I count myself lucky. Very lucky.


Because my wife is understanding. Very understanding…

If she wasn’t then I would be single on the basis that, like most my contemporaries, I am a thoroughly obsessive compulsive carp angler. When you have a wife and kids this selfish past time can cause a few problems and has lined a few solicitors’ pockets.

Where’s this going – well since June 1st last year I have been pushing the boundaries constantly in regards to the time I have spent on the bank and short of a request to forgo a night now and again it’s been a year of living the dream!

Last night was a typical cheeky work night…

As it’s the ‘Long Suffering Mrs Reads’ birthday at the weekend I once again pushed the boundaries and cajoled a night on the basis that the weekend was a rare no fishing weekend. This was motivated by a few factors (including the immense size of the fish and the lack of anglers on the lake). In fact on the night before I’d fished in the Snags swim as this was the nearest I could get to the highest concentration of fish, but is often the way with this swim the night time was quiet bar a savage liner just after getting the hookbaits in.

Time on the bank is never miss-spent and at least I was on hand to hear a few fish bosh and to assist Richie with photographic duties in the morning with a stunning 48lb fish called ‘Big Spangles’. Definitely a ‘till I’ fish (I’ll fish there till I have it!).

A chat with big Ian in the “Hole in the Bush” as I left for work indicated a few fish had shown in that area early in the morning, which meant at least some of the fish in the bay were sneaking out to open water at night time so a plan was hatched. A plan reinforced by a show in that swims water as I looked wistfully up the lake whilst having a quick natter with ‘Lush Kev’ as I left – late like normal. I’d ask ‘she who must be obeyed’ if I could squeeze in yet another work night, seeing as though it was her birthday (cheeky!) and I couldn’t go for a few days … blah…

Somewhat surprisingly she said ‘yes’! Well I was surprised but refrained from arguing. So, after doing my weekly Thursday night drop off to Yateley Angling it was time to get home, get the gear, get changed and get to the lake – all at a well motivated pace…

Upon arrival I stopped to chat to ‘Lush Kev’ for an update and a general natter. All the anglers were still in-situ in the bay so I reverted to plan B – which was unsurprisingly to drop into the Hole in the Bush swim – a swim that I normally don’t ‘feel’ but I was super happy with the plot. It just felt right for a change and as nobody was hemming me in on both sides, and I knew Big Ian was also on the same Carp Company Nut Mix boilies that I was it seemed I was making the right decision for a change. My thought process was also that these highly pressured fish seem to be waiting a couple of days to get on bait, so I hoped it would be second night syndrome even though the first night was done my brother in Nutty Boilie arms.

So for once, very strangely, I was confident in ‘The Bush’ for a change… I’m never confident in the bush as it seems to be a great swim for time bandits to soak bait in, but not one that produces a lot on a quick overnighter form my own experience.

Anyway, I set three traps with minimal thrashing and sat there with a fresh WSW breeze just cutting into the front of the swim as the daylight slowly emigrated off to the west somewhere and the temperature dropped off. Soon I layed down coughing and spluttering – sleeping sporadically tucked under the old Smokey Branch Bedchair Cover until a pre dawn alarm call from one of the rods. The handcrafted balanced hookbait had been snaffled by a passing carp and the clutch on my ancient Tournie ticked accompanied by the rousing tone from the sounder box. Ah, that would be the boilie with the size 4 Covert Mugga attached then….

The fish that I found myself attached to was powerful but allowed itself to be gently teased into the margin whereupon IT GOT THE PROPER HUMP! For 10 sphincter clenching minutes the fish repeatedly powered under a large overhanging bush to the right of the swim and on each occasion maximum side strain would tease her back out. It was all getting a bit fraught as she‘d also picked up my right hand rod line and every now and again a surging unstop able run would result into a meltdown whizzer on that rod too as an obviously big carp wanted to put a bit of distance between us.

Eventually the constant heavy pressure told and she came within range of a full stretch netting opportunity and my eyes picked out the bulk of a BIG carp enveloped within the mesh. It looked like a common and in the low light conditions I thought it may be one of the massive ghosties that live in the lake. Having secured the net temporarily I quickly got out the water and got a little head torch. As soon as I saw those distinct outsized slightly twisty scales I had a good idea which fish it could be, and when I checked the tail I knew. Oh My God… It’s the Big Common!

I unclipped the rig and untangled the lines and got all the necessary weigh sling and mat sorted – scaled zeroed – everything ready and lifted this enormous beast onto the floating mat before getting her out the water and onto the bank to be weighed. I’d felt I had come really close to this fish on 2 occasions over the previous season, so I was not only elated to have an enormous fish on the bank, I was over the moon that it was this one…

The scales read an incredible 54lb (I still can t believe it now!) and after the weighing was complete we rested her for a short while until we just had enough light to take some snaps… I can’t thank Richy Rich enough for helping out with the photographic process and looking after the fish. Of course I reciprocated as he had ANOTHER mid 40 at around the same time. Another one that could be a ‘till I’. Yes, it’s looking increasingly likely that I will be on there for a while yet… Can’t imagine why!

When everything was done and dusted, and the fish had swam strongly back into the lake I realised I had achieved a major goal in my angling – as the capture of The Big Common meant I had now caught mirror, leather (true leather) and commons over 40lb. A feet that is getting harder and harder to do as true leathers are as rare as rocking horse excrement.

Right now I feel elated, tired (no sleep) and honoured to have held such an astonishing carp – and I definitely need to doff my cap to the collective syndicate and management at Welly – it really is the ‘theatre of dreams’.

I’ll be back Monday when the rules and my wife once again allow me to excitedly open that big old green gate…

I love it!