Tom Stokes reviews his 2016..big carp alert!

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Common perfection? The ‘Saddleback’

West Midlands based Tom Stokes had an excellent year in 2016 on a vast southern pit. Here Tom gives us an update on some incredible fish from the second half of the year — excellent angling from a dedicated angler who covers a serious amount of miles every week in pursuit of his dream.

As we sit here in the midst of what has been a terrible winter angling wise for myself and many of my friends, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on last year, the summer in particular, which turned out to be a more than memorable year for me on the Berkshire big pit.

The last time I reported my results was around early July, when i had a spot absolutely rocking in the entrance to a small bay which the carp were visiting on a daily basis. I managed to catch a string of nice fish from this spot but eventually the weed reached a point where landing them became tricky. The final bite I had from that spot turned out to be a 40lb 4oz mirror, a repeat capture of the big mirror I had in the spring at 48lb, obviously well down in weight post spawning.

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The Broken Linear 46lb

As the weed increased and bites from that spot in the bay became harder to come by, i began to bait another couple of swims around the pit where I had seen signs of activity. I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t wish to give too much away, but throughout the months of August and September these two swims produced a further 15 fish. Including some real big fish of 35lb, 37lb, 37lb 8oz, 37lb 10oz, 39lb 12oz, the ‘real’ saddle back common, at 40lb 10oz and an absolute beast of a broken linear at 46lb!. I say the ‘real’ saddle back common, because I was convinced I had caught this fish earlier in the summer, spawned out at just under 35lb. But as it turns out there’s two very similar looking commons in the lake, and up until that point nobody had realised.

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The Classic Carp — an original Leney

During August I also managed to catch one of my main target fish from the lake. An incredible old Leney mirror known as the ‘Classic Carp’. Probably the lone survivor of the handful of iconic mirror‘s the lake once held and therefore it was probably number two on my list, so to speak, after the big common. She weighed a little over 33lb, but the weight really was irrelevant. The capture of that fish was an emotional affair, and I felt incredibly privileged to of held such a historical old fish for those precious few moments. Without doubt one of my favourite captures to date and the highlight of what was an incredible summers angling for me.

Unfortunately though, as summer gave way to autumn, the spots eventually dried up, and although I gave it my best shot, absolutely nothing happened throughout October and November, in fact it was one of the worst Autumn’s I’ve ever known, not only for myself but also for many other’s across the whole country. The big low pressure systems and big winds we all long for in the autumn just never materialised, and instead gave way to prolonged periods of unseasonably high pressure, creating far from ideal conditions.

I stuck it out on the big pit though, and after a swim move in the weeks before Christmas I was rewarded for all my efforts on the morning of Christmas Eve. When a common of just under 28lb succumbed to the rods. Far from a monster, but a welcome reward after over 2 months of inactivity, this turned out to be my last carp of 2016.

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All fish were caught on the size 4 Cryogen Classic and the new dark green leadcore, two products which I have 100% faith it.

Roll on the summer!’

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