Just three sessions into his campaign on Stoneacres, Sam Stott’s first bite from the low-stock Oxfordshire venue resulted in his target fish, Bite Mark at 51lb 6oz.
The huge mirror was caught by from a bucket-lid-sized clear patch on a gravel hump at 70yds.
With fish regularly showing over the spot but no bites coming, a change in tactics paid off on the third morning of the Wirral angler's trip.
“I’d already been out in the boat and used my aqua scope to find the large gravel hump, but after getting done in the night I decided to switch to my favourite blowback rig and a safety clip with a 6oz lead.
“On the hook I hair-rigged half a Sticky Krill dumbell and half a homemade fruity pop-up to make a critically balanced hookbait,” said the 25-year-old welder.
“I put all three rods out using the boat as it was flat calm so I wouldn’t have to struggle and risk spooking the fish. Once over the spot I could see a small area on the edge of the hump had been cleared of silkweed and it looked prime for a rig.
“I baited the area with mix of different-sized whole, halved and crumbed boilies and then hand-placed a rig on the spot.”
Following the capture of two tench the following morning Sam's one rod remaining in the water produced a flurry of bleeps on his bite alarm.
“The fish was solid in the weed and I told my friend who had just arrived in my swim that it was probably another tench.
“I went out in the boat to get the fish out of the weed and as I reeled myself to the spot I could see my leader going into the weed at the side of the hump.
“I slowly teased my line up, clearing the weed as I went, and I could see a large set of shoulders. Suddenly the fish powered off straight in to another weed bed. I went through the process again and this time when the fish came free I kept her on a tight line to try to stop her weeding me up again.
“She was pulling the boat around like it was nothing and I knew at this point that it was a really big fish. My heart was hammering when I eventually shuffled the net under her and headed back to the bank.
“One of the lads in my swim waded out to take the net as I got out of the boat and when he said ‘it’s her, it’s Bite Mark,’ my legs went to jelly!
“It was the best buzz I will probably ever experience in carp fishing. Being my first bite from the lake after only eight nights is quite frankly mindblowing!”