***This originally appeared in Anglers Mail, Feb 16 2010. Hope you like it!***
Lewis Hobson was not a lad to be messed with. At 13, he was not only a year older than us, but also twice as big and his reputation preceded him. Lewis didn’t appear to like many things in life, particularly school, but he was a keen pike fisherman and it was rumoured he had landed many pike over 30 pounds in weight from our local Suffolk Stour.
My mate Nedsy and I had enjoyed a successful autumn pike campaign catching plenty of fish up to a weight of seven and a half pounds, a true giant in our eyes.
It was a particularly cold and bright Saturday morning at the beginning of December when we left the comfort of Nedsy’s warm living room, having finished our traditional piker’s breakfast of pickled onion Space Raiders and Mars bars washed down with sweet tea.
Grabbing our rods, already rigged up from the evening before, and a bag of sprats from the freezer, we made our way to a productive stretch of river where we had managed a brace of four pounders on our previous visit. Before long we were settled in the prime swim by the bridge, our pike floats settling apprehensively in anticipation of the inevitable moment they would be slowly pulled under the glassy surface. It wasn’t long before I had such a bite and after a brief tussle a nice pike of five pounds was netted, unhooked and carefully returned to the murky depths.
Shortly after, he appeared. It was Lewis Hobson. Lewis was dressed somewhat inappropriately for the weather in baggy jeans and a denim jacket which was undone to reveal a t-shirt that said ‘House of Pain’. He did however have a black woolly hat on which had a rather fetching image of a green leaf and the words ‘Cypress Hill’ across the front. “Caught anything losers?” enquired Lewis, in a tone that didn’t suggest total hatred. Perhaps, I thought, the very fact that we are fishermen like him has saved us from a surely inevitable beating? Upon revealing our success Lewis actually managed a pitiful smirk before telling us he’d already landed a pike of 25 pounds that very morning! As he recalled the tale of his monster pike, I remember thinking that his tackle didn’t look up to much, with line that looked like it had seen better decades rather than days, a curly wire trace that boasted a set of huge, rusty trebles and a rather sorry looking sprat hanging limply on the end. Also, with no landing net how had he netted such a leviathan?
Lewis, again confounding our expectations, actually seemed quite pleased that there were other anglers about that morning as he proceeded to sit down and fish with us. Discarding his decrepit dead-bait and helping himself to a fresh one from our bag, Lewis cast out his huge, ancient looking pike bung rather clumsily, the line struggling through the rings of what seemed to be a sea fishing rod from 1950. Sitting back and lighting up a Benson and Hedges cigarette, Lewis seemed surprisingly at ease with the world. Nedsy and I listened intently and respectfully as Lewis spoke, covering such diverse subjects as his hatred for the ‘townies’ of Sudbury, his love gangster rap and, of course, his astonishing list of giant pike.
And then it happened. Lewis’s bung which was sitting awkwardly between our floats, started to drift sideways, bobbing dramatically as a pike picked up his bait. What happened next surprised Nedsy and I. Lewis, instead of confidently striking and playing the fish as we would have expected such a pike expert to have done, started to look increasingly concerned at the events unfolding. First a look of surprise and then fear spread across his face. “WhaddoIdo , whaddoIdooo?” Lewis pleaded, standing up sharply and moving away from the rod as it started to jerk round. Nedsy stepped in and grabbed the rod and helped Lewis gain control of the pike which after a short tussle, I netted. An immaculate six pounder lay in the bottom of the net. Lewis sat back down. He’d obviously never landed even a modest pike before in his life.
As we sorted everything out Lewis sat quietly looking a little pale and shaken by the experience. “Thanks lads” he said.
Fast forward to Monday morning, back at school and that weekend already seemed like a lifetime ago. Lewis was back to his normal self, recalling another successful pike trip to his mates in the corridor. As Nedsy and I walked past Lewis on our way to double maths, he glanced in our direction and gave us a quick nod, before continuing the tale of his 30 pounder from the bridge.