Wind in the wallows

One of the many things I love about fishing, apart from the fish, the picnics and all the lovely people that I meet is that I get to visit parts of the UK that I might otherwise not have done. So it was this week that I found myself in Norwich and I learnt three things: it is very flat, very windy and the trains to and from there are blissfully empty.

One of the many things I love about fishing, apart from the fish, the picnics and all the lovely people that I meet is that I get to visit parts of the UK that I might otherwise not have done. So it was this week that I found myself in Norwich and I learnt three things: it is very flat, very windy and the trains to and from there are blissfully empty.

I was going up there to go lure fishing for pike with Sue Harris, of The Harris Angling Company. When the HAC was set up nine years ago lures were, apparently, pretty hard to come by as lure fishing had yet to take off in the way it's done since. Not any more since they sell thousands of the things by mail order (01692 581208 for a catalogue). Lure fishing is much more active than live or dead bait fishing when you just lob it out and wait for the bite indicator to screech. The latter was the sort of fishing for pike I had done before with my friend Mick Rouse (former UK record holder) of the Angling Times. It is very inactive fishing but great for chatting and eating crisps.

Anyway, Sue met me in a four-wheel-drive vehicle which immediately made me feel jealous and off we drove to the river Thurne where the last river-caught British record pike was caught (42lbs 2oz in 1985).

It was so windy when we got there I was grateful that I had decided to leave the false eyelashes at home. There were a few little fishing boats moored whose lines tinked against the masts in a most eerie fashion. We tackled up, I put on more layers than I really needed to (last time I went pike fishing it was so cold that two balaclavas didn't stop my body temperature from dipping to an almost hyperthemic level) and we set off.

The river was not very wide at all and the aim was to cast out the lure and then...well lure it enticingly long the weed beds because that is where the pikey lurk. But the wind was so strong it just blew the bait straight into the weed beds and got tangled up.

After a few casts Sue gave me a big lure which goes by the name of "Mann's Stretch One Minus" which she told me was Chris's (her husband's and the other half of the HAC) favourite. This made me nervous and I started being really rubbish at casting. Also, with the wind pushing at my back I just knew that if I caught a pike it was only a matter of time before I ended up in the water. So we talked about fish, in so much as we could with the wind snatching the words right out of our mouths and scattering them all over the place. How couples court in Norwich I just don't know.

Sue's biggest pike to date weighed in at nearly 26lbs. Her heaviest fish ever is a 97lb nile perch caught five years ago. My biggest fish ever is a pike: 11lb 10oz caught last year. But we all know that I am a specialist in the under 4lb trout department.

We walked on a little more, finally reaching a funny place called Dungeon's Corner which smelt alarmingly of fish. The river narrowed considerably here. I put on a Buchertail and cast ... straight over to the other bank and up into a tree. This I have never done before so I was kinda proud and kinda felt stupid. Sue reassured me that as a tackle company me losing one lure was not a big deal. "Chris has done the same thing," she said comfortingly. We couldn't get the lure back and, to top it all, the line got into the sort of mess I had only previously read about because the wind just grabbed it and messed it right up. What a mean old wind it was.

We walked back down the bank, chatting to a few nice chaps who were also fishing and then we headed back into the four wheel drive and headed to the Harris home.

Here I met their Jack Russell terriers. Dogs so obedient that they stopped at a line into the living room and went no further as they're not allowed in there. Sue made me yummy ham and mustard sandwiches on proper white bread and then her hubby came home and asked how we had done.

Then it was time to say bye bye and I shook hands with them and was just about to say "Thanks Chris, for letting me use your...tackle" when I mercifully stopped myself and let the sentence trail off.

a.barbieri@independent.co.uk

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