Until July 2017, whenever I was fishing the Hampshire Avon my main target was Chub and Barbel. That was until one afternoon, whilst walking the banks I spotted a good common carp, maybe around the mid-20 mark. With that sighting a fire started burning and I found that I wanted to catch that carp. It was long, dark and utterly immaculate!

Shortly afterwards I began baiting a spot a couple of times a week, for about a month, where I would regularly watch the common and other carp feeding in the deep clear water. For the rest of that season I tried now and then, and caught a few fish up to 18lb, but it certainly was not as easy as I had anticipated.


Earlier in the year I had promised Wiggy a guest trip up the river and the talk of me catching the odd river carp had whetted his appetite, so a date was firmly set in early October. The mission was for Wiggy to catch a river carp, which was not going to be an easy feat at all. Heading down the river, to the carp zone, it looked completely dead and I just knew it was a waste of time being there. We stood around watching for signs of carp for some time, but to no avail. The decision was made to put a bit to bait in and head upstream, to see if we could get any barbel feeding. We had a walk around and settled in a weir where I had seen fish during the previous few weeks. I will just add, although though it was a guesty, I never took any gear with me, so I was the gillie for the day.

We got some barbel feeding in the weir and Wiggy lowered his rig into place. Within 15 minutes he was doing battle with what turned out to be an 11lb+ barbel. We had just finished the pictures and returned the barbel when Pete, the river keeper, called so we met up with him further down river and spent most of the day walking around the river and generally taking in the surroundings.

Towards late afternoon we headed back to the carp zone, and this time we found some fish feeding; one being a dark mid-20 common. With the fish moving off Wiggy lowered his rig onto the spot and we sat back waiting to see if we could catch one of these black carp swimming around in the deep clear water. In true style Wiggy he had a twitchy bite and as he wound down and lifted the rod up the big dark common also lifted in the water, and within seconds it was in the net! In my 36” barbel net it looked huge! As Wiggy got his bits ready whilst I held on to the net and the longer I looked into the net the bigger this dark mahogany coloured carp was getting.

When we lifted the fish out of the water, I remember thinking it might even be 30lb’er. Once unhooked we weighed the common at 28lb 12oz and then with the pictures done we let it waddle off. Both of us were buzzing and I could not have been happier for Wiggy. The way I had seen it feeding, prior to Wiggy catching it, I thought it won’t be long and it will be mine. Oh how wrong could I be…

All in all, I don’t think that the day could have gone much better, and that evening Wiggy was offered a ticket himself. I told him that the events of today will never happen again!

A few times that year I managed to get that common feeding, but not as hard as I had prior to Wiggy’s capture. On one occasion I watched a golden koi of about 14lb push fish off the spot when my rig was present. The year was getting on and with the extra flow and dead weed coming down the river it was becoming near on impossible to fish the area effectively.

The following year I baited the area heavily and fished regularly. The clear spot, that started off the size of a bin lid, had managed to become the size of a transit van – if not bigger! By the end of the season it almost stretched across the river, and I struggled, big time!

I had four bites all year; two by single figure carp and one about mid-double that managed unfortunately to get in a snag that had rolled down the river during the winter. My fourth bite was on the evening of the 4th November. This felt like a better fish, staying deep and just plodding up and down. With the light dropping I could not see what I had hooked. But after a deep spirited fight it finally surfaced and was spitting water on the surface as I guided it over the net. However, this was no carp, but a pretty decent barbel. I set my self-take kit up and took some photos and weighed the barbel at over 13lb.


I was determined to catch the elusive common but 2018 had taken its toll on me and I decided that a 15lb barbel was my target the following season. Each time I fished the river I would drop in and trickle some bait where the carp lived, but I did not see much all year and with words from walkers and concerns about the impact of otters, I feared the worst. In the end I fished on 10 or 15 occasions, and because of my half-hearted attempt I only caught a single that year. If you have read any of my other articles on the GT website you will know I had been doing quite a bit of carp fishing on the Avon and catching a few along the way. This was taking place on an upper beat of the river, whereas I was targeting this big dark common on a lower beat.

After my successful Barbel fishing last year, the big common was back on the agenda. In reality I had never forgotten about it, I just had to catch it! I told Wiggy my plan, and that all my river fishing was going to be for that common until I caught it. The plan was to fish the opposite bank, which was where most of the fish seemed to drift in from. Access involved a long walk with the gear though fields, but I had come up with another plan. On the bank that I had been fishing, about 200 yards or so above where I now planned to fish, was some hard ground in a field where we could park. So, I thought I could put a boat on the roof of my van, park in the field and paddle down steam and pull the boat up and walk 50 yards down to my new swim. With my cunning new plan in place I started baiting up during the close season and the spot was getting clearer by the day. I had not seen the common and had only spotted a couple of small carp and the odd chub. I carried on baiting and then on the first day of the season I went barbel fishing! After catching five chub that morning I had a serious word with myself… I had hatched a plan, and it had not even lasted one day! In fact, I was fuming with myself, so packed up and went home in a proper strop.

From then on, all the river fishing that was done would be carping on the spot I had been baiting. I was even taking the boat to Milton Abbas with me, because with a 20-minute detour I could bait up on the way there and again on the way home. Fishing was slow, with the odd chub and a small mirror around 12lb caught. Then in the middle of July a bull was put in the field with the rest of the cattle. I know he does not like anything that resembles a stick so fishing really was not the one, but I gave it ago one evening and boated across and set up. Everything was fine and he seemed to be enjoying himself with the cows. That was until I had a bite from a chub, and I lifted the rod up, I could see he was not happy and had moved at pace down the field towards where I had left the boat. It was time to go, and go quick, I dumped everything in the boat with no time to pack up properly and when getting in the boat that bull was clearly not happy and was now charging towards me. I paddled upstream to where I had parked the van with the bull following me on the other bank.

It was clear that fishing that bank was now out of the question, so I started baiting downstream on the original bank I had been fishing the past few years.

Tuesday 28th was my first fishing trip in the new swim I had been baiting. Upon arriving I bait dropper’d five good handfuls of chopped 18mm Cell onto the spot, and whilst setting my gear up I noticed two good fish browsing, one oc which had to be the big common. I waited until they moved off, then cast out making sure the back lead dropped as close to the bank as possible. The first cast looked good, so I sat back waiting with tense anticipation. After about 20 minutes the top dipped and I had a few beeps on the alarm that I hit, and I was in! I could see a good common swimming in and out of the weed, but it just did not look big enough to be ‘the big one’. When it went in the net, I could clearly see it was not the big common. I took some self takes and weighed the fish at 23lb 4oz. As I walked down stream to let it go, I could see a big fish on the spot again. It just had to be that big common.

I waited for the fish to move off and dropped some more bait on the spot and tied a new rig. Once sorted, the rig went back out and I sat back. An hour must have passed when I was alerted to a beep on the alarm and the rod tip dipping. I hit it and all hell broke loose, a truly huge river carp was going mad just a rod length out and stripping line from the clutch as it went down stream, making powerful attempts to get across the river through the weed. I could see the fish on the bottom and it was sending vortices of water up as it flanked along the bottom on its side. My heart was pounding, I just knew this was the one, my opportunity had come after so long and I just did not want to lose it! The big common kept getting in the weed and it was ripping it up off the bottom as I pulled her out. After a truly heart pounding fight, and after several attempts, it finally lay in the bottom of my 44” net; a huge river carp that must have been over 30lb.

When I took a quick look and noticed the big bald patch on her side. It was job done and I was ecstatic. I carefully secured the net in the deep margin. I needed a rest and a cold drink. my heart was pounding and what a buzz, being on the front cover of the AT with a potential British record Crucian and catching this magnificent carp all in one day!

Once composed I weighed her at 31lb 10oz and then rested her back in the margin and called Wiggy. I needed a photographer; I was not doing self-takes of this! Wiggy said he finished work in ten minutes and then he would head down. I made a frantic call to Staggy to let him know it was over, as I had been telling him about this common regularly and now it was done. I had caught a Hampshire Avon 30!


With the photos done and the fish returned I felt a massive amount of pressure had lifted…

till next time, tight lines all!

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