John Turnbull's 54 lb 8 oz Bluebell record!

I have been exchanging emails with Gary Bayes for a while as I was about to sell all my gear, living up north and having done the “circuit” up here for almost 20 years I was losing the will to live. I felt I had fine tuned my skill set and wanted to target BIG carp in the UK.

The problem as you know is most are in private syndicate waters down south, and like many of you I have zero chance of getting on them! So with some advice from Gary I chose to target Bradleys Lake in the Cotswolds. It was cheap and had some good old fish, and was said to be a hard water. I booked 5 nights and came home after 3 having caught 8 fish to 32 lb the smallest being 18 lb the rest being 20s.

Again I was about to give up, but a chance conversation got me talking to Frank Warwick who told me to get myself on to Swan Lake at Bluebell Lakes near Peterborough. When I go fishing no matter what, I pile in the bait, since the age of 15 I have only ever used one bait, Scopex Squid Red, it works instantly everywhere. Honestly, I have never ever bought any other bait. It works everywhere, I love it and so do the carp. I was getting itchy feet, but I’m lucky because my Mrs loves to sit at the bankside so I made a few calls to Bluebell. I was told the lake was quiet because weed was to the surface. I’m not a lover of weed but it doesn’t scare me. I geared up with 20 lb line on my Basia reels, and took my Infinity 3.75 lb rods. I also bought the new Cling-On leader instead of lead core, this stuff is SO supple and easy to splice. With other similar products I end up throwing half of it away as I can’t splice it.

I wanted to scoot off from work at 2pm to make the 5 hour journey, problem one, I got stuck at work till 4pm and then I set off and realised I had a bad case of the Delhi-belly! That wasn’t stopping me, 2 Immodium and I was on my way. Problem 3 was the M6! I didn’t get to the lake until 9pm! When I got there, I was told loads of people had turned up and Swan was rammed and I’d be better off fishing Kingfisher. No chance, I was there for Dave and only Dave. I talked the owner into letting me fish Swan and he showed me to three of the only available pegs. All were on the far bank next to each other with anglers to the left and right.

I knew the wind was going to change and blow into my bank. I chose to fish the middle of the 3 pegs to have some space, every other peg on the lake was taken. I set up my Nash Big D and decided not to put the rods out and let the fish be pushed into my water. I set the alarm for 4am, got up, put a brew on and watched the water like a hawk while every other person was sleeping. The weed was terrible, I’ve never seen anything like it.

The good news was that the fish had definitely been pushed into my water as they were rolling off the back of the weed at about 60 yards. With weed like that there was no point in a marker rod, so at 11am I set up 2 solid bags of boilie crumb and put one to the left in the margin and one to the right in the margin. My middle rod was fished with Triggalink, on a Nash clip with no rubber the lead just tied on with PVA. A solid bag with crumb was made up and off it went over the weed and into the area I had seen the fish. I then got the stick out and put in about 10 kg over an area the size of a tennis court with the stick.

The wind was blowing and with high rod tips even on low sensitivity I was getting bleeps on my Delkims. I had a run at about midday, struck into nothing, reeled in and re set and recast the rod. I put it back out and another 5 kg of Scopex Squid Red went in. The fish were rolling over it, heads and shoulders everywhere. Anyway I went back to the bivvy, got the Mrs to make a brew and then dozed off. I was woken by a screaming take, struck into the fish which took about 3 feet of line then went solid into the weed.

I put some pressure on but was sure the fish was off. A few minutes later I thought I felt a kick. I put the rod down bail arm off and shouted the chap (also called Dave) to see if there was a boat we could go out in. Whilst we were deciding what to do the line moved just a little so I went back into the fish. I couldn’t really feel anything but I stripped off and got into the lake. I had a weed ball of about the size of a mini at my feet, I started to pull weed off the leader then a saw it. ‘Pass me the net I’ve got something MASSIVE on here,’ was all I could shout, I slipped the net under the fish, removed the weed and nearly passed out trying to lift it! I passed it up the bank in a sling and it was clear it was well over 40 lb.

My mat is massive but there was no way I could have dealt with the fish unless I had a cradle. Again Dave to the rescue with his Nash Cradle. Once unhooked and I had my clothes back on we weighed it, and it went 58 lb on the scales ! HOLY S&*T someone call the owner! He told us to put it in the sling and he was on his way. Once there he identified the fish as The Z, pictures were taken and the fish put back. We weighed the sling at 3 lb 8 oz, making the fish 54 lb 8 oz.

The owner wanted to confirm the fish with someone so I followed him to another lake, where the angler got out his records and it was clear the fish was not The Z but it was DAVE at its biggest ever weight and a new living lake record!