Merv Bags a Seventy! - Merv Pennell

"I arrived at my French venue on Saturday 21st September with three other mates. We knew we had the whole lake to ourselves and had a good walk round to see what we fancied. We all decided on our swims and started setting up about 2pm French time. It was probably about 6pm by the time I had finished checking out the water in front of me with the aid of the boat and dropped all three rods on the selected spots, along with copious amounts of Essential baits B5 and Creamseed boilies and a serious amount of pellets. Both boilies were rolled as barrels with added fermented pineapple as I have had a lot of big fish over the last four years on this combination.

I was sitting by the rods at just before 9pm, soaking up the first-night atmosphere with a beer, when the middle indicator dropped to the floor. I turned my headtorch on to watch the line getting slacker by the second and realised it must be "fish on". I wound down and eventually caught up with the fish and could feel that horrible grating and pinging down the line as it moves through weed. The lead had popped off and the fish came up in the water, still at about 90 yards out in the lake and just kited right towards the next obstacle. At this point I got on the radio to Liam and told him I thought I had one of the big grassies on as it just wasn't fighting at all, it was just a dead weight on the end. I knew the grassies went to over 70lb. I then decided to give it some stick and haul it back towards me as I couldn't be a proper carp weighing this heavy and fighting like this.

Well, after about another 10 minutes of pumping, lifting and battling with this heavy weight we caught a sight of the biggest common carp I had ever seen in the flesh. Liam lifted the other rods out the way, stripped off and waded out with the net to the fish, after about three attempts the beast just about went in the net. Its head hit the spreader of the 42-inch net and its tail was still over the cord by a long way. We shook it into the net and then just looked at it, taking in the sheer size of the beast. It had the frame of an eighty and I knew it had been a mid-eighty when spawned up, but it was looking good and came in just under 74lb, at 73lb.12oz.

To say that I was over the moon was an understatement, first run on a new venue, first fish, new PB common. Over the course of the rest of the week I had a further two fifties, a forty-nine, a forty-eight, a forty and a thirty-two. All the other guys had PBs of some sort or other. Pete Matthews had a 60lb 8oz common, Liam Smith took a 59lb 4oz common and Shawn Reynolds banked a 56lb mirror. We finished with a seventy, a sixty, five fifties, five forties and four thirties during a period when the conditions weren't great. There was no wind, high air pressure, just after a full moon, very hot in the day.

I can't wait to get back when the conditions are better for catching a few. I took the fish on Century 3.5lb SPs, Shimano Technium 10,000 XT reels, 15lb X Line, Korda 3oz Square Pear Inline leads, 18lb Supernatural braid, tied to size-8 Wide Gapes. The rigs were fished blowback style with a single B5 barrel, tipped with Korda IB Corn. After the big one I had no further action until Wednesday morning and then added the six others at various points until I packed up Saturday morning. I have had a lot of big fish over the last three or four years and I spent time telling my mates on this trip about my favourite catchphrase, that, “I’d rather be lucky than good." What a lucky sod I am!"