Pike man upset at reaction to big catch

Angling by Roy WebsterTOP Broads anglers have risen to the defence of one of the brotherhood, who has been accused of faking the capture of the heaviest pike of the season.

Angling by Roy Webster

TOP Broads anglers have risen to the defence of one of the brotherhood, who has been accused of faking the capture of the heaviest pike of the season.

Craig Humphries, who heaved out his 42lb 8oz monster from Hickling Broad on the night before the season ended, said he wished he'd kept his catch a secret.

“Since it was reported in the angling media I have received hate mail, verbal abuse and mockery. What is wrong with these people? This does not appear to be jealousy, just downright hatred, yet I go fishing for enjoyment and nothing more. I'm getting fed up with the whole episode now,” he declared.

As soon as a picture of Humphries' fish appeared in a weekly angling magazine and on the internet there were allegations the catch was a fake and the photograph doctored to enhance the dimensions of the fish.

There were complaints that the pike did not display the right number of spots on its skin to match its size and that the head was too big and other parts of its body were unusual for the river Thurne.

Most Read

One Norfolk pike angler suggested that because the fish had never been reported caught before it was labelled as “unusual”.

Humphries, who lives in Germany, was job hunting in Norfolk while staying in a holiday boathouse by the Whispering Reeds boatyard. He caught his monster on a sea fish bait during an after-dark session and emphasised there was no point in him faking a catch that was not a national record.

“I took the photograph on the balcony of the houseboat and returned the fish that was heavy in spawn to the water immediately,” he explained. “I guess the negative comments about the fish being a fake are normal (for some anglers) yet all I have done to the image is rotate it, crop it and clean it up.”

During a 20-minute telephone conversation the proud captor did not come across as an angler who would perpetrate a hoax in order to seek fame and described himself as “an ordinary angler who struck lucky.”

Humphries has received welcome support from other Broads anglers.

Johnny Goble, who caught the Broads record pike of 45lb 8oz from the river Thurne only a year earlier, visited Humphries to reassure him he had no doubts about his marvellous fishing feat, and well-known Brundall's pike fishing expert guide Charlie Bettell also weighed in an unequivocal judgement that Humphries was a genuine angler who put the welfare of the heavy fish first.

Experienced Yarmouth pike angler Roger Nolan derided claims that skin pigment on Broads pike was a reliable guide to size. “All that is absolute drivel,” he said. “I've spent many years catching pike on Hickling Broad and elsewhere in the River Thurne catchment and they have shown a variety of colour. Some were brown and some green, some with lots of spots and others with no spots at all.”

Goble had the final word: “These critics are just part of the pike angling circus who just want to knock the ordinary angler who loves his fishing and drops on to a monster pike they believe should have been theirs,” he stated. “I happen to know this fish had been caught before when it was in the thirties.”

Carp enthusiasts are getting set for a splendid Easter parade of specimen fish on the banks.

As spring arrived, the best local fish was a 26lb 1oz Taverham Lake common for Great Yarmouth's Jon-Paul Thompson, while at Hall Farm, Burgh Castle, Caister's Alan Waldron bagged a 23lb common and Grant Hubbard, of Yarmouth, a common nudging 20lb.

On the match scene, the final round of the local winter series was won by Lee Arnold (Jolly Boys), who, at the Barford venue, overhauled Dave Grimwood (Sextons) to head the morning leader by just one penalty point after an exciting final showdown.

Result: C Spelman (Caister) 30lb 2oz; A Varley (Sportsmans) 24lb 5oz; L Arnold (Jolly Boys) 21lb 10oz. Top five finish: Arnold 21 points, Grimwood 22, Varley 26, M Colman and K Hodgins 29.

Other match results: Stalham (South Walsham Holly Farm): A Watson 63lb 9oz; D Dearman 52lb 2oz; T Wilkinson 42lb 2oz. Caister Carols (Melton Ponds): A Waldron 17lb; K Dyball 10lb 4oz; Carol Waldron 6lb 8oz.

Beach anglers are still reporting poor returns but quality bass are imminent and a few spring codling are showing along town stretches.

Angling fixtures. Marsh Trail Lakes, Open Lake C: Saturday, Draw pegs at 9am fish 10-4pm, �15.00 all in fee Optional (Gold/Silver/Bronze) Pegs now standing over �220. Contact Richard on 01502 514682/07796 437381.

Open Festival Weekend: Saturday May 1 and Sunday May 2, fishing lakes A and C over two days, based on a points scoring system. �40 per head all in fee, 70 percent payout. Top Four place prize money plus daily sections, for booking/details contact John (07796 697873) Richard (07796 437381) David (07913 115610).