After tackling the Friday night traffic, Adam Firth is rewarded with a new personal best.
I’d spent the day working down in Milton Keynes, shooting a feature at Furzton Lakes, but all day I had the thought of the journey back to Shropshire on my mind. “Should I stay, fish the night and leave the next day, or should I battle the traffic and make the journey back to Shropshire?” was the question going around my head.
At the best of times the M1, with over 25miles of roadworks to contend with, connecting to the M6, which passes through the second largest city in the UK, are not good roads. Add the Friday night rush-hour traffic to the equation and you have a recipe for traffic jams, stressed drivers and long delays. Still, the thought of the syndicate lake was pulling me back, and I chose to put in the effort and tackle the traffic. Having sat still multiple times on both the M1 and the M6, by the time I pulled through the gate just before 7pm I was raring to get out of the car and get some rods in the water!
Weston Park, part of the RH Fisheries portfolio, has really got a grip on me this year! It’s not only for the stock of carp that the lake holds, but the incredible scenery and vibe around the lake. I parked up the car, grabbed my cap and Polaroids, and took a walk around the lake. To my surprise there were no other members on – I had to double check that the lake hadn’t been closed while I was walking around! A check of the usual spots proved fruitless, which made my decision very difficult. I walked around to the far bank swim, the Woods, checking in the bushes, under trees and looking for signs of fizzing or fish rolling, but found nothing. As I was on my way back to the car I spotted a fish roll in front of a swim known as the Rhodies. That was enough of a sign for me!
Back in the swim with a fully loaded barrow, I cast a bare lead around looking for a clear area to present my baits. Once I found it I introduced some bait, and as the only person fishing I thought I’d try putting a larger amount in. Into a bucket went two kilos of Hemp ’n’ Corn, two tins of Sonubaits Natural Hemp and a tin of F1 Corn. To this I added just under two kilos of 12mm and 15mm Code Red boilies. There are a few roach in Weston Park, so for peace of mind I used a larger ratio of boilies to particles. It might not sound like a lot of bait, but with only 12 hours of fishing time in front of me, it was enough!
Over the top of the bait I fished two rods, both with the same reverse combi rigs. I use 15lb Captive Coated Braid as a boom attached to a short section of 25lb Captive Stiff Rig Filament and size 6 Avid Carp CHD hook. I’d chosen to fish my third rod tight to the overhanging rhododendrons on my right, again with the same rig. I baited up with half a kilo of 15mm Code Red boilies over the top of this rod. Code Red white pop-ups were attached to two of the rods, and a Code Red Super Chod to the third. These baits were weighted to sink extremely slowly to the lake bed, resting on top of any weed or silt with the hook clear of the debris on the bottom. With the rods out I finally settled down to listen to the live music travelling across the field from the Camperjam Festival taking place in the Park.
I nearly fell off my bedchair in the middle of the night when a huge bolt of lightning hit the trees to my right with an almighty loud crack of thunder. My weather report had predicted a small amount of rain – how wrong it was! Biblical rain was hammering down on the top of my brolly as I laid on my bedchair praying that I didn’t get a bite while the storm was over me! That wouldn’t have been a pleasurable experience. I rolled over, trying my hardest to get back to sleep.
The next I knew I was woken by a screaming alarm; the left-hand rod, fished over the particle mix, was away. The fish tore off across the lake, stripping line off the spool. Eventually I managed to stop it and started gaining line. Kiting left, it was soon trying its hardest to get under the bush to my left. Eventually I slipped the net under the fish, turned on my headtorch in the half-light and peered at a low-twenty common wallowing in the bottom of the net. It weighed 22½lb, and with its thick set shoulders and great big tail there’s no surprise it set off like a train! I clipped up the reel again and sent another pop-up back out to the spot.
“The misty grey morning looked great for another bite and I knew there were fish in the area”
I lay on my bedchair watching the day progress. The misty grey morning looked great for another bite and I knew there were fish in the area – the soft lake bed is a great giveaway to the whereabouts of the carp. Suddenly the bobbin on the right-hand rod, the one placed tight into the overhanging rhodies, pulled up to the top then dropped down a couple of inches, then repeated the process a couple of times. Half asleep, I thought that I’d hooked a big roach until I saw the large disturbance wallowing on the surface. It was a carp!
The fight was over very quickly. The fish never took line, but kited to the right before coming straight into the edge and over the net cord. At that point I thought the fish was around the same size as the common I had caught previously. The sling and mat were sorted and scales zeroed before lifting the fish out, and as soon as I took the arms out of the spreader I knew it was bigger! I lifted the fish out and instantly knew that it was big. The hook was sitting two inches back in the mouth – it was never coming out! I lifted the fish up on to the scales and the needle swung straight past the 22lb mark, past 25lb, over 30lb, then past my previous personal best to settle on 32lb 2oz. It’s that single moment when the needle swings just a bit further than it’s been before around the dial on your scales that makes all of the traffic jams, blank nights, and lack of sleep worth it!
I packed up after the photographs. The sun had burnt through the early morning mist and the lake was flat calm with no signs of fish. It was time to go home.