An all too rare family holiday interrupted my overtly relentlessly/excessive angling for a couple of weeks in August – and you know what I thoroughly enjoyed every precious second spent with Sophie and TLSW. It was bloomin’ dreamy.

I personally ate about 10 goats worth of Feta and came back with a tan and felt utterly chipper after spending time with the girls. Funnily enough, on the first day we arrived at the holiday apartments I walked out to the pool and spied a guy reading an issue of Carpworld! Eh up. So when I did fancy a little natter about fishing I had an almost captive audience in the shape of an old Walthamstow stalwart Mick Howe – and what a treasure of a bloke he turned out to be. He’d fished loads of waters up around that part of the world and was right on the level. Just the job…

On the rare occasions that I let my mind wander to the world of fishing I had a slightly irksome niggling thought – that I would get back from holiday with the proverbial wind taken out my sails? Unfortunately, like most anglers, I find that I have to work pretty hard to stay in touch with the fish on my chosen venues and a couple of weeks away inevitably means ‘all change’ and starting from scratch. Fortunately I came back and soon got into the stride of things again. I’m just being very fortunate this year, obviously.

I did a speculative night in ‘the arm’, which is a long thin body of water that the fish use a lot to get away from the pressure on the main lake – and had fish fizzing all over the area in front of the swim. A couple of hours into dark and there were several almighty crashes and then all went silent as the fish left. On their way they gave Cheeky Chubby Charlie Hayes on the end of Boathouse a few bites and a magic night to remember.

Frustrated I came back for a work night and saw tell tale signs that there were fish in the little lake. This ended a bit tragically as I lost an extremely powerful fish the next morning and I was furious with myself for rushing in the dwindling light and not tying on Camflex leaders (I have since, and have not lost another fish in the same circumstances with them on).

I was straight back looking again the following evening and again saw encouraging signs so set up in the main swim in the little lake yet again. The rods had only been in a short while when the Nano Bug smacked up tight to my rod (locked up) and I drew a heavy fish away from the far side – a carp that battled like it was a beast! She turned out to be a nicely proportioned, clean looking Ghostie of 44lb. What a great way to start a work night, and it wasn’t even dark yet!

During the early hours the honey pot rod pulled up and I walked back up the slope drawing another weighty power house away from the sanctuary of the far bank bushes. Sweet lord; it’s more than a little worrying fishing for monsters in this situation, but the 18lb GT-HD and short leaders were more than a match and I could exert heavy steady pressure by walking back up the slope in order to control the fishes initial explosive pull.

The fight was savage, with an obviously large carp fighting on and on. This fish turned out to be something pretty spectacular! I netted what was obviously a Welly Whacker and saw the scaling of a monstrous girt common sat there, its huge back looking to big to be true! OMG.

I gave the lovely Darren Belton (aka Greg’s Girlfriend) a call and he popped round to give me a helping hand. I lifted the fish up and she settled spot on 50lb we umm’d and ahhh’d about which fish it was (and got it wrong at first!). In the end we settled on her being The Chinese Common! I’m blaming torchlight for the heinous mis-identification. I was really over the moon with this capture; as I had recently had a string of repeat captures and really was wondering what I had to do to catch a new one.

Just at dawn I lost a fish, and then with just one rod left and the odd bubble pinging to the surface around the hookbait, I was away again and a nice ‘little’ 27 mirror came battling to the net. Off to work and I had a great day, jubilant that things had fallen back into place.

The next time I was able to get back was the following week with Alan Stagg (Norma) as we planned to do some product focused videos for the Gardner YouTube channel. In the end this plan was amended slightly as I was fortunate to have a couple of bites for the camera that resulted in two smashing 30lb commons. It was a thrilling morning and I half expected to get another bite before Alan headed off after a long day filming clone rigs and the like.

As it turned out things settled down and my next action didn’t come until shortly after I had wound in and let Norma out the gate. I went back and put fresh hookbaits on 2 rigs (that were still super sharp) but the middle rod rig seemed a bit less than perfect so I simply looped one of the baited Clone rigs I’d tied for the camera and chucked it over to the far margin. The half a Caviar and Cranberry pop up balancing the trimmed hookbait to perfection (have a look at the video)…

An hour later that rod pulled violently – initiating one of the most unbelievably brutal battles I think I’ve ever had. The fish exploded under the overhang 60 yards away and I put the rod tip down and to the side applying absolute maximum pressure through the bucking SP. The clutch was locked up tight and I held onto the spool, yet still it ticked off a few mm of HD. The pressure I was applying was outrageous but everything held together! A ridiculous battle ended with another enormous gigantic common wobbling into the net with an astonished carper (me) literally in shell shock at what had just happened.

The clone rig/Covert Dark Incizor hadn’t moved a mm despite the pressure that was applied and it made a change to catch a carp on something other than a Ronnie! (Perverse as that may sound). The fish was mint and I called over to that nice man Geoff Bowers (fishing in the pads swim) that this was a BIG common. The popped round, escorted by Cheeky Chubby Charlie, and the pair helped out as we weighed, photographed and returned this astonishing creature. The carp was another one of the A Team, a fish called ‘The Small Tailed Common’ that weighed in at 48lb 4oz! True Welly Magic and I was once again justifiably ecstatic.

A return the following night saw another nice 30lb common banked, once again the Ronnie doing the job perfectly. My fabulous/fortuitous season rolled on and I have been blessed with a string of captures that simply bellies belief.

I’m certainly making the most of it – as an angler I’ve seen it time and time again, a lucky streak inevitably finishes some time, so I am necessarily ‘making hay whilst the sun shines’ by fishing as much as I can (read that as ’whilst the lovely wife lets me carry on fishing more nights than I am at home’)…

I’m off to welly in a few hours, it’s Friday as I write this and I am so excited! The way it should be…

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