Walberswick, Dunwich, Minsmere, and Sizewell. The latter, where the power station sends warm water into the sea, is a good bass spot.

South of Sizewell, there is good beach access at Aldeburgh, and at Orfordness where Orford Island can be reached from the quay with regular boat trips for anglers. For boats, contact R Brinkley (Tel Or-ford 481). South of Orfordness is Shingle Street, a popular location which reaches down to East Lane and the mouth of the River Deben. Local information is available from the Rod and Gun Shop in Woodbridge.

At Bawdsey, fishing in the estuary of the River Deben is good for mullet and bass during the summer months, with the chance of an occasional sea trout.

Felixstowe, with the Deben flow-ing into the sea from the north, and Harwich Harbour draining the rivers Stour and Orwell on the southern point, has excellent and varied fishing from beaches and estuaries. The British shore record bass was caught here in 1943. The pier offers alternative sport particularly for the winter cod and whiting fishing, while for charter boats for hire one should contact D Goodall (Tel Felixstowe 5979).

Cod in excess of 40 lb have been taken offshore from Felixstowe in past years. For additional informa-tion contact tackle dealer M Brien, Bent Hill, Felixstowe (Tel 5318).