Growing up in the north west was hard; I could only dream of one day landing one of the UK’s most prestigious carp. The Black Mirror, Mary, Heather and The Burghfield Common were the ultimate targets in my eyes and by the time I felt I was ready to target one of them, there was only one left; the mighty Burghfield Common!

My ticket coincided with my capture of Bitemark from Stoneacres, so I was ready to tackle the daunting venue head on from May 2016. It was no mean feat, with 96 acres of water split up with 26 islands, the fish had so much water to hide in! Not to mention the maze of snags, buoys, channels and bays. Don’t get me wrong I love venues like that, but it doesn’t half make location hard work!

That first trip was an eye opener, the overgrown banks made it hard work walking round, which took 4 hours! I did find some fish though and learnt an awful lot. I even managed to catch one on my second session, right out of the edge. It was only a small mirror, but it did change my mindset somewhat. I was there for the common, at all costs, so I decided to ensure I was always fishing for it. I missed out on so many other fish doing this, but for me to achieve my goal I needed to have a one-track mind.

In that first season, I had a great chance at landing the common. I found it in a bay with a few others, including the Twisty Mouth Common which was always by her side. After a couple of close calls, with me a quivering wreck, I placed two rigs on a plateau in open water. I received a bite, and it instantly flat rodded me, there was nothing I could do to stop it. Unfortunately, the rod sprang back fairly early on in the fight and I was left devastated. All the other fish in the area were still there, minus the big common and her mate! I knew it was her, she is well known for fighting incredibly hard, I was gutted.


Throughout the rest of the year, I never came close, but I did learn many a valuable lesson for the following year. I was prepared for Spring 2017, and knew the fish liked the open water at that time of year. As bait boats were allowed so I decided to take advantage of them, to allow me to fish the zones I knew the fish were in.

During the weekend of The Big One show, there was a mega period of warm weather for the time of year, 26 degrees, the first bit of warm weather we had that year. I had booked the time off work and bombed it straight to the lake, so I could secure the Compound Swim, which commanded a big area of open water between two islands. An area which was used regularly by the big common.

I baited with a mix of Manilla and chopped nuts, with balanced nuts and wafters on my rigs to hopefully avoid the ravenous crayfish. The following morning dawned, and I was mega confident. They were showing right over me and I knew a bite was on the cards. Unfortunately, I managed to lose the two bites I got that morning, both due to the savage nature of the bars in front of me. I upped my hooklink strength and changed to braided mainline with leadcore leaders and thankfully the next two bites the following day stayed on and I landed a 24-pounder along with a leathery looking mirror of 42lb.

The following morning was quiet, which was actually a good thing. The big common was known for being a loner, apart from her mate the Twisty Mouth Common. I was in the prime location, in the best moon phase; the atmosphere was electric! At 12pm I had a take, which felt small all the way in, it turned out to be her bodyguard! I knew she was out there, and I thought a bite was imminent!


Sure enough, as I was on the phone to my mum, the other rod was away! I shouted her to call Baz to tell him I had a fish on, while my spool was being emptied by what I just knew was the ultimate prize! Having ruined me for a good 15 minutes, going through snags, charging towards pontoons and islands, my thoughts were confirmed as I caught a glimpse of a huge flank of the common wallowing on the surface.

Completely out of breath, I summoned every last ounce of energy I had left and shuffled her huge frame into my net. I dropped the rod and was completely overcome with emotion. In my net I had the most prestigious carp in the land; my obsession, love and desire paid off!

Once everyone had arrived in the swim, we set about doing the photos. We did the photos of the Twisty Mouth Common first, which went 23lb before moving on the main event. She felt so heavy, and it looked absolutely massive! We decided to do the photos first before hoisting her up on the scales, I wasn’t facing the dial and so when Baz read out 62lb 8oz, I was blown away! We got in the water and did a few returner shots, before releasing her back to the depths. As she slipped into the gloom, I realised the enormity of what had happened; I had caught the UK’s most desired carp and all of my dreams from growing up had become reality! The rest of the evening was spent celebrating with friends, and what a night it was! Man, I love carp fishing!