New Solar Team Member Scott Harris landed a fish of a lifetime this year, in the shape of this 54lb common. Here's the man himself with the full story.
Since the UK lockdown eased, I've been continuing with my fishing on a deep Nottinghamshire pit of around 65 acres which is the home of some incredible carp that I've been fishing for, on and off, since 2016. The pit was once very low stocked and a handful of bites in a season was considered to be a decent result.
It has since undergone re-stocking and throughout 2018 and 19 it was quite common to land 20 plus carp on a 48 hour session, and while these are a lovely variety of young fish that provide good sport and ensure a healthy future for the fishery, it did mean that it was going to be a bit of a numbers game getting through to the real gems of the lake now that they were heavily diluted amongst the stock.
Occasionally word would come through of an angler achieving his dream and banking one of the lakes much desired giants. I've spent countless hours staring at other anglers catch pics and wondering if my turn would ever come, as one by one, I netted my way through literally hundreds of the lakes stock, and while I caught some stunning carp to over 30lb and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, the ones I spent all my time thinking about constantly eluded me. Every battle was exhilarating and tension filled, not knowing what was pulling back or what the next bite would be always made for a great atmosphere around the lake and kept me coming back for more.
I've keep detailed notes of all captures, that I am aware of, of the lakes big girls, including dates, swims caught from, weather conditions, moon phases and any other information to do with the captures that I deem important enough to document. With such a large number of fish present it can be difficult to try and target individual fish and baiting up swims isn't really an option as the hungry shoals of stockies can easily and quickly clear up 10 kg of bait before moving on to look for more, so my notes of past captures are very important to me when making plans and deciding on a swim. That being said I'm often more than satisfied to locate a group of fish and try to catch whatever comes along. Action can be frantic at times and alot of fun. I've also spent many hours with the marker rod and have got spots marked up in about 80 % of the lakes swims that I can drop on quietly and with minimal disturbance.
The pit was effected quite badly by the floods this year and was forced to close, as were many fisheries across the country, for several weeks, and with the enforcement of the lockdown, the whole of spring was out the window. Only time will tell how many and which fish had escaped in the floods, or if any new ones were gained, but it was a relief when the 3 most saught after residents were caught soon after the lockdown was lifted and since then several of the other most wanted have made an appearance too.
The floods have left a soft layer of sediment across much of the lake bed, several inches deep, that your lead sinks into and hookbaits come back smelling quite badly. I got my first few sessions in during late may but it was a pretty slow start and although I caught a few, I found that alot of my go to spots from last season were no longer presentable and despite being on showing fish regularly and making changes to my lead and rig presentation to suit, I just wasn't picking up many bites. After a bit more investigation and leading around it became apparent that many of the tops of bars, plateaus and raised areas in general, plus the marginal slopes, had remained much cleaner and a good drop on the lead was still possible in places. I made a plan to only fish the raised areas in the lake until I was happy that the rest of the lake bed was fishable again, I just don't think they're getting down and feeding with the lake bed in its current state and I don't want to be leaving uneaten bait down their going off and gasing up.
I had a handful of fish over a couple of sessions in June but didn't get as much fishing done in July as I would have liked due to other commitments but I must admit that i did squeeze in a couple of overnight blanks! Undeterred by my struggles, August arrived and I was back on the bank on the 1st day of the month.
The sun was shining and the wind was blowing a good west/south Westerly, the kind that looked ideal for flicking a few bags down the margins for a quick bite. I watched the water for a few minutes and saw one fish show 30 yards out. I was just about to get the gear out the van when I stopped and gave some thought to my notes. I realized that this time last year, the other end of the lake produced a few good fish and it was also common for the biguns to come out on the back of the wind. Not to mention we were only 2 days away from the full moon which, my records show, was a good time to be up that northern end. I got myself round there and as it happens, the 4 swims along the bank I was interested in were empty. The wind was coming over my right shoulder and the first 30 yards of water were flat before the wind effected the surface. I knew of some good clean shallower areas out there too.
I wrapped up to the areas I wanted to fish and a good drop on each lead confirmed that the spots were clean. Left rod 60 yards on top of a 16ft plateau that falls away Into 25ft a rod length further, club mix 14mm pop up on a Ronnie rig plus 5 spombs of bait. Middle and right rods 50 yards to a much bigger raised area with similar depths but a more gradual slope off into the deeper water. Rigs positioned 8ft apart. Club mix pop up on middle rod, club mix wafter on the right plus 10 spombs over the 2 rods. The spomb mix consisted mostly of whole, broken and crumbed up 15mm club mix boilies that had been coated in marine 17 compound a few days previous. I added a decent amount of hemp seed and a handful of tigers and then left the boilies over night to absord the juices from the hemp. Everything felt right, and despite seeing no fish that evening, I was quite happy that I was where I needed to be and went to bed feeling confident.
The night passed without interruption and I was sat looking at the water the next morning beginning to doubt my decision and thinking about whether I should have set up on that wind yesterday, when out of nowhere one popped it's head out close to my area with the 2 rods on it, then another showed shortly after and within 5 minutes i'd probably seen a dozen or more shows. They were on me! A few liners and some fizzing confirmed that they were getting there heads down and not just staying in the upper layers. I was that confident that I put the waders on and went and sat by the rods ready for action. A good 40 minutes past and still no pick ups, but just as I started to feel like my chance was slipping away, the bobbin on the middle rod with the club mix pop up on, which hadn't been moved since it was cast out the evening before, rose to the meet the rod blank and the tip nodded gently over before everything quickly dropped slack! I was on it straight away. I wound up the slack and bent into the fish which swam the first 20 yards back towards me before putting on the brakes, resisting my pressure for a few seconds, and then taking off 40 yards up the left hand margin, slowly ticking line off the clutch as she went. To be honest, it felt like a battle that I'd faught many times before and I've learned to never underestimate the fighting power of any carp in deep water. The amount of times I would have swore I was into a biggun, only for an 18 pounder to pop up has taught me to take each battle as it comes and not to be too down about the ones that drop off. Anyway, the fish stayed high in the water, which was good because there was a fair bit of marginal weed to my left, and I slowly gained line back until the fish was under my rod tips. As I said the lake is very deep, even close in, and there was a bit of an alge bloom colouring up the lake so despite the next 5 minutes of the battle taking place practically under the rod tips, I still hadn't a clue what I'd hooked. All of a sudden, after what was probably a 15 minute fight, she gave up, rising gently to the surface in front of me ready for netting. As I went in with the net, my first thoughts were along the lines of 'that's a decent one' which turned quickly into 'oh Jesus it's massive' as I struggled to get her back end in the net first time of trying. Heart pounding, hands trembling and goosebumps like I've never felt Before, I shuffled her in, wedged the landing net pole into the lake bed and peered down at the biggest carp I'd ever seen in the bottom of my net. Truly gigantic, I recognized her as a fish named Tutti, one of the lakes top prizes that I'd longed to catch and had spent hours staring at her photograph's over the last few years. It's hard to describe the feeling but the next 2 minutes I just stood there in the water with her in the net and just stared at her in amazement before I got myself together a bit and tried to steady my nerves and shaking hands enough to make some phone calls for help. My mate Simon, who lives just down the road, dropped everything and was with me 10 minutes later, thanks mate, and a call to the fishery manager soon saw a small party of anglers arrive in my swim to help out with the weighing and photos. We doubled up the unhooking mats for extra padding and lifted her up onto the scales. The needle spun round way beyond what it had done before and the weight was read out '54lb 12oz' Unbelievable. I was blown away and was still trembling as I struggled to lift her enormous weight for the cameras. What an amazing, unforgettable moment and what an honour to catch such a fish. We watched her, In all her magnificence, swim off into the depths in what felt like slow motion. the lads showered me with lake water and cheers of congratulations came my way.
One by one the crowd dispersed until it was just me again. I layed on the bank, flat on my back, looking up at the clouds with a massive grin on my face just taking in the moment and thinking about how lucky I'd been that day. The feeling I'm left with since catching tutti has motivated me and fueled my passion for angling stronger that ever before, and as I write this article I'm already back on the bank, rods are cast out, and I thought I just saw a bit of fizzing near my left hand rod. who knows what the next bite could be.