King Of The Pond - Kirk Watts

I have been fishing my Norfolk syndicate lake since February this year, due to the cold temperatures, it was a slow to start with not many fish coming out at all. I tallied up 16 nights before my first bite came at the beginning of March, but what a bite it was...

I was coming to the end of a two-night session when, out of the blue, the missus said, "Why don't you stay another night". I duly took up her offer, but the third night and day passed with no joy. It was a glorious sunny day, matched with high pressure, so I decided to cast out two running chods onto the bar at about 40-yards range. I began packing the kit away onto the barrow and left the rods on the deck. The missus rang and I told her that I would be leaving within an hour.

I sat down to watch the water, then I noticed the slack line from the rod on the bar slowly tightening up, I gave it a couple of seconds in case it was a liner, but it was definitely a take and lifted into a solid resistance. The fish came in quite steadily but, as they do, it started to fight under the tip. I had no idea what was on the other end until another member who assisted me said it was the Big Two-Tone Mirror, the biggest mirror in the lake. After a few minutes she was safely landed and weighed an awesome 37lb 4oz, what a way to open my account. I was made up, photos were done, rods packed away and off home I went to celebrate.

The syndicate became busier and busier, so I took a few months off and started fishing a couple of quieter waters, which held some stunning old carp. The first is local day-ticket water, with nothing huge to go at, but what they lack in size, they definitely make up in looks. I stayed with the long, running chods as the lake is very weedy and caught two absolute belters in the same session, but from two different swims.

From there, I decided on a Suffolk club ticket with a few waters to go at but one water in particular interested me. It's a very old, silty mere of about four or five acres and stunning to look at, let alone considering the fish it held. The lake is tree-lined all the way round with overgrown and boggy paths, just how I like them. Lily pads were scattered around the entire margins of the pond and it was just beautiful. It's not an easy water by any means, but I managed to catch one on my first night there, which gave me a boost and couldn't wait to get back down. On my next session, I was armed with the chum mixers, as I was told they loved a floater in there. On the last day of my session I went looking for the carp. It was a boiling-hot day and I remember thinking to myself that falling in the lake whilst walking along broken wooden platforms wouldn’t be the worst.

After a couple of hours and a couple of pints of sweat off the brow, I finally found a couple in a small snaggy corner of the lake. The wind was slightly pushing into the area so I catapulted the mixers up wind and let them drift into the pads in the far corner, near a big snag sticking out of the water. The two carp stayed in the pads and would only take the mixers from amongst them, so I had no choice but to cast the float and hook bait onto the pads in front of their noses. One carp came towards the bait, one mixer went, another, another and then finally the hook bait SWOOOSH!!

Striking instantly to get pressure on the carp as quickly as possible was vital to steer the fish away from the looming snag. I kept the rod tip underwater, utilising the rods length and curve to apply side strain to tease the carp away from the snag and pads. It was a dogged few seconds, but eventually I had him out in open water and a spirited fight commenced for a couple of minutes. As I slid the net under the carp, I then realised just how big and long it was and after seeing the scales I knew it was a big mirror. It weighed just a little over 30lb and was the biggest mirror in the lake called The Split Lin. I couldn't believe my luck, the two biggest mirrors from two different lakes in a couple of months, happy days!

I’ve got the utmost confidence with the Mixa hooks. Landing those hard-fighting carp requires a sharp and strong hook and I’m doubtful that I would've landed it without them.

I returned to the Norfolk Syndicate sometime in June and things really started well from the off. I managed a real run of fish including commons of 29lb, 25lb, 21lb, 31lb and mirrors of 18lb, 22lb, 18lb (a fully scaled) and a repeat capture of the Big Two Tone mirror at 35lb. Little did I know that the best was yet to come...

I had already decided not to renew my ticket on this lake for various reasons I won't go into, but this session just made it all the more easier to leave. At around 3am on this particular session I had a screaming take and played this hard-fighting fish for around 15 minutes; it just didn't want to come up and stayed down in the deep margins for what seemed like forever. After eventually landing the beast I sacked a huge common for weighing and photos at first light. At 4:30am another rod screamed off. This was a smaller, but no less pretty, scaley mid-twenty mirror, also sacked for photos at first light.

My mate came round to help me with the weighing and the photos and I had a sneaky feeling I’d caught the king of the pond.

At 47lb 7oz my thoughts were confirmed, I’d managed to land the biggest fish in the lake. Words couldn’t describe how I felt and she looked immense with her mahogany colour and sheer size. I couldn’t have had a better season in all. Catching the two biggest residents and numerous other beauties it was definitely time to say goodbye and move on to pastures new...