It’s funny how circumstances and plans change in the blink of an eye. I’d had a very productive April fishing down in Cambridgeshire but due to a few reasons needed to find an adventure a bit closer to home for a while.

Now not a million miles from me is a North Lincs syndicate that I’ve had my ticket on for a couple of years, and one of the two lakes on sight has an old war horse of a carp known as Arnie lurking in its depths, I’ve known about Arnie for years, probably 20 or so in fact and always wanted to catch it.

I had a little dabble last spring, literally five or six nights throughout April before I headed off to waters further afield. I caught a few and learnt an awful lot about the lake, having spent considerable amounts of time with a leading rod in areas I thought I would be looking to target when I gave the lake a proper go!

Well around three weeks ago I dropped back on for my first trip, a 24-hour trip as a social with my good mate Al Atkinson, and having spent a good while looking I spotted an area of coloured water in a swim known as First Corner, and a shimmy up a tree in the corner revealed a couple of fish grazing in the area, and just off the back of the group I noticed a bigger shadow. Initially I couldn’t tell which fish it was but as it lifted slightly in the water I knew straight away what I was looking at. It was undoubtedly the king of the lake and he took the same route in to the corner three or four times over the space of an hour or two whilst I perched up the tree watching, and he even gave away a dinner plate on his route in to the corner, dropping down on the same spot on each lap of his little circuit, clouding up the bottom every time which to me gave away a spot the king was happy to feed on. After a couple of hours watching I shinned back down to Earth and legged it to the van to grab some bait. Soon enough I had half a bucket of crumbed and whole boilies mixed with hemp, tiger nuts and rock salt ready to go out into the lake. Something else I do at this time of year is soak my boilies in hemp oil or Fossoil straight from the freezer so the baits are drawing in the oil as they are thawing. Mixed with a bit of rock salt I think it adds to the attractiveness tenfold, and also gives me a visual indication that fish are feeding on my bait when the slicks start to kick up and flatten off the water’s surface over the spots.

Anyway, I baited the extreme margin with the boilie/hemp and tiger nut mix, and the spot where the king had dropped I baited solely with boilies – not lots and lots but enough to draw his attention if he felt like it.

I left the area alone for a while whilst having a brew and a natter with a mate over on the other lake on the complex. Soon enough the temptation got the better of me and I was back in the corner swim with the gear and soon had the tempest brolly up and the rods out, I fished a rod into the margins of the corner, just the one though, the other two rods I fished out into open water avoiding the spot I’d seen the king dipping down on. Once the rods were sorted I nipped the short distance back to the corner and got back into my seat in the tree to watch again, the king was no longer around although there were a few fish still in the area, four or five, which for a ten acre lake with around a 50 fish stock is obviously quite a few. After a while watching I got back down onto ground level and went and fired the kettle up to contemplate what I’d seen, and in fairness a plan was starting to form in my little brain.

From the few nights I’d done the previous spring I knew the fish liked to show at night, so I got my head down early and got up about 1.00am to sit and listen in the darkness, and true to form about 2.00am I started to hear a few show, and after a cup or two of coffee the shows stopped and I knew I was in the right half of the lake, so I jumped back into the sleeping bag and was soon back dreaming about all sorts.

Not long later, I was awoken from my slumber by an absolute screamer of a take and the spool on the reel of the left-hand rod fished in the extreme margin of the corner was a blur. Soon enough I was on the rod and in control of whatever I was attached to, and in the darkness I eventual led my prize into my waiting landing net – and what a prize it was – a gorgeous scaley mirror of around 20lbs, which I soon had secured in the Sanctuary Retention Sling pending first light for a few quick catch shots.

A Mini Adventure – Jim Wilson – Trakker

Trev’s Pet – an awesome carp.

Once the catch shots were done I had a steady pack down, and finished-up with a quick lead-around with my minesweeper lead, which lets me known about subtle differences in the lake bed due to the substrate you can fetch back on the prongs. That little lead-about gave me a feeling that the spot I’d seen the king feed on could be one of them spots.

I couldn’t bait-up on leaving due to the lake been busy and a mate following me into the swim, and I didn’t want to give too much away about what I’d seen (Sorry Al). For a day or so after that sighting I kept thinking about the corner and the spot I’d seen the king dropping down on. It was obviously on his patrol route in and out of the corner, and from what I’d gathered from some of the other lads I’d spoke to it definitely wasn’t a well-fished spot!

With that in mind I made the effort to get down to the lake for a look, and took some bait with me should the lake be quiet enough to bait up Thankfully it was, and I gave the area around the spot a good hit of Mainline’s finest knowing I’d be back with the rods three-or-so days later.

When the next session came around I arrived at the lake midday-ish and the corner swim was taken, although the weather didn’t seem right for it to me, so I went hunting, and it was absolutely pouring down with rain and when I say I got drenched to the bone, I mean I got drenched to the bone. Like an idiot I’d left my Downpour Jacket in the van when I’d set off for my lap of the lake, and was half way up one of the spotting trees when the heavens didn’t just open – it was more like releasing a dam! The pit was quite busy with five of the nine swims taken, although a swim known as the Pump House was free, and as I stood in the swim a fish showed twice in quick succession against the island, probably 90 yards away. Having seen very little on my walk round I opted to get my gear set-up in the Pump House initially.

Once set-up and sorted I settled in under the Tempest Brolly for the evening, and with the heavens remaining open and heavy there wasn’t much moving around to be done, so I sat with a cuppa and watched the water. Late evening the water seemed to come alive, and from where I was positioned I could watch all of the side of the lake I was fishing, including the corner area down to my right.

A Mini Adventure – Jim Wilson – Trakker

A belting 20lb mirror.

I sat up late that night, doing the nights as I call them, because I had a feeling the fish would keep showing through the night and they certainly did… eventually stopping showing about 4.00am, and by that time I’d lost one on the long rod fished tight up to the island margin and landed a belting low-20 mirror from an open-water spot I’d found during a little lead around before getting the rods out. I reeled the rods in for a good chunk of the day and spent it up and down the tress looking at different areas of the lake trying to locate the big ‘un again, but couldn’t find him, and I kept getting drawn back to the corner I’d seen him in the week before.

A Mini Adventure – Jim Wilson – Trakker

Night of the cats…

The lake was much quieter for the second night, in fact I think there was only me on, but I decided to stay put for the night, and fish the same spots as the night before, having baited quite heavily and the conditions remaining favourable for where I was. Around 2.30am the middle rod literally ripped into life and from the off it felt different, strange in fact, and after a heavy fight I had one of the lakes catfish in the landing net, I didn’t weight it, guessing it was around the 30lb mark and soon had it unhooked and returned and sorted the rod and got it back onto the spot. Soon enough I was back in the sleeping bag, hoping the cat hadn’t ruined my chances of a carp. I shouldn’t have worried because soon enough I was returning a mid-double mirror after the left-hand rod woke me from my slumber. I can only have had the rod sorted 20 minutes or so when the middle rod was away again, and from the off I knew it was another of the lakes catfish. I just couldn’t do anything with it for the first few minutes of the fight and had a feeling it was a bigger one. After 20-or-so minutes I finally got my first glimpse of it, confirming my initial thoughts that it was one of the bigger ones, and after another 10-or-so minutes of having my right arm wrenched off I finally got the beast in the folds of the Hydro Landing Net.

A Mini Adventure – Jim Wilson – Trakker

A 60lb beast!

I decided to weight this one, which bottomed my 60lb scales out! A few quick shots of it in the crib and off it went back to the depths, with me really believing the chances of another carp bite were well over after that. A couple of hours later I was on the phone to my best mate when the right-hand rod sprang into life, and after what was clearly a carp battle I soon had a mid-20 common in the folds of the net. Once I’d done the self takes I sorted a brew then started to pack up.

Before leaving I made sure to bait the corner spot quite heavily, which I was becoming more and more convinced was on a patrol route of the lakes big ‘un, so I gave it another hit of boilies and then went on my way.

I didn’t think I would be able to get back for a week or so due to work and other commitments, but with a little engineering in place and a day or so leave at work I was back on the bank five days later, certainly not an expected trip but I had one of those feelings that I needed to get back. The lake was busy, with only three free swims, and not fishing great either. My mate Lewis in The Point had had a couple, but he certainly can catch them! The corner swim was free as was the swim immediately to it’s right and then the finger bay, and despite my best efforts I couldn’t see fish in any of the free areas, so opted for the corner.

A Mini Adventure – Jim Wilson – Trakker

All tucked-up in the corner.

I decided to do the night and reassess my options in the morning if anything else had come free, for some reason I decided to bait the spot on the patrol route but not put a rod on in it, fishing spots well away from it, the weather wasn’t right for the corner at all and didn’t feel like the right area at all and when I woke up at first light to nothing having happened on any of the rods I wasn’t surprised at all. The lake wasn’t getting any quieter that day either so it was pack-up and go home or sit it out – so I went with the latter option and sat it out. It was mid-afternoon when me and my good mate Ian Bailey were having one of our regular phone calls about all things carp and we were talking about a certain rig we had both been toying with the idea of using. That phone call made me tie-up a couple. It looked the nuts, and I couldn’t see how it wouldn’t work. So when I re-did the rods for the evening I changed rigs on the middle rod to the presentation we’d had the chat about, and moved it onto the spot I’d seen the big ‘un feeding on.

During the night I had a bite on the right hand rod, which resulted in an upper double/low 20 mirror which I quickly slipped back, and other than that it seemed really quiet, although I knew Lewis round the other side of the lake was having a few.

Come morning it felt different, the wind had swung and was know going west/south west into the corner I was fishing and it was overcast and humid, some of my favourite conditions and it started to feel right so I started making noises about doing a third night because it felt that good.

Around half-nine I was feeling a little despondent, it looked so good and felt right. Lewis had packed up and was sat in the swim punishing my tea supplies and we sat chatting about the king of the pond Arnie, and a few of the others we would dearly love to catch when the middle rod burst into life, and from the first run I thought it was a better fish, just staying deep and plodding against the pressure I was trying to put on it, and after a few minutes of tussling I started to gain control and whatever I was attached too surfaced 20 yards or so out, these big shoulders just breached the water’s surface and I think both Lewis and I knew exactly what I was attached to, and a few minutes later he was mine, wrapped safely in the folds of the net. Such a buzz, such an absolute buzz… My size 4 totally nailed in Arnies rubbery old bottom lip… Once everything was sorted we hoisted him ashore and weighed him in at a very healthy 44lb 12oz! Lewis did me mega proud with the camera and soon enough I was watching him waddle away to hopefully make someone else’s dreams come true.


A Mini Adventure – Jim Wilson – Trakker

Arnie coming ashore.

A Mini Adventure – Jim Wilson – Trakker

The highly-prized Arnie looking mega at 44lb 12oz.

A Mini Adventure – Jim Wilson – Trakker

Returning Arnie.



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