The Crown Jewels – Peter Cooke

Crown Jewels

The Crown Jewels

I arrived at my syndicate around 2.30 on Tuesday the 26th of May for an unusual 48 hour session the Tuesday night club had an extension. What made it equally unusual was there were three cars in the second car park that I recognised. Sure enough on the start of my walk round the first people I bump into are the two Andrews and Ben, The two Andrews are both proud new dads and had taken the offer of a quick overnighter from their respective partners with both hands. Ben is a good mate who I don’t see often enough due to the availability of our fishing nights but had been given the heads up by one of the Andrews’ and fancied an impromptu social. Before arriving I’d fancied two swims and following the walk round they still looked good due to the wind direction. However the call of the social had me parking the barrow in the next swim along from the guys albeit around the corner. Still not happy I got the marker rod out and decided to try and find three spots to fish before I finally set up house. The swim imaginatively called weedy for the obvious reason can be notoriously difficult to fish but three quarters of an hour later and I’d got three spots I thought I could fish and so the decision was made.

Now what I try to do is one week fish 1 mlx and 2 cnc hookbaits and the following session 2 mlx and 1 cnc. This week was the latter option and so one mlx bottom bait was dispatched to the left hand spot followed by about three catapults of matching boilies before the birdlife homed in on the sound of the catty. The middle rod was put out shorter to an Iffy spot straight in front in a small pva bag filled with cnc crumb a few different sized pellets and a glug of hemp oil. Again a few pouches of boilies followed. The third spot was better than the middle rod but a hinge stiff rig on a longer than normal semi stiff boom and a mlx pop up was the order of the day so out she went.

TheTower ofLondon

The evening passed with all the banter of the sixth form common room with the new game of whose electronic cigarette could produce the most smoke. Ben won hands down with his device which looks like half of Battersea power station and could quite easily be sub contracted out to the vatican next time they have a papal election.

Back to the bivvy and a quick bait check saw no cray action so they were recast and more freebies put out around them and time to turn in.

The night passed pretty uneventfully with only a few little bursts of bleeps on the bag rod undoubtedly due to the roach which can be problematic. I had refilled and recast the bag in the night and duelly redid it again. Bait checks on the other rods which were ok, followed by a few more pouches of boilies around each and then round to see the lads before breakfast.

Andrew ME had had one of the older fish in the lake during the night known as Jaffa but had to leave before 8 o’clock. He was fishing one of my regular swims and so immediately the thoughts of moving came to mind. The other lads had only managed 1 tench between them. Back to the rods and the second cup of coffee and what to do? The wind had turned in the night pushing into my swim. Eat some breakfast and decide after bite time was over seemed the best plan. The decision was made for me as Ben leap frogged Andrew JS and went into Andrew ME’s swim.

With the wind pushing into me the day passed quietly with the application of more bait on a small but regular basis to avoid the flotilla of tufties stationed in the next bay. The bag rod was similarly recast every 2 to 3 hours in an attempt to build the swim slowly and as discreetly as possible.

Ben on the other hand came running round very excitedly “I think I’ve got Lucan” at about 11.30am. Sure enough nestled in the bottom of his landing net was Lord Lucan, so named as he had gone missing at around 15lbs for 5 years before being caught at 23 something and getting his name. Lucan is a stunning fish with large apple slice scales and is truly beautiful with a dark back but light colouring underneath with light scales which are set off against the dark back giving an appearance of yellowy pearlescence. What’s more the Reubens  moved round to the magical 30lb mark and one that the lake hadn’t seen for the previous 8 years. It was a fish that Ben had also been chasing for a long time and so the jubilation was full on.


Back in my swim still all quiet and no obvious carpy signs either but a good feeling brought about by Ben’s success. Some 5 hours later the left hand alarm stuttered into life and I’m in, initial reaction is a decent fish, no tell tale jag jag of the rod tip so not a tench just got to ease it past the left hand weed bed and 5 minutes later I’m slipping the net under one of our lakes well known commons known as the 3D common at 23lb 6oz. Like all commons a real bar of gold and although a “friendly” fish, one that up to this point had not graced my net. Result, pictures taken and mlx tweet and FB post and time for homemade chilli.


Early evening seemed like a case of deja vu with more lame attempts at blowing smoke rings and using the duck scaring laser pens to imitate a cross between Ibiza and a Pink Floyd concert on clouds of smoke but the mood was good as Ben recounted his earlier capture once more and a couple of well earned tins were sunk. The now routine bait check and recast on all rods was undertaken and I settled down for the night and soon drifted off. 12am saw this peaceful scene rudely interrupted by a short series of bleeps from the middle rod. The bobbin was pretty much unmoved leaving me thinking either roach or a liner although the bleeps had seemed a little staccato for the later. Ten minutes and no new indications saw me back in the bag. Twenty minutes later and the same thing occurred. This time with doubts over my presentation going into overload I duly retrieve the bait to find all was of course fine. A new bag was duly filled and cast back out to the spot. Half an hour passed with nothing happening and I’m back in the bag. Again about half an hour passes with me drifting in and out of sleep and the alarm does its thing again. I’m back up. Now something goes off in my head, it’s a long time since I’ve fished the method but wasn’t the prelude to a bite very similar to this? Back to bed it is and ten minutes later the alarm again spits out that quick succession of bleeps. This time I don’t get out and just lie there in anticipation.but there is no further indication well not straight away, another 30 minutes pass before a short series of bleeps is followed by a one toner. I’m up and on the rods but it’s like I’m moving through blancmange until I pick the rod up and the head torch shows a healthy battle curve. After regaining the line stripped on its initial run the carp allowed me to lead it in without much fuss at all that was until it saw my head torch at which point it was exit stage right and the battle was truly on. The ensuing 5 minutes was very much spent toe to toe, no quarter asked or given but the net finally went under what looked like a decent mirror. I secured the net and went and got the boys up. As I lifted the net out of the water It felt heavy and my head started to race. I peeled the net back and there she was, a mirror known as Paw Print a fantastic scaley mirror, seldom caught and very much at the top of the A-Team list alongside Lucan. Again the Reubens went round, this time past the 30lb mark and after much checking and re-checking 30lb 4oz was settled on.


The rest of the session doesn’t need further description. I’d witnessed both of the two most sought after fish in the lake, one of them had fallen to me and a cnc pop up in a bag and both of them had broken the 30lb barrier for the first time heralding another chapter in the return of the lake to its former glory. Truly a session to remember with all of the unlikely influences combining to make it. Sometimes its just meant to be.


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