Sam Whittaker embarks on a Belgian road trip, which all came good in the end!
Lewis Spencer – Joe’s Common
1st June 2021
Lewis Spencer gives us the the ‘ups and downs’ of chasing his nemesis ‘Joe’s Common’ around…
June 2011 was the year I first obtained a ticket for the picturesque 18-acre estate lake in the beautiful Lincolnshire countryside. Fast forward 10 years, with mortgages and kids in the equation, but the journey finally came to an end to what transpired to be my nemesis – the mighty ‘Joe’s Common’, from the big weedy pit.
Whenever I think or dream about carping, I’m on this lake, fishing for these stunning very tough old English carp. Many years ago, along with my good friend Aaron Smith we went on to batter this lake, taking its stock one-by-one, week-by-week. They said 10 a season was top rod and good going. I ended the season on 28, with 6 losses due to the weed Aaron ended up around the 35 mark, yet one thing in common – no ‘Joe’s Common’ for either of us! For yet another year it went uncaught, that was becoming standard for the sly old common!
Hemp and peanuts to small holes in the weed was my favourite sort of approach so I regularly baited the edge, were the common was known to come from. Fast forward 3 years and I had to pull off – the repeats were mounting up for me, and the common had beaten me, getting caught off a spot I’d primed and moved off from to go to work the next day.
2016 saw me return around June time for another go – I had a couple of months back, but again 5 bites and 5 repeats had me running away back to another old pit. Every other year I would repeat this and get the ticket, but around 2017 to 2018 the otters started to raid the lovely lake, taking the stock down from around 40 to 45 carp to around 9 – I was sent a photo of a big, long common on one of the many islands this lake, stripped down to bone. I felt so sad I’ll never forget it. I was fishing for a 45 lb Lincs common at the time. I sat there having a beer in the on-site pub vowing from that day to never leave a carp behind, thinking ‘Joe’s Common’ was dead.
2020 (the big lock down year) saw me in full-flight mode, hunting Yorkshire’s finest ‘Baby Baz’. Around May, I was sat down there when the phone went with old mate on the end, “you’re not going to believe this. Joe’s C’ommn’s just come out at 34, down in weight because of the otters but alive” I thought, I’m going to catch you! With ‘Baz’ netted at 51lb 04 in September time, I had to have a go for him properly and finish what I had started!
In 2021 around the first week of May saw me wandering around the estate lake, trying to find them. I had started to bait this weedy lake lightly in some of the old areas. I thought now it’s so low stocked, I should be able to single him out a bit easier than before – the weed was up to the top of the shallow lake already. I’d gone in with a weed rake and raked off plenty of areas and baited with a couple of spoons of bait every other day – game on!
I blanked the first trip (which was a Saturday after work). A couple more weeks of baiting and I was keen to get down on the Wednesday for the full moon – I’d baited heavily. My old mate ‘Subsurface Sam’ was down hunting, and also someone who I have the upmost respect for; an old boy called Ray Bayes (none other than Gary Bayes’ brother.) Now Ray has help me so much over the years. He was down tenching at 10 at night, smack-bang on the full moon. Guess what happened?! On a bunch of red maggots he had Joe’s at 38lb 05oz. I thought I will probably still go down on the Friday after work. 6 o’clock saw me flicking 2 rigs out in the edge, ‘Withy Pools’ with TA Camstiff and super sharp size 6 Curve Points over Sticky’s new Manilla Active, peanuts and hemp. It was quite clear the carp were all here getting ready to spawn. I’d seen ‘Joe’s’ 6ft from the bank on the Saturday morning and in my heart of hearts I knew what was going to happen. At half 4 on the Sunday morning a first light ripper got me up to a heavy battle, which saw me land what I thought was a small common, it wasn’t until I saw the length of it and the tell-tale sign of its mouth (just big enough for a small boilie) – incredible I’d finally got him!
A call to Sam, and a few texts to mates soon got me buzzing. The Coleman was steaming, and life was sweet. he went 38lb 1oz, but the weight meant nothing to me; I’d finally landed my nemesis… not only that, but he was such a stupidly hard carp to catch, which made it all the sweeter – long live the proper ones and long live Joe’s Common.