After the big hits of the previous year, when bait boats had first been reintroduced on Burghfield and Scott Lloyds epic capture of The Common at a massive 62lb 8 ounces, the 2018/19 season was proving the total opposite for many of the syndicate, including myself. The spring had been really hard going, with many miles clocked up, and an amazing and exciting close encounter with the common herself, where I could have literally stroked her back! There was plenty of blood sweat and tears, and only a couple of fish to show for all my efforts, so I needed a plan.

We were now approaching late summer and after a brief spell away from the lake after Tom Stokes’ capture of the common, and some time to reflect a little, I decided to fish to my strengths. Chasing them and fishing for a couple of fish in a small bay with a couple of freebies and a handful of hemp was really not the one for me. Now that the fish had spawned, they would inevitably be hungry, so now was the time to do it my way…

I picked up where I had left off the previous year, in what has become my favourite swim. However, this year I did not have the luxury of a bait-boat until the 1st of October. So I needed to find areas that were closer in and start putting the graft in with the Spomb! With this in mind, I picked an area in which I’d seen them show loads during the previous autumn. I decided to give them a good bucket of bait when I first arrived to fish, and then maybe 2-3 buckets when I left at the end of the session, depending on how long I had time wise.

The first few weeks passed quickly with nothing to show for the massive effort and plenty of broken Spombs. To my knowledge the rest of the lake was fishing really slowly too, and I figured I’d already come too far to give up now. I kept telling myself stick with it and they will come, or at least I hoped so.

Autumn was now fast approaching and the days where getting shorter. Night-time temperatures were definitely feeling that little bit cooler too, and the leaves on the trees were just showing the first signs of looking tired. I just love this time of year and sometimes just being there, taking it all in, makes me realise why I love angling so much. Loving nature and the outdoors is a massive part of why I started in the first place.

I returned to the lake, after what seemed like a really long week at work, where all I could think of was Burghfield and whether they had got on my bait. This week felt different; the weather was perfect for my zone with a gentle cooling easterly, and as daft as it sounds, I could smell them in the air.

The rods were quickly placed on the spots, followed by a bucket of seeds and 5kg bag of the finest Proper Carp Baits ‘Black Seal’ boilies. Rigs were my tried and tested Blow Back – nothing fancy or complicated just really good strong gear that does the job and lands the fish. These were constructed with about 7 inches of 25lb Ultraskin, with either a size 2 or a size 4 Covert Dark Wide Gape Talon Tip hook. They were fished with a snowman hookbait with a 14mm Black Seal bottom bait and a small 10mm pop up.

Baz's Mirror

After all the rushing around and worrying it was now time to chill out, take it all in and hope. I went to bed that night feeling really confident. At around 3AM I was awoken by the sound of the bobbin absolutely smashing the rod blank, even before the alarm sounded. It just absolutely tore off and I went from stone asleep into battle mode in a matter of seconds.

The fish took a good 50-60 yards of line on its first run, before hitting the surface. The battle was far from over and we spent the next 10 minutes playing tug of war, until she decided to slowly realise I was the stronger opponent; but not before she had one last gasp effort at trying to do me, in some snags down my left hand margin. Luckily, we had removed these in a recent work party, as otherwise it would have all been over right there. She went in the net first time of asking and the feeling that it had finally come good was, to be honest, a huge relief.

I peered down into the folds of my net, turning the head torch on to have a look at my prize, and recognised it as the fish that Baz Lloyd had caught, now known simply as ‘Baz’s’. She looked massive and this was confirmed when the needle on the scales pulled round to 47lb 2ounces!

To be honest that capture made my season right there, but it was only the start of what turned out to be some epic fishing which lasted right up to December. Over the course of the next two months or so my zone produced over 20 carp. Some were old friends, that I just weighed and flopped back even at 40+, as I saw absolutely no need to stress them because I already had good photos of them.

On the first of October the bait boats now came back into play. Although I didn’t need one to get to my spots, it didn’t half make getting the bait out there so much easier in a fraction of the time, and I could use even more! Oh happy days!

From all my captures last autumn the one that stands out the most though, and in my opinion the fish that is second only to the Burghfield Common herself, was when I caught a mega old ‘Leney’, a fish that was one I dearly wished to catch, ‘The Classic’. For what it mattered she weighed in at a healthy 36lb 9ounces. I think that the smile on my face says it all about that very special old carp and what it meant to me.

The Classic Mirror