Jonny Fletcher reflects on an incredible period of angling that saw him bank numerous huge carp on our Manilla boilies, culminating in a 48-pounder!

Jonny Fletcher reflects on an incredible period of angling that saw him bank numerous huge carp on our Manilla boilies, culminating in a 48-pounder!

Just like everyone, coming out of Lockdown I was super keen to get back out angling. With the fish on my main target water being a bit weird in the first month of intense pressure, I left that alone and focused elsewhere until they got spawning out the way. Once the fish had finished their fun, I came straight back into the fray. I had to work my time around work, and actually decided to fish mid-week as it meant I could still catch my lad’s football matches on Saturdays.

I did fish one session on a Friday before I decided to fish during the week which resulted in a nice mid-twenty. Soon though, I was fully into the swing of things and I actually managed to have a nice 25lb common off the surface early on in the campaign. It was a turning point that capture too, as fishing on the surface revealed just how hungry these carp can be and how much they could eat as well!

With this in mind I decided to start trickling some bait into some spots on their patrol routes near the overhanging trees surrounding the island. As the lake sees a lot of pale baits, I went for Manilla and it just so happened that the fish liked my choice! I picked up a couple more fish straight away, a 29lb 12oz mirror known as the Up Fish and a cracking chocolate-coloured mirror as well.

When I returned for my next session, I was all set to go into the baited swim, but the fish told me otherwise. They were clearly active in the deeper water, so I plumbed for a swim in that zone away from my pre-bait. I flicked the rods out and almost instantly, the fish just did he off. It became clear that the fish really didn’t like the pressure and I spent the night completely regretting my decision! Thankfully though, this was a rare weekend session, so I nipped off the lake that morning to get a few bits and pieces done, before retuning in the afternoon.

I left the rods out of the water until the very last minute, before flicking them in over the baited spots just before dark. Straight away I was rewarded with a thirty-pounder, a great start to the session! The following morning saw me back a 33lb mirror too, which made all the effort of fishing the weekend worthwhile. Before leaving, I put every last boilie I had out on the spot, roughly 7kg of Manilla, chopped and whole with a splash of Cloudy Liquid as the fish were clearly loving the bait, with a few even passing it all over the mat!

What happened next was a little bit of a gutter, as a friend of mine followed me into the swim and ended up catching The Pig, one of my main targets. Not only that, but it was passing my bait out all over the mat! To be so close to catching it was a bit disheartening, but I was happy for my friend anyway, and gladly helped with the photos.

As luck would have it, Monday came around and my brother called to say we couldn’t get on site until the crane was moved, that was good enough for me! With Storm Francis due to sweep across the UK, the conditions just looked too good to miss. I bombed it straight to the lake and dropped in behind my mate, who had added another two fish to his tally since the big one!

The following morning produced a repeat capture, but it was a good sign that the fish were still there. At that moment the storm came through and with me having a pass still to fish I had every intention to stay put. However, the weather really was bad! I could have so easily packed up and gone home, especially as the lake has a track record of not producing in crapy weather. I said to myself if it becomes too much to fish, I would just cut my losses and head off, however, if I could get the rods in first time then I would leave them and sit back to wait on events.

By hook or by crook, I somehow got the rigs in at the first time of asking and the floating weed was kind to me. I sat back for the night and drifted off to sleep. As morning dawned, I was fishless, with the weather still a bit wild, I just chilled in the bivvy for a bit. As I was sat there, one of the rods pulled up tight and was away! I connected with the fish and knew straight away it was something a bit special. You know a big fish when you hook them, there’s no mistaking it! Whether you fish a lake with lots of doubles and the bigger ones are thirties, or the other end of the scale, with twenties leading up to forties, there’s always a distinct difference.

I stood out there, slowly drawing this big, heavy weight towards me, coaxing it away from the weed beds as I did so. Soon a big shape loomed into view and my jaw dropped at the size of the carp on the end. I shuffled the net underneath it and stared into the folds at the baby hippo that lay within the net! It wasn’t The Pig either, it turned out to be the arguably, even nicer one, Moonscale at a mental weight of 48lb 1oz! As you can imagine, I was over the moon, especially after the set back of The Pig situation. All of my effort and preparation came good in the end!