I’ve been playing away lately, taking the first exciting and teetering steps on the amazing (and slightly daunting) Burghfield, fishing for what could arguably be the last of the great historic fish, the Burghfield common.

As usual I quickly got quite obsessed and started flitting around the amazing convoluted pit trying to get a feel for the different areas, and trying to make some kind of progress that will eventually lead to a capture or two. Tom had just caught the elusive fish (insert rapturous applause at this point) so really I didn’t sidle on there with any crazy thoughts of catching her any time soon. It’s all in the long game, but a mind blowing sighting kind of sent my head into a force 10 hurricane spin and re-focused the true nature of a carp like that which is really ‘you never know’.

Now and again though life gets in the way of our dreams. All of a sudden several consecutive weekends on the big lake were interrupted by a couple of events I had agreed to attend ages ago. There was no making silly excuses to get out of them as they were for the Carp Society Horseshoe Lake Open Day (and I think the new CS is worth supporting) and then the Lucy’s Bowl charity event, that raises money for Guide Dogs for the Blind. If that’s not a worthy cause worth giving a weekend up for then I don’t know what is!

Both events were really enjoyable and being castaway on an island in the South Lake on RK’s iconic Wraysbury complex was a hoot – especially as we had Mr Bayes next door, and he is just one of the nicest men you could ever wish to meet on the bank.

My partner for the weekend, Jack Price, and I both caught carp and I think he coped with me (despite everyone warning him I was going to be a nightmare!). I finally got to meet ‘The Ellis’ in person too – and make a couple of cameos on his rather etiolated Vlog of the event (God he loves the camera!) but it was nice to finally meet him in person and make him blush. Over all it was another great Lucy’s Bowl that raised enough for another dog – a guide dog that will change someone’s life.

So, my Burghfield focus was gone and having been away, I horribly felt out of touch and really didn’t fancy a Friday night late arrival only to leave early Saturday. So I have to admit that I pussied out and went to Welly.

There’s still several utterly amazing inhabitants that I need/want to snare with Chestnut Common and the Big Sutton being at the top of that list. The Sutton had been captured a few weeks ago and as it’s usually a once a year fish I discounted that one and had that lovely big Chestnut Common burnished on my mind.

I arrived and signed in and grabbed the retention sling, mat and net supplied (great bio-security by the park) and stood on the end of Boathouse to have a gander. Within a few minutes I saw a fish turn over and was on my heals to get round to that zone for a closer look. With the barrow parked behind my chosen plot I had a cup of tea with Nice Steve Chapman and saw another couple show. They seemed to be moving across the lake towards the ’carp bank’ so the half ready set up was quickly broken down and chucked unceremoniously onto the barrow. I swiftly headed off to the other bank as fast as my chubbie little ankles would carry me. I reminded myself as I walked off, Chesnuts never been caught from that plot, whereas Chestnut has been caught several times from the Carp Bank whilst I have been a member. It made sense at the time.

The daft thing is the swim I had been stood in is one of only a couple I’ve not caught from; but the outlet noise and an aerator nearby means it’s always gratingly noisy – and I find it irritating so was looking for an excuse to move despite having seen a definite 3 shows there! One day I’ll have to fish it before I jack the ticket.

Anyway round in the Grassy I popped my head into see Mike and then set about setting up as the light was rapidly diminishing. Luckily it was fairly straight forward and I soon had three rods out there; two on chods (!) and one on the Ronnie with a Pink Caviar and Cranberry Pop Up mounted on a delectable/dangerous/devastating size 4 Specialist Sharpened Mugga and 25lb Invisi-Link. Stuff that works.

I laid the bed out – chucked my mozzie mesh over it and chilled.

I was confident as the lake has been fishing exceptionally well. I had done a couple of work nights in recent weeks and had caught each time after finding fish and quietly setting traps in the right areas. The water quality this summer is the best I have ever seen on Welly and the fish have been relishing it and as a consequence they are feeding with greater gusto in high summer than in the last couple of years.

Anyway, ‘Nice Steve’ rang me at 12:30 and asked for a hand as he had a decent fish in the retainer. Decent fish! After a minute of coming too I was on my heals and happy to help. These big carp are so special that having an assist is vital IMHO.

I got round and Steve lifted the retainer with a bit of huffing and puffing and exclaimed it was a bit bigger than he first suspected. A bit Bigger?! It was the Bloody Big Sutton! He was rightly elated and we did a full set of pics and soon had her put back – treated and handled with immense TLC. Well done that man!

I got back into bed, my slumber being occasionally interrupted by a single bleep as fish nudged the line. I was absolutely sure carp were responsible and I hoped that my turn would come soon. I won’t pretend for one second that I got up at dawn (I rarely do on single nighters as I prefer to arrive the next time with an open mind) but when I came to at about 6:30 I thought ‘bugger’!

Anyway, I reset the lovely little Nano Bugs, slackening off the line, and laid back in my bag just as my mate Carl Udry wandered into the swim for a chat. We’d been talking for a few minutes when the middle bobbin smacked up and the line popped out the clip!

No line was taken initially, as I was fishing with a nice tight clutch, and I hadn’t turned my ATT sounder back on so it was probably a bit ‘wots goin on’ for a couple of second for Carl.

Of course you get an idea of the fish you’re playing and I was under no illusion that this was a big heavy bruiser from the way the fish kited and fought heavily and doggedly. When I saw a wide back with a stubby dorsal line I hoped and prayed that on the next roll I’d see a scruffy top lobe of the tail (which would have been Scruffy Bob) but on the next roll I saw a perfect full tail.

Hmmm… I guessed from the glimpse that it would be Shoulders again or maybe (just maybe) Willow. After a nerve wracking battle I finally slid the net under a proper chunk and saw straight away it was indeed Willow at 50lb 8oz, one of the rarest fish in the lake and somehow I fluked her again!

Unbeknown to me, all the time I stood out in the water Carl was videoing and you can see the confusion on my face. It just didn’t make sense to have caught her again and it took a few seconds for the penny to drop. It’s an absolutely awesome carp and demands the greatest of respect so that’s what she got. The hook mark was treated and a weird cluster of small shallow sores in her tail filled with NT Labs Propolis and then sprayed with Gardner’s “Intensive Care” to set.

With that she was gone and my time was up. I had to get home to spend time with ‘The Long Suffering Tracy’ before she headed off to Greece, leaving me with Lush-Kev (my lovely Milk Chocolate Labrador).

In fact, I have a few nights with him coming up soon. Dear god, I must be stark raving mad! Wish me luck.