Here’s the account of a very special 60lb capture for Villefond Fisheries manager Mark Lambert…
3:09am, Friday the 27th of May 2016, two beeps woke my sleep …… I rose from my tent and and looked at the lit up bite alarm indicating something had happened to move the line on the right had of my two rods (a bottom bait rig). Shining my torch I waited for a few minutes to see if my line would move indicating maybe a ﬁsh was hooked and shaking the lead trying to dislodge the hook like they often do in our lake. It was a warm dry night and perch were attacking small fry all along the margins, I chalked these two beeps up to that. Sure nothing was to come of the beeps now I returned to my small 2 Second pop up tent I was staying in that night and checked my phone …. 3:09 it read.
The day before we had anglers ﬁshing our lake and unfortunately due to work problems they had to leave early. Returning home after work I learned they had left and decided as this was a rare opportunity to get on the lake at such a good time of year I had to grab it. I rushed to grab my rods and everything I need including one of the dogs, a pop up tent and went up the lake. I had no new rigs tied but luckily had some already on my rods, I had plenty of bait and a few hours before dark to make a plan.
Arriving at the lake I had a walk to look for signs of carp. On approach I immediately saw ﬁsh feeding in the shallow bay between the bank and the island, then one rolled. I walked around the lake and on the far side I spooked a lot of big carp from the margins. I knew I could stalk some carp from this spot if I sat quietly, but with little time to setup and being on my own I decided I would do what I would normally do this time of an evening and set a spot up and get my rods out for the night.
I have been after a certain ﬁsh in our lake, a ﬁsh called Arnold. A 60lb+ male who in the 8 years since we stocked him has never graced my net. I have studied this ﬁsh and I know where he gets caught and what he likes to eat. Knowing what I knew I decided I would move round to swim one and ﬁsh a couple of good spots he could possibly visit, one being the spot where I had seen ﬁsh feeding and one roll as I ﬁrst started walking around.
I setup up my rigs and boated out my baits, I was feeling conﬁdent I had rigs on I had caught on before, one was a traditional Villefond rig (a pop up rig) and one was my new bottom bait rig I had been catching all my recent ﬁsh on. I knew I was on good spots , one was on the spot where the ﬁsh rolled, the other rod was off to the left of the island in slightly deeper water, now I hoped it was just a matter of time as I setup my scales and where I would unhook the ﬁsh etc.
As I sat watching the water I noticed coypu diving on a couple of spots on the lake. I knew they must have been some bait on the bottom that the carp didn’t want and they had found it and was cleaning it up. I started to think this could be a bad sign, the carp were thinking about spawning and if they were about to spawn they may not be feeding. However, I knew the anglers before had used some boilies from a big name brand that I knew the carp didn’t like so I assured myself that was why they had left it.
As evening closed in I moved into my tent to sleep whilst my dog lay on guard just outside, my conﬁdence was not as high as it was earlier as I was starting to think about how I had no time to make a spot or tie new rigs etc as I shut my eyes hoping I would be awoke by a ﬁsh soon. 3:09am it read as I lay back down to get comfortable, as I closed my eyes my bite alarm screamed into life and something was stripping line from my reel at great speed. I rushed out and picked up the rod , the same rod that had just given me the two beeps. I had experienced this before and knew the ﬁsh hooked itself when it hit the lead and given me the two beeps earlier and now after trying to shed the hook unsuccessfully had made the decision that their only way out of this situation now was to ﬁght.
The initial run was so fast and the second and the third that I thought this must be a smaller ﬁsh. Normally big fish ﬁght really slow and deep and the slower the fight the more excited I get. After the initial runs I began to coax this ﬁsh close to the bank and still I wasn’t sure how big it was. Now the war of attrition began, the ﬁsh fought deep but still not as slow as normal big ﬁsh. After 10 minutes I still hadn’t got the ﬁsh up so I could see it. I had a meter of tubing on and I started to see the tubing and after another 10 minutes I knew it was at least a sensible ﬁsh despite the initial run and speed.
When I ﬁnally got the ﬁsh near the surface I caught just a glimpse and the ﬂash I saw I didn’t think was too big. I managed to get it near the surface again and this time I saw a head with a massive mouth and massive shoulders, an image that will stay with me for a very long time. I suddenly thought this could be Arnold because it looked huge, but I remember saying to myself what are the chances of that one ﬁsh out of all the ﬁsh in the lake picking up my bait.
I struggled and battled the ﬁsh near the surface again and saw its massive frame and thought my god I think it is Arnold. I then told myself not to panic and suddenly the pressure and excitement was cranked up. I now began to think about ringing for help to land and photo this ﬁsh but I had to tell myself calm down and just concentrate to getting this ﬁsh in the net without mistakes I still couldn’t be 100% sure this was Arnold. Every time the ﬁsh came near the net it would swim off again and my blood pressure creeped higher as I knew at the net is the most critical time of the ﬁght and I had to be extra careful.
After around 15 minutes I slid the net under the ﬁsh and ﬁnally breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed. I was keen to know if this was Arnold so I stood over the net and looked down into it, being dark for a second I couldn’t quite tell then I lifted the net slightly to see the side proﬁle of the ﬁsh that was absolutely massive, by far the largest carp I had ever seen on the bank, it was Arnold. I rang for help , I rang my father to come to the lake to photo the ﬁsh and the magnitude of this capture was just starting to sink in.
I had been after this ﬁsh so long it almost seemed unreal, hard to believe I was now sitting there holding him in the net to recover before I weighed him. My scales made a complete rotation before settling on exactly 63lb with the tripod straining under the weight of such a monster. My dad quickly arrived at the lake still half asleep and I strained to lift the my prize for the camera without pulling a face showing how much I was struggling, two thirds of the pictures I looked like I was in a gurning competition. I got in the water which was almost bath water warm and held Arnold for a couple more pictures before I watched him , the most colossal carp I had ever seen, swim back off into the lake in the moon light.
I had always said if I caught a carp over 50lb I would be happy with that personal best, it’s a respectable size carp and something most people might never capture. After I had 50’s I always still chased bigger but always thought I’ve been lucky to have had what I had. I put in so much time learning how these big ﬁsh feed and reﬁning my rigs and tactics and tweaking every little detail I can to improve my ﬁshing. Sometimes thou even when you do everything right you need a little luck and that night everything aligned right for me making a memory money couldn’t buy.
Fishery manager at Villefond
Find out more about the lake here – Carp Fishing in France at Villefond