Kingsmead 1 – The Up Front Common
Before joining the Horton complex I had spent years fishing waters in the Oxford area, before moving over to Yateley, where I fished Sandhurst, The Match Lake and South Lake, before joining Swan Valley. There were plenty of commons caught along the way but the magical 40lb common had always avoided me, and to catch a common of that size is something that I had wanted to do since my earliest fishing days. The larger commons always appeared a bit wilier than some of the larger mirrors on a lot of venues and, from experience, tended to be trickier to catch for one reason or another. Pretty much every venue had that ‘big common’ swimming around that some anglers favoured over the mirrors – and the Horton complex was no different. The Up Front Common from Kingsmead 1 was one such creature. It was a fish that was moved from the Horton Back Lake in 2008. It was believed to have been moved from Wraysbury after the Redmire commons were stocked there and were deemed pests with many ending up being moved to surrounding waters. The UFC is the king of Kingsmead 1 and probably one of, if not the most difficult of commons to target between the two main lakes. However, the fact that being a male fish its weight was consistently over 40lb, meant I had a feeling this was my best chance of catching a 40lb common.
At the time I was fishing K1, another angler, Greg Ellis, had recently joined as an RK Leisure gold card member. After hearing the story about his frustration of trying to catch the UFC while stalking, and the way it was able to avoid his rig
The second year on Vauxhall saw me land 32 fish, possibly half the stock at the time, and it was no coincidence that this rig had played a significant part
on more than one occasion, it gave me the idea of using a rig that I had used back on my days on Vauxhall Pit (Stanton Harcourt). Five fish a season was seen as a good year on there and, after fishing for a year and only catching one fish, I came up with a very basic but small stiff rig which, in my own twisted logic, would be very difficult for any fish to eject. The second year on Vauxhall saw me land 32 fish, possibly half the stock at the time, and it was no coincidence that this rig had played a significant part and was going to be my ‘go-to’ confidence rig for catching the UFC.
It was July on K1 and I had been monitoring the UFC from the Kingsmead Bridge, regularly visiting a shallow reedy area close to a swim called the Helipad. It seemed occupied on the roots of the reeds, possibly feeding on snails or other naturals that lived there. It was looking big and I knew if I could get a rig to that area there was a chance it might slip up. I managed to sneak into the Helipad one warm, muggy evening shortly afterwards, and with thunderstorms in the air, the pressure dropping and a new moon, it looked absolutely prime for a bite or two.
The next 48 hours was one I will never forget. In the rain, storms and glorious sunshine that followed, I landed 11 fish, including two 40s, one of which was the UFC. I remember the bite very clearly. It was dark and, by that time late evening, and I had just noticed and could make out that there was an elderly lady stood on her own on the K1 bridge looking down into the water below. It was almost dark, so what she was doing there or looking at I will never know. However, within seconds of me noticing her, the rod tucked down by the reeds ripped off and I was into an angry fish that dived straight into a huge weedbed. I moved it from weedbed to weedbed and, after pulling in a huge ball of weed and netting it, I put the rod down and tracked the line down into the middle of net. Whatever was on the end was definitely in the net and, after sifting through the weed, I uncovered a huge bar of gold. I knew instantly it was the UFC and 43lb 12oz of British UK common carp was mine, and my childhood dream had been achieved. The lady on the bridge, however, was nowhere to be seen!
In the rain, storms and glorious sunshine that followed, I landed 11 fish, including two 40s, one of which was the UFC
TOP Kingsmead’s Upfront Common – a rare visitor to the bank and one of it’s finest carp to boot
ABOVE Looking up the full length of Kingsmead 1 in the height of summer. At this time of year, it can pay to treat it as a one-rod swim
LEFT The Kingsmead 1 bridge
LEFT Sunrise on Kingsmead 1 in the Gravelly