Mad Max - Max Leggett

A couple weeks after I caught a new UK PB mirror, known as Pea-Scale at 29lb 10oz, I was able to get back to the historic pit for a 72-hour session, thanks to the bank holiday Monday. This year I have been trying to take my little brother Harry fishing as much as possible, to help him out and give him a real feel for the passion. He also has been bringing his friend Matt along, so it's nice to get young anglers involved in the sport as much as possible in my opinion.

Due to them both being under 18, they have to be the swims next door to me, so I was limited, but I've experienced each swim of the lake enough to know where to go. Upon arrival, I noticed we had a westerly wind, blowing heavily down to the far bay where an overhanging tree is located. Now I'm the type of angler who likes to pick out certain fish, whether they are the biggest or prettiest, I set myself two targets, and once I catch one of them, I add another onto the list. On the back pit I have had this fish known as Tri-Scale on the top of the list for around two and a half years! She is the queen of the lake, and not only that, an old dark brute of a mirror, with so much history behind her. She averages just over 30lb normally, but there were rumours that she’d recently come out at 34lb 12oz, but they're only rumours to me until I know for sure. Knowing this was to be my last season on the pit, I knew my time was limited, so I then set a campaign to catch her.

Certain fish have certain areas where they get caught from regularly, and I knew that underneath this overhang was a killzone! So, I plotted myself on the bank known as far bay, Harry and Matt next to me in Lumpy and Plateaux. Writing notes down from your previous sessions is a massive advantage, because I was able to wrap the line round the sticks 14 1/4 times, and knew that my lead would just brush the tree and land on the gravel spot in about 10 or 12ft of water. I attached a hinge stiff rig to a bolt effect running inline system, a system I use following previous experiences of fish getting rid of a rig with a standard lead clip. The components of the rig featured 15lb Mouth Trap with a size 8 Choddy hook, crimped to a size-11 ring swivel. The white 14mm NS1 pop-up was set so that it sank as slowly as possible to create better hooking efficiency. The boom section was made with 15lb N-Trap Semi Stiff, Kwik-Linked onto the swivel, which could run freely inside the lead.

For the bolt effect, I slid a rubber bead onto the first tungsten section of the Safe-Zone leader. Now, the Krimps are something I've never used before due to me sticking with using what I know is fine already. But, after discussing it with a few people, I decided to give it a go, and I have to say I’m massively impressed with them. They are so versatile, quick and effective and you'll understand why I feel that way about them soon. I opted to fish my right-hand two rod lengths away from the tree in open water, with a 1.5kg spread of 18mm Equinox boilies leading up to the spot underneath the tree. The rig was an IQ D rig with half a Mystic Spice Goo pop-up and half an Equinox Boilie to make it critically balanced. To this I also attached a small stick of crushed Equinox, to mask the hook, and give off more attraction around the hook bait. With that all done, all that was left was to put the shelter up and put the kettle on as usual.

A very wet, thundery night drifted by with no bites, but there were a few decent-sized fish jumping in the area, so I was very confident. And with that confidence at 04:30am the left rod signaled a strong take and I managed a 19lb 8oz common in an absolute rain downpour. I was soaked to the bone but nevertheless, a blank was saved. After returning that one, it didn't take long for the right-hand rod to rattle off, but as I hit into it, I had that gut feeling it was going to come off because it didn't feel like it was hooked properly, and it duly did. With that I fell to my knees, sulked for a minute, then got up and put another half a kilo out, as I reckoned that the bait I put out would have been cleared. The rods were then both marked up and cast back out with fresh rigs and bait. After being pretty much up all night, listening to the carp in the area, not even caffeine could keep me awake. So, after about an hour and a half with no more indications, I fell asleep... Two hours passed before “Beebepbeep… beep… BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! I pulled the Big Snooze off me, in a rush I couldn’t unzip my bivvy door fully down, so I superman jumped out through the gap and landed on my face, crawled to the sticks and bosh, I was into what already felt a good fish on my left-hand rod.

I wiped the mud of my face, and commenced battle with what I could instantly tell was one of the A-Team, but which one? Could it be Tri-Scale? The fish kited right out into open water, heading for a big weed bed. I lowered the rod to the left and it soon kited back towards me. I carefully tried retrieving every inch of line I could without giving it too much pressure, and after about five minutes of doing this, it got within 15 yards of the bank, came up to near the surface, and before I could get a glimpse of what it was, it created a massive bow wave and shredded at least 40 yards of line off the spool. The power of this fish was immense, and had that one fish in mind, so I was praying for it to slip over the net cord.

After plunging down deep all the way in, it finally rose again and I instantly knew what fish it was when it hit the surface. Harry was on hand with the net and with me walking back with the rod high, lifted the net under a big dark old carp. But it wasn't Tri-Scale, it was a fish known as The Unnamed Mirror, and it's always around 30lb, so I knew a new PB mirror could be a possibility, could it beat my all-round UK PB of 30lb 4oz? My good friend Tosh was five minutes down the road, so after a quick phone call, he was on his way down. I slid her into the sling and hoisted her onto the mat, and it did feel a decent size. I pulled the mesh away to reveal the magnificent old warrior, and she was nailed in the bottom lip. I then zeroed the sling and lifted her up to record a new all-round personal best weight of 30lb 8oz. Get innnnn! I then catapulted the last half a kilo in and retained her until Tosh arrived.

Five minutes later, the true sport came running over with the camera and shook my hand, congratulating me while in disbelief that yet again I'd had another character to tick off the list! I put the wellies on and took everything out of the pockets and made my way to the ... *beeeeeep* ..... no, it wasn't the glorious sound of a Delkim, it was me! I slipped straight onto my bottom in the marginal water and got soaked. With Tosh laughing hysterically, I pushed myself up and laughed myself. I then bent down and and checked the fishes fins and… BEEEEEEEEEP!!! I was away on my right-hand rod! This Equinox works instantly! After a dogged fight I was able to net another common that weighed 19lb 8oz. Two fish on the bank at once, including a new PB? Lovely! The shots were then taken of each fish including a brace shot and both were slid back into the water by a very happy man! I noticed that The Unnamed Mirror had excreted my bait quite heavily in the retention sling, which was a good sign! That was now four bites in the space of a few hours. Tosh once again shook my hand and left, cheers bud!

About an hour after that, it started to rain heavily again and the left rod produced my fifth bite, another common of 16lb. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any more bait in at the time, and I knew that I was holding the fish there with the bait, as the lake was pretty busy and no-one else was getting results. But I flicked the rods back onto the spots, and sat back reminiscing what's happened. Usually you’re doing well if you get a bite in 24 hours, so I knew I'd already done well.

A couple of hours passed and then my left rod signaled yet another take and I banked a pristine common just shy of 23lb! Five fish on the bank, up to 30lb 8oz is a great day’s fishing I'm sure, in anyone's books, and I'm only 18! Got many years ahead of me. In dire need of bait, I put out the call, but it wouldn’t be with me until midday the next day. With that, my predictions were right, I blanked from then on, throughout the night and early morning, which was also typical, as my girlfriend Summer had came over for the night; I can never seem to catch one in front of her, bless her! So, once I’d got a kilo of mixed Odyssey XXX and Live System, whether she would stay another night, as a bite might just happen with a bed of bait back out there to draw them in. And so it did, as once again at 04:30am on the last day, Summer ‘caught’ her first carp at 20lb 4oz on the right-hand rod, with a little help from me. We need more girls in the sport as well as younger lads! Well done Summer, I'm proud of you for actually holding it! Wasn't too bad eh?

No more bites came to me, but luckily just before we packed up, Harry was able to save a blank with a cracking 16lb dark common! The barrows were loaded, and our thoughts were already on the weekend following to get back down here! Maybe the queen of the lake next time?

Max Leggett