It’s not over until the fat lady sings by Leon Bartropp

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It’s not over until the fat lady sings by Leon Bartropp

After being fortunate enough to catch a stunning 44lb+ mirror the week before last, I was eager to get back to my syndicate lake before my ticket ran out. As you can imagine I felt I was on a roll, the trusted Hinged Stiff rig, which incorporated a lovely new material that Lewis from Gardner had given to me to use as the boom section was working perfectly. The material reminds me of Amnesia in that it acts very similar when stretched out, but retains its shape a lot better, which helps the loops retain their roundness. This is essential for the stiff hooklink to act as it was designed to, enabling it to spin at any angle the fish may approach the hookbait from. The really nice bit is that it’s a far better colour than the Amnesia.

As I pulled into the car park, I parked up for the last time and it felt as if something magical was about to happen.

I was very confident in the bait I had been introducing this year, my very own ‘4Season’ boilies that I had developed with Allan at Mistral. The fish really seemed to like it as all of them I had recently caught had been discharging the digested boilies out onto the mat. The retainer sling or sacks I used would also show signs, it really is a very digestible bait. As an added boost to the bait, I air dried a few kilos, then added some of my “4Season” Liquid Food on a little and often basis. This liquid is 100% human grade hemp oil which has been infused with the three essential oils that make up the attractor package for the boilies. It gives a lovely slick off once out in the lake and what fish doesn’t like Hemp Oil?

As you can see I felt everything was falling into place nicely, the only problem was that my ticket was about to run out at the end of May. This would be my last chance at trying for one of the bigger fish that I had been after all season. Not that a 44lb mirror is to be sniffed at, far from it but this particular lake held some real monsters!

As I pulled into the car park, I parked up for the last time and it felt as if something magical was about to happen. I was immediately brought back down to earth after a walk round looking for any signs of fish, when I realised that the lake was very busy. I would have to slot in where I could, which wasn’t ideal as the bulk of the fish were up the opposite end of the lake rather than where I was to end up setup in a small bay.

I was very confident in the bait I had been introducing this year, my very own “4Season” boilies that I had developed with Allan at Mistral.

After spending a night in the bay it was clear no matter how good it looked the fish just weren’t there and a move was on the cards. Finally, after many hours walking round, I decided on another bay that gave me a good view of the large end of the lake where I could move if I saw anything. After another quiet night was had by all, I saw a couple of fish show where it was its busiest with other anglers, then a few more. From past experience these fish would either move into where I was with the pressure, or move to the swim I had just vacated. Understandably I was in a bit of a dilemma!

After spending many hours just watching and waiting for them to come to me, I decided to move back to the original bay for my last night as I had seen a couple of fish move through a small channel that connect the bay to the larger area of the lake. This proved a good move as whilst I was setting my gear up in a third different swim, a carp showed in the channel. Maybe just maybe they were moving into the area as I had hoped. The rods were pinged out with 15mm white fluoro “4Season” pop ups on the ever faithful hinged stiff rig with size 4 Covert Chod Hook, a presentation that had served me well these last few months. With has little disturbance as possible, 50 or so 20mm “4Season” freebies were spread around the area.

Gardner had given to me to use as the boom section.” alt=”The trusted Hinged Stiff rig, which incorporated a lovely new material that Lewis from Gardner had given to me to use as the boom section.” width=”776″ height=”517″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-10840″ />

I sat back waiting as darkness took over from day to see if any fish would show themselves as they tend to do in this area if they are here. Tiredness got the better of me and I drifted off to sleep only to be awoken by the rod I had position straight out into the lake around 20 yards giving all the indications that an angry fish had taken my baited rig into its mouth. It was running for its life such was the sound of the buzzer!

After waking up very quickly with adrenaline pumping, I slipped on my chest waders, which is no mean feet when you still half asleep! A battle started that lasted for the next 20 minutes, until I finally won and a nice common slipped into the net. As I peeled the mesh away on my first look I couldn’t believe my eyes as the golden flanks just got bigger and bigger. With each tug of the net until she was revealed in all here glory, there lay the ‘Big Common’ and she had last been out at 49lb+ and a fish I had set my mind on catching that season.

I managed to get Chris who was fishing nearby to come help me with the weighing as I had left my scales in the van. This is something that I don’t do, but funny enough I had done with the previous capture of the 44lb+ mirror, maybe I should start leaving the scales in the van more often! Chris lifted her up and proclaimed a weight of 49lb 6oz! I was over the moon and quite shell shocked to say the least! One of my target fish had slipped up and on my last night on the lake!

I positioned her out in sack for a few hours with a long cord tied a Mini H-Block to the sack for safety.

I positioned her out in sack for a few hours with a long cord and tied a Mini H-Block to the sack for safety, so I could be sure she would be ok before trying to get some sleep. This was impossible due to the adrenaline still flowing, I was buzzing that I had been so fortunate to have her sitting in the sack just a few meters away from me.

It was soon time to do the photos and just as we started to get organised the heavens opened and it began to rain. Chris done me proud with the camera as you can see from the shots they are top notch. It was after we were both packing up that he said that his scales were reading 6oz too light and in fact the fish had weighed 49lb 12oz. I wasn’t bothered with the weight, it was the sheer size of the fish and how I had worked so hard the previous 12 months towards the goal of catching a fish which was at the top of my list. The rain continued to fall, but as I pushed my heavily laden barrow back to the van and getting soaked in the process, I really couldn’t have cared less. I had the smile as if I had won the lottery and in some respects I had!
Leon with the Big Common weighing 49lb 12oz!

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