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2016 started quite slow for me as I wasn’t able to get out much and when I did I felt very out of touch. I landed my first carp of the year on a very frosty morning on the 24th of February and I was elated to finally catch one and get the ball rolling. A bite resulted in a perfect wintery coloured chestnut common of around 25lb. I landed a small cricket bat common soon after and I went on to catch the same 25lb Common a few weeks later.

I managed to get a few more nights in over the following month, however I was really struggling to get anything going and in all honesty I was suffering from mental health issues. Fortunately a few good friends picked me up and put me straight and it wasn’t long before I started to get amongst them once again. I recall one night when I bagged the longest low thirty pound common I’d ever seen. It fought like an absolute demon and my legs went to jelly when my mate and I gazed into the net thinking it was an upper thirty or maybe bigger. It was certainly a lean, mean, fighting machine with not an ounce of fat.

It had finally started to come together and it wasn’t long before I bagged another lovely 32lb+ common. Once again though, the usual things such as work, family and social events killed off my angling for a bit. On my return Geoff at ABS had recommended I tried a tweaked but proven fishmeal recipe called Rock Lobster. l arrived at the lake and after a scout about I climbed a tree and found some activity on the reed line of a small bay. I wasted little time and grabbed the gear and raced back absolutely buzzing to get a rod positioned with the new bait. I waded to the edge of the tree line after the fizzing had stopped and carefully threw several 15mm Rock Lobster boilies individually to semi spook the fish before flicking one rod with a light lead and a Hinge Stiff into the area. The atmosphere was electric and I knew that it wouldn’t be long before a bite came my way. There was a seriously warm south-westerly hacking into the swim and it looked perfect for a bite. The rod melted off only ten minutes after positioning the rig and I was attached to one of the A-Team Mirrors known as Josh’s Pet. After a spirited scrap she was soon laying in the folds of my net. About two month’s prior she was out at well over forty pounds, but she had obviously had a good spawn and we weighed her at a modest 36lb 2oz. After a few pics we slipped her back got her back no worse for wear and another of the big mirrors was ticked off the wanted list. After all the commotion, I decided to top the swim up with another 20 or so boilies scattered in the general area and reposition the one rod with the hook point masked with a piece of dissolving foam. I was half way through sorting out my kit that was strewn around the swim when the alarm sounded with another take. This time a really ancient dumpy mirror of low 20’s was responsible. Before doing the pics, I quickly re-baited and flicked another fresh Hinge Stiff rig comprising of a super sharp size 4 Covert Dark Incizor into the same area. I’d just got all my kit sorted when another succession of bleeps sounded but the hanger pulled up then dropped back into the original position. I put this down to the clumps of floating weed drifting around the bay. The sun was setting on the horizon and I decided to bring the rod in and re-set the trap before it got too dark. Unbelievably as I picked up the rod the tip arched round and attached was a new PB Common of 36lb, which marginally beat my old PB. A few lads helped with the pics and it transpired this fish is apparently notorious for getting hooked and sitting on the spot trying to rid itself of the hook. Crazy! Three bites, a brace of 30’s and a low 20 in around 3 or so hours. I was understandably very pleased!

No further action was forthcoming and I think the fish had slipped out of the bay after the third fish was hooked. However, that night a few beers, a curry and some light- hearted banter were shared to celebrate a new PB.

Once again, I had commitments elsewhere and work got really busy, so it was a while before I could get back down. When I did return I had two nights at my disposal and I decided to fish an area of the lake that has produced some good fish for me in the past. A big bucket of mixed particle and boilie was introduced in the hope of a good hit as the conditions seemed perfect for this approach. The next morning it really kicked off and that session I think I had 6 or 7 bites with carp up to low thirties.

As luck would have it I repeated the same thing over the following weeks and the bites continued. I banked some real stunners and a few tench until other members cottoned on to what I was doing and on my last session I spent a full 48 hours waiting patiently for the big pay out, which sadly never happened. I think the bubble had burst.

My next outing came a couple of weeks later, on a 48 hour carp match that I organise each year. My friend Shaun AKA ‘Smokes’ and I held our own, finishing 3rd place with only one good fish spliting the top 3 places.

The next day I had a week’s family holiday in Devon and managed a bit of sea fishing with my son and father in-law. I was refreshed and up for another go on the syndicate as I had been away for about 3 weeks or so. Once again the mood of the lake had changed and I found myself right up the other end of the lake. Over the next few weeks through observation, determination and perseverance I went on to land a bunch of really nice scaley mirrors to just under 30lb. Weirdly could only get bites from one spot despite my efforts.

I was unable to fish for a couple of weeks and when I got back down, the area I had been baiting and fishing was devoid of carp and to be honest the fish seemed localised in front of two or three swims further up the lake. I took a gamble on an area where I thought I might manage to ambush them passing back and forth. This was to be another successful run (apart from losing one) with a handful of cracking mirrors and commons.

Late autumn was soon upon us and I decided to have a go on a heavily stocked club water, which on paper sounded perfect for the winter but in reality, it was far too busy for my liking. I only ended up doing an overnight session then a day session with just a few carp to speak of. I was stumped as where to go and I found myself fishing a water I’d fished on and off years ago, that had recently been restocked. This was to be superb fun and over the next few weeks I landed carp to upper doubles and lots of them fishing day only sessions. My son had a go too and landed some lovely carp, which was great fun.

The year of 2016 wasn’t all bad. It started slow with quite a few blanks and although I didn’t manage to catch the mighty ‘Penny Common’ that I dearly wanted, unlike one of our other team members (Jack), I did manage a PB common, another one of the big mirrors and a reasonable amount of thirties and completed some good features too. Fingers crossed the carp gods are favourable to me in 2017 and I can get out on the bank regularly.