Shows are enjoyable graft sometimes. I was ‘hatched’ locally to Sandown where I have a lot of old friends that I rarely see. I knew I would have 2 days of hyperactive gibbering and relentless playfulness (in amongst the customer liaison of course), so it wasn’t too bad for a change…

By the end of Saturday the old voice was already starting to wane! I had been talking to so many genuinely interested people about the amazing fish in Welly that I was all fired up! I got to the lake at about 8pm and had to pack up at 6 the next morning.

For a week or two I really fancied giving Animal Farm a night, just to see if I picked up a liner or saw/heard a sign (it had been niggling me for a while). Well the sum total for my efforts was two whole bleeps on the right hand rod shortly after casting out. That was as good as it got and I decided that the conditions forecast for the rest of the week were so horrendous, it meant that Sunday night may be worth a quick night as it was the best of the bunch.

By C.O.P on Sunday at the show my voice was truly battered and I sounded rough as ‘fook’; but the night was warmer, and the car showed 9C on the way home. I REALLY fancied dropping into The Cold Swim or the one next door to it, now named The Stump, where the lovely 4C’s had seen a couple of fish show the previous weekend. I had a strong hunch they were there based on a result I’d had last winter from The Wides swim, again fishing on the back of another easterly.

As soon as I sat in the swim it felt absolutely right. Under the tiny little brolly it actually felt warm and the wind was pushing gently down the other end, a nasty chilly north easterly. I actually giggled to myself as I checked the Ronnie rigs, touched up points, tied on new hookbaits balancing them and then added a stringer to each rod. Each rod went out first cast with nice drops and pat downs.

I sunk the Mirage mainline and settled the BUG bobbins, so they just pivoted to make sure they were responsive to the slightest nudge of the line. Within half an hour I had a couple of single bleeps and then a while later another little lift, all on the same rod. With the fluoro this is a real giveaway, and I was excited to be getting them. This was singularly the most indicator activity I had received in ages and I was sure it was ‘them’…

Over the course of the next hour that same rod received a couple more little lifts when all of a sudden the bobbin twitched up an inch again then paused before it twitched to the top and sat there fidgeting against the front of the ATTs. It popped out the clip and as I picked up the rod I could see a big boil just to one side of where I had cast that rod.

The fish started peeling line off the clutch and I clumsily struggled into my chesties. I’d just pulled the straps up when I realised with bemusement and horror that the net was still on the barrow up the slope on the path behind me.

Luckily the fish was straight out long in front of the corner and, as it was still talking line, I had time to edge back and grab the net and chuck it down into the swim without any real risk. I wasn’t sure how I was going to set it up one handed and decided to slacken off the clutch slightly so the fish could take line under tension with my foot planted on the rod butt to keep it there. A swift ‘click click’ of arms into the spreader block and I picked the rod up again and carried on like normal. PHEW! A full on soiled undies moment was only just averted.

Eventually, after the usual titanic battle the fish rose up to the surface about 20 yards out and I gently coaxed it back to the net. Once enveloped I pulled her gently towards me for a better look and was immediately taken by the sheer width of the… Oh my!

With only 2 other anglers braving the Sunday night on the pit, I came up trumps when Pete answered his phone and I blurted I had a monster in the net. Pete popped round a couple of minutes later to assist with the weighing and then the photography. We lifted her into the sling and hoisted her up, taking a couple of seconds to register what the scales said… “Errrrrrr 54…… 54 and a bit!” that on 120lb Reuben’s equates to 54lb 4oz.

Sweet Jesus! A PB by 4 ounces! God bless my new scales (the old ones were weighing light I discovered recently after the real Ronnie and others kept telling me all my fish weights were on the ‘light’ side which was certainly true for some of the individual fish).

The fish marked more than a PB. It was, quite possibly, the penultimate high of a season that has simply been extraordinary for me. I’ve said it before, I know I’m not the best angler in the world, far from it, but by fishing a lot and doing things right (good bait, good tackle and a sensible approach) I have had the most wonderful run of good fortune. No doubt the lake I fish has a lot to do with the amazing results, and of course I have been a little lucky elsewhere, at the Herts Club Lake and on Frimley Pit 4.

The “Unknown” was a new PB and my 10th fish over 48lb in 2016 (an utterly mind numbing and ridiculous statement to type). It’s still barely sunk in to be honest and as I reminisce it seems unbelievable still… 2016 has been THE DREAM.

Is it beyond the realms of belief that I could nick another golden bite before 2017 arrives? Well a carper can dream can’t he?