February 2nd 1985 is a long, long time ago, 30 years for those like myself with an elementary grasp of maths. On that day I had a rather fortunate encounter with a rather large pike.
There are a few musicians who resent playing songs from their (usually more successful) past! Now I don’t get upset when I’m asked to recount the story of my big pike though I do find it difficult to write a slightly different version each time! Just like the musicians though I probably did have my best fishing (music) a few years ago I still fish and I sometimes get something special. So I’m not all washed up yet.
The fish I caught ended up with a name which is rather unusual for a pike. Plenty of carp have names; “Gut Bucket”, “White Pecs” “Diamond Scale”. Pike are usually just known by their weights. Dora as she became known was named because of a song called Dora the Explorer recorded by a somewhat obscure rock group called Stackridge. Obviously she ended up with this name because she got around a bit at the top end of the Thurne system an area which included the Thurne itself and the two private broads Martham North and South broad.
She was possibly a bit of a trollop as well, having been caught by quite a few pike anglers during her progress from 30 odd pounds to 41-06 when I caught her. How then did I defeat this titanic leviathan of the deep? Well ignore the last bit I don’t normally write nonsense, but my inbuilt “new romantic” emerged for a few seconds. I’ve promptly put a lid on that so I’ll carry on being serious!
It was a bit of luck, a bit of intuition and good timing. The timing was crucial because the Thurne had been frozen over since December. The wait for it to clear was painful for all of us anxious to try and catch a thirty pounder or even bigger from the famous river. When the snow did melt it coloured the water, but eventually things settled down and the wind swung briskly to the south west. It was mild and the pike just had to feed. Swim selection was intuition. I had a choice of turning left out of Martham Cut to Potter Heigham or right along the Martham Straight. I turned right because there was a spot where I’d had a dropped run the September previously. Not much of a clue but you have to use what little snippets you have. Remember that the Thurne even then was painfully slow and blanks were the norm. So clues were sometimes worth following up. I settled down into the swim having motored there in my crappy little 8 foot boat. Three rods one baited with mackerel, one with a roach livebait and a legered smelt were cast out. I had three runs in ascending order of weight, 16-06, 19-11 and 41-06. Interestingly the forty and the nineteen are the nearest I’ve come to a brace of thirty pounders, a combined weight of 61-01!
I didn’t weigh the big fish initially because I knew it would bottom out my Avon scales. I had a set of Nash 60lb scales in the van though and would fetch them when I rang Dave Plummer to get him to come down. No mobile phones in those days so I had to find a call box. It was when Dave arrived that a weight of 41-08 was recorded; 2oz being knocked off after the scales were weights and measures tested. You can imagine the total shock when the scales went past the then record, Hancock’s 40-01 from Horsey Mere.
However I had one more day left and this is when I got another surprise. I just had to fish the same spot overnight, but nothing happened. Dave came down in his boat and caught a 22 pounder so I moved the other side of him. I had a decent sized roach on a paternoster rig and to my surprise it went. Unfortunately the handle of the Mitchell 300 broke, but Dave bless him was at hand and swapped the reel body so that I could land a second big pike of 32-06. In those days when trout water pike fishing wasn’t being considered very seriously a 41-06 and a 32-06 in two days would have been unusual to say the least! That though was the end of my epic two days. Other exciting days were to come on the Thurne and other venues but those two days were probably the most memorable. I stopped fishing the Thurne about ten years ago. The distance to get there, the poor roads and the intense competition made me look elsewhere.
I have yet to catch a bigger pike and I probably never will. I have though been 25 yards away from a 46 pounder, but that as they say is another story!