No one was there as usual so I made my way down to the area I had caught from the week before. There was a very strong westerly wind and it all looked good for a couple more fish. I baited up and cast to the same spots as had produced during September and October. The wind stayed strong and the temperature mild. Nothing showed before just before dark, which, with the clocks going back, was early. My friend Ian turned up, with the strong wind he was going to fish a swim near the dam but as I was there he chose to fish just a bit further up the bank so we could have a chat. The evening was quiet carp-wise but we had a chat and then the bailiff too turned up, as he had been away for a week, to see what had happened. In fact, apart from my big fish, three other 20lbers had come out, which was a bit of a result for this lake.

After the bailiff had gone and Ian and I had chatted a bit longer we retired to our oval brollies expecting to be woken in the night by a carp. All remained quiet though until 1am when I had a tench on the rod cast out to a hole in the weed. Shortly after it rained for a while and the temperature dropped. Whether it was this that put the fish off Iím not sure but neither of us had any more action. I knew the weather forecast was for sunny days and cool nights with slack winds so I put some bait in the edge, under a small tree in a channel between an island and bank, as I had been doing regularly since September. Often nothing moves in, or the swans do, but I had caught two good fish this way so it was always worth a go. In fact I use a fast dissolving pellet, Hutchinsonís formula magic, which means the silt is tainted with food but the swans cannot find anything.

When, in anticipation, I arrived again 36 hours later, I peered carefully under the tree expecting to see nothing. It was sunny and calm, as promised, and I was surprised to see two tails waving as two good carp fed on the bait, their heads nearest the bank. Both looked to be over 20lb, one a couple of inches longer than the other. Taking my stuff to my usual area I got a rod ready baited and crept back to the spot. I could only see one carp now and that had moved a bit so carefully I lowered a bait next to a small branch that I use as a marker when putting the bait in. I know it is hard cleared sand there in three feet of water. I use leadcore so, making sure the line was flat and slack, I positioned the rod on two rests 20 yards further up the bank where there is a small gap in the undergrowth, the line in effect trailing along the margins. I sat for a while expecting the rod to rip off when I remembered I had not got the landing net so I quickly went to get it. I peered in again and in the fast coming gloom of dusk I could see that both carp were on the spot feeding again. However 30 minutes later still nothing had happened and by now it was too dark to see in the water so I decided to set up my shelter and cast out the other rod back at my main swim 40 yards up the bank. This done I went back to the margin rod intending to give it 15 more minutes. I was on my way back when the buzzer screamed and I ran quickly the last 5 yards.

The carp was taking line at a fast rate and as I picked up the rod and struck it was pulled down hard. I walked up to where the carp was fighting to ensure it did not snag any trailing branches but it was fighting mid channel in open water so it was easy to guide it back to the gap where the net was. The fight was short but powerful in the now total darkness but I was able to net it easily first go.

On the bank the carp was a deep Italian shaped carp with a large round tail. It was in lovely condition but it had several old dark scars on its flanks which were virtually devoid of scales, just a line along its dorsal and a few near its tail. The hook was well back and again I was pleased, as I had lost a few on hook pulls. On the scales it weighed a very pleasing 22lb 6oz, this was a fantastic late run of carp I was having! I took the photos using the almost permanent two sticks I had stuck in the ground weeks before that to mark the position of the mat and tripod for after-dark photos. So much better than trying to focus using a torch. After a few quick snaps I lowered it back in to the cold water and watched it swim away, then cast the rod back to my usual spot on the back of the island.

It had really got cold now, the sky was full of bright stars and after putting some bait in I was just making myself warm when the bailiff came along. He was surprised and pleased with the news of the fish but we both agreed that a frost would bring the end of most action, certainly this night looked a bit doubtful. However it was not long after he left that the rod out in open water on the back of a large weedbed tore off. The fight of this one was different, slow and easy, it was just like leading in a dead weight. I walked up the bank to the easy netting spot and soon the carp was in the net. It was a solid looking mirror, very fat. In fact it looked like a square brick with a tail stuck on, it weighed an amazing 15lb 12oz, a normal shaped fish would have been perhaps 12lb. I was pleased though and after a quick shot on the mat I put it back.

The night got very cold and nothing else happened. I packed up at dawn and found ice on the shelter and on the car, winter was here, the next few nights were also frosty. I decided to make that session my last for the real winter and I intend to go back in February if it gets mild then. It has been a fantastic summer and autumn there, I caught what I wanted when I decided to return to fish the lake after several years away. I had wanted one of the big commons, in fact caught two. Nice one!

Have fun!