Well, it’s fair to say it has been a very strange year. Who would ever have imagined back in January that the country would end up in the state that it has? It just goes to show, we should never take ANYTHING for granted.

On a personal note, 2020 was due to be a very big year for me. Not only was it my 50th birthday, but also my 25th (silver) wedding anniversary, something I am very proud of, and I was really looking forward to celebrating both events. On the angling front, it had been a very slow winter by previous standards, and I really couldn’t work out why? Conditions had been perfect; wet and warm, and you would have thought the carp would have been climbing up the bank. But for whatever reason they most certainly were not!

January was a grind, but I did manage a couple of mid-twenties that kept the fires burning, and as it’s my favourite time to be on the bank it was hardly a chore. At the beginning of February, I had a feature to do for Total Carp, and this is when my year began to turn around. The Editor Matt, was due down on the Monday morning, so I figured I would arrive Sunday lunch time and try to work out what was going on before he arrived. Unfortunately storm dreadful (I think that was what it was called, well it should have been!) decided to arrive on Sunday too!

It truly was dreadful, and after a proper soaking and losing the bivvy twice, I was finally in some sort of position to get the rods out. Well all I can say is that they were definitely in the water… somewhere!

The wind was so bad that getting my rigs on the spots proved impossible, so I just had to settle for them being wet. The rest of the day was spent hanging off my tent, trying to stop it from vanishing for a third time. Finally, by 10PM the wind had subsided, and I had finally got my rods where I wanted them! I decided to stay up most of the night, to try and work out where the fish were and by the time my old mate Pete joined me in the morning I was shattered. He opted to move into my left while I got some much-needed sleep, and when Matt arrived at 1pm I was still snoring!

After a quick coffee I relayed the tale of the last 24 hours to him. I had heard fish in the area all night, so after a few alterations I was fishing confidently for the first time that trip and all we could do was wait. The afternoon passed quickly, making up rigs and taking photos of all manner of things and it was soon time for food and bed. Matt could not have been in bed for 10 minutes when I had a slow take on the rod that was cast tight to a willow tree, and after a heavy plodding battle a large common rolled into the net. We knew it was big, but just not how big!


As I lifted it from the water, we realised it was MASSIVE! The scales spun to over 47lb and we were both gobsmacked! I had permission to retain the fish for the purpose of the article, so after getting her settled in the margins it was back to bed.

As Matt wandered into my swim at first light, I was playing another fish and as he netted it he looked around in amazement, saying “it’s another big common”! This one wasn’t as big, but at 38lb it was still a unit, and in February too. It made for a fantastic article and really set me up for my forthcoming spring campaign.


I managed a few more fish between February and mid-March, and it was now time to get back on my main target water for the year. My timing couldn’t have been worse! My first trip of the year was Monday the 23rd March. At 7pm that evening the messages started pouring in, the country had been put into lock down. Ash the owner of the syndicate sent me a message a short time later explaining that I could stay the night but had to be gone first thing in the morning. As with all other lakes, he was forced to close down!

Eight weeks of no angling ensued, and as painful as it may have been, on the grand scale of things there were far worse things going on than missing out on a bit of fishing. My 50th birthday was on the 29th March, I had booked two restaurants on the Saturday and Sunday for family and friends and booked a lake for the following week for friends also. It was all cancelled. My lovely wife had arranged a surprise party on the Friday night, and this was also cancelled. I was absolutely amazed at the amount of people that were coming, from all over the country too. Although it was cancelled it really meant a lot to me that all these people were coming to celebrate with me, so many thanks to all of you. I was gutted, but as I have already said, there were far worse things going on than missing a party.

So, what to do for eight weeks? Well my garden has never looked better and my French Mastiff, Lionel, loved having his dad around all the time. All my tackle was prepped, rigs tied, everything was ready to go for when we finally got the green light. There was however another dilemma, where to go? The Syndicate was not going to open, as it closes for four weeks when the fish spawn anyway (something I fully endorse) so wouldn’t be opening until July the 1st.

Luckily, I have a great bunch of friends and got invited on a three-night full lake booking on the opening week, and I snapped their hand off at the opportunity. There was only four of us, and we had the whole lake to ourselves. Perfect!

The lake itself was around 4 acres in size with fish to 40 plus, and after a draw for swims I set about finding some spots. It was a struggle, the whole area was awash with weed, but on the plus side there were a lot of fish IN the weed. Eventually I found a cleanish area and cotton rigs were dispatched to the spot. Long story short, I lost the first two fish. I had layed my line over the weed and on the take both fish had run sideways and buried themselves in thick weed beds, so it was time for a rethink. Now, I hate fishing tight lines, but it was the order of the day. I also fished ‘locked up’, in the hope that the fish would rise up in the water, rather than run to the side. It worked and after a tense battle my second forty of the year was having its picture taken. It was an amazing trip and I managed nine fish in total, all over 30lb! Even better, while I was there, I got invited on another trip to a different lake the following week.


This trip was tough going as the fish really were not interested, but unbelievably after switching to a single hook bait on a D-rig, on the last night, I managed my third forty of the year! I was on a roll…

Luckily, the week after that one of my other syndicates opened, so it was off there for 48 hours. Another great trip, another nine fish. Nothing massive, but all stunning originals.

Later that week I had a call from one of the guys that was on the previous lake booking. They had a space on a trip the following week and would I like it? Oh yes! A trip to another weedy pond resulted in another nine fish (it has now become my lucky number!). The highlight was a really gnarly old mirror weighing in at 43lb, my fourth forty of the year. Could it get any better?


The following week I ended up at a day ticket water, and guess what? I captured another nine fish, 27lb being the best, and it was great fun.

Now much as I have enjoyed travelling around, my heart was at The Syndicate and it was now approaching the 1st July. So many people wanted to fish that it was decided that a 48hr rule would be introduced, and the first two 48hr sessions would be decided by a draw. Well, unfortunately I didn’t come out in the draw, so I had to wait ‘til Monday…


I was buzzing when I finally got there and immediately put a plan in place. I wanted to fish a swim in a tight corner, I had fished it a few times last year and it was pretty much neglected by other members. Once again it was free, so I set about finding spots in the weed, baiting with 10mm boilies and using a 10mm popup on a D-rig, tied using 25lb Ultra Skin and a size 6 Incisor at the business end, with 15lb Hydrotuff main line finishing the set up.


Only two fish had been out since the opening, despite a big angling presence, so it looked like it could be tough going. Imagine my surprise when a few hours later my right-hand rod melted off, resulting in a stunning mid-30 mirror. That will do!

That was all for that trip, but I baited heavily before I left and managed to get back in there the following week, and the same spot that did the fish last week produced yet again. I was sat with Ash, the owner, mid-afternoon and once again it melted off! This fish was totally different and flat rodded me from the off. It stripped 60 yds of line off before I could even think about stopping it! Then it waddled through several weed beds before coming closer. We had not seen it, and just as I said to Ash that I didn’t think it was actually that big it rolled on the surface, and Ash announced it was the Long-Lin and looked massive.

A short while later he slipped in the net and indeed, he did look massive! Up on the scales he went 45lb 10oz and looked stunning. He was also a new lake record. Later that night I had another 34lb mirror.


I have just returned from my first blank, so I guess my luck may have run out. Only time will tell, and as that brings us up to date.

Hopefully, I will have some more carpy tales to tell you later in the year. Mind you, I have had five 40’s from five different waters, so I think that’s definitely a year’s worth already!

Until next time, stay safe and tight lines.


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