Passing near Castle Acre on the road to Zanderland and I had forgotten the local penchant for naming pubs The Ostrich. Must find out why sometime. I am not good at roads that have no discernible edge separating them from the gunmetal grey waters. So it was good that it was light by the time I reached the flat lands. I am not sure I would keep my automatic if I moved up here. Or drive in the dark.
The Essex Scribbler had hungrily beaten me there. If you want to get the early worm calculate a good 45 minutes before he claims he will be there...Time for a good coffee and an admire of TT's vintage press, log stack and of course his muse the (in) famous transformer pylon out back.
Warnings of Bastard Barry and hobbling Achilles nips. With that the mood changed and we were bundled into the back of a pick up, the Truckman Top windows blacked out and a switch back ride over and back over bridges, followed overhead by the thrum of an Apache. Lurching to a stop we stumbled out blinking in the low Fenland light. Mobiles were roughly snatched and GPS and Google Location disabled. Shadowy figures watched from low, functional non-descript agricultural buildings, brightened only briefly by splashes of bog door blue. Dire warnings of not revealing where were we were (we didn't know) and the tension subsided. The afore mentioned Bastard Barry paid little heed to us, however a very sleek whippet noticed us arrive. It noticed everything arrive and leave.
The Scribbler and I are used to the littoral edgelands of saltings, mirram dunes and shingle ridges. There is no edge to the land here. OK, there is the high land, two to three feet above sea level that is dominated by more agricultural buildings, grain dryers and silos, the odd tree or church. Telegraph poles lurch off haphazardly leaning. Nothing would stop a high velocity round until it found you. The horizon just goes on and on and on. Nothing to stop Storm Henry as it wound itself up good and proper, waves tearing down the drain and lashing the reeds level. Above us Uncle Sams's boys and no no doubt gals were tearing up the sky, before heading out and going supersonic over the Wash ranges and beyond. Not particularly feature full these Fen drains.
TT was already into a pike, the wobbled roach having been snaffled in only a couple of turns of the reel. Scribbler had had an abortive take and was off prospecting the next spot before I had finally found a more gentle slope and got the baits in. The orange poly started to move faster than the pushing waves and the Conoflex glass 2 and 3 quarter veteran hooped over. Teaching for the net I saw my rucksack sliding gracefully into the water. All around Henry raged. Throwing down the rod I rescued the rucksack before scooping up the pike in the net.
My first Fen tiger. Drop snout and arched back. I gave it about 6lb.
TT had found a few baits on the pole with his Christmas issue maggot and caster and Scribbler had slunk back up to the confluence and been blown back again by Henry before one of my sardines made off again and this was a bigger fish. Barely hooked and a parrot beaked pug that went somewhere over 10 we judged.
Hunger called and I begun the somewhat protracted business of cooking lunch in a hooley of a wind, keenly watched by the whippet, in between it chasing and headbutting pick ups. Letheringsett flour rolls courtesy of Sue, good local proper bacon and sausages, and a mug of tea. Civilised piking.
Now. I've alluded to the hungriness of the Scribbler who can usually barely rest in a swim normally. He probably leapfrogs himself. Today he was strangely drawn back to that staging. Here he is reliving his match fishing days. Did you know he used to fish matches?
In between an increasing barrage of calls and texts trying to persuade me to leave the rods and put the kettle on he was suffering a lot of this.
Exasperated at my slow food technique at lunch his burner was encased in a bucket and set to work. Despite this highly engineered solution Storm Henry was trying it's best to scupper things. Not content with blowing out the gas it nearly took TT and I off our feet twice. I am nearer 20 stone than 15. Finally the double bucket adaptation prevailed and a scalding hot tea was enjoyed.
Another scrapper for the Scribbler was deftly returned with a flick of the forceps and TT persevering with the wobbled roach has one more dropped chance before our day ended.
I have yet to see TT cast overhand, the deft underarm flick being his go to method. Spot the airborne roach.
Corking day despite Storm Henry's worst. Lowland chalkstream next chaps.