I had been fishing Bluebell Swan lake for around 14 months and my campaign could not really have gone any better over that period. I was turning up in mid September with a good number of fish under my belt in the previous 12 sessions I had managed to string together since I had started on the venue. The previous month I had slipped the net under a brace of forties and although my main target fish had eluded me, I knew at the rate I was catching it was not going to be long before she made an appearance, or so I hoped!
Upon arrival the weather conditions seemed pretty poor. It was fairly high pressure and the wind was non-existent. In my experience it was the complete opposite of the weather conditions upon which the lake seems to fish well. The carp always seem to respond well to low pressure with a bit of a blow on the water. The conditions looked so unfavourable on the forecast that I even considered not making the 2 hour journey. But as per usual, my mind was made up and I was up at 4.45am and in the van heading towards Peterborough to arrive at the lake for when the gates opened at 7am. I pulled up at the lake and it was flat calm. I bumped into an old friend of mine, Nigel, A nice guy who I had not seen in a number of years. In fact he had done the full cycle and given up fishing for a few years and was just getting back into it which was nice to see. We had a good catch up and watched the water for a couple of hours. I saw a good six or seven shows very close to a spot that I had fished a few weeks prior and on that session I had managed six bites off the spot in two nights. The angler in the swim where they were showing was off in the afternoon so I spent the morning walking around the complex and having a look at the other lakes with Bart before setting up in the swim where I had seen the fish. Rob Hughes was down later in the evening and set up to my left with Bart fishing to the left of Rob. We were the only three anglers on the whole of the road bank that night.
I plumbed the spot I had fished at around 65 yards a few weeks before and it was beautiful and clean, nicely polished off by feeding fish - I had put over 15Kgs out on the spot throughout the previous session and had topped up with another few kgs before I left. During the evening I put my usual mix out, 4kgs in total to start with consisting of my usual Hemp, Sweetcorn and 10mm Equinox freezer baits. Over the top I fished all three on my version of the Hinged Stiff Rig with Equinox Pop Ups and plastic corn on the other all soaked in the number one hookbait dip - Betalin and Black. The night was quiet but Bart got off the mark in the early hours with a stunning low twenty. At about 4.30am I had a one toner on the middle rod and I was on it in a flash. The rod arched over and I was connected to yet another Swan lake carp. In no time at all the fish found sanctuary in a big weed bed and locked me up solid. To cut a long story short I managed to get the fish out of the weed after about half an hour of trying and as she hit the surface I switched my head torch on to see what I was connected to. The fish was a similar shape to Dave which is the big one which I would expect to be over 50lb only it looked like a miniature version. As I got her on the surface gulping for air I slipped the net under her as I chuckled to myself saying “Its a miniature Dave”. I reached down and went to lift the net out of the water and onto the unhooking mat and it was that specific moment when the penny dropped. The moment I realised I could not lift the net because it was too heavy that it dawned on me that miniature Dave was no mini Dave, in fact it could be none other than Big Dave. I had to get Bart to help me lift her huge magenta frame onto the unhooking mat and into the zero’d retention sling. We slipped a landing net handle through the scales and hoisted the handle onto our shoulders. The scales were facing Bart and he paused leaving me in suspense for a few moments. I was waiting for those magical words to come from his mouth. It seemed like an age before he finally confirmed my dreams when he said “Fifty Three pounds and 4oz!”. We gently lowered the fish before be both let out a small cheer and he shook my hand and congratulated me on my first UK fifty pound carp. We dropped her into some deep water for a little while whilst the sun came up on what was an incredible morning.
Before we had chance to do the photos my other rod was away with a 33lb 10oz common and whilst photographing this fish I had a take on the right hander which flat rodded Bart taking a good 60 yards off the reel before cutting him off in a weed bed. My good friend Harry Charrington turned up bright and early and along with Rob on the next peg we all chipped in and got some great photos and video footage of Dave. Some thick clouds came over an hour later and we sat in Robs swim sharing a packet of celebratory skittles taking the moment in. I topped the swim up with a further two kilos of bait and got the traps set. The morning got even better when I slipped the net under a lovely 34lb 12oz mirror. I was totally on cloud nine. I had a beautiful scaly 22lb mirror during the afternoon before setting the traps for the evening. I put another 4kilos of bait out for the night and received a take at some point in the darkness which turned out to be a mirror of 28lb 4oz. I sent a dozen spombs into the darkness hitting the clip every time before retiring to my sleeping bag.I had to be off by 8.30am for work.
I had not been asleep long before my next rod was away and yet another thirty graced my net. A chunky mirror with a few big apple slice scales over its shoulder and she tipped the scales at 30lb 12oz. Just when I thought the session could not get any better, my right hander melted off whilst packing up. There was time for one last golden common of 29lb 8oz. Over the course of the 14 months that I had fished the lake, I managed to get down there on thirteen occasions and was fortunate enough to slip the net under an incredible 65 Bluebell Swan lake carp. This included 18 over 30lb, three over 40lb topped with Dave at 53lb 4oz. Where next? Well there is a mid 40 common I would dearly love to get my hands on before my time is done on Swan and the highly elusive Z fish which I predict will go well over the 50lb mark on her next capture. She has not been caught for over a year now at the time of writing but I will keep plugging away and you never know….. If the bait is in the water there is always a chance.