05.03.21

Two A-Teamers In One Net – Scott Sweetman Tells The Story Of A Night He Will Never Forget

A few Springs back, I got a call from my mate as he had landed his target fish - A large common which inhabited a stunning, yet tricky low stocked pit, with a real history to it. I made the call to work and my story was good enough to allow me to get down the lake to get some photos for my friend and share the big carp buzz.

Upon first seeing its bulk when she was brought ashore in a soaked, black mesh, I could make out her big, plated scales impaled through the sack. She really was an incredible creature; small tail, melted fins and a big over-slung mouth, everything you could want from a carp. There and then, I knew I had to have a go for that one myself and for the short time that followed, I couldn’t get that carp out of my mind.
The lake itself is 6 acers, with a low stock of approximately 15-20 carp. The stock was hard to confirm, as with such stubborn fish, they often went years without capture, so from the off, I knew what I was getting myself into.

My first night on the lake was a busy one, anglers packed around the pit, but I was able to drop into a secluded swim, but as anticipated, no bites were forthcoming.

Over the next month or so, I kept a mobile approach, travelling light and trying to get on fish, often turning up after work for my overnighter, finding them and setting up as stealthily as possible, but to no avail. All the time, keeping constantly focused on the water, not wanting to miss a show. I was also lapping the lake most mornings before work, making the effort to get up early just to witness the zones they were feeding in. I soon noticed a pattern, fish showing in a secluded corner through the morning feeding spell. It was only a few shows a week, but it was all I had to go on and was certainly a localised area, which drew me in.

The fact other anglers were not fishing this zone was even more encouraging, knowing I’d likely be able to get some bait in and it would be left alone by others. The swim was far from convenient to fish, hence why it was often overlooked, but these are the zones I’m often drawn to, particularly on busy lakes. The swim itself was the furthest from the car park, overgrown, with a huge reed bed shielding the lake, with a little platform poking out for the rods. However, it did have history for producing the big common, so this was always in the back of my mind.
A big reed bed to the right of the swim was an obvious feature to fish towards, but I was seeing them to the left, in deep water, in an area layered with a dirty, silty bottom. Upon speaking to a bailiff, he had told me they had been caught in this deep silt, giving me hope for the spot. To enhance my confidence further, on my next trip, I was set up at the opposite end of the lake, when in the morning, I saw my target fish show twice over this deep silt. That was all I needed to put all my eggs in one basket – The deep silt was going to get my full attention.

I began baiting the zone from the off, making a stubborn plan to sit it out and put all my effort and focus into this swim. No matter how long it took, I was sure this was the spot I was going to catch her from and with autumn pending, I knew this deep silt would be the ideal place to target.

Buckets of hemp and boilie were deposited each week, giving them a big hit on the Tuesday evening after work, and being just 30 yards out, it was a nice and easy bait up. I’d let the spot settle for a few days, and be back on the Friday after work, for my only night of the week.

Friday came, and I was up extra early to load the van and get to the lake for an hour watching before work. The lake was really busy, but thankfully, my secluded corner was free and as I watched with a cup of tea as the sun rose, I began noticing activity over my bait. Small patches of fizz and subtle shows confirmed fish were on the bait, there was no way I could go to work! The necessary phone calls were made, pleading for a last-minute day off – fortunately they were granted, and I was soon marching my barrow toward my baited swim.

I wasn’t in a rush to get the rods out and risk spooking the carp, I logged the wraps to the spots from when I found the area and baited on the Tuesday. Around lunchtime, with everything prepped, I flicked two rods side by side on the area, one 20mm bottom bait with a pink topper and one hinge rig, both on Heli-Safes with 1.1oz leads, causing as little disturbance as possible. I don’t believe you need big leads, especially fishing helicopter style on leadcore, I think the fish are getting enough tension from the leadcore and the slack line as they pull towards the top bead and by that point with a super sharp Kamakura hook, the jobs already done.

Both rods were followed by no more than 30 whole 20mm boilies right around the rigs. It was a quiet afternoon, I was sat on my bucket next to my rods taking in the evening, the water became flat calm and I started to notice a small set of fizzing right over the spot, my excitement went through the roof, it was game on!

No more than 5 minutes later, the right-hand rod was away. My legs were instantly shaking, praying to land whatever was on the end, which fortunately I did, a lovely old 21lb common, the first bite from the special little lake and more importantly, the first bite from the baited zone. The plan was working, both rods were re-done for the night, followed by another 30 or so baits and I tucked in for the night, itching with excitement.
Bang on first light, the left hand rod tore off and after another battle, I landed a classic looking old mirror carp of 31lb. This fish taken on the bottom bait and it was also passing the bait, which was a great sign. What a change in tactic, 8 nights so far on the venue with nothing to show for it and my first night on the spot and I’d had 2 bites. I would have loved to have stayed for a second night, but on the Saturday, I had to leave early as we had our scan booked in for our soon to be born second baby, I managed to bait the spot before I left, with the plan to get back down the following week for the full moon.

Once I was home, I was so excited and could not wait until the Friday to do another night, so the plan was to do a work night on the Tuesday. I’d be able to do a quick night between work and if nothing happened, would still be able to get a bucket of bait out, in preparation for my planned trip over the full moon.

Nothing happened that Tuesday, but a bucket of hemp and boilie was spodded the 30 yards out to the spot before packing away, where I thought of little more than my deep silty corner for the next 3 days.

I was back again on the Friday after work, and little did I know what was in store. The brolly was nestled up between the bush like reeds, both rods were wrapped with fresh rigs being tied on before being lobbed out to their respective spots. The one-ounce leads went in as usual, with minimal disturbance, but this time, rather than a hinge stiff rig, which I felt would be sat a little too high given the amount of hemp I’d deposited, I switched to a Spinner Rig on one rod, allowing me to fish a low-lying pop-up on the spot. As darkness crept in, it couldn’t have looked any better. A big full moon illuminated the lake, with a gentle breeze trickling across the surface and I sat there with my tea, looking out wondering if that big common had fed on me.

Just before first light, I had a savage bite on the bottom bait rod, it was a monumental battle, big heavy lunges, still finding some of the dying weedbeds, it felt heavy and knowing the stock, thoughts started running through my mind, thinking this could be her. Just as the nerves started really kicking in the other rod went into absolute meltdown. As I looked down to a screaming clutch, all sorts began to race through my mind. Did I have my target fish on, was my target fish on the other rod? I focused on the rod in hand, and as quickly as possible, bundled her into my net, before immediately reaching for my other rod.

By this stage, the wind had really got up, howling across the small lake. Beside me was quite clearly a large fish, sulking in my net, and in the moonlit atmosphere, I was attached to another big fish, now imbedded in a weed bed in open water. Applying steady pressure, the fish freed itself from the mass of weed. I was now in direct contact and could feel her weight as another battled ensued. In my mind, I knew I was attached to another one of the A-Team, the battle just went on and on, as she took me on powerful runs across the deep silt.

As she drew closer to my net, I became very aware I already had a large carp in the net, so was cautious with the task at hand. With fear of losing either fish, I was beyond careful and with a barbless rule, the fear of hook pull was going through my mind the whole time. After several failed attempts, the fish surfaced in front, covered by a big ball of weed, so big in fact, I had to rip the weed off my leadcore by hand. She plodded for a small moment more in front, before I scooped around her and she was mine. A quick check confirmed both fish were safely secured. It was still dark at this point, but in the moonlight, I began separating the weed to see what I had.

I couldn’t quite believe what I saw, one was thick across the back, deep and covered with golden scales, this was the first fish I landed and as I suspected, was my target fish, the big common at 42lb. Laying by her side was the rarely caught, big mirror, its flanks covered in huge scales. This one weighed in at 38lb 6oz, an unbelieve brace of carp, from a very special lake and a nights fishing I will never forget.

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