Record Common - Clive Gibbins

To approximately 1 in 365 of you, Tuesday 27th April will be special.... your birthday. This date is now indelibly etched in my memory as the date I caught the record French common, the second biggest known common in the world and the fish of a lifetime all in one go.
This was my third visit in as many years to Etang Saussie, near Vitry in the champagne region of France - a superb fishery whose residents are now averaging nearly 40lb.
The jewel in saussies' crown though is a magnificent common which was last caught by Bill Cottam in the autumn of 2009 at its best ever weight of 78lb+.
On my previous trips, the big common never really occupied my thoughts, even though I caught well enough on both sessions. This time, though, probably due to Bills' magnificent capture, it did cross my mind numerous times that a globally large common was swimming around in front of me somewhere for at least seven days.
Three nights in and all I had to show for my efforts was a carp lost and a less than impressive tench, whilst the other 3 lads were catching steadily with a 53lb common gracing the net for phil. I stuck to my guns and continued to bait my 3 spots regularly with boilies only, thinking that when the fish did show up there would be something worth stopping for.
At 8am on the Tuesday morning the indicator on my right hand rod dropped slowly then climbed up to the butt. I watched the line tighten through the surface film and struck into the fish. The fish slowly but unstoppably made its way towards the far end of the lake to my right and already I was thinking I had hooked one of the two resident cats as this was like no carp I'd ever played before. The fight continued for around 20 minutes, gaining line just a few yards at a time as the fish stayed deep and stubborn. Thankfully, all ended well as the fish went into the net at the first attempt. The lads peered into the net and I knew by their reaction and numerous expletives that the big common was mine!
My initial reaction was that I'd probably got myself a seventy pound plus fish but I was wrong... the fish had crashed through the 80 barrier to a fantastic 83lb 4oz!
Photos done, much handshaking, back slapping, texting and phoning and even a bottle of Moet kindly presented by owner Phil Gregory, capped a special day!
I continued to catch steadily from then on and the four of us ended the week with a very satisfactory total of 36 fish - including 14 fish over 40, 2 x 50's and of course the huge common.
From reel to hook I used Korda terminal tackle, 0.35 brown Subline, A Safezone Hybrid Clip leader, Kwik Link to an 11" Hybrid Soft rig with two Sinkers and a size 4 Kurv shank tied KD style. A 24mm air dried hook bait (made from my own combination of Nutrabaits BFM, Trigga and Enervite and other goodies). An Extenda Stop finished off the setup.
A great trip with great company and what a way to christen my new 3.25lb Infinity DF's - happy days!
Oh yeah, I almost forgot to thank my old mate Neil Spooner who kindly tied up the rigs for me. It could've been you fella, haha.

Clive Gibbins