Jeff Gibson visited three lakes before striking winter gold with two 30s and a 20 in under two hours at Linear Fisheries, just before the water froze.
The 39-year-old landed mirrors of 38lb 1oz, 35lb 6oz and 24lb in a quick spell at Oxlease Lake – but not before he had worked his socks off for the opportunity.
Fishing with pal Paddy Ramsden, Jeff initially visited Orchid Lake not far from his Didcot home, but it looked close to freezing so the pair set off for Linear.
Two quiet nights on Brasenose One followed before the threat of snow saw Paddy head back to his Lancashire home and Jeff contemplate a move.
The Sainsbury’s nightshift manager said: “I met head bailiff Ian Roper in the car park and he informed me that most of the lakes were busy or starting to freeze.
“He told me Oxlease was quiet and could be a good shout. I headed over there and knew to head for the deeper water and on the back of the wind.
“I pulled into the empty car park and wandered down to peg four.
“The lake was flat calm and the sun was beaming. Then straight out in front of me I saw two bubbles and what looked like a plume of silt at about 100yds.”
Jeff dispatched his Ronnie rigs baited with yellow CC Moore Northern Specials to the spot, followed by five medium Spombs of Live System crumb and dumbells soaked in Amino Blend 365 and Baileys, plus a small tin of corn.
Just moments later, Jeff received a few bleeps then a drop back on his middle rod, but lost the fish soon after.
Deciding to leave that rod out of the water, Jeff received another bite within minutes and netted what looked like a scraper 30. But before he could weigh it, his last remaining rod was away and a 24-pounder hit the back of the net.
“The first fish went 38lb 1oz,” said Jeff, “a new English pb – I was blown away!”
Before he had managed to recast his third rod, Jeff received another bite.
“I knew it was a good fish, so took my time and played her gently,” he said. “On the scales she went 35lb 6oz and looked awesome in her winter colours.
“I sat on my bed and looked at my phone – it was 4.30pm, exactly two hours on from when I had walked into peg four.”