I had heard a lot about this fish and it was estimated to be one of the largest in the lake. With a relatively mobile head of fish in the lake and the fact that he had not set a precedence of coming out of a particular swim I had no predetermined idea of where I might head so turned up with an open mind. There were a few anglers on the water all set up along the road bank and I instantly fancied the far corner away from the pressure. The nearest angler to this swim was doing well and had taken two upper twenties overnight.
I started with two rods on the CC Moore 12mm White Northern Specials and one on a Secret Obsession 12mm pop up in orange. I had started to slightly trim these baits, this gave them a rough shape, provided extra attraction leakage and enabled them to be critically balanced by a size 8 long shank hook. These were all fished in solid pva bags of my usual pva bag mix; oily bag mix, fish frenzy spod mix and plenty of boosted bloodworm liquid again all from CC Moores.
Despite it being common practice to use a soft braid in solid pva bags I was having good results on short Mantis hook lengthswith the inch nearest the hook stripped. Hooks were size 8 Fox longshanks with the rig being finished off with a loop enabling them to be swapped quickly via a quick change link should the hook point become blunted.
The swim was very weedy but there were some areas of thinner Canadian pondweed. One rod went out at 10 yds to the left in the mouth of a bay that cannot be reached from any other swim and I was hoping would offer some sort of sanctuary for the fish. The second rod went out to about 30yds in the margins of the first swim down the field bank but again to a spot that can’t be reached from anywhere else. The third rod was pushed a little bit further out to around 45yds straight in front of the swim.
The middle rod was the first to go a mere 30 minutes after casting out with a good strong fish taking lots of line on its first run. Like the last fish I hooked in this bay it was trying hard to make the far margin reed bed and strong arm tactics were required to turn it before it reached the snags. With the rod at full test curve a good fish thrashed around just short of the reeds before conceding defeat and heading out into open water. In the margins a very long common glided past before placing itself vertical and ploughing down into the marginal weed. The fish was stuck and I had to pull it up vertically through the water with its nose covered in weed and land it at the full depth of the net.
On the scales it went over 26lb and had row upon row of solid scales with a beautiful combination of milk chocolate brown and bronze colouring along its body. This was a great fish to start with and I actually sat back an hour into my three day session and was content not to catch another fish.
Another fish followed at around 14lb before I set off with a bucket of pellet, corn and Live System chops to a quality little gravel strip hidden under some trees in the edge. I baited this stalking spot quite lightly before giving it half an hour to rest whilst I tied rigs for the night ahead. I crept back with a rod in hand and found six good fish getting their heads down over the spot. Considering the gravel is only two feet by two feet and the fish included both a mirror and common scraping 20lbs the fish were really shoulder to shoulder on the spot. I tried the Dave Lane trick of using berries and acorns to disturb them and move them off without spooking them completely but they completely ignored them and just ate them instead!
I then tried throwing single baits at them but watched them flutter down through the water, bounce off the backs of the fish and then they too were eaten. In the end I had to revert to big handfuls of pellet thrown into the water before they begrudgingly slunk off a few feet before turning round and heading back for the spot. I only had a few seconds to place the rig so swung it out making sure the bait landed cleanly and the line wasn’t laying over any obstacles. When they returned they started feeding heavily again but the large common soon clocked something was different. He started feeding very hesitantly and this rubbed off on the other fish. The mood had changed completely and I spent the next couple of hours watching fish spook again and again until they eventually moved off for good.
I returned to my swim and recast the three rods ready for the night. The evening passed quietly as did the night but early the next morning a fish of around 18lb was added to the tally. The weather was starting to close in now and the wind was hammering from left to right across the pond. Soon the rain came and with it an angler set up on the field bank. Whilst I still could have continued to fish the margin as he could not reach it from his swim I decided that it was too close to him to be ‘good form’ and moved the rod out into open water.
The day ticked by and the usual bite times started to diminish and I thought I had missed my chances for the day when suddenly the bobbin smashed up into the rod and line clicked off the spool. It started slowly but by the time I made it down to the rod it was positively melting from the spool. Upon striking I was attached to a lively fish that made short sharp darts around the swim, taking 5yds of line at a time. It was soon in the net and was a very clean fish that weighed in at 22lb. Despite this fish I was no longer confident in this swim. There were fish moving at the far end of the lake over the same spots I had seen them on last time. I decided to give it another night before moving to the far end for the final night.
Nothing happened and I was soon throwing the kit in the back of the car and shooting round to the other end trying desperately to get there before the few other anglers that were having a walk around saw the showing fish.
I was soon set up and all three rods were out. Two to the front over the light weed and one cast at the showing fish. I was struggling to find a spot to fish this rod to as the fish were showing over thick weed and I eventually settled for just fishing into it and letting them dig it out. I was putting a bit of bait out over this rod when a heavy fish rolled a few yards out to my left in the no fishing bay.
I immediately wound in the left hand rod and placed it near to the mouth of the bay. Mike, the owner, had warned me that people lose a lot of fish by fishing too close to this bay so I kept a good 10-15yds clear of it. I catapulted 1-2kg of 8mm Halibuts over the top. I felt these would sit on top of the weed and attract any fish moving into the bay to drop for a feed. With the massive head of rudd in the lake I also hoped they would last a little bit longer than the particle baits I would normally use.
A regular called Alan turned up and we spoke at length about the lake and in particular The Big Original whom Alan had caught previously at around 38lb. We talked about its strong tail and slate grey colourings and it was then that I decided this fish was now my target fish and set myself a realistic target of two years to catch him.
Half an hour later I had a few beeps, the bobbin rose and the tip was nodding violently. I was on it in a flash and connected with a fish kiting hard to left into the bay. I clamped down hard on the spool and sunk the rod all the way to the reel. The fish was now in the bay and on the other side of an overhanging tree. I held the rod in one hand and pushed it as far out as I could and bent hard into the fish. My forearm was burning from the weight of the rod and it was a real stalemate with neither of us gaining any ground. I shuffled as far forward as I could and bent the rod the last few inches I could manage. I could feel the line grating on the branches under the water but finally the fish started moving towards me. 15 minutes later the fish hit the spreader and I was sure it was the same fish that I had seen roll in the bay. It was a very good looking fish of around 24lb.
24lb mirror taken from the mouth of the no fishing bay
I recast and put another 2kg of the 8mm pellet over the top and as the evening drew in the same rod flew off again. This time the fish headed out into the open water and apart from getting stuck solid in a few weed beds the fish was led safely to the net and was safely weighed at over 24lb again. Just like my previous trip a move of swims had resulted in a brace of 20lb carp.
The carp in this lake are really pellet mad and I felt the 8mm halibuts were essential to keep the fish in the area and get them feeding aggressively. The added pva bag of attraction being the cherry on top of the cake and helping to shorten the time between takes.
The nights on these lakes are normally slow and this was no exception. I recast the rods at 4am ready for the morning feeding spell but was unhappy with where the left hand rod landed. I laid on my bed around 6am knowing that I should recast it but I was so comfortable that I was reluctant to get up. I eventually talked myself into it and immediately knew it was the right thing to do when half an hour later the recast rod trundled off.
Strong arm tactics turned the fish at the edge of the bay and it headed out into open water. Thinking it was safe I relaxed the clutch slightly but realised I had fallen for this fish’s cunning plan and it suddenly turned and used the extra line to kite hard towards the bay again. Clamping down on the spool stopped the fish before it could reach its sanctuary.
This fish was very powerful and was making heavy runs through the Canadian pondweed, ploughing up large clumps that were clinging to the line. The margins of this peg are relatively shallow and every time I brought the fish to within netting distance it powered off again.
I was impressed by the strength of this fish and when I caught sight of it for the first time I estimated it at a good upper twenty pounds or even a scraper thirty. Another angler who was turning up to fish helped with the net which was a real help. I left him to tend to the net whilst I sorted the sling, mat etc. As I walked back towards him he attempted to lift the fish from the water and after a large release of breath stated that he would be unable to manage it on his own.
I thought this to be a wind up but at the same time my pulse quickened and I jogged over to the net to see what was inside. As I pulled back the folds I was met by the broadest shoulders I had ever seen and a beautifully clean, almost scale free grey flank. I had to get this fish on the scales and as I did Mike arrived and both him and the scales confirmed that I had indeed landed THE BIG ORIGINAL!
My mind was spinning faster than the dial on the scales as it flew round past 30lb, past 35lb before finally settling on 37lb 8oz. I was speechless, a day after setting this fish as my target I had landed it. He looked incredibly strong in the morning sun and it was a real pleasure to be sat in front of the camera with such a magnificent beast. Smiles, photos and handshakes all round before I was left on my own to take in what had just happened. It was at this stage that I broke out into a rendition of the Carp Celebration Dance all round my swim before sending my phone bill through the roof with texts to everyone I knew.
The rest of the session passed in a glorious blur during which I added a 22lb ghostie and a PB 33lb catfish. I packed up and drove home in ecstasy absolutely made up with catching an incredible fish.
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