Joe and the mighty Essex common

Korda-sponsored Joe Stephens, 25, has been on the trail of a big common on an Essex club water for some time, so when we heard he’d caught his target fish we had to get the full story. Here’s how he caught 44lb 10oz of historic Essex carp.

“I've been fishing this water on and off for a few years, mainly in the winter, but this spring I just wanted to give it my full attention. The season started at the beginning of May, although I didn't fish the first week thinking it was going to be busy, but when I turn up for my first trip I soon found out it was very quiet.

“I started off in an area I had fished in the autumn, catching two mid doubles on my first to evening sessions after work. The following session I fished a swim on the end on the lake where I could see a lot of water and I caught another mid double. But it was in this swim that the last pieces of the puzzle started falling into place - I had seen an opportunity on an area I had not fished very often and there was a new moon coming soon. So I sat there and thought that this was my time to give it everything I've got to catch the big common.

“I started fishing the swim on a Thursday and I even caught a low 20 common on that first trip in there, so confidence was high. I was happy I was still getting bites so everything was working well. I did the Saturday all day and the Sunday evening in there for just tench, but I had some holiday booked off work for the later part of the next week.

“But my friend Ben reminded me the weather and moon were just perfect for the next two days, so I made a last minute phone call to my boss/dad and pleaded to change my holiday to have the next two days off, and he agreed. I was buzzing!

“I got down there first thing and got the rods out with about 100 washed out 20mm Sticky Baits Krill baits over rods. Through the day I had a couple tench, so my bait was getting eaten and rig were still working. Most of my bites were after 9pm, but it got to 9.30pm and I was gob smacked not to get a bite as I had caught from the area for a few trips. I only had 15mins before reeling in and being I the car park just before 10pm.

“The weather was awesome I was thinking it had to happen at some point. I put all the gear on the barrow just left the rods out, at 9.40 I was thinking ‘five minutes then back tomorrow for another try…’ with that I had a bleep then a tench-type bite.

“I picked up the rods and straight away I knew it was not a tench and deep down I knew what I had hooked, I kept myself calm and focused. The fish never took a inch of line, it just hit the surface early on and gave a few heavy lunges. I lead it in like a dog on a lead, put the net out in front of me and in the light of the night I see the head pop up, and at full stretch I flopped it in the net first time.

“I gave it a split second took a breath of air and then flicked the head torch on and there she was - a deep fat short wide-as-you-like a piece of Essex history laying in my net. Boy did I let a huge scream of joy out, with that somebody shouted something back through the darkness so I just shouted something back and punched the air. I made a couple of phone calls to my mates and they turned up in no time, as did a couple bailiffs.

“We all got involved to make sure she was safe and looked after, and after a few returner shots she swam back like a trooper. I was so happy to have her in my album – long live the massive A12 commons!”

Joe used N-Trap Soft in silt tied blow-back style to a size 6 Wide Gape hook with a single 20mm Sticky Baits Krill bottom bait. The lead system was helicopter-style with a 3oz pear lead to 12lb Kontour fluorocarbon line.