An eye-opening margin encounter with some of the most pressured fish in the land led to the capture of one of the best.
Mark Cookson stalked the No9 Bus from Linch Hill at 43lb 4oz, but not before he watched the tricky mirror completely suss his initial approach.
The 29-year-old headed to Stoneacres on the Oxfordshire complex and found fish on the end of a south-westerly wind.
What he then witnessed is worth noting for all carp anglers.
The Cheshire angler said: “I approached them with a single yellow Signature pop-up, surprisingly not spooking them as I lowered my rig in.
“These Stoneacres carp are very finicky; one slight wrong move and they will be gone. Standing back behind this tree with my eyes peeled what I saw next was totally mindblowing.
“I picked out the No9 Bus with this common that looked around low 30 patrolling the margin.
“I found them hovering over my rig and then trying to move or tangle it with their tail and fins, which they did.
“Then, like a flash, they had disappeared and my chance had gone.”
Mark scattered some 16mm and 20mm boilies along the margins and vowed to come back to the area the next day.
“This time,” said the bakery worker, “instead of using a bright pop-up I switched to a Krill wafter and placed it perfectly on this little gravel patch while nothing was there.
“And instead of standing up, trying to watch them take my hookbait and messing with my brain I decided to sit back and patiently wait.
“About an hour past and out of the blue my rod went into meltdown, my heart raced as I quickly jumped up to grab my rod.
“The fish stripped 50 or 60yds of line going left towards some overhanging trees, so I went straight in the lake with no hesitation.
“After a 10-minute battle which felt like an hour I got the fish about 20yds away from the bank. It ‘head and tailed’, trying everything to ditch the rig.
“It looked big and I saw its heavily plated scales and knew which fish this was. Staying calm, I slowly walked out further in the lake as now the fish’s head was up, and it went over the net cord first time of asking.
“As looked down it took my breath away. There was the No9 Bus – I couldn’t believe it after coming close to catching it the day before!”