It’s a Common Theme – Tony Burnham

Tony Burnham... opening night at Yateley... and a couple of its finest common carp!

Sat at my desk doing another day’s mundane work suddenly the music cuts out as a call comes in from Martin “we’ve just shut the Carpark they’ve started spawning”. Oh well, I thought, time to have few socials with the lads on my local big pit.

The Sunday of the draw for the restart on the Carpark comes around, and as usual, all the big swims had gone by the time Ray called my name out. Staring down the list of swims I was not surprised to see ‘Waiting Mans’ was still vacant, as it had only done one fish in the last 3 years apart from the 38 mirror I had taken just before we closed, so I put my name next to it.

A quick lead about after the draw quickly showed my old right-hand spot was still clear but due to Canadian starting to go into turbo mode the left area had already weeded over in only two weeks of seeing no bait. Now I live approximately 40mins from Yateley and going down at 5 pm from work to bait up can be an hour plus drive each way so it takes every last drop of my motivation to keep going down 3 times a week to bait up.

The Friday of the start was quite chilled as we couldn’t start until 4 pm. I slowly tied up 4 new Rigs with meticulously sharpened size 6 ESP Cryogen Grippers, as I had noticed my bottom bait rig utilising the new line aligners worked slightly better with the 6 than the 5 I had always used for my balanced setups. Hook link being the usual green Tungsten Loaded Semi-Stiff which blends in lovely on gravel with a dusting of silt found on the far edges of spots. Hook baits were marbled bottom baits fished over just a few Spomb’s of crumbed Hot Shrimp baits.

At 1:30 am Lee On ‘Trumpton’s’ next door started getting big liners, close ones every 10mins, closing my eyes again I must have drifted off as the 20mins later the left rod exploded off. Straight away it felt heavy slow and methodical with every lunge. It managed to take a few yards of the locked up clutch, knowing how bad the weed was out in front of swim I did not want to give it anymore line so I locked the clutch and flicked off the anti-reverse, the fish went solid 3 or 4 times throughout the fight but with constant pressure from the Terry Hearn Classic’s each time it gradually broke free of the Canadians grasps.

Lee was with me by now crouched down with the net and I managed to roll here over and straight in, Lee flicked his head torch on and said ‘it’s the Big Redmire!’ a common I really wanted ever since seeing pics of Kingy from Yateley Angling Centre with her many years before. An ‘Oi Oi’ echoed off down the lake.

We sat and had a brew with her sat quietly in the edge taking our time sorting cameras and getting everything ready before getting her out, the weight was bouncing between 42lb 11oz & 12oz so I said I’ll take 42lb 10oz and we settled on that, her top ever weight. I must have gone into a deep sleep as at 7:10 pm I was stood in the margin up to my waist in water before I realised what was going on, the rod arched over again as another fish tried to reach the heavy weed behind the spot, the same procedure in and out of weed beds as before. As she got in close she rolled over backwards and her head came out “that’s a big head says Lee who is back at my side” she held her ground just out of net reach for few minutes in the deep margin but slowly she came up facing straight out from me I turned her straight over onto her back and into the net, I walked to the left of the swim to get out, just as I heard Lee say “no bloody way”. ‘What mate?’ I replied, ‘it’s the Slate Common’. A reply I was totally not expecting! I walked over dripping soaked to the waist and rolled her over in net, a huge ‘Slate’ shout echoed down the lake, I secured the net and got myself changed into some dry clothes.

We went through the same routine as before but this time the lads came round and did the weighing, I was still in shock when I heard Craig read out 47lb 6oz, I pushed through the others to read the scales, for once in my life I was lost for words, a brace of 40lb commons and a new 47lb 6oz personal best common.