It was last Thursday (29th June) and the ‘Lake of Dreams’ had re-opened at 6AM. The expected stampede of super keen old and new syndicate members never materialised and when the ‘lovely Lordy’ put something up on the group page that there was only a couple on mid-morning my mild displeasure at being in the office and not by the lake escalated into full on rampant lust to be lakeside!

I had done the Wednesday night on a local club lake and seen loads and really enjoyed it, but this added a bit of doubt as to whether going to Welly Thursday night would be ‘pushing my luck’ with TLSW (The Long Suffering Wife), but when I suggested to her that it would be great to go she just allowed it. There’s no point in Tracy doing a King Canute I suppose, is there?

I duly slunk into the gov’nor Michele’s office, skulking in like a naughty schoolboy and asked for the third Friday in a bounce off; bracing myself for a possible ‘no’ retort – but luckily Mrs G was in her usual affable mood and my request was accepted.

Unsurprisingly, the rest of the afternoon was a blur of tasks being completed so that I would have a clear head for arrival at the lake – with no latent concerns about jobs half completed hanging about in the hollow recess’ of my mushy old brain! It’s amazing how the opportunity to fish buoys my enthusiasm for anything and everything!

As soon as my office duties were as complete as they could be, it was off to YAC to admire ‘Boy Bands amazing hair and give ‘The Ruth-onator’ a quick cuddle, interspersed with an ‘anything need sorting’ and I was soon on my home. I couldn’t possible delay my angling by eating dinner either (a strategic error I make most weeks and live to regret!). I was gripped by Welly Fever.

As I drew through the gates and into the quiet park – post 5:30PM it’s ‘dreamy’ in stark contrast to pre 5:30 when it’s gratingly busy with a veritable mixture of people wandering the Park with screaming over tired children that have already been on the train and fed the animals in the animal farm – I felt my stress levels plummet and my angling head kick in…

I stopped off at the fisherman’s hut to sign in and grab the carp care essentials – and then took a wander onto Boat House Point to visit one of the syndicate gems (national treasure) Dr Dave. He said they had jumped everywhere, but it took another hour or so to see a sign myself. When I did I was sat in Lauries and a girt great enormous pale fish jumped against some bushes on the other side of the lake. Even though it was about 300 yards away it still looked enormous, so you can guess which way my little legs took me…

I was soon set up – mindful that it was near enough Dr D to warrant a careful approach and flicked out my hookbaits with stringers into the appropriate areas that I know are fed on from previous outings in that swim. But within an hour as the light faded, the activity subsided and I wandered just up the bank to look at a different expanse of water with the cheeky fish farming yokel hero, Ross Jelfs.

From about 11PM on half a dozen fish showed across the lake in The Grassy swim , and with nothing much happening in my little corner I couldn’t bring myself to sit in an area whilst carp frolicked elsewhere, and at 12:15 AM I set about wrapping up the tackle and moving swims.

I am a firm believer in using our Mirage Fluoro anywhere I can, but the new swim entailed at least a couple of rods being fished about 120 yards out, so I had the rigmarole of swopping over reel spools and getting everything spot on in the early hours. I wrapped up, waded out and got the lovely clean cast and the correct drop out in the darkness on my second cast – and it sounded tight too. ‘That’ll do’ I smiled and carried on getting the other rods done.

By 3:30AM, and with the dawn sky just perceptibly lightening, I crashed out. The swim had gone quiet but some subtle liners seemed to indicate there were still carp in the vicinity. I was cream cracker’d and decided to give it until the early morning and see what happened. At least that way I figured that my gear would dry out after the constant drizzle through the night before (always lovely when you are sleeping ‘under the stars’).

I awoke at 8:30AM to a couple of bleeps (another subtle liner maybe) but no meaningful indicator activity. Once again I wrapped up most my kit and sat there looking around wistfully hoping to see a sign (any sign!). It was just mental how the fish had swung from being overtly active the day before to ‘nothing to see here’- just from the arrival of a half a dozen anglers and a tiny bit of pressure. There’s absolutely no doubt that they know when they’re being fished for…

The Grassy is certainly a good morning and afternoon area, and the sun had just started pushing round the island casting the baited spot into shadow when the right hand rod pulled up tight and them pinged out the clip. Before it could take line I lifted the old ‘TE’ and quickly gained a nice direct contact on a sand-bagging heavy fish that ponderously kited left of the island margin and out into open water.

Right from the off I thought it felt different. I’ve had a few repeats and caught a fair few carp from the awesome lake over the last few years, and this one moved so slowly that I was already hopeful it would be a ‘new one’. It was a case of gently leading her in, but when she hit the bottom of the marginal slope she would head off again on slow unstoppable (short) runs keeping her head on the lake bed and sending up deep oily tail patterns as it used its weight to hold its ground.

It was actually getting towards the ‘oh just give in for heaven’s sake’ stage when it allowed the highest blob of Critical Mass to be drawn up above the surface and within a few minutes a broad back came wobbling over the outstretched net cord. The Incizor/Trick-Link combination had done its job admirably and was impaled deep in the fish’s scissors…

I could see a row of stumpy dorsal rays; but that only narrows it down to about half the lake’s bloody population, so I lifted the mesh to tilt the fish onto its side. As soon as I saw the cropped lower lobe of the carp’s tail I knew instantly that it was The Clean Fish – a veritable monster and one that I hadn’t caught before! With everything prepared and the retention sling wet and zeroed I hoisted her bulk up onto the scales and the Reuben’s swung round to 53lb 8oz!

With these amazing fish you’re torn between enjoying the moment and getting them back ASAP. Once she was in the retention sling I called Dr Dave and he very kindly agreed to pop round ASAP – and en-route he picked up new bloke Bushie and another reprobate (who I honestly can’t remember right now! Derrrrrr) – we quickly set about getting her photographed quickly and returned safe and sound.

These fish never cease to astound me – their presence on the bank is awe inspiring. I marvelled at this gargantuan beast that I struggled to cradle with my little office arms. That’s always a lovely feeling that.

I spent the rest of the day simply watching the water, sleeping, eating and more watching the water! In all that time all I saw was 2 fish show; one in my swim and one just to my left so felt no inclination to move! There wasn’t anything to move on…

It rained again that night and then as it poured down I got bitten off by a pike on the island at 2AM and ended up having to go and get some line and re-spool and then redo all the rods – by which time I was wet and it was 4AM! I put the brolly up and slept till 8:30 again.

I went home during the day Saturday (DIY! I love it soooo much) and came back and took a punt by going in the Cold Swim. No one had seen anything so it was a bit of virgin water and I was confident it would hold a fish or two. Despite receiving single bleep tell tails on the Mirage I left Sunday having laid under the stars on another wet night with just the one bite for the three nights angling – in fact it was the only bite received by anyone on the lake! I really felt like I’d put in a lot of effort, and that the one bite was certainly one that deserves the ‘that’ll do’ manacle and I can’t wait to get back for another dabble ASAP.

I strongly suspect that the next outing will be with a dog (#LushKev) and child in tow, so that should be an adventure in itself! Let’s see if I can show them both a wonderful Welly whacker.