Broads season ends with monster catch

Roy WebsterThe Broads coarse fishing season that appeared to be departing unremarkably on Sunday night suddenly sprang into life to produce a spectacular finale. Heading an impressive list of catches from the famous water park was the pike of the season, scaling a wondrous 42lb 8oz.Roy Webster

The Broads coarse fishing season that appeared to be departing unremarkably on Sunday night suddenly sprang into life to produce a spectacular finale.

Heading an impressive list of catches from the famous water park was the pike of the season, scaling a wondrous 42lb 8oz.

Although 3lb short of John Goble's record breaker, caught from the Thurne waters at the back end of the 2008/09 season, the leviathan heaved out of Hickling Broad by visitor Craig Humphries on Saturday night is no less worthy of the fish of the season accolade.

The 30-year-old rodman, who lives in Germany, was on a job hunting holiday in Norfolk hoping to return to the country of his birth to gain employment in the customer services industry. He was staying in a houseboat hired from the Hickling Whispering Reeds boatyard, and he was pike fishing from the rear of his holiday home long after sunset when he hooked the giant.


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'That turned my knees to jelly,' he said. 'I had already caught a pike of around 25lb on a sprat bait, but I baited up again with a half mackerel and, about 9pm, the special Starlight float was visible on a pitch black night. Suddenly it was gliding away across the surface and 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.'

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'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 boat house I was able to discern the shadow of the fish appearing over the net and with one massive heave and more luck then judgement I hoisted the fish out of the water and on to the wooden floor of the platform.'

Admitting he was still shaking from his experience, the proud captor 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 whose historic 45lb 8oz pike from the Thurne waters a year ago said this latest specimen was not the same fish, adding: '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 derring-do 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 who is familiar with the finer points of catching Norfolk's specimen fish, tempted his best of the season on Saturday offering breadflake bait in one of his favourite spots in the Wensum, not far from his Lyng home. Commenting on his catch the long- serving treasurer of the British Surf Casting Federation 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,' he said.

With temperatures on the rise other excellent returns were reported.

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 Silvers club man Matty Pope bagged more then 100lb of bream from the UEA lake and stick float ace Roger Harris netted chub up to 6lb from the free bank of the River Wensum at Hellesdon.

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