Scottish carper Saul Gardiner has added yet further weight to the almost indisputable claim Grenville Lake in Cambridgeshire is the lake of dreams, after smashing his personal best with a monster 61-pounder, caught from just a single wrap out!
Despite being renowned for long-distance casting and large beds of bait, Saul did the complete opposite after arriving for his session following a 315-mile drive down from his home near Edinburgh. After finding fish in the margins, that’s exactly where he decided to target them with his ever-trusted Secret 7. The next morning, his short-range trap was sprung by the lake’s Big Male, tipping the scales at a colossal 61lb 1oz and obliterating Saul’s previous PB of 44lb.
Saul takes up the story: “I drove down from my home near Edinburgh in the early hours of Sunday morning, a journey of 315 miles, which usually takes around six hours if the traffic is okay.
“On my arrival at Grenville at around 11am, it was very hot and sunny and it didn’t take long to find plenty of fish in a corner of the lake, not something I’ve ever seen on Grenville, as the fish are usually at range. It got better when I observed fish cruising and feeding along the margin in front of the only swim in that corner, so my mind was quickly made up. Upon returning to the office, I was told by the owner the swim I had chosen was limited to fishing the immediate margins due to the heavy weed further out, but fortunately my plan was to fish the margins anyway.
“There were plenty of fish down the margin to the left of the swim, fish that were obviously looking for food, but due to the restrictions I couldn’t fish for them, which was very frustrating. However, I had an idea of feeding them along the margin, which would get them used to my bait and keep them away from my swim while I set up. I crushed up a few handfuls of Secret 7 boilies and scattered them along the margins to my left and it wasn’t long before the fish were heads down ripping up the short weed looking for the bait!
“After quietly setting up and getting two rods in position on a lovely clear spot at the end of the reed line to my right, and one as far along to the left as allowed on another lovely clear spot near the bottom of the marginal slope, I baited with a mixture of whole and crushed S7 boilies, which had been coated in S7 Liquid Food and BetaStim. Lines were fished super slack with putty on the line to pin it down and the bobbins only holding some tension to the line on the reels to stop line spilling off the spools. The rigs were a mixture of two balanced pop-up rigs and a simple snowman with S7 hookbaits coated in the matching S7 EVO Liquid.
“Not long after I had the rods sorted, a mini storm blew up out of nowhere! Mega winds had me holding on to the brolly while torrential rain and hail soaked everything, accompanied by thunder and lightening. As quickly as it came, it rumbled off into the distance, reminding me of some daft Monty Python clip and I just had to laugh, even though a load of my gear was soaking wet! What was saddening was the fish had vanished; all I could do was hope they would return.
“Through the night I had to odd bleep on the alarms, but it wasn’t until 5.45am that a slow, steady take developed on the right-hand rod. Knowing there was a big weedbed about 30 yards to my right, I quickly put the waders on and was soon holding the fish back from getting to the weed. It was just getting light and I could make out swirls on the top just feet from the weed, when I managed to turn the fish and get it heading back towards me in open water. The fight went on without any more drama and soon a large head appeared over the draw cord of the landing net, and as I pulled the fish further towards the spreader block, I started to wonder if it was going to fit in! Eventually I lifted the net with a feeling of disbelief of what was sitting there in the net – it was huge!
“After calming down a little, I got the fish in the retainer and sent a message to Paul, the owner, to come down to do the photo. It went something like, ‘Hi Paul, got a good fish in the sling, might be a PB,’ knowing full well my 44lb PB was going to be smashed to bits! Paul’s reply was, ‘Okay, what’s that, about 7 or 8lb?’ Cheeky bugger!
“When we lifted the retainer out, it was very evident this was one hell of a big fish. When we opened the retainer on the mat, Paul said straight away, ‘Yep, that’s the Big Male, sixty-plus!’
“On the scales, he went 61lb 1oz; I still can’t quite take it in. My PB had been well and truly smashed with a fish of a lifetime, caught from a rod-length out in 70-plus acres of water. It’s not called the lake of dreams for nothing. An amazing water and a huge thanks to Paul Ward for creating it.”