With time being precious in between work, Tom Gibson managed to bank one of the original commons in his Nottinghamshire syndicate, whilst making plenty of memories with the ones who matter.

With time being precious in between work, Tom Gibson managed to bank one of the original commons in his Nottinghamshire syndicate, whilst making plenty of memories with the ones who matter.

There’s no doubt that working in the industry affects your personal angling, and to be honest it’s something that’s never really bothered me as the moments shared on the bank with the other consultants when filming are very special indeed, and I feel privileged every time it happens. We get to film at some incredible venues, some of which I probably would never have the opportunity to wet a line in myself, so when shoots go to plan, that buzz is just as high as slipping the net under a fish yourself in my opinion. That being said, with work winding down on Bev’s side of things, we’ve tried to make a conscious effort to get a night’s angling in as often as possible between each other’s commitments, not just to enjoy some time together but to hopefully meet some of the lovely carp in the main lake on the Girton complex.

Girton is around 65 acres in size and is littered with features from bars to deep holes, with a variety of depths. It really does offer everything you could want from a large, open pit! One of the main reasons for choosing a syndicate like this was so myself, Bev and the pooch (of course) could have plenty of room to fish, and not feel like we’re pinned in or squeezing in amongst people when we’d arrive. I’m a firm believer in syndicate etiquette and if I saw a few guys down one end of the lake, I wouldn’t consider slotting in between them as I’d like to think others would leave us to our own devices too. Our angling doesn’t consist of a ‘all or nothing’ mentality and we’re purely there to enjoy our time on the bank, and hopefully catch some carp! Admittedly, I’ve not tried to get involved too much in leeching onto guys for info/ captures etc as I just wanted to be able to go down there and do my own thing, and fortunately so far, it’s worked a treat (even if I do say so myself)!


With a rare week without filming, I decided to take a few days off at the back end of the week leaving me the weekend to fish too. I can’t pick and choose times to go to suit weather conditions, it’s just a case of that’s when I’m going and I’ll have to deal with it! Speaking of which, the weather was far from ideal in honesty. Bev couldn’t make it as she was in full flow with her training for the Montane Spine race she’s running in January (don’t ask… just google it!) as well as Team England commitments, so it was me and the pooch this time.

Upon arrival, a very cold NE wind greeted me and in honesty, I really didn’t fancy being in the teeth of it! Since lockdown and the whole Covid shenanigans, the lake has been far busier than I’d ever expected it to be and there’s plenty of vans/ cars I see on a regular basis, regardless of whether it’s mid-week or the weekend. I suppose that’s what you get when there’s a near 60lb common swimming around, I guess!

Big winds are a common occurrence on Girton with it being open to the elements!

Big winds are a common occurrence on Girton with it being open to the elements!

After spotting a free swim, which myself and Bev had fished a few times before with a degree of success, I bit the bullet and decided to pitch up for the first evening and basically use the first night as a recce to see what happened.

The wind was absolutely freezing, and with the overwrap getting its first outing of the year to keep us warm, I thought I’d messed up massively. Thankfully, it calmed into the night, the shows started and the subtle rolling of carp just around the corner echoed through the night.

I didn’t want to commit too much bait on the first night, so opted for minimal feed with the intention of applying lots more if I started having bites. With two of the rods, I decided to go longer onto a spot I’d caught from previously, one on a solid bag and the other on a simple D-rig over a mixture of crumb and pellet soaked in both Calanus Liquid and Cloudy Manilla.

The feed mix, consisted of 12mm Manilla, crushed 16mm Manilla Active, 4mm Bloodworm Pellet coated in Pure Calanus, with a splash of Cloudy Manilla to bind the mix together.

Heavily glugged Peach & Pepper Pop-Ups make the perfect hookbait in a solid bag.


The morning soon came, with minimal sleep thanks to the dog deciding my bed was a far comfier option for snoozing than his mat, I managed a few stockies during the night. I did my best to keep an eye on the far bank and other areas of the lake too but didn’t see much activity from others in the way of landing carp, so for me, I had no reason to move despite how it felt in the swim. With my decision set and knowing anglers would be turning up for the weekend, I gave them a good hit of bait before setting off on a lap to stretch the dog’s legs and there and then, decided I’d sit it out. I still didn’t want to go for the whole boilie approach as I wanted a large carpet over a good area, with a variety of feed which would get them grubbing. It also suited the solid bag presentation nicely as it consisted of a similar mix.

Without saturating the mix in liquids, I was worried the items would drift away from the spot by the time they reached the bottom in the deep water, hence why I used boilie crumb to stodge the mix and coated my pellets in Calanus liquid. I also clipped up a tad further than the spot with the spod to allow for some drift into the headwind when the bait landed.

Friday passed uneventfully, and with night-time being favoured for bites, I was in no rush to hurry with the rods. Darkness arrived and the activity commenced once again, and after a few more stockies during the night, I just hoped something larger or even better, special would be in the area. Around an hour before first light, the solid bag was away again but this time it felt different, it felt heavy from the start. After not really doing much as it slowly made its way towards me, it was obvious it was no stocky.

After finally coaxing it up the shelf, the carp woke up and stripped line at a serious pace as I cautiously tried to slow it down. My mind was firmly set on the fact I was playing a good fish, and after a few more surges into the depths in front, it finally surfaced, and rolled into the net. A soon as I saw its recognisable crusty head and huge belly, it had to be one fish and one fish only, the Hiatt’s common, a carp which does at least upper-thirties and what a carp!

The call was made to Dan, who only lives a stone’s throw away, to do the honours with the camera, and of course, he took some incredible autumnal shots of it in the water and on the bank. It felt like Christmas morning two months early as a child! To catch one of the carp that had caught my eye when joining so early on, and without really doing lots of time on the lake, it felt rather strange, almost like I’d not deserved to be holding it but I guess the carp don’t pick and choose the angler, you can only fish to what you think and believe, hoping those special fish come your way eventually. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes!