Great run of stunning old carp for Joe Stephens!

Joe Stephens has been enjoying a great run of fish at a small, 14-member syndicate lake, culminating in several old warriors topping 30lb!

The lake has a reputation for being home to some wrinkly old fish that are renowned as being very hard to catch, as Joe discovered when he blanked for his first season on there, but he did only manage to fish for four nights that year.

He revealed: “This year I made sure that I booked some time off during May, which is my favourite month of the year to catch carp.

“I blanked on my first trip but I’d seen enough to form a plan for my next visit as I’d seen a lot of fish moving up and down the middle of the lake, and when I had a lead around I found a weeded up gravel bar in about 3ft of water and behind it dropped off into 5ft where the bottom was ‘choddy’.

“I put in some bait and was working in the area the following Thursday, so nipped in to top up with some more Krill boilies and pellets.

“My next trip fell on the following Sunday and I had three nights spare, and the first morning I had a take and the fish was plodding around and I was just thinking about which one it might be when it decided to weed me up and then the line parted on zebra mussels that were on the bar in front of me.

“It was a scorching hot day and the smaller males were annoying the big old females, and back in my swim for the evening I put both rods back out on the area on home-made 16mm Krill corkers on size 4 Choddy hooks and hinge rigs.

“Around midnight the right-hand rod was away and this time the fish fish felt different with no real weight to it, and a small common was soon in the net and I got the rod back out.

“I was up at 8am when the same rod was away again and I noticed that it was raining and I was standing in my socks, but it was worth getting wet feet as I landed a 27lb mirror.

“By midday I was surprised that the rods hadn’t gone again so I wound them in and switched over to chod rigs, and ten minutes later I had a savage take and lost that fish.

“Soon after I was on the phone to my mate when the left-hand rod was away, and as I got to it I realised that I had a take on the other rod as well! Both fish ended up going into weed and I got one moving and eventually bundled it into the net, but when I picked up the other rod my line parted and I was gutted, but not for long once I saw what was already in the net!

“That one weighed 31lb 4oz and all the disturbance killed the swim until 6am the next morning. I was just playing that fish when the other rod started to go and I quickly bundled the first one into the net.

“The second fish was still on but my line was caught around something and I had to wade up to my waist halfway to the next swim to net it and immediately recognised it as one of the jewels in the venue, a 36lb 3oz mirror known as Harvey. The first fish was one of the stockies of around 18lb.

“The following weekend I spent chasing them around but never had any action, but I was back again and soon into a mid-double common but then the lake went very quiet. I was literally just winding in and had everything packed up when I saw a good mirror come halfway out of the water and thought it was a fish known as Stella, so I flicked the rods back out and put in a bit more bait.

“I had to wait until 3am the next morning when I hooked something very powerful and and put up the best fight I’ve ever had. I had to go in and about 20 minutes later the fish bolted straight into my leg and I was convinced it was a cat until I bundled it into the net and realised that it was Stella and it weighed 33lb 4oz!”