Gren the Elder, soggy docks and unseen monsters

Dave Spence

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What do you want on your snap David asked Vi, my mother, she always called me David, or, more often than not our David.

Have we got any ham, I asked hopefully,

Enough for a couple of sandwiches, will you have corned beef on the others? She replied.

Yes please I said.

Its about time you made your own snap said Ken, my dad, from the depths of his armchair by the fire.

What, like you do my mother asked him, a hint of playful sarcasm in her voice.

I grinned at Ken and said youll never win if me and Vi gang up on you.

I know that Ken grinned back and put his arms around her affectionately.

Get off you soft aypeth she scolded.

Im off said Ken, putting his cap on and shouting ta ra as he went out the back door on his way to work. It was about 5:30 in the morning and as Ken and I were both on days Vi had got up with us to make sure we had some breakfast before we left.

I had managed to get a few weeks, working on the surface at my colliery, so, as I did not have to start until 7:00 am; I had a good half hour before I had to leave. At that time, Vi would start preparing a second lot of breakfasts for my younger brother and sister before they went to school and only after they were safely on their way would she consider having anything herself.

My mother was a housewife and took the role very seriously, call me a MOG if you like but I still maintain that it was a better system, where one person looked after the house and kids and the other went to work. Unfortunately, in this day and age most couples cant afford to do this and I see the repercussions every day in my job, as a teacher, where I have to deal with problem teenagers who have been brought up by a string of child minders or grandparents. Anyway, as usual, Im digressing.

I got up from the kitchen table and went to pick up my leather jacket and crash helmet, you off, our David? asked Vi,

Yeah, got to make a move eventually I replied.

See you later then, ride carefully she said.

I walked down the path, adjusting the straps of my helmet, and cocked my leg over my trusty 175cc Honda. I was just about to jump on the kick-start when Vi poked her head round the back door and shouted telephone. I climbed off my bike and ran back into the house,

hello I said into the receiver,

ayup mush, get your tackle out, I will pick you up in half an hour came the unmistakeable tones of my mate Gren.

Im just on my way to work I said

youll look a prat if you turn up he replied, Ive just rang and put you a rest day in

Rest days were extra days holiday, eight per year in total, which you could have off at any time. By rights you were supposed to give a weeks notice but our colliery was very flexible on this.

Brilliant mate I said, see you in a bit.

Dont tell me said Vi Grenvilles on his way and youre both going fishing.

Youve got it I laughed.

Its a good job your dad has already left or he would be joining you said Vi, "I suppose Id better put some bacon on for Gren, do you want another sandwich?

Yes please I said happily, the day had just got much brighter.

Half an hour later in walked Gren, he sat down at the kitchen table, like he had pre-ordered; breakfast and my mother passed him two bacon sandwiches and a mug of tea.

Cheers Mrs S he grinned, giving her his customary wink.

Gren, as my previous stories have already stated, looked like an undernourished Chris Evans, wild ginger hair, horn rimmed glasses held together with green and yellow electrical tape and several months of fish slime encrusting his jeans.

Who did you say you were, when you rang work I asked

I just put on a really wheeny whiney voice and pretended to be you he said, straight-faced.

My mother had a laughing fit at that and, I must admit, I had to supress a chuckle myself.

After breakfast we loaded my gear into the Anglebox, Grens beloved rust and green ford Anglia, and set off.

Wherere we going mate I asked

I fancy fishing the neck he replied

The place my mate was referring was Barnstone brick-pit, near Bingham.
I dont know what it looks like today, I have not been there for forty years, but in those days there was a very narrow part of the pit, against the entrance, which extended about 50 or 60 yards before opening up into the pit proper. It was an area which we had always ignored, never giving it a second glance, as we walked to the larger part of the water. In fact I could not remember ever seeing anyone fish this area.

What brought that on? I asked

Dunno mush he replied, just thought about it last night.

Gren turned into a garage, stopped at the pump and said your turn, meaning it was my turn to buy the petrol.

I bought it last time I said indignantly.

No you didnt he replied I put some in the day before yesterday,

I wasnt even with you then I exclaimed

So what replied my chiselling mate, we take it in turns with the petrol, we never stipulated it was only when we were together.

But, but. My voice tailed off as I resigned myself to paying.

I got your voice perfect on the phone this morning said Gren.

Pillock I replied.

I got out and was very tempted to ask the attendant for 2 or 4 star instead of the usual 3 star, which was the Angleboxs usual tipple. 4 star would make her smoke and back fire, whilst 2 star would make her cut out on tick over. I resisted the urge however, it would only slow us down and so I asked the attendant for 4 gallon of 3 star. I gave him a 5 pound note and he went off to get my change.

Are we stopping off at Dormans for bait? I asked, through Grens open window.

Can do he replied.

I collected my change, climbed back in and 40 minutes later we were parking up at the pit, after making a detour into Radford to pick up maggots and groundbait.

The place looked perfect, it was a nice sunny day in late September, the elder and brambles were weighted down with fruit and there was no indication of an Autumn nip in the air. The water itself was glacier still and, more importantly, the neck was deserted. I looked at our chosen stretch and wondered why we had never fished here before.

Gren must have been having the same thoughts, he looked at me and said looks brilliant dunnit

certainly does youth I replied usual bet?

Of course replied Gren, your 5 bobs buy me a couple of pints every week

cheeky git I laughed.

Although I had laughed at this, there was an element of truth in what he had said and it seemed ages since I had beaten him. It was not that he was a much better angler, put us on level pegs and there would not be much in it, but he nearly always found something to give him an edge. I was more traditional but Gren would try anything once and, if it didnt work, laugh it off and put it down to experience.

I tackled up with my 12ft trentman, closed face reel loaded with 2.5lb line. A 3bb, home-made, antennae float, an 18 hook to 1.7lb bottom completed the set up. I had plumbed the depth and found about 7ft of water with no significant drop offs or ledges. I baited up with double bronze maggot and cast about 2 rods out. The float settled, I sank the line, put the rod on the rests and started mixing up some groundbait.

My float chose that moment to lift slightly and then sail away in a text book bream bite, I struck and after a short fight an 8oz roach was netted, it had obviously not read the text book! I put the fish in the keepnet and carefully wiped all the dregs of groundbait off my reel, making a mental note to strip it and clean it properly before the match at the weekend, dried groundbait under the spool cover was an absolute curse when trying to trot the Trent.

The next hour saw a steady procession of small roach coming to my net, Gren, meanwhile was fishless, 5 bobs coming my way I shouted over to him.

Dont be too sure Spenno he replied youve not got that many.

Gren then got up, walked towards the end of the neck and disappeared into the bushes. I thought he was thinking of moving but he returned, 5 minutes later, plunged his hand into the water and wiping it down his jeans said, ruefully they dont make dock leaves as strong as they used to.

It took a few seconds for the penny to drop, Gren had been took short and, using dock leaves as toilet paper substitute had managed to put his finger straight through them. After wiping my eyes and massaging my ribs I stored that one away for the lads at work.

I was just using the disgorger on another Roach when Gren hissed Dave, look at this.

I knew it was important when Gren had called me Dave; it was usually Spenno or Mush. I looked over to see his rod hooped over and his face set in a mask of concentration as he played what was obviously a very big fish. I quickly stripped the bait off my hook, I didnt want to be using the disgorger on a bird, and went over to him.

What is it youth I asked,

No idea replied Gren, through tight lips Ive not seen it yet, honestly mate I have never caught anything which felt like this, it feels massive.

The fish had bored off towards the middle but Gren, with some skilful side strain had managed to turn it towards the bank and it was now static under his rod tip. All anglers, who have been in this situation, know the feeling of helplessness you have when someone is playing a fish, you cant help and when you offer advice it just tends to increase the tension.

I think its weeded itself said Gren. Sure enough, a 2 minute stalemate ensued with the fish not budging and Gren keeping the light tight whilst gently trying to coax the fish into moving by cautiously varying the angle of pull.

Ease off a bit mate I suggested it might come out itself.

Gren let everything go slack and sure enough the fish bolted back towards the middle. After what seemed like an eternity he managed to get it back but it still, resolutely, refused to come to the surface. Gren kept on the pressure, however and, inch by inch, he started to gain line. The first of his dropper shots emerged out of the water, how much shot have you got down the line mate I asked

Three No 8s replied Gren.

Only two more to emerge and we would get a glimpse of whatever it was he had hooked. Gren gained another couple of inches and I reached for the landing net. Suddenly his rod straightened, the float shot high in the air and everything went slack, the hook had pulled. Gren, expertly, whipped his rod back to gain control of his line then whipped it forward the line landing in a nice straight line, rather than wrapping around the rod end. The surface of the water actually rocked as something just underneath turned and shot off. Gren never said a word but the look of pure anguish on his face said it all. I didnt speak, just grabbed his flask and poured us both a drink. Gren was so traumatised he didnt even complain about me nicking his tea!

That was big, he murmured

Certainly looked it mate, I replied. What do you think it was?

Look at this said Gren, showing me his line. From the hook, right up to his second dropper there was a line of slime, it was about 2 feet long and, obviously, from where the line had rubbed across the fishs back.

Bloody hell I exclaimed do you think it might have been an eel?

Then I noticed an elderberry stuck to his line, I went to pull it off and realised that his line was actually running through it. Gren suddenly looked very sheepish, whats up? I asked,

Thats what I caught it on explained Gren double elderberry.

He went on to explain that, whilst he was crouched in the bushes answering the call of nature he had noticed swirls underneath an elderberry bush. On closer inspection he had seen fish taking the elderberries that were falling off the branches into the water.

And when did you plan on telling me this I demanded,

Once Id caught you up he grinned,

Oh Cheers mate I said sarcastically.

We both went off to the bushes, ten minutes were all that we required to fill a 4 pint bait box each and we made our way back to our swims.
I stripped off my terminal tackle and replaced it with a tiny porcupine quill with 2 No 8s down the line, I wanted the bait to fall through the water as naturally as possible. I baited up with a single berry and swung the bait out under the nearside bushes.

Almost immediately my float sank and I landed a lovely rudd of about half a pound. This went on for the next couple of hours and I ended up the day with about 20lb, it was a wonderful day, catching these beautiful golden fish with the bright red fins. As I lifted out my net to admire them Gren walked over for a look,

gorgeous arent they he stated, youve done me today mush he exclaimed resignedly and reaching into his pocket he handed me 5 bob.

I must admit to a little twinge of guilt in taking it, he was still a bit down over the lost fish; however this lasted all of a second as I remembered having to pay for the petrol and so I pocketed it smugly.

On the way home we were chatting about the lost fish and we both agreed that it was probably a big carp, my eel theory had gone out of the window when I saw the berry bait, eels are not known for vegetarianism.

Do you think the berries will work for roach on the Trent Gren mused,

I dont see why not mate I replied there are plenty of bushes on the banks

I might give it a try on Sunday said Gren you never know
 

Dave Spence

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Originally posted by nutmeg

Cheers for that a very good read as usual.

Cheers mate, I appreciate that [:T][:T][:T]
 

Wise Owl

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Nice one pal [:T][:T][:T][:T][:T] Shame Cilla Black int still with us she could possibly put ya back in touch with Gren [:D][:T]

Surprise Surprise [}:)]
 

emmaemma

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Great tale Dave..[:T] when did you last see Gren?
 
Last edited:

Dave Spence

MD virtual champion 2020. Golden Pie winner 2018.
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Originally posted by emmaemma

Great tale Dave..[:T] when did you last see Gren?
Last time I saw him Bob was in the late seventies, we lost touch after our last match together, which I covered in the story "Carbon, Nose Bleeds and end of an Era", last I heard was he had emigrated with his wife and a couple of kids.[:C][:C]
 

banksy

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"... Gren gained another couple of inches and I reached for the landing net. Suddenly his rod straightened, the float shot high in the air and everything went slack, the hook had pulled. Gren, expertly, whipped his rod back to gain control of his line then whipped it forward the line landing in a nice straight line, rather than wrapping around the rod end..."

A manoeuvre which we all execute occasionally, with varying degress of success!

A few years ago I felt that this action deserved a name, and asked for suggestions from MD'ers.

My favourite in terms of descriptive accuracy was "Swishback".

But the crown had to go to Cleggy, with his "Four Fox Ache!", which he insisted had to be uttered quickly and loudly for maximum effect.

[:D][;)]
 

Dave Spence

MD virtual champion 2020. Golden Pie winner 2018.
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Joined
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Originally posted by banksy

"... Gren gained another couple of inches and I reached for the landing net. Suddenly his rod straightened, the float shot high in the air and everything went slack, the hook had pulled. Gren, expertly, whipped his rod back to gain control of his line then whipped it forward the line landing in a nice straight line, rather than wrapping around the rod end..."

A manoeuvre which we all execute occasionally, with varying degress of success!

A few years ago I felt that this action deserved a name, and asked for suggestions from MD'ers.

My favourite in terms of descriptive accuracy was "Swishback".

But the crown had to go to Cleggy, with his "Four Fox Ache!", which he insisted had to be uttered quickly and loudly for maximum effect.

[:D][;)]

A saying I have used many times!![:D][:D][:D]
 

groundhog

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[:)] Very good read,but a fiver for 3 gallon of 3 star and change, ??? how long ago is the tale based Dave mate? 1972/3 ?[:T]
[:D][:D][:D]
 

Dave Spence

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Originally posted by groundhog

[:)] Very good read,but a fiver for 3 gallon of 3 star and change, ??? how long ago is the tale based Dave mate? 1972/3 ?[:T]
[:D][:D][:D]

Yes mate, it would be round about 1972.[:T]
 
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