Black Shuck!

As a young man, there was nothing I enjoyed more than a night spent by the side of some ancient estate-lake (which abound in Norfolk) in pursuit of butter-fat Tench or Bream.
We brothers of the angle jealously guarded the location of lakes that were currently 'on', telling only our closest companions until the fishing went into decline or all the best specimens had been caught!

One Summer several of us discovered  that the large lake at Bl*ckling H*ll was producing some very large Bream, so an all-out assault was called for!  Plans were made and a rota drawn up: the lake was to be fished intensively for the whole of July to see if it had the potential to produce a record Bream.

Double figure bream from Blickling!

My second 'spell' at the lake was spent in the company of an amiable  Londoner called Roger: he worked in the entertainment industry and regaled me during the long nights with tales of 'stars' of film and TV and their peccadilloes. Incidentally, we caught some very nice fish too!

One night we had been plagued with small tench: nice, but not what we were after. Roger suggested a change of bait: we
decided to look for some lobworms on the dew-damp lawns
between us and the Hall. Accordingly, by the light of a near-full Moon, he and I scoured the grass, bent forward, bait-boxes in hand and soon collected a good number of fat lobworms! 

As we walked quietly back towards our chosen 'pitch' by the lake, we simultaneously noticed  a large dark shape skulking near our bivouacs: we could make out few details, but later confirmed to each other a tightness in the throat and a sudden, unreasoned feeling of terror! As we drew nearer, the shadowy figure resolved itself into that of a huge, black dog.

It turned towards us, alerted presumably by the involuntary gasps this astonishing spectacle had engendered. To our horror, we saw that the dog's eyes were pulsating  a deep blood-red! For perhaps a minute Roger and I stood transfixed under the Hell-hound's baleful stare. Then the beast lowered its gaze and began to move towards us! Roger was the first to act: he threw his bait-box at the dog, turned and ran away from the lake: needless to recount, I  followed close behind!

Reaching the cover of a small  copse, we turned and looked back towards the lake…...the creature had vanished! Was it our imagination? No! For when we eventually returned to our rods, there in the damp grass were the unmistakable pug-marks of an enormous dog!

A fishy tale.......

Many years ago, I owned a small hotel on the cliffs above the sandy beach that separate the small town of Gorleston from the North Sea.
During the Summer this small establishment was crowded with families from the Midlands and North of England. During the Winter, though, things were very different: the drudgery of cooking over a hundred meals a day metamorphosised into a more relaxed, companionable atmosphere as the holiday-makers were replaced by engineers working in the nearby gas-rig yards. The hotel income was further enhanced by regular parties of sea anglers, for in those days the North Sea still held good stocks of cod and whiting that could be caught from the short pier at the harbour-mouth.

One bitter December evening, a particularly amiable pair of Londoners called Mick Forino and Roger Fleming invited me to join them on the pier to try our luck. I supplied the bait, lit the Tilley lamps and made flasks of steaming tea laced with whiskey. By 8.00pm we were by our favourite South-facing set of railings, enjoying the usual friendly banter and concentrating on the steady dipping of our rod-tips. A couple of hours passed........

Suddenly our idyll was broken by an urgent call for help from further along the pier:-

"Give me a hand lads! I'm into a good'n here!"

The cry had come from an elderly man who lived a few doors down from the hotel: his rod was hooped over and the taut line sang in the Winter wind.

Roger and I ran over, leaving Mick to watch our six rods. It was immediately obvious that the old gentleman was trying to winch in a very heavy weight against the pull of the tide: his old-fashioned wooden centre-pin reel was making the job extremely difficult for him. Roger suggested that he and I try to hand-line the 'fish' to the base of the pier, where we could scoop it up in a large drop-net: to this the old man readily agreed. Fitting the deed to the word, Roger and I pulled together on the thick line until the object at its end cleared the water ten feet below us. Mick had by now joined us with the net. He shone a powerful torch downwards: all four of us were appalled to see the unmistakeable form of a long-dead corpse: to add to the horror of the moment, a number of sleek, fat eels slithered out from between the ribs and fell into the sea with an audible 'plop'. Fortunately there was, at the time, a Coastguard lookout at the end of the pier: Roger ran for help while (trying not to look too closely!) I tied off the line to a stanchion.

For the next hour we recounted our tale: first to the Coastguard, then to the Police. The corpse was retrieved and taken away, and my two friends and I decided that enough was enough: we headed back to the cliff steps and home, with our somewhat shaken elderly companion tagging along....

As we reached the top of the steps, we turned back for a final look at the sea. Where before it had seemed familiar, with the promise of sport to come, it now looked dark and forbidding.
Suddenly a movement at the water's edge caught our attention: loping across the pale sand and seemingly glowing in the Winter moonlight was the form of a huge black dog! The old man gave a low moan:

"That's Shuck, that is...... The Hell-Dog that turns up when there's death about!"

Whether it was the traumas of the evening, or natural causes, the elderly fisherman never left his bed again: he went down with a chesty cold and died a fortnight later.......