My Biggest Carp – Tony MilesPallatrax Angling
I still consider a carp of over 20lbs to be a specimen but these days it has to be said that a carp has to exceed 40lbs to enter the extra special category. At 50lb the fish really are few and far between in the UK and truly are monstrous fish. I’ve been lucky enough to have taken twelve UK forties. I don’t propose to describe the capture of them all, so what follows are the stories of my current biggest fish and the description of the most unbelievable 48 hours carp fishing of my career.
My first season in the Acton Burnell syndicate in 2003 had started with a bang and by early September I’d taken two 40lb plus mirrors and my biggest ever common of 39lb 10oz. When I arrived for my latest session, I had the rare privilege of having the fishery totally to myself, and moved my gear into a favourite swim known as the Conker, named after a magnificent horse chestnut that hangs over it.
For two hours, I baited with a large bucket of pigeon conditioner, hemp, groats and sweetcorn, together with two kilos of mini boilies. Baits of 14mm boilies with attaching stringers were cast out in late morning; it was warm and calm and I sat back in silent anticipation. Up until that session, the pattern had been to introduce particles on the first morning and then have to wait for the action to start either that night or, more commonly, the next day. That day, however, it was early afternoon when there was a sudden high pitched scream of a bite alarm, as line rattled off the spool of the left-hand reel. As I struck, something big and powerful slammed the rod over and the noise from the clutch rose to a high pitched whine. This fish was heading towards the shallows at an incredible rate of knots. Once that headlong dash had been stopped, I did not have too much trouble steadily pumping the carp back towards me, and I have to say that it never fought half as hard as other fish had, although it was a dead weight. About twenty minutes after the run, I was wading ashore with a real leviathan of a mirror carp. I soon confirmed a weight of 44lb 2oz, a lake record at the time and my new personal best.
A Mind Blowing Session
One of my most abiding memories is an unforgettable carp session in August 2006. I again had Acton to myself on my first day and once again elected to fish the Conker. My swim preparation followed the then proven approach of spodding a large bucket of mixed particles, after which I spent an hour clearing rafts of floating weed from the margins. It wasn’t until 11.00am that I cast my baits.
There was an interesting diversion in mid afternoon when a long and lean 16lb pike engulfed the boilies, but it was well after midnight when a bite alarm sounded for a second time. The result was a lovely mirror of 26lb 12oz. For the next twelve hours all was peaceful, until around 12.30pm, when the middle alarm suddenly burst into life and the spool began spinning crazily. As I struck, the rod slammed over and I knew that this was something special. Despite my usual tight clutch setting, the carp took fifty yards at breakneck speed, eventually thrashing at the surface under the surface weed of the bay on the far bank. It took a good thirty minutes of pumping and winding before the carp was circling twenty yards out. And then it refused to come any closer. Every time I thought it was about to yield, another frantic lunge saw me lose another few yards and I would have to bring it back all over again. At last, though, a tremendous mirror sagged into the mesh which I soon confirmed to be 40lb 2ozs.
Photographs taken and the fish safely returned, I started to rebait, but had to drop the rod on the rests hurriedly when the left hand alarm screamed out. Twenty minutes later another belting great mirror of 37lb 10ozs lay on the unhooking mat. Amazingly, as I was returning this second fish, the remaining alarm sounded, to be followed by the angry buzzing of a baitrunner as the rod shook in the rests. This was totally unreal! When I got to the rod, I could see that the spool was already half empty and I found that the carp had kited a long way to my right, towards the shallows, where the weed was getting really bad. I played that fish far harder than usual and once I’d got it in open water I was able to get it in the net in short order. A few minutes later, I was returning a lovely sleek mirror of 31lb 8ozs.
Back on the bank, I had total chaos all round me with all three rods needing recasting. It was 2.40pm; I had just experienced two hours of total madness that had resulted in two thirties and a forty. I was knackered, soaked and badly in need of a brew, but boy was I happy!
The action continued that evening, after about a three hour lull, when a pristine common of 27lb 10oz and another chunky mirror of 30lb 14ozs came to the net before I got my head down for the night. I had around four hours sleep until around 4.00am, when I awoke with a powerful premonition that something was about to occur. That is something that has happened to me often in my angling career and I have learned never to ignore it. I was actually standing expectantly behind the rods when the right hand one roared off. I struck, felt the kick of a good fish, and then waded out to the right hand rod rest with the landing net. I always placed rests about ten yards offshore at Acton at each side of the swim, as it was necessary to wade across the shallow margins to land extra big fish.
No more than two minutes into the fight, the alarm on the left hand rod began screaming, and there was nothing I could do about it. Initially I wondered whether I’d picked up the other line but soon realised that was impossible. This fish was heading to my right at a steep angle while the other rod had been cast well left. The alarm sounded continuously for five minutes or more before it eventually went quiet, and I assumed that the fish must have gone. Another twenty minutes passed before I was able to net another very big fish, which proved to weigh 36lb 12oz. I secured it in the water-filled weigh sling in the margins in preparation for a photograph. First, though, I needed to wind in the line from the other rod, and that is when I found that the second fish was still on. This carp had run into the weeds on the far bank and obviously stopped in a sulk. Once again, I was forced to pump a big fish through thick weed and, once clear, it began to fight in spectacular fashion. It was obviously very big indeed and I made the decision to release the 36 pounder without a photograph.
I didn’t want it languishing in the weigh sling for the duration of landing this second carp, so I quickly unhooked the sling from the rod rest support and allowed the carp to glide away. It was well that I did as the carp I was playing resisted for a further fifteen minutes before finally being coaxed into the net. As I carried the fish ashore I knew that I had another “forty”. When I confirmed 42lb 4ozs I realised that I had achieved something that I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever achieve, two forty pound carp in a session.
By the time I had organised photographs, got the fish back and sorted the gear, it was almost 6.00am and I decided to have one last cup of tea before starting packing for home. But I never did get that tea. The third rod went, and I was in again; this was fantasy carping! About ten minutes later, I landed another chunky common of 24lb 14oz to round off a quite spectacular session. As I said earlier, I cannot envisage ever experiencing another session to match it.