Drama as Craig battles a fab forty at Hickling
Roy WebsterThey thought it was all over but the 2009/10 coarse fishing session did not end with a whimper as many of the pundits were forecasting. Just when anglers were writing off the last term as one of the worst in living memory since the big freeze-up of 1963, up came a monster pike of 42lb 8oz from Hickling Broad last Saturday as well as muscular 7lb 2oz chub from the River Wensum.Roy Webster
They thought it was all over but the 2009/10 coarse fishing session did not end with a whimper as many of the pundits were forecasting.
Just when anglers were writing off the last term as one of the worst in living memory since the big freeze-up of 1963, up came a monster pike of 42lb 8oz from Hickling Broad last Saturday as well as muscular 7lb 2oz chub from the River Wensum.
Fishing does not come more thrilling than this.
The rodman to raise a cheer among the pike fishing fraternity was Craig Humphries visiting from Germany, job-hunting in the country of his birth. He was staying in a houseboat hired from the Hickling Whispering Reeds boatyard and was fishing from the platform using a standard pike rig supported by an illuminated float during a pitch black night with a moonless sky and stars hidden by cloud cover.
The keen angler had already beaten a 25-pounder on a sprat bait. Then the fish that would go down in the history books as the top pike of the season took a liking to half a mackerel dropped into the shallow water at the end of the floating holiday home.
The ecstatic 30-year-old angler takes up the story: 'When I realised I had hooked a very special fish my knees turned to jelly. I was quite happy with the 25-pounder but I still baited up again because the night was still young. I was using one of the special starlight floats which was visible in the dim light from the boat house.
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Then all at once it appeared to glide across the surface, then it was gone.
'When I struck home the hook it seemed I had snagged an obstruction on the bottom of the Broad. Then the 'snag' began to move away slowly and at that point I realised I was battling against a huge fish.'
What happened next was heart-stopping. 'I could not stop this fish and it stripped 100 yards of line from the reel. My tackle was standard pike fishing stuff, and as the water in that part of the Broad was extremely shallow this great predator headed off to the main boat dyke of the sailing club water and my fishing line was scraping the bottom of the house boat next to mine.
'Then it seemed the fish had decided to return to its lair. I had to retrieve line rapidly to keep in touch, and by sheer good fortune my landing net was already immersed in the water. In the dim light from the boathouse I was able to discern the shadow of the fish appearing over the net and with one massive heave and more luck than judgement I hoisted the fish out of the water and on to the wooden floor of the platform.'
He concluded: 'I suspect that if I had not reacted quickly and managed to net the fish when I did, I would have suffered at least another 20 minutes of panic because there was a real possibility of losing this fish of a lifetime among so many mooring posts and other underwater snags where this monster could have snapped the line.'
John Goble, the Caister angler who caught a historic 45lb 8oz pike from the Thurne waters a year ago, said this latest specimen was not the same fish. 'I can vouch that Craig Humphries' specimen is different, but more importantly it proves the Norfolk Broads contains more then one 40-pounder and we have come out top again, confirming our famous water is the leading predator venue,' he declared.
There was more top angling action on the upper reaches of the River Wensum at the weekend when one of Norfolk's most versatile exponents of rod and line action Colin Howlett reeled in a splendid 7lb 2oz chub. The 58-year-old all rounder, a world plug casting champion, tempted his best of the season on Saturday offering breadflake bait in one of his favourite spots in the River Wensum not far from his Lyng home.
The long-serving treasurer of the British Surf Casting Federation for which his wife Anne is secretary, said temperatures had risen just in time for perfect chub fishing conditions. 'I'm off to Croatia this year to defend my casting title, but although I have travelled the world competing in this field sport I still enjoy catching chub from my own local river.'
With temperatures on the rise other excellent returns were reported at the weekend.
Gorleston bream specialist Brian Weavers winched out more then 60 slabs to over 7lb during after dark sessions on the River Yare at Bramerton. Earlham Silver's club man Matty Pope bagged more then 100lb of bream from the UEA lake and well-known Norwich sports snapper Roger Harris netted prime chub up to 6lb from the free stretch of the River Wensum at Hellesdon.
On the match scene the final round of the Barford Winter League produced a cliffhanger with the top three individuals divided by only the equivalent of one small carp while Lathams new squad hung on by their fingertips to carry off the title with 47 penalty points despite dropping to third on the day.
Runners-up were Anglers World A on 50 points, their 317lb 5oz aggregate proving decisive in the points tie with DAD Suffolk with 297lb 15oz.