Lee Crampton braved the Bank Holiday crowds to bank the biggest fish in the lake at a busy day-ticket complex.
Unable to find a free swim on Mallard at Bluebell Lakes near Peterborough, Lee dropped on to next-door Sandmartin Lake and used all his nous to outwit the water’s biggest resident.
The 40lb common, which became the lake’s first 40 when it was banked earlier this year, came at the end of a challenging 48-hour session.
Lee, who was fishing with his brother, told Carpfeed: “Anticipating it was going to be busy, we arrived in the hope we would find somewhere on Mallard, but we couldn’t find an available swim, let alone two.
“We weren’t presented with many other options, so we simply dropped in on Sandmartin as we found two swims on the road bank.”
Lee opted for a swim with access to the central portion of the lake, while his brother went into a bay where he had seen a number of fish cruising near the surface.
“Although the fish within the bay were clearly visible,” said Lee, “it was obvious they weren’t easily spooked, which to me means they have zero intention of feeding.
“All the fish were cruising around the margins and it was fairly obvious every single angler was chasing them, fishing the margins in the hope to tempt one to get their heads down.
“Although it was tempting to follow the same logic, I was keen to fish for feeding fish and I felt I had more chance in finding them towards the centre of the lake, which was around 12ft deep.”
Lee selected a spot at 84yds but the first 24 hours passed “without even a sign across the entire lake”.
Having witnessed fish darting in and taking mouthfuls of bait on the surface and in the margins of his brother’s swim, Lee decided the carp were very aware of lines.
“So,” he added, “I decided to wind my rods in for the day while maintaining a steady trickle of bait going out to my centre spot, offering them a line-free feed.”
Mindful of the number of tench and bream in the lake, Lee added half a bucket of 2mm CC Moore Equinox and Pacific Tuna pellets every three hours before finally casting out his ingenious double-bolt PVA bags at 8pm.
He said: “At around 3am I started to pick up some liners, enough to get me out of bed a handful of times, so I knew I had fish on my spot.”
Lee hooked, and lost, a fish about two hours later, but got another chance just before dawn.
“As soon as I tightened up, the fish kept taking line as I felt the weight and power, and at that distance I knew it was a heavy fish.
“Twenty or so minutes later, and after some arm ache and slight back pain, she was finally in the net and I knew exactly what fish it was as my brother had the same one during a 12-fish catch in March at 35lb.
“The scales flew around and finally settled on 40lb on the nose.
“I couldn’t quite believe it, I wasn’t expecting it to hold that weight in August. I was absolutely blown away – a 40lb common, the biggest fish in the lake, and in those conditions!”