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A tale of ‘Naked and Common’ English Carp

Stunning surroundings, fantastic facilities, and three lakes full of big English carp beyond your wildest dreams, just some of the reasons Matthew Hughes just can't get enough of Fryerning Fisheries. Here he tells his story that will live with him for the rest of his life!

Back in the summer I came to the conclusion that there was copious amounts unfinished business at Fryerning so applied to re-join the syndicate. Thankfully after a call and chat with Chris and Charlie there was a space for me. I could now put plans into place to land some of the most sought after jewels of the main lake.

I say unfinished as I particularly had revenge in mind for one of the largest if not largest members of the A team that following its capture did the ‘Houdini’ from my net and didn’t make the scales or the camera.

With the ticket purchased, permission was booked in with the wife for a 5 day session starting on Sunday 16th September. As the time of the trip neared the weather app was regularly refreshed and revealed favourable conditions for the week. Lowering pressure, variable strong north easterlies and mild temperatures. A cocktail to get those fishy thought juices flowing.

I arrived at the lake, after the inevitable chaos of the M25, and was met with a spread of anglers round the lake. After a walk round, stopping for a chat with a few of the lads I decided to settle on a central area of the lake, in a swim called the ‘Chocolate Finger‘. From this vantage point, which branches slightly into the lake, I could move onto fish should they decide to show themselves.

 Chocolate Finger xlcarp fisheries ingatestone

The Chocolate Finger, great for watching the lake. 

It was not long after putting the house up that the angler who was set up in the Lodge to my left, had received a call which unexpectedly ended his session, so I decided on move based on previous experiences into his grave. Despite the Lodge not doing a fish for a week, I felt that they would move back in, and if they did the traps would be set to ambush them.

The rods were wrapped to know spots and smashed to the horizon on the back on the gusty wind. The Hi S spod rod was out and i was giving it the big one, baiting up into the cross wind. By 8pm I was sitting in the bivvy with the kettle on and the waiting game had begun.

Lodge swim Fryerning Fisheries Brentwood Essex

The famous Lodge swim always looks the part!

On first light I saw the first of the three fish show themselves in the vicinity of the baited area. Confidence was brimming! By mid-morning the take that I felt should have happened never materialised and the shows had stopped. Had the fish done the off?

This had coincided with the wind gaining strength to a strong north easterly, blowing on the diagonal to opposite end of the lake. With the wind gaining strength a few fish thought they might try flying, throwing their bodies out the water, making their location obvious in the main bowl area of the lake in front of the island. The ‘Royal Box‘, a swim with form had been vacated early morning and was a logical move to intercept the fish that were waiting to be angled for. Game on!!

Royal Box Fryerning Fisheries Carp Syndicate Essex

The Royal Box, perfect for intercepting moving carp!

A long move round to the opposite side of the lake kicked off what was going to be quite a physical battle with the elements and helpfully with Mr and Mrs Carp. Once in the swim the house was put up for the third time in less than 24 hours. Whilst doing that I kept a keen eye on the water, to build a mental picture of exactly where the fish were. Fortunately, one decided to show and the range was duly noted.

With 4 days ahead of me I had time on my side, so I didn’t mind grabbing the marker rod for a quick investigation in the area that the carp showed. A few casts revealed nice smooth area with the lead going down a firm thud. The Korda marker lead gave way to the clay bottom. The area was marked and the rods wrapped up. All three rods locked and loaded across an area 15 metres or so wide, spaced 5 metres from each other.

The wind had got rather rowdy making throwing the large Spomb a relatively modest distant a little trickier than usual. With cross winds reported at over 45mph, the low and hard hit with a bit of ‘bend it like Beckham’ trajectory ensured the carp food was delivered to the dining table.

Thirty Spombs of 15 and 18mm Mainline Cell and Link chopped and whole bollies with matching liquids, hemp and topped off with a healthy dose of Mainline Fosoil making an irresistible feast to any big carp. On the business end all three traps were laid with cell pop ups on the newly released and ultra sharp Korda Kamakura size 6 barbless Wide Gapes, N Trap hook links on hybrid lead clips and clear Safe Zone leaders with 4oz leads.

It was time for a bit of sit down and watch the water while prepping my own dinner. Fishing is supposed to relaxing isn’t it?

mainline cell1 xlcarp fisheries ingatestone

Mainline Cell, a proven big fish catcher!

The evening soon turned to darkness and with the wind dropping from a full on hooley to relative calm, it was time to catch some shuteye. I was an hour or so into sleep then boom, the left Delkim started a disco. For some unknown reason I thought I wouldn’t need my dance shoes, so I jumped out of bed barefoot and rescued the rod form the beating alarm without putting my Crocs on.

This was going to make the battle interesting. The barefoot approach wasn’t paying off. The sharp stones of the angled bank were piercing my feet. It was if the carp gods were punishing me for not getting out much these days. No pain, no gain!! Unbeknown to me my head lamp fallen off in my excitement, but luckily the moonlight was bright enough to help me steer the spirited fish away from the other lines and after a dogged ruck the fish was in the net! The fish was a cracking near fully scaled mirror bang on 26lb.

By now it was 1.30am and the fish was slipped back to its home after a couple of quick shots. A fresh bait was tied onto a new rig and banged back onto the spot using the horizon marker.

One nil. Love fishing!


Korda’s brand new Kamakura hooks…. simply awesome.

The real fun begins….

The rest of the night passed, and I was woken at 5am by the Willow tree giving up some of its small branches to the wind. An hour of watching he water passed and as leaves and twigs danced passed the bivvy door, the middle rod pulled away on a steady take.

Have it! I was up and lifting the rod into the fight of a lifetime. The fish made the first move using its speed and power to immediately force me to give ground and then sat there in the middle of the lake with the Hi-S in full battle mode. The tug of war was on. It was my turn to gain some line. With the strong winds roaring from right the line was singing its tune. I had the heavy fish turned and moving helpfully away from the other lines. The rod tip being kept low in an attempt to keep the fish high in the water.

It was working. I pumped the powerful fish back 40 yards, but the fish had enough of that. It was as though it had been through this routine before. Let’s make the angler think they’re winning. What followed was a series of the most powerful runs from a carp that I had ever experienced. Destructive surges up the right hand margin, parting the water and heading for the ‘end swim’ which was fortunately empty.

The drama of turning the fish, moving it back in front of me and then it exploding on a 35 yard run for freedom repeated itself three times, when on the forth she kited across me and gave up its identify. It was unmistakable length and unique scale pattern around the dorsal that made my heart flutter with the lunges of the carp’s head even more nerve racking. Two more runs of slightly waning ferocity and then it happened. I had the fish under control with its head up high and heading into the net.


Simon Davey was standing in a swim in the opposite bank had a spotted me playing a fish for a rather long time so had popped round to investigate. I greeted Simon with ‘it’s the Mommon!’. The response, with a smirk and a laugh was, “I thought you had a Cat or just playing it like a pussy!”.

The Mommon had beat me up and for little over half hour and I was not sure who had caught who. The thumping great common was transferred from the net into the sling and laid in the mat before being hoist onto the scales. The scales pulled round to 46.8, a pb common. Fantastic stuff. Simon did me the honours of some photos and the fish was returned to her home. The Mommon was mine.

A fish of dreams!! Two nil. Love fishing!!

The Mommon big common XL Carp Brentwood Essex

What a fish, The Mommon.

On past experience once you have been fortunate to land one of the jewels on the lake there’s often a chance of another, so I quickly tied on a new rig, bait and recast. First attempt I got the drop I was after. Bingo. I dipped the rod tip, tightened and left for the line to sink. While waiting for the line to drop I grabbed the Spomb and arrowed into the wind 10 midi size loads to top up the buffet. I then hung the indicator back on and retreated into the bivvy to shelter from the battering wind.

Around an hour had passed to 9.30am and the sputtering Delkim receiver signalled a bite on the right hand rod. Am I awake… Yes. I lifted into the fish, and this time unlike the Mommon, the fish simply held there and said no. I’m not running away from you. I’m going to just hold here and plod around using my weight, and that’s what it did for five minutes or so. Holding ground before it was kiting across the wind to my right.

I wrestled the fish to within 25 yards of the bank where it surfaced. It then fancied its chances of trying to do me up the margin just like the Mommon. The difference this time was the speed of the run, it was more Tractor, slower and heavier unlike the Muscle Car speed and power of the Mommon. The fish was eventually turned and tamed, wallowing under the rod tip like a puppet.

The line singing once more. It definitely was not going to be the great escape. It was a triumphant Star Wars theme tune as another jewell from Fryerning entered the net. The fish was massively deep bodied and nude. It could only be one fish. The ‘Netted‘.

COME ON was my greeting gesture. Three nil. Love fishing!!!

The Netted Fish Fryerning Fisheries Ingatestone Essex

And another, the Netted fish 47lb 9oz

The usual weighing ritual was performed. The fish safety transferred into the sling, then to the mat which was moved to the weighing point on the tree. With the Rubens already zeroed, they dragged round to 47.9. I was awake, but it was a dream come true. A quick call to Simon and he was round to do the pictures. Then it was time to let the grand creature return to its home. Unbelievable fishing!!! Thank you ‘Netted Fish’ and thank you ‘Mommon’.

Due to my illness, Cystic Fibrosis, I had a call scheduled with the hospital at 1.30pm. Mr or Mrs carp was not going to let that pass by without interrupting the conversation with my right hand rod busting into a chorus of the ‘Hokey Cokey’.

Firstly, pulling out of the clip with the pleasant ping but then going slack as the fish swam towards me. I apologised to the nurse and said I had to go as I had a bite. She must have thought I was either having a ‘Fish Pedicure’ or just mad. Probably the later.

Anyway, the conversation was ended, and I wound down the lack line and made contact with the fish. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be this time and fish escaped me soon after the battle commenced.

Bugger!! Three one. Love Fishing!!!

Fryerning Fisheries Brentwood XLcarp The Link Mainline Bait Best Syndicate

Link mixed in with Cell did the damage.

During the next few days the fish seemed to move round to my left a little. I was inclined to stay on my bait which I did, and it did pay off with two more smaller next generation fish up to 20.8. Five one. But the big girls had moved off me. I’m sure the A Team move in packs.

It’s happened to other anglers, and myself, that you have captures in quick succession but they move off you. Like the paparazzi hunting an ‘A List’ celebrity in a restaurant, you either find them again or they eventually have the confidence to come back and visit where their mate got caught. This session came to end before they returned this time. In hindsight I should have gone looking but without a question of doubt I was elated.

I will look back in years to these memorable captures, one that has brought me great pleasure at a challenging time as I write this from my hospital bed planning my next venture back down to the Main lake. The fish that escaped me a few years back was neither the ‘Netted’ or ‘Mommon’ so I’m still after revenge and cannot wait to get back down to the Theatre of Dreams.

Love fishing!!!!!

Matthew Hughes