Monster pike lands large bid at auction

JOHN SHAW A monster pike caught on the Norfolk Broads more than 50 years ago landed a new owner for £4,500 at auction The 30lb fish measuring just under four feet long, was caught by Donald Tate, a farmer on Hickling Broad, in October 1956.

JOHN SHAW

A monster pike caught on the Norfolk Broads more than 50 years ago landed a new owner for £4,500 at auction

The 30lb fish measuring just under four feet long, was caught by Donald Tate, a farmer on Hickling Broad, in October 1956.

A 30lb heavyweight is a pike angler's dream and the fish was later stuffed and mounted in a glass case by John Cooper and Sons, the leading taxidermists of the day.

It took more than 15 months for the work to be completed and the trophy mounted in a curved glass case was finally collected in January 1958. It had been expected to fetch £4,000-£6,000 in Bonhams' auction at Henley-on-Thames.

Mr Tate, from Northaw, Potters Bar Hertfordshire had a houseboat and a punt on the broads and whenever work allowed he would head-off for a weekend fishing. He had previously landed a 22lb pike from Norfolk waters. It was also offered for sale and made £2,200 against an estimate of £2000-£3000. The fish was sold with a cutting by Jonathan Mardle recording the event which appeared in the Eastern Daily Press in October 1953.

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But his piece of angling history, when he landed the 30lb fish, made front page news in The Angling Times of November 1956. It quoted Mr Tate as saying: “The pike really frightened me. It took my live bait with a rush, it came straight out of the water and crashed back with a noise of a ton of coal being emptied.”

When he took the fish along to the taxidermist he was initially turned away as the business was struggling to keep up with its work but after enquiring about the weight of the pike and learning it was a magical 30-pounder the owner agreed to mount it. The fish is believed to be the last heavyweight preserved by the company before it closed in the 1960's.

It was sold together with a photograph of Mr Tate weighing the fish. Today most pike anglers who fish the broads return their catches live to the water after photographing them on the bank to record their triumph for posterity.

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