• Big Old North West Mirror
  • Perfection
  • Another PB
  • Chunky Mirror
  • Perfection


Dan Bailey's Dream Session

The lake in question is a large boating lake in the North west and is home to some of the finest carp in Cheshire. However, the lake doesn’t give its residents up easily so to have landed 28 fish in under 48 hours, was a session of a lifetime.

Knowing the lake would be busy, I managed to arrive just before first light in the hope people would be leaving later that day. A lap later and it was no surprise to find only a handful of swims available. I decided to setup in an area I’d had success from in the previous year. Knowing it would give me a good central view of the lake as dawn broke, I jumped in the waders and hoped the carp would give their whereabouts away. By late morning, I was disappointed to have seen very little down my end of the lake, so with a bucket to hand, decided to go for a wander. After several conversations with a few different anglers, I found myself in luck when I was able to drop the bucket in a swim that had done a bite the day previous.

Once set up in the swim, it was evident that a few fish were holding in the area. I believed this to be because of the shallow bars that extended to around 90 yards out in front of me and the temperature reaching highs of 23 degrees later that day. Having fished the swim a few times previous, I decided to lightly bait on top of a bar around 80 yards out, but as the evening drew in, I knew that I’d made a mistake as the bulk of the fish were much closer, so I kept one rod on the spot at 80 yards, and the other on a raised area I’d managed to find some 50 yards out. I opted to fish spinner rigs on Heli Safes, with the top bead positioned about a foot or so high in order to combat the patchy weed in the area. As the evening drew in, it was clear I’d made the right move and as the sun began to dip below the tress, the rod that I’d rechucked short signalled a take. After a lengthy battle, I had a lovely 27lb mirror in the folds of my net.

The night passed uneventful, but it was clear the carp were still held in the area. I made the decision to put both rods on the short spot, as I’d seen a few fizzers over the spot and as the sun began to come up, I managed a couple of smaller commons off the spot. That was all the proof I needed that I had to up the baiting. After every fish, I rebaited with a few spombs and made sure I had rigs tied up ready to go to optimise my time fishing. I’ve used these match tactics in the past, but I didn’t expect to be using them at this venue, but there I was viewing the lake as if it was Brasenose 3.

Several bites later and I managed my first special one of the trip, a mega looking fish known as ‘The Sandy Common’ and at 33lb 2oz, it was also a new personal best common. In typical style, many of the lads came around and I got buckets of water over my head. From here on out, the action was relentless. Once the common had been slipped back, I again managed a few of the smaller residents which I just slipped back knowing that the special ones could be out there, and I was right. Only a few hours after slipping back my PB common, I received a steady take. The fish kited on a long line to my left and felt like a heavy dead weight from the off. By now, it was clear I was hooked into a better one and an audience of anglers had gathered at the back of the swim waiting to see what I was hooked into. Once the fish was wallowing on the surface, I could see exactly what it was and once scooped in the net, I turned back to the lads shouting, ‘it’s single!’. On the mat she looked massive. She weighed 39lb 2oz, which once again, was a new personal best and meant I got another soaking. A huge buzz, but I didn’t have time to take it in as the fish were still smashing the spot and I had one fish on my mind, a rarely caught upper 30 zip linear that I desperately want in the album.

At this point I knew I wouldn’t have enough bait. Before nipping to the shop, I baited the swim with a large amount of Krill and corn. No sooner had I returned, the bites came straight away. Within an hour of returning, I managed an upper 20 common, a mid 20 fully scaled and a couple of smaller stockies before once again, having a slower take which suggested a better fish. Once in the net, I realised what I’d hooked and gave it a shout to indicate I had the king of the pond in my net – ‘The Half Lin’. A recapture but surely worth a few more shots. No sooner had I netted the linear, my other rod was away with a mid 20 common which I slipped straight back as my eyes were firmly set on a potentially 40lber in my net. Once on the bank and surrounded by many friends, we weighed her at 38lb. My third North west 30 of the day!

After returning ‘The Half Lin’, the spot quietened off and I saw very little that evening. I imagined the fish had moved into the deeper water as the night drew in, but I was grateful to have some much-needed rest as I finished the day on 16 fish! I set my alarm for 2am which would allow me an hour or two to get some prep done at first light as I expected the takes to be thick and fast. At 3am, I found myself scrambling into the waders playing what turned out to be another low twenty scaly and by 5am, I’d landed a further 4 fish up to mid 20s. A few phone calls were made to friends to help out with the pics and weighing. Some anglers ended up winding in and setting up in the swim to witness the day’s action unfold.

The next take was very different. The rod was ripped out the rest and upon connecting with the fish it powered out towards the middle and hit the surface over 150 yards out before I had any chance of slowing it down. 20 minutes later and I was netting an absolute animal of a carp, a fish known as ‘The Bully’ at just shy of 32lb. I wish I could talk about every fish but the next few hours were that relentless, I only managed to photo and appreciate a couple. The first a leathery original of 27lb and the other a rarely caught mirror known as ‘Starburst’. Unfortunately, the session was cut short as a few of the younger fish started to spawn later that day and so rightly so, the lake was shut.

Rigs wise, I used Spinner Rigs which were mounted with small 12mm yellow mulbs to match the small items of bait I was feeding. Hooks, I started with my trusted size 4 Wide Gapes but after going through my last couple of packets, I switched to the size 4 Kranks and had just as much success. For the lead arrangement, I used Heli Safes with the top bead a foot or so high to ensure my rig lay flat over any weed that surrounded the area.

Many anglers that witnessed the session have described it AS the biggest haul the venue has ever done and its certainly a trip I’ll remember for a very long time. Right place, right time and with consistent angling, anything’s possible. Long live the big carp buzz!

Dan Bailey