My session was booked, I only had to wait 3 weeks until it was time to go, which would give me time to prep and research.

It’s been over three years since my last visit to this particular water and I couldn’t wait!

Blakemere fishes best through winter and the catch reports kept flooding in on their Facebook page as the month went on which really got my hopes up.

I got my rigs prepared the night before, deciding to use short stiff hinged rigs I purchase ready tied to make life a little easier. Using StickyBaits krill white pop ups in 16mm tied on with Korda bait floss and a small amount of Korda dark matter rig putty around the swivel to slowly sink the pop up. IQ2 was used as my boom section in 15lb at 8 inches long. There is a leadcore ban here so a safe zone leader was substituted for my usual leadcore leader and also the barbs on my hooks crushed as it’s barbless only.

Arriving at the Mere at 7am I was lucky enough to set up in the swim I wanted, The Boathouse. This particular swim commands more water than others and from reading the catch reports it was the most productive.

I decided to fish two rods to the far margin due to it’s a safe area for carp with there being no other peg parallel to mine. It’s 28 wraps in width and both margins drop off to around 8ft in depth a few rod lengths out so I cast 25 wraps (96yrds) using a 3oz dumpy pear lead on a lead clip system to get the distance and feel a good drop down. It’s a mainly silty bottom so the longer boom section is a must to stop the rig burying. It’s bed is mainly featureless only for lily pads covering the perimeter in the warmer months and the obvious features of ‘The Snags’ swim. My third rod was set in the center at 15 wraps as I knew it did a fish there two nights earlier.

I baited up with StickyBaits krill frozen bollies (a shelf life ban is also in place) from my cataplult for the midde and easystick for the far margin when the bird life died down.

The owner Dave walked around to greet the new anglers that had arrived. The place is a credit to him with all wet gear (net, sling, cradle etc) supplied on all pegs, otter fencing, we’ll maintained paths and swims plus lots more.

At 4.30pm my right hand rod from the far margin let out a cluster of bleeps and the stow tightened up to the alarm. After a 5 minute slow battle I had a prestine 21lb 12oz common in the net.

I called my friend Dean from the next swim to take some pictures. The fish was in perfect condition and with an immaculate mouth as if it had never been caught before.

Whilst holding her up for photos, a flock of 3-4 thousand starlings swarmed over head on the way to roost and with me being a keen wildlife and birdwatcher it was a pretty special moment.

Nothing else happened during the night apart from half the Mere freezing over due to the -2°C conditions. I was up early enough to watch the sun rise and slowly pack away the gear ready for the short hour journey home, planning my next trip to this amazing place.

Thanks for reading, for more pictures of my session follow my Instagram dave15johns.