Fishy Stories

Part One

Bat out of Hell

 It was just on dusk on a fine evening last week, whilst my wife Carol and I were strolling through our village and the large fruit bats were flying low in their dozens, heading out for their evening feast of the fruits that grow in this subtropical region of Australia. These bats are of the flying fox family, around eighteen-inch’s across the wings, with colonies containing many thousands all over Queensland. This in turn reminded me of my only encounter with the Long Eared bat the largest bat in the U.K. One evening whilst fishing for whiting on the beach below the Broken cliffs south of Gorleston. I was watching my rod intently, when suddenly out of nowhere, this large bat appeared before my face and for some unknown reason decided to land on my hat! It was such an unusual occurrence, that I was startled to the point of knocking my hat off of my head. The bat meanwhile, which was just as startled as I, frenziedly flew off into the gathering gloom, leaving me with my mouth open and my hair, which I am sorry to say, has now left me forever, standing vertically from the nape of my neck upwards!

The Fishing Spirit

A word of warning here. (It is not a very smart move to go fishing at night alone under these cliffs.) Many years ago, a very sober minded and independent avid angling aqaintence of mine, was in the habit of fishing alone under the cliff immediately below the Old Warren House. (The same spot where I had the eye to eye encounter with the long eared Bat.) It appears he was fishing with two rods after dark, when he happened to glance up to the top of the cliff face and became aware of a white shape slowly moving down the cliff face towards him! This man who had served as a sergeant in the Norfolk’s at Gallipoli in the First World War. Was to put it quite literally scared shitless! Grabbing his fishing bag, rod rests and both rods and without bothering to reel in his lines, he ran like hell until he reached the street lights on the Gorleston lower Marine Parade. He hopped on his bike and as far as I am aware from then on only fished on the bend of the river, where he had plenty of company! (If it had been me I wouldn’t have stopped for the bike!)

Shipwrecked on Hickling Broad

Arthur's Pike same day 23-04-2001

Phil Garnham

Phil Garham with an 11 lb. Pike, photo taken by me.We were both wearing Davy Crocket hats. Both made by Carol from an old fur coat.

Arthur's Pike same day 23-04-2001

Arthur

His pike weighed 4 oz's more than mine and he caught it within 5 minutes after my fish! I thought I had out fished him.

During the mid 1960’s I was very keen on Pike fishing on the Norfolk Broads. Ormesby Broad, Lady Margaret’s, and in this case Hickling Broad. It is important to have a good reliable companion whilst on the water, whether salt or fresh. I usually went with Phil Garnham. We had arranged this trip several days prior, and the fact that a force 8 was blowing did not deter us in the least. We would look for a spot under the lea, out of the wind in what we termed (A Pikey lay!) The boat we hired was a long narrow affair, complete with oars and outboard motor. As we were not familiar with this area, we asked the agent if he could recommend a sheltered stretch of water. Follow the red buoys and you will spot a Mere on your port he said. It’s marked with a couple of extra buoys, so you can get out of the wind. Off we went! Unfortunately we somehow missed the channel and entered the wrong stretch of water! It was several hundred yards wide and looked ideal. We must have been 50 yards into the Mere, when the engine stopped. Phil quickly got on the oars whilst I checked the motor.  The prop .was choked with weed! We then realized the whole mere was completely covered with weed about 12 inches below the surface, making it impossible to use the outboard motor. Meanwhile we were being blown at a fast rate across this large stretch of water. I quickly grabbed an oar to try to jam into the mud below the weed. The oar went right through the soft mud and we were still going like hell towards the far end of the Mere. Phil grabbed the oars once more, but try as he might, we were still being driven further away from the only exit where we had entered! I sat facing Phil and thinking our combined strength would do the trick we both gave it our all, and guess what? The bloody oar snapped! This was around 9-30 a.m. With nothing but reed beds, and with no solid ground. We had no other option, but to pull ourselves hand over hand through the reeds until we eventually reached the spot where we had entered. This was around lunchtime! Once in open water I started the outboard. and  Returned to the shed .We then gave the guy a bit of advice. If any more bloody idiots ask you for a boat today. Say No! 

 Arthur. E. Bensley                      

 

 

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