Last night, and that crayfish, really took the wind out of my sails, to be honest. I’d more than half expected crayfish attention, but those first flicks and twitches had led me to be super-optimistic. Hence the let-down. I brooded all night that this is a wild goose chase, that a big roach is half a century in the past.

So, late this afternoon, I set out with my long-suffering Enoka to bait the swims down the river, and then came back in the last of the light to trot The Rookery swim with pole float and maggots. After a dozen passes through, I actually hooked a fish that came off almost instantly. The third maggot had bent over the size 14 hook, masking the strike, bumping the fish. It was not large, though. Encouraged, though the light was going, I fished on. 

Five minutes passed when again the float vanished and I struck into something that I knew at once was BIG. For two minutes it was touch and go, give and take, a tug of war. The fish won that one, moving irresistibly down the river, forcing me to do what I hate – following it. Enoka followed with the net as I was forced to climb a fence and trip over the rope of a stray, forgotten crayfish trap. None of this helped, and I never even began to sense the gaining of an upper hand. 

Suddenly a slack line. That was it. Gone. The hook slipping. Big roach? Surely not? A pike? Perhaps. You know how they grab a small silver fish the moment one is hooked. But I don’t think so. A barbel, too, I doubt. Has one ever been caught so far up from the one-time hot spots? Everything smacks of a seriously big chub, one of the mid/upper Wensum monsters that linger on, achieving colossal size. If a “seven” had managed to keep across the flow, then that would explain its immovability.  

Exciting is hardly the word to use but, still, my big roach is a distant dream. What that battle has done is immeasurable, however. Last night my heart was in my boots, and we all know that pessimism is a killer, always looking for an excuse to skip a dark, cold, wet night session. As I write, I cannot wait for tomorrow and might even set the alarm for a dawn outing… something I have not considered here since 1978 I think! Age is no obstacle to obsession!