Search

John Bailey: Catch took us back in time

15:07 30 May 2012

John Bailey and Henry - his

John Bailey and Henry - his 'Peter Crabtree'.

Archant

There was a rain-soaked moment at around 4.30pm on Wednesday the ninth of this month when I felt myself back in 1957 or thereabouts. We were filming the first episode of Fishing in the Footsteps of Mr Crabtree and the gloom was so intense and the downpour so Biblical that the crew were all but hidden and forgotten about. Nine-year-old Henry Grayling was my ‘Peter Crabtree’, my protégé and my companion for the day and we were sitting on the grass, backs against an alder tree on Kingfisher’s little Lobster Pot Lake.

Our methods were pure 1950s – 12-foot rods, centrepins and handmade floats. Our baits were from austerity times, too, maggots and bread and some lobworms dug from the garden. And our tactics were simplicity itself. No hair-rigs, bolt-rigs or modern gizmos of any kind, just a cocked float, shot, a few inches of line on the bottom leading to the hooks where the baits were impaled direct.

Tench and carp were bubbling hard enough to disrupt even the lakes’ rain-pocked surface and the two floats, only a yard apart, were never still. Henry and I were truly galvanized. We talked in muted tones with hushed revelations about our hopes and observations about the weather and the fish we hoped to catch. I missed a bite and so did Henry. We speculated that perhaps, they were liners. It was man and boy and fishes in eye-to-eye combat and Henry’s glasses steamed up as if to register the palpable excitement that hung between us.

Mick Munns, our excellent bailiff at Kingfishers, drove past and waved (I suppose he SHOULD have been riding a bicycle really) and Henry looked at him with the type of awe I always felt for Norfolk water bailiffs as a child myself and, still, to an extent do. It’s the same with policemen: if you were brought up to respect authority, you never quite shake the deference off.

Then Henry caught a carp. One minute his flicker of red float was there and in an instant, it was gone. He played the fish with a skill I really did marvel at. Though new to a centrepin, never once did I think of offering the lad advice. He seemed to know instinctively when to give line and when to take it, when to raise the rod and when to lower it to the endlessly powering fish.

We landed her and she was exactly right. As a fully-scaled, old English-type fish and not a scattered-scaled mirror, a more recent European import, she was exactly what the Crabtrees would have caught. She was in pristine condition and weighed, just possibly, 10 pounds. Looking at her, she could have been lifted not from the Lobster Pot, but from page 59 of my battered 1952 edition of Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing.

Henry’s face was aglow. He danced a jig of triumph and we shook hands firmly in front of the delighted faces and lenses of the crew. The fish went back, the director called cut and a wrap for the day and we walked back to the apartment to chill out, warm up and rejoice in the session.

Of course, I know our world is not really like this today and that what Henry and I experienced is only a vignette of life when I was his age. I realise the vast majority of Norfolk carp now are carp caught on boilies, hairs and any one of an A-Z of rigs. I’m aware that on waters all over the country less fortunate than those down the Wensum Valley, bailiffs are subjected to abuse and sometimes violence. There are venues where they have to patrol in groups for safety and have to employ night-vision binoculars and hi-tech security devises to deter gangs intent on stealing valuable fish stocks.

I know most boys today are happier behind computers, watching television or playing with mobile phones than they are with a rod in their hands and a float in their gaze. It’s probable Henry, too, will change as adolescence draws on and he finds the pressures to conform overwhelming.

He might give up his fishing but I hope not. Episodes like we shared on the Lobster Pot are magical and timeless.

Visit www.kingfisherapartments.co.uk for more of my reflections on this remarkable place and the Crabtree filming as it unfolds. Also, to be in total touch with the Mr Crabtree revival, visit us on www.mrcrabtreegoesfishing.com.

0 comments

Other Diss sport

Saturday, November 22, 2014
Great Yarmouth celebrating their Vase win at Waltham Forest. Picture: David Bauckham

The second round of the FA Vase takes centre stage for Eastern Counties League teams this afternoon.

Friday, November 21, 2014
Norwich's Richie Rhodes ploughs thriugh the mud at Braintree last Saturday. Picture: Andy Micklethwaite

A mouth-watering local derby is in prospect at Beeston Hyrne tomorrow when Division 2NE leaders Norwich take on Diss.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Harleston Magpies Ladies produced a fantastic performance to win at St Albans, who are currently one of the top teams in the league.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Diss, orange, have had a season to forget. Picture: JOHN HUTTON

New Diss Town boss Mark Reeve says his immediate aim is to preserve the club’s Thurlow Nunn Premier Division status.

Most Read

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Action from Dereham Town v Norwich City at Aldiss Park - NCFC's Jacob Murphy. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Norwich City winger Jacob Murphy has scored on his Championship debut this evening – but not for the Canaries.

Read more
15:23
Norwich manager Neil Adams has injury concerns for Reading's Championship visit. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City boss Neil Adams revealed the Canaries are interested in a possible Championship deadline day loan addition.

Read more
Mon, 05:34
David Stockdale collects a cross during Brighton's draw with Norwich City at Carrow Road. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

David Stockdale clearly enjoys coming up against Norwich City – and once again, he had a say in earning something for his current side off the Canaries.

Read more
Mon, 08:15
The man George Thomson found the net once more for King's Lynn Town this season at Blyth. Picture: TIM SMITH

King’s Lynn Town boss Gary Setchell was left to bemoan his side’s opening 70-minute display as the Linnets lost by the odd goal in five to FA Cup shock merchants Blyth Spartans.

Read more
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Sebastien Bassong and Stephen Hunt in action during Watford's clash with Ipswich at Portman Road. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Seb Bassong knows just what parent club Norwich City are going through – but says there is no reason to panic.

Read more

Local Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 11°C

min temp: 11°C

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Diss Mercury e-edition today E-edition