The Marsh Monster

By Country Boy

Loch Ness has its own monster but alas no proof of its existence can be found. Not like the ditch monster that roamed the marsh in my days. Amidst our equipment we had a very special net made of shrimp netting, very heavy with a chain ground rope and cords on the head line 30 feet wide and 20 feet long, again it was made for eels. Inside the tapered net was another funnel so there was no escape. One one side wing was a rope on the other there were two, one longer than the other. This was the secret of how it worked. We kids were always out walking or playing but our eyes never had a minute off. All the ditches were checked for obstructions that we removed in April as the plants came alive for another year. The water gas was gin clear and you could see to the bottom. Then, in early May the monster used to come alive.

Young Jimper
Young Jimper

As the blanket weed starts to grow it comes to the surface and for some reason eels come up to the top to suck on it. The noise they make is like kissing the back of your hand. To us it was the sign to go. Out of its sack would come the Marsh Monster. With one of us each side of the ditch holding a short rope the net was pulled across. Then one took up the short one to tow the trawl, letting the long one dangle in the water. After a pull of 200 yards one of us would give the word to stop and you then pulled the long rope tight and tried to get the two wings out of the water together, then up the bank and away from the water. Doing so you left a large muddy skid mark on the green grass. Now the cod end of the trawl was full of eels and sheep dung, for the marsh winds used to dry out the sheep droppings and the next gale would roll the dung into the ditch, where they sank, to be collected up into our trawl.

After putting the fish into a hessian sack, it was a simple job of your mate pulling his side back across to resume the next haul. Come daylight we were tucked up in bed and the early morning farmer was scratching his worried head for there before his eyes was the evidence – a big slimy mark from the ditch into the field and a big heap of wet pooh. But no-one saw the monster that had supposedly made it and it still remains a well-talked about mystery, although it has not shown up for 40 years – TILL NOW ……..

“Rye’s Own” November 2011

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