7th July 2022

Thomas Oakes banks himself one of the UK’s largest commons, in the form of the Big Common from Old Mill’s Birch Lake at 60lb 12oz!

The euphoria of a new personal best is one that many anglers long for, and whether it’s a month or several years between breaking the milestone, the feeling is like no other. Thomas Oakes was lucky enough to see his dream become a reality recently when he broke his personal best with a true giant of over 60lb! Like many anglers out there, Thomas went in with a plan and it ran out like clockwork.

Peach & Pepper pop-ups are a classic big fish hookbait.

Thomas revealed:

“I arrived at the Old Mill complex having booked on Birch Lake for a week. During the weeks running up to the session, I had an idea of which part of the lake I wanted to target. This was all focused on the previous capture of the Big Common from last year. Upon my arrival the area, which is often quiet had a chap in, and he’d that morning landed a fish known as Black Spot; that same fish came from the same area of the lake only days before the big common last May. As you can imagine, my ears pricked up and I hoped to get in the peg behind him as I knew a full moon was coming and the weather was perfect for it!

“For the first night I got in a peg that had lots of showing fish, but nothing came to take the bait! Waking up in the morning with no luck, I got up and saw the wind had changed and was blowing straight into the peg I first wanted, which was now free! 

“I quickly packed down and got myself in the area. The rods went out in the low-lying weed on the edge of the main weed bed. Each one fished on a Ronnie rig with a 16mm Peach & Pepper pop-up in the zone where the fish were showing. I sat ack and relaxed into the night. 

“The Tuesday mornings’ sun broke, and I opened my eyes to yet another quiet night in regard to a take, but the fish were active, with a real big one showing itself all night breaking my sleep. As the day passed, I looked nonstop in and around the weed bed to see where the fish were patrolling. Before dark, I reset the traps and felt so confident, I told quite a few lads why I wanted to be in that peg, and I felt like I was going to catch the big common. Sure enough, the same as the previous night the big fish started showing again at midnight; would I be getting some luck come the morning? 

“In contrast to the previous two mornings, I didn’t wake with disappointment, I was abruptly woken at 5.15am to a one toner! I lifted into the fish and began to pull it back through the weed. As the fish slowly drifted towards me, the head of a common broke the surface, it looked a good fish, but I didn’t get chance to see its body before it flat rodded me and zipped back off. I gained some line back and got it close in and this time it came to the surface side on, and I could not believe my eyes; it was the Big Common! I kept my cool and after a few surges, I won the battle and got my net under her. 

“I stood in total shock for a moment, before getting a picture of the big ‘un to triple check it was her (even though I knew it was), I couldn’t believe my luck, it was the best feeling ever to date in all my years carp fishing! 

“I ran round to my mate, woke him up and said: ‘I’ve got the big common!’ We both welled up and jumped for joy full of emotions, a true euphoric moment! A couple more lads came to help weigh her and they all agreed as the scales settled on a huge weight of 60lb 12oz, a Lincolnshire giant. We then got the pictures done and a few buckets were thrown for my new PB, we popped a bottle of Moet and toasted the lake as a memento of the occasion I wrote the weight and date on the cork. It was the trip of a lifetime and one I will never forget!”