The One Barb Common - Oscar Thornton

After finishing work on Monday evening I headed straight down to the lakes to have a good look around ready to go back in the morning. After walking round the roach pit and Rockford I decided that I would do my first trip of the year on Rockford, I had done a few nights there the previous autumn and managed to snare one but hadn't returned. When walking round I could see the majority of the stock in the out of bounds enjoying the sunshine, much like myself, so I left them to it and headed home with a plan.

When I arrived the next morning, full of confidence, I jumped out the car and made a very fast move round to peg 1, as I could see the person fishing the swim was leaving. After speaking to him for a short time he said the fish had done the off and moved out into the middle, however with a couple of nights ahead of me, I was sure as soon as the sun came up properly the fish would start to make their way into the out of bounds again, then leave in the evening as the sun was going down.

After sitting and watching the fish slowly move into the out of bounds, rather than cast straight onto them I waited until they were all right round the corner enjoying the mid day sun, It didn't take long! I tied a small lead onto the marker rod and started to have a little feel around and see what I could find, after a short amount of time it became pretty clear that there was a gravel bar that ran straight from the middle of the lake into the out of bounds, it was also very shallow which would be ideal in these sunny conditions as many of the fish I was seeing were holding in the upper layers of the water. I decided to put two rods on the shallow bar, as far round as you are allowed to go to the right, before you are fishing into the out of bounds. I was adamant that the bar would be a main entry point for them to swim in and out of their sanctuary. I spread two kilos of boilies over the spot and fished two hinged stiff-links over the top, at 100 yards range. The reason for the rig choice was that there were small patches of silk weed all over the bar and I knew that when fishing a hinge, I could have a perfectly presented hook bait sat on my spot.

I fished a six-foot length of gravel brown Kable leadcore, tied up with a Lead Clip and a 4oz distance lead. For the boom section of the hinge I used around 4 inches of Hybrid Stiff, with a loop at either end to allow for plenty of movement. The stiff end was tied with a small piece of 20lb mouthtrap and a size 6 choddy hook, to connect the boom to the stiff end I used a size 11 ring swivel and placed a small amount of putty over the knot on the stiff material.

After speaking to the person who previously occupied the swim, he was saying how the fish all moved into the middle of the lake at night so I began to have a lead around out in the middle. The bottom seemed pretty uniform and it was hard to find a spot that was different from anything else, but at around 140 yards straight out towards the middle of an island I was still landing on the bar that ran out of the out of bounds, so I decided that would be a prime zone to place my third rod. For this spot I put out about a kilo of boilies and fished the same rig as the ones on my other rods.

The first night passed with no action, other than a few liners. In the evening, the fish made it pretty clear that they were leaving the out of bounds as the light went down, and heading into the middle just as I had predicted. By 10 o'clock the following morning I could see a lot of fishing cruising around on the surface heading straight back for their daily sunbathe in the out of bounds, so I decided not to recast and leave my rods where they were, hoping one swimming through might drop down and have a feed. Maybe as they left in the evening, one might stop.

The day seemed to be dragging on forever, then at around 7 o'clock, just as the sun was starting to drop behind the trees my right hand rod round the corner pulled up tight and pinged out the clip. I jumped straight into the waders and picked up the rod, the fish towed me straight around the corner and I was forced to wade out as far as possible. After a long battle and being dragged all over the place I finally slipped the net under what I could see was a large common. After closer inspection I knew exactly what fish it was, one they call 'The One Barb Common' as you can imagine, it has one barbule. My mate was already sat with me when I had the take so we quickly got everything sorted and placed her on the scales, they flew round to 39lb 2oz, beating my previous PB common by nearly 10 pounds. I was ecstatic and we fired off some quick photos and sent her back to her watery home - I was blown away!

I carried on fishing until the following morning with no more action, but it was fair to say I haven't stop smiling. What a treat on my first trip back.

Until next time, just enjoy your fishing

Oscar Thornton