Craig Runham Lands Uncaught Beauty

As I opened the padlock on a wet September day I felt a big grin come across my face. A new challenge lay in front of me. I was back to fishing for the unknown, something I have missed since my days on Theale Lagoon. There really is something mysterious about these unspoilt lakes. The biggest buzz is not knowing what could be on the end when the rod goes. This was not a challenge I could take on half-heartedly.

He placed his faith in Choddy Hooks for his pop-up setup.

Bright ones over boilies always produce, especially in the spring.

The lake in question is a stunning gravel pit with depths that scare many an angler. The lake has it all including snags, weed, gravel bars and plateaux. The pit has only been carp fished for around two years so the stock is still unknown.
I spent every evening the following week walking the pit, looking for signs. With not too much to go on I picked an area from which I could see a lot of the lake. From this plot I managed to spot multiple shows in a certain area at first light. The next weekend I fished the area without success, even after a decent display all over the rods. I hatched a plan to bait the area heavily for the next few weeks. The depth was sixteen to eighteen feet so I felt a good helping of food would draw the fish down to feed. Over the next two weeks I baited the area every other evening, going through a total of over a hundred kilos of bait. I spombed out hemp, sweetcorn, pellet and chopped boilie sixty yards out to a lightly weeded area.

Finally, two weeks passed and I was loading the car heading to the big pit. I was excitingly expecting a result from the area. To cut a long story short, I spent six weeks fishing that same spot and despite fish continuing to show on the area, most weekends my tally totalled five bream. I played around with rigs and baits but simply couldn't buy a bite from the area! The spot was four times the size of what it was to start with; I was sure it was going to happen but unfortunately it simply wasn't to be. The pit was certainly a kick up the arse and certainly wasn't going to give up its inhabitants easily that was sure. By the middle of October the pit seemed to shut down and the showing began to stop.

Fast forward to this spring and while down for a overnighter I happened to see a show in the shallower area of the lake just as it was getting dark. I knew where I was going to go next trip. The following trip full with expectation I plotted up for the night in the shallower area of the pit. After a few casts of the marker I located a weedy area full of fresh weed growth I now knew why they would be in this area and the show the previous area wasn't by coincidence. I also found a couple of small clear areas just off the fresh weed growth in 9ft of water. I decided to fish two rods on the clear areas and two rods over the light weed. I decided to target the lightly weeded area with two chod rigs fished over the fresh weed growth. Both chods were mounted with washed-out pink ASM pop-ups. My usual chod set up consisted of size six Choddy hooks 25lb Mouth Trap and a Kable leadcore leader. A 3oz lead fished drop off style using the excellent Heli-Safe clips. My bottom rigs on the clear areas consisted of snowman setups fished blowback style with my trusty size-six Wide Gape Xs, Hybrid Stiff hook links and a Hybrid lead clip. A good helping of the ASM was spread over the rods to complete the traps.
With the rods out I sat back under the brolly taking comfort from a massive hailstorm that had blown in. Within ten minutes the sun was out and it looked a completely different lake! Scanning the water ten minutes before dark a decent mirror glided out twenty yards past one of my rods. My confidence now sky high, I was in the right area it was now simply the carp’s decision whether or not too feed.

The night passed uneventfully but with the temperature plummeting, I wasn't surprised to wake up with nothing to show for the night’s angling. Around 9am the sun broke through the mist that shrouded the lake, revealing a beautiful spring day. Around half an hour later a good friend, Danny Frendo, turned up for a brew. We both sat in the warming sunshine half expecting to see one show. Around 10am the left-hand rod burst into life. I was like a bag of nerves with my legs shaking the whole fight. We could see a flash of golden under the rippled surface. Through the clear margins a decent common glided into view before heading right on a powerful run. After its powerful surge I led it back along the margin to my location and Danny bundled it into the mesh. At this moment I kind of went a tad crazy, this was the moment I had waited for. I had put much effort to experience this moment. It all became worth it when I peered into the net and there laid a common that we both described as stunning and perfect. A creature that had almost certainly never been touched by another human, one that has resided in the unspoiled pit for many years. A truly special fish… its weight simply irrelevant to me. After all the hours walking, baiting and simply blanking, this fish easily made me realise the reason I fish for the unknown once again.