Jim Wilson banks a fantastic common during a social session!

The colder months are always a great time to have a social session with a few mates at a more productive venue, rather than sitting it out on your own on a water where your chances of any action are very limited!

Jim Wilson decided to have a break from his usual tricky lakes, and to spend a few days with a couple of mates on the Linear Fisheries complex, in Oxfordshire, and they opted to fish on Hardwick.

This resulted in Jim banking a fantastic old common of 35lb 8oz, which was certainly more than he had been anticipating, as he explained: “I always find that a change of scenery can do your angling the world of good, and recently I ventured onto Hardwick Lake with my mates Al Atkinson and Alex Grice.

“I arrived early on the Monday afternoon, the day before the others, and although this wasn’t ideal, after a three-and-a-half hour drive to get there I was keen to give my legs a good stretch and to try and spot a few carp. We had ear-marked Hardwick/Smiths beforehand, so that was where I headed upon my arrival.

“I’d fished the lake once before on a social, but that was a good while ago and I didn’t have any pre-conceived ideas about where I wanted to be or which swims were the hotspots, so I spent a couple of hours looking.

“Eventually I settled about two-thirds of the way along a spit separating Hardwick from Smiths, and after a lead around I found a couple of lovely smooth clay features in 10-12ft of water which were surrounded by heavy weed.

“I put two rods on the largest spot and and third on a different area, and I baited heavily with a new test bait from Mainline, both whole and crumbled, plus hemp, maize and pellet, with 20 Spombs over each spot. I fished all three rods with wafters on simple fluorocarbon D-rigs.

“The first 24 hours passed uneventfully and I did contemplate having a move, but I’d seen enough to stay in the swim for a second night, and after putting out some fresh hookbaits I topped up with another ten Spombs of my mix.

“By 8am the following morning I was at a complete loss as to why nothing had happened, and throughout the morning I kept seeing fish showing in the same area to my right, so I started getting everything ready for a move.

“I was just starting to load my barrow when the middle rod was away with a one-toner, and as soon as I was in contact with it I knew I was attached to a decent fish as it stayed deep and used its bodyweight against the pressure I was applying.

“After a few slow, heavy runs I soon had a big set of shoulders breaking the surface in front of me, and soon a big common was sliding over the net cord. A quick peek in the net confirmed what a lump it was, a real old character that looked ancient, with my size 4 Kurv sitting in its bottom lip.

“It weighed in at 35lb 8oz and I was absolutely blown away, especially as it was on a social with friends and on a water I hadn’t even looked at in years!”