9th June 2020

John Claridge completes his list of targets after finally landing Starburst at a spawned-out weight of 40lb.

It’s always nice to leave a venue with no stone unturned, with a complete set of photos of each of your target fish. Sometimes it happens quickly, other times it can take years to completely tick off all of a lake’s largest residents. Finally, after four years of relentless angling, John Claridge managed to catch the last fish on his hit list, a fantastic achievement.

John told us:

“Back in 2016, I secured a ticket for a large Cotswold syndicate lake which back then held four fish that at the right time of year went over forty pounds, along with a few back up fish that were 35lb+. I started on there with Manilla, which was released that June and in my first season went on to catch 34 fish, the 32nd being a fish that had whacked the weight on known as The Length at 46lb 3oz. 15 days later at the end of October, I had the heaviest fish at the time, The Twin at 46lb 4oz.

“Since then I have landed the big common, the Blind Eye, twice at 38lb 7oz and last spring at 40lb 12oz. Shortly followed by Wallace my next A-team conquest, stalked at 39lb 14oz and then last season, twice from out in the pond, up to 44lb 2oz. Another carp that had pushed on was the one I refer to as Pearly and in December 2018 I landed this as a new 40 at 40lb 4oz.

“With one remaining target, known as Starburst, to complete the full set, I believe I came super close last autumn, when it got caught from a spot I was fishing on Manilla at 49lb 4oz. This fired me up even more to catch what was an obsession, and despite people saying, ‘You can’t catch them all’ this made me more determined.

With one remaining target, known as Starburst, to complete the full set, I believe I came super close last autumn, when it got caught from a spot I was fishing on Manilla.

“With the Covid-19 restrictions disrupting my spring fishing, I kept some bait going in as the lake is within walking distance for me and on the first day post-lockdown I set-up in a swim on the back of the cold wind, where I felt Starburst would come from. I’d caught from the swim before but had always failed to find a suitable spot to the right near the reeds. The Starburst had slipped up before a few times in the shallows near the big reedbeds so I fancied the area if I could find a suitable spot. Thankfully, I did, a nice silty spot where the lead would glide and land with a nice thud. Initially, I put three spombs of Manilla Active boilies on it, but at about 8.30pm the wind eased, and I could bait more accurately for the night with a further dozen spombs.

“Just over an hour later and with the light almost gone, the new spot produced a steady take on a very tight clutch. I leapt down the steep bank and bent into it. It took more line off me and swirled on the surface, 100 or so yards out and very close to the reedbed. Gradually, I gained line and a few minutes later she was fairly close, where she kept swirling just under the surface, sending out large swirls.

“Wading towards the fish, a big head came out and I realised it could be her, finally. As I engulfed her in the net, I instantly flicked on the torch and after double and triple checking, I knew my mission was complete.

“With a flat chest it was apparent she’d already spawned and weighed an empty 40lbs on the nose! It mattered not as despite the weight loss, she was still in good condition and she was mine at last. I went on that night to catch a further two carp, a lovely near-leather of 26lb 10oz and an 18lb 12oz scaly.  With all of the six biggest caught, my time on the lake was over but what a time I’d had and I will definitely miss the place.”