Ian Bailey lands his 10th UK 40!

In recent years I've stepped back from doing bits for the site, as the venues I fish either have publicity bans or gentleman's no-publicity agreements.

A cracking thirty-plus common, bagged on a session after his latest forty.

The combination that Ian turns to for his big-fish angling. Great for wafter fishing over boilies.

This year has been a productive one, and I’ve been fishing a few different venues. First, I stepped onto a notoriously deep pit in Peterborough and landed my 100th UK thirty in the shape of Little Eye at 36lb. This capture meant that I’d caught UK thirties from 17 different waters, something I’m proud of. After getting rewarded so quickly, I only dabbled at the deep pit after that, but aim to return next year.

More recently, in Bedfordshire, when Albie slid the net under a fish called No Name for me I knew that my time on what had been my favourite-ever lake was coming to an end after four years. I’d had a total nightmare during the fight, with green eels (a type of weed!) wedged in the tip ring and another line tangled up. Cheers Albie, you saved the day! Using tapered SUBline in 12lb helped for sure too, with the 0.40mm leader beefing the end tackle up for this demanding venue.

Although I had a handful on my most-wanted list left to catch from the Bedfordshire lake, I was soon looking at a return to a lake I first fished 15 years ago and have visited on and off since then. My long-time friend, Steve, who runs the syndicate, offered me a winter ticket – perfect to find my feet again for next year. My first six nights resulted in blanks on what I call ‘blackness’ (loads of fish!). I was frustrated by my inability to get a bite. However, it was soon apparent that this ‘all-show-and-no-go’ behaviour was the norm, so I’d better get used to it!

Getting back over there, I soon found out that the bulk of the stock was still happily feeding in the middle zone of the lake. Fishing the middle in over 20ft of water, I got good drops on balanced hookers on long Dark Matter Braid hook links, knotless-knotted to size-six Wide Gapes. It’s a super-reliable, big-fish rig. Three-bait stringers and five Spombs of freebies over each rod completed the setup. After settling, ‘Ipswich’ Lee Tompkinson popped down for a quick chat and a cuppa after he got his rods out.

He left me just on fading light and shortly after the middle indicator whacked the blank and held. After slowly playing what felt like a good fish, I shuffled the net under a wide carp. Grabbing Lee for assistance, it turned out a bit bigger than the thirty I’d predicted. Up on the scales it registered 41lb 10oz! I was over the moon with my 10th UK forty and what a fish, identified as Gracie's. Lee did well with the camera, given the conditions we faced for photos and with it safely back I was buzzing like a pylon.

This might sound like a load of figures and totals, but they’re goals that I set for myself and achieved. When discussing this piece with me, Rich Stewart had asked what my first forty had been. It was a forgotten linear from Cambridgeshire at 40lb 2oz, a fish that will always mean a lot to me. However, my favourite has to be one called Scaley Two Tone at 43lb 6oz, purely because I never thought I would catch it! It just shows that dreams come true. Last but not least, here's to the next carp… they all make the adrenaline pump no matter what the size!