Twas a cold and snowy Christmas Eve night and as I lay in bed tossing and turning listening to the wind howling around the eaves of my Broadland cottage my thoughts turned to some great Pike fishing days on the Norfolk Broads and I slipped off into a restless sleep dreaming of monster Pike……
I awoke with a start in a damp wooden rowing skiff, looking somewhat confused I turned around and found I was not alone but in the company of Squire Thorpe and his son Nicholas. To say I was surprised would be an understatement and my look of confusion seemed somewhat alarming to the Squire, Boy he said “whats the devil of the matter with you” um nothing sir I replied remembering the Squire was not know for his patience! Where are we I asked? – “where are we, have you been drinking“? no sir but I think I must have dozed off for a moment. As you probably can imagine the Squire was non to fond of this and advanced upon me menacingly, luckily young Master Nicholas intervened and said that we have kept the poor lad up for almost 24 hours fishing for Pike despite his protests to go home to his wife! :Well yes I suppose thats true grumbled the Squire, however that is what I pay him for isn’t it and thats just what he’ll do if I say so“!
Still confused I asked the kindly Master Nicholas what day it was and he said quietly well young Allan its Christmas eve of course and you have taken us to catch some superb Pike today. Father though is still upset that you seem to have favoured me somewhat more than him and this is why we are still fishing, you know how jealous he becomes of our connection whence Pike fishing. Yet again I have caught the best specimens and father is determined to keep you here until he beats me, I fear we might be here for some time, the kindly Master Nicholas laughed at this thought but quietly so his wicked father could not hear.
I stood up and said “Sir maybe we could try one last spot today as the snow is settling heavily now and we shouldn’t be out on the Broads in a wild night like this” – fine said the Squire but just make sure that I catch the biggest Pike and then we can go home.
Evening fast approaching and the snow is settling
I set off rowing against the howling wind and driving snow towards the secret swim where the monster Pike lived! I cast 3 large Roach out and we sat back and waited, the snow eased slightly but the sky had an ominous look to it and I shivered in my thin clothing. After what seemed like an eternity one of the gazette floats slipped away, the Squire immediately seized the rod from his son and snarled “This one’s mine boy” he wound down and struck ferociously, the rod bend over almost double and the old cat gut sang in the wind, the gut ran off the old wooden centerpin reel like there was no tomorrow. “Whats going on snapped the Squire why can’t I stop this damn fish I’ve never had a problem like this before“!
I sat and watched the Squire struggle with the fish, I suggested a few things to help him land this obvious monster but the Squire dismissed them all saying he wasn’t listening to a servant boy when he had obviously the biggest Pike in England on his rod. The fight went on for over an hour, the Squire grew more tired by the minute, more than once the rod almost slipped from his grip but still he would have no help. Both his Son and myself tried to help but to no avail he simply pushed us roughly out of the way, snarling at us in the now heavy snow “keep off his rod and my record Pike“!
The Squire slowly gained the upper hand on the Pike, gaining line and bringing it closer and closer to the boat, get the gaff the Squire shouted and make sure you gaff him first time. By now the snow lay an inch deep in the bottom of the boat and was getting very slippery, the Squire bought the now beaten monster Pike to the side of the boat and I lent over to gaff this fantastic specimen. The Pike wasn’t finished though and with one last effort leapt out of the water and tail walked away from the boat catching the now tired Squire by surprise. The Squire held on for all his worth but the fish pulled and pulled, then to our amazement the Squire started slowly being dragged down the boat on the now slippery snow. He could do nothing, both myself and Master Nicholas tried to help but he viciously pushed us away screaming the Pike was his. With one final burst of energy the Pike changed direction and the Squire was pulled over the side of the boat into the icy water of the Broad. We held the lantern aloft but there was no sign of the Squire just a few ripples where he had gone in.
We searched for quite a while with no success, eventually having to give up and return to the staithe, the snow had stopped now and it was Christmas day morning. We returned to the hall as fast as we could, telling the Squires wife what had happened, she quickly summoned the Butler and a search was started immediately with all of the staff from the great house and the local police constable searching.
Ghostly tale or not?
Sadly there was no sign of the Squire, occasionally though a massive monster Pike would leap out of the water in the distance, several times Master Nicholas and I saw it and we swear that it seemed to be smiling!
I awoke with a start, looking around I was at home, my wife was next to me in bed, I was sweating and my wife, who I had now woken, wanted to know what the matter was. Nothing I replied it was just a bad dream, however, the dream kept churning around in my mind, who was Squire Thorpe, was his son called Nicholas, and why did it seem so real. After breakfast I checked the diary to see who I as fishing with on my next trip, the name was Mr Thorpe and his son Nick – they had fished with me recently and indeed Mr Thorpe had had an amazing Norfolk Broads Pike – was it a dream then or a premonition – we’ll have to wait and see won’t we.