It was the summer of 1990 and with my driving test passed and the L plates whipped off my first pride and joy, an Escort 1.3 Estate, I would no longer be restricted to the closest parks and ponds reachable by bus and moped. Now the whole world was my oyster. I could drive to the back of beyond, all the way to the other side of Surrey – specifically, Langmans Lake, in Woking...
I could see it was huge as it slurped down the floaters not six feet from the bank. A little bit further out were the pads, dense and thick, piled high on top of each other. The outer leaves jostled and quivered as the giant re-entered their cover, brushing against the stems. Now was my chance. A gentle underarm flick landed the free-lined double Chum hookbait mid-channel between the bank and the pads. Soon they plucked and jostled again... closer, closer, please keep coming... Suddenly there it was, breaking through into the channel, long and wide, and heading straight for my hookbait... Shaking hands, breath held, time frozen... slurp... wallop!
A huge explosion, a spinning reel handle, and power like I’d never felt before. No chance of slowing it, certainly not on the tackle of yesteryear. I just prayed for the 11lb Sylcast and size 6 Drennan Super Specialist hook to hold firm. Ten yards or more disappeared from the spool, through the outer edges of the pads and beyond. The water was shallow and so seconds later I was following it, throwing the landing net ahead of me every few paces. Bit by bit the line pinged free from the pads, until, eventually, I was past them and in direct contact with the biggest carp I’d ever seen, let alone hooked. Please God, please let me land it...
Whilst time froze at the moment of the take, for those last few seconds it passed in a flash. I was stuck in thick silt up to my waist in water, sun in my eyes, monster carp wallowing about beneath the tip, but somehow, into the net it went. To me, at just 18 years of age, it was a huge, and I knew it had to be the lake’s biggest common, the one all the big boys fished for. It blew me away in the water, but the impact it had once I had it on the bank was way more lasting. Thirty pounds and two ounces, from an era when 30lb commons were the fish to be dreaming of.
Twenty eight years later, the buzz lives on.
The 30lb 2oz common from Langmans Lake in Send, Woking in 1990 Excuse the quality of the shots. I had to photograph them whilst still in the album as I doubt they’d survive being removed, and they’re the only pics I could find