January Whacker - Sam Pudney

Sam Pudney recently had a close encounter with one of the best commons in the UK. This is his story…

“A while back I heard of a rather special common, which just so happened to live quite close to me. I got myself a ticket on the 7th of January this year and started doing two trips a week, on average. This was going to be my ninth blank session on the water, should I fail to catch, and I had only been a member for 20 days.
When I first started, the weather had been predominantly wet and cold, there was mud everywhere and the lake wasn’t the nicest place to be at the time; I liked the lake but boy was it a messy task!
On the morning of my first trip I decided to drop into a popular swim, which commanded the water in the centre of the lake. I started off just leading about in the swim, feeling for any weed or gravel. Once I was happy, I placed my left-hand rod on a small, gravel patch, which was about halfway out. I then baited the spot with about a kilo of Scopex Squid Red. The right-hand rod was then cast about 20 yards towards the back of a weed bed; I fished just past it.
I decided to fish with blow-back rigs on both rods, due to the awesome hook holds I had had on them previously. My hook baits were Scopex Squid Red boiles, which I used snowman style, critically balancing them too. As the sessions went on I decided to change bait and get on the DT Baits Cold Water Mix, which is an awesome winter bait. During my next four sessions I spombed out about a kilo of the Cold Water Mix, in the hope that this would get them on the munch, at some point.
I had opted for the 18mm bottom baits from and stuck with the blow-back rig, plugging the bait with cork so that they were sinking very slowly. Unfortunately, this approach didn’t produce anything, so I decided on a change of rig, on my right-hand rod. I decided to make the switch over to a pop-up rig in the shape of Elliott Gray’s version of the hinged stiff link, which is an exceptional big-fish rig.
The rig featured a size-6 Choddy Hook, a medium rig ring, 25lb Mouthtrap, 15lb N-Trap Soft and Dark Matter Putty. I attached a DT Baits pop-up to the ring and it was ready to go.
This time around, my ninth session, I turned up at 7am, on the 27th January. To my delight, I had the whole lake to myself. It was cold and muddy and after arriving at the swim I got both rods cast out as soon as possible. I spombed a kilo of crushed Cold Water Mix over the left-hand rod and then scattered about 20 whole baits around each rod.
At about 3:30pm the right-hand bobbin jumped up and my slack Kontour main line pulled tight. I picked up the rod and connected with a fish, which took small amounts of line to begin with. The rod then arched round and the fish started to feel very heavy indeed.
I slowly gained line, as it started to move towards me, then as it got closer it headed towards the trees that were in the overhung into the water. I lowered my tip and slowly it started to come away the danger of the trees. It started to rise up from the depths and that was when I saw it was a big fish. I grabbed my landing net and carefully lifted it under the fish, then shouted the word “YESSS!”
After composing myself, I checked the fish all over and treated its hook hold with my Carp Care Kit. She was in perfect condition and her mouth was immaculate. I secured the fish safely in my flotation sling and rang my dad to do pictures of this massive common.
Shortly after, he arrived and together we lifted the fish out of the water. Once on the scales she weighed in at 47lb exactly, I was buzzing to say the least!