Despite having a short week after a thoroughly fantastic trip to the Carp Societies Farriers water, it reached Friday night and all I wanted to do was be down the lake – continuing my personal quest to snag The Chestnut Common or The Big Sutton [dreamy sigh]. What with the ‘Baloton 10’ trip and other wonderful distractions I felt like I had performed even worse than normal this spring – my timing had been shocking and if it wasn’t for a last gasp 35 common I had out of the little lake before I went to Hungary I would have been looking down the loaded double barrel of an abject spring failure. Bloody spring daytime feeding! It’s the same in the spring time almost every year.

Anyway a day of PC agro had me ready for some fresh air and the chance of a whacker; and as I pulled through the gates at 7:45PM I was torn between excitement that I was fishing and trepidation that the lake would be rammed on a bank holiday. As it was there were only 9 cars in the car park so there should be a chance of getting on fish somewhere as the Welly carp (like most waters) seem to back off pressure so being the last arrival on a Friday isn’t necessarily the nightmare it could be. Even though the little lake was now closed – so the resident commons could get all jiggy in peace – the far end of the lake on the back of the wind was largely devoid of anglers so I elected to have a slow walk round and have a natter with all the anglers.

I got to Stumpy ‘BC’ Clintoff in The Wides and sat down on the grass. We were just nattering about the Farriers common when I spotted a set of rings over in front of The Reeds, so that was enough of a clue to get on with it.

Just as I was wandering round a gaggle of caravaners were also walking round and I nimbly pushed the barrow in between a load of wobbly muffin tops and bemused looking infants in my new found eagerness to get round the lake. As I got to the Reeds and started to un-sheath my tackle, another fish showed to my left a bit further out. The angle from the Reeds meant it would be an awkward chuck with Mirage Fluoro on, so I hastily chucked the gear back on the barrow and moved the tackle into a small natural gap swim on the road bank that ‘Rif-Raf’ Bartropp had been fishing a fair bit during the winter (thanks for setting that precedent Rif!).

A scum line on the back of the wind showed where the fish had shown in alignment with a rarely fished swim on my way across the lake and I soon had a little pink 12mm Carp Company Caviar and Cranberry pop up on a size 4 Mugga Ronnie with a 4 bait stringer smack on the spot where the fish showed. The rod went down with a nice thud in about 5ft of water and I was sure it was fishing effectively.

As I was straightening and sinking that line, another fish showed about 60 yards out straight off the rods and within 5 minutes I had another identical presentation winging its way out there – this one landed with a bit more of a tap but again in a decent depth (Welly is generally very shallow so 4-5ft is more than good enough). I scattered about 80 baits over the two hook bait/stringers; and waded the third rod out to the edge of the drop off and lowered it onto a clay spot in 5½ft of water with a couple of handful’s of CC Nut Mix boilies and a few tigers – and slackened the three rods off so the main line hung loosely straight off the tips. With the rods up on the high bank in the long grass it is/was definitely the carpiest swim on the lake, and then another fish showed near my middle rod and another ‘something’ showed where I had just been wading.

As I settled the last line the delectable Nick ‘The Pilot’ arrived and elected to slip into Pole Position just round the bay (he is a lovely man so I was more happy to have the handsome package setup nearby!). He flopped out one rod and I popped round to see where he was casting (shamelessly) and have a natter as the angles in the new swim meant I wanted to be certain that we were not interfering with one another yet. After an hour of entertaining chatter my tummy said it’s time for tea and I popped round to warm up some homemade spicy meatballs – yummy!

Just as the meaty balls of goodness were reaching ‘first turn’ status the Nano-Bug on the middle rod flicked up a few inches and then that line roared off making the ATTs receiver sqwark and my heart race. Another quick bite after casting out stringers and scattering a bit of bait in the area.

OH MY GOD! As I picked up the rod and clicked the clutch a couple of turns tighter on the reel the fish was steadily dragging line off – going on a steady canter across the lake. What was shocking was the fact that the fish never slowed or deviated the whole time as I fell into my chesties then clambered down the bank, threaded the rod between the other rods and waded out to the drop off. The fish must have travelled at least 80 yards straight across the lake and finally stopped way out in front of the Wides! A brutally strong carp was making every effort to put some distance between us.

I teased her all the way back on a very slight kite left – all the time bricking it that this could be one of the monsters I hadn’t caught before. When the fish was at the base of the marginal drop off it used its bulk, hugging the bottom of the gully and not allowing me to tease her up for at least 10 minutes of stalemate. Every now and again the rod would give a little jag and I thinking about it am now certain it was the big carps mouth ‘coughing’ violently in and out as it tried to dislodge the hook. No chance!

Anyway, I whistled at Luscious Nick (not for the first time) and then called his name and he came strutting round as soon as he worked out I actually had a fish on. As he got to the bivvy the fish was just being edged over the cord and I took my first glimpse at a really REALLY big wide back enveloped safely in the landing net mesh. It’s back had to be at least 12 inches across and whilst it didn’t look overly long it had some proper girth!

We checked its tail, as I thought it might be Scruffy Bob, but a perfect full tail, a cluster of tail root scales and a twisted swim bladder on the right flank confused us. Which one was it? We weighed the beast at 54lb and settled her down in a retainer in the main in Reeds swim. These big old leviathans deserve a breather after a big battle and I needed to get my head sorted and sort out the camera.

Nick came back with a cord and suggested it must be Willow – one of the rarest fish in the lake and the one that had a habit of disappearing for protracted periods of time (2½ years when I first joined the syndicate). He was right of course! Brains and model looks, Nick’s got the full package! Makes me sick! Anyway I gave the ‘Willow’ shout and giggled like an over exuberant child.

We gave one of the resident bailiffs (Lovely Lordie) a nudge, ‘cos he’s the nicest one’ and he was all bubbly enthusiasm and popped straight round to assist with bank side care of this most prized Welly jewel. We did the snaps and checked her thoroughly for marks or blemishes. She was mint and after a little TLC with some Intensive Care sprayed on the hook mark she was released and swam strongly away.

If Welly isn’t carp heaven I really don’t know where is! Not much sleep was had on Friday night. I was truly thrilled to catch that one – absolutely stoked! Sometimes carp fishing can be kind and after the Farriers common I already felt blessed. Perhaps it’s the carp god Ullah offering retrospective compensation for another recent trip; so it seems good things do occasionally come around for those that persevere. Thank goodness…