Simon Kenny | Kingsmead One

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Simon’s story continues as he takes us on to K1, where he had a truly memorable run up to the end of his first season on the Horton complex, capturing a number of very big fish in his final four months

Simon’s first big mirror from the lake, the Lucky Sutton at over 44lb

Simon’s first big mirror from the lake, the Lucky Sutton at over 44lb

I had Kingsmead 1 on the RK Leisure gold card, which was always going to be a bonus for me while I fished on my main target water, the Church. The plan was to drop on there as and when Horton was really busy, which wasn’t a bad thing as the lake held a number of big fish in its own right. I would guess it to be some 30-acres in size and holding about 150 fish, if you don’t include the really small ones that have recently been introduced. There are probably 10 of those over 40lb and a few that go over 50lb at the right time of year. The lake’s biggest mirror, Starry’s, unfortunately died earlier this season – but there were still plenty of big fish to go at and some lovely old Sutton-strain mirrors too.

My first session was right at the start of the season and I remember arriving on site at 2am, but the Church was so busy I decided to fish K1. I didn’t really want to be there, my heart was set on the Church Lake and I ended up camping for a few nights, with nothing to show for it. The following week I couldn’t really get on the fish on Church, so went for another stroll around K1. As I was walking there was a big south-westerly pumping into Dog Bay, so I settled down to scan the water, whilst absorbing the welcome spring conditions and I saw a couple of fish show. Even though I wanted to be on the Church, it was too good an opportunity to miss.

One of three on his first night

One of three on his first night

The following morning, I had a 36lb mirror, which wasn’t a bad way to announce myself to the place and I felt happy that I had jumped on an opportunity and it had paid off. That was to be my last session on the lake for four months, as I got stuck firmly into the challenge next door on the Church Lake. Once I felt like I had to move on from the Church, pushing the barrow a few yards further on to K1 was the obvious choice.

The week after catching The Woodcarving, we were coming into autumn and despite catching a 30lb mirror that night from the Church, I decided to leave it alone and concentrate my time on K1. Even though I had already had that brief spell back in the spring, it felt like a new challenge and I couldn’t wait to get started. My first night was a success, landing three fish to 25lb. I was just chasing fizzers about really, casting singles to them and trying to keep up with their movements.

He continued to use his favoured Hinge Rig, and to good success

He continued to use his favoured Hinge Rig, and to good success

The following week I loaded the van and everything was fully focused on that lake. It was my first trip to the complex where I arrived with only K1 in mind. I had fished the season on Church with Manilla but having done some research in to K1 I wanted to fish with Krill and particles. The fish were in the shallow bay in front of Dog One. The weedbeds were evident from the bank and the fish were cruising about all over this large, safe haven. The chap fishing the swim was packing up, so it made for an obvious swim choice to start with.

Strong components are essential when fishing for big carp

Strong components are essential when fishing for big carp

I located some spots and carried on fishing with the hinge rigs that gave me so much success on Church. I used white hookbaits still, but this time, I was mixing the Signature Squids and Krill White Ones. I caught a low-20 common during the night but couldn’t get the rod back out in the darkness. I recast it at first light and following a top-up of bait, I didn’t have to wait too long to get another bite. This fish was incredibly powerful, and it weeded me up three or four times. As it rolled in the clear water, I could see it was a big, chestnut-coloured mirror. When it went in the net, I recognised it as one that they call the Lucky Sutton. It was lucky indeed, being my first Kingsmead 40 at 44lb 2oz.

The Scarred Mirror, spawned out yet still impressive at over 44lb

The Scarred Mirror, spawned out yet still impressive at over 44lb

I caught another 26lb mirror and a few stockies that trip, which was fantastic, and I couldn’t have asked for more. The following week, I finished work early and arrived a day earlier than usual. It was late August, and the fish were clearly using the silt to do their feeding. The signs were not hard to find and in the ‘party’ swims, the fish were evident. I overcast my pop-ups, skipping them along the surface until they reached the patches of bubbles and lowered them gently down amongst the feeding fish. Despite my subtle approach, I awoke the next morning to no bites and had to have a re-think.

At 41lb and with a very distinctive body shape, The Ugly Sutton is a real character of the lake

At 41lb and with a very distinctive body shape, The Ugly Sutton is a real character of the lake

I had a lead around and found a nice firm area in a swim known as The Gravelly, which was where the bulk of the fish appeared to be. I located a hard area around 50 yards out and dispatched 30-Spombs of Krill boilies and hemp over the top. It was a good decision, as the next two nights produced five fish, two of which went over 30lb. It was going so well I had to pull another night and get into work late. That turned out to be a wise move, as the early morning produced another bite, this time from a fish known as The Scarred Mirror at 44lb 12oz. It was one of the biggest in the lake but was slightly down following on from spawning. I cared not however, and what a couple of weeks it had been, the RK fish certainly had a soft spot for me!

Simon spent a lot of time making extra rigs when the action was hectic

Simon spent a lot of time making extra rigs when the action was hectic

My next few trips were great too. I was loving my time at the lake and caught each time, although nothing big came my way for a while. I felt confident that what I was doing was right, but nobody could really string a hit together. The fish were certainly searching out the naturals and proved tricky to catch at times, but by still picking the odd bite up, I kept my confidence and in turn, was sure that if I kept plugging away, I would have another chance of one of the big old mirrors.

I arrived one Sunday morning and the forecast looked bang on for Dog One. I dropped in behind the weekend lad and knew the swim pretty well. Getting the rods out was a quick and easy affair and I whizzed out a couple of singles for the morning. As I was setting the bivvy in place, one of the rods on the deck was away. After a spirited fight, I landed another one of the big Suttons known as the Ugly Sutton. It is a really ‘upfront’ fish, with a unique shape and a real character of the lake. It went 41lb 2oz, another big one from the lake and I still had three nights ahead of me. The action carried on after I gave them a hit of bait, and I ended up with six fish in total, with a cracking 37lb common being the second biggest. It was a bit of a blessing really, as I couldn’t make it back to the lake for three weeks, with work building up and my van needing a MOT. It was nice to leave the lake having had such an amazing trip.

The famous Kingsmead Bridge

The famous Kingsmead Bridge

The leaves began to fall, autumn was here...

The leaves began to fall, autumn was here...

By the time I returned, autumn was well on its way, with the leaves golden and beginning to fall and the wind and rain persisting. I arrived on the Friday morning to get there for first light. The fish were showing out in the middle of the lake and with the wind and rain driving across the lake, it was going to make it tricky to get the rods out but I relished the opportunity of a bit of open water fishing. I fished in a swim known as Trudy’s Mate, which wasn’t quite on the wind but it was that end of the lake where I had seen a number of fish show. I found a spot around 90-yards out, which was a nice firm area with shingles of gravel on the spot too. I gave them a bucket of the Manilla and hemp and with a few nights ahead of me, I felt super-confident of a few fish. I had switched back to the Manilla as the water temperatures had dropped rapidly and it’s just something that I feel works best for me when the weather starts to cool down.

The autumn storms kept the anglers away but the fish were still playing ball

The autumn storms kept the anglers away but the fish were still playing ball

I had four fish, repeating on the Lucky Sutton and the others were a mix of twenties and upper doubles. The lake was slowing down and the fish were not really getting caught. They were hard to track down, as they were moving round a lot, appearing in one zone for the morning and then another on the next.

A cracking 36lb linear to kick the autumn off in style

A cracking 36lb linear to kick the autumn off in style

The tactics were definitely working and Simon kept on catching

The tactics were definitely working and Simon kept on catching

A near-40 that fell to the heavy baiting technique

A near-40 that fell to the heavy baiting technique

I began to receive a few blank trips and the lake felt like it was really shutting down for the winter period. I had done a couple of nights in The Gravelly swim, but with no joy. I noticed a few fish showing in the open water in front of the Right Hand Point. This swim gives you access to a big chunk of water and I decided to make a move. It paid off and I caught a 37lb 4oz linear during the night, which was more than welcome. That was it for that trip, however, and we were into November now and I knew time was inevitably counting down. I was back the following week and the weather was mild and the southerly felt it too.

It wasn’t time to call it a day just yet... Bromfield’s at 44lb

It wasn’t time to call it a day just yet... Bromfield’s at 44lb

Slack lines were something Simon always used when targeting these pressured carp

Slack lines were something Simon always used when targeting these pressured carp

I did a couple of laps but didn’t want to set up until I had seen a fish show. With only one small one out at the weekend, there was very little to go on. It was an hour before dusk and time was ticking, when I saw a fish show at the other end of the lake in the vicinity of the ‘party’ swims. I got the gear round and set up in the dark. I knew The Gravelly well, so went in there and got them out to their clips. I saw a few fish after the rods went out and it felt good, and I got a bite around midnight from a 37lb 4oz mirror. However, I didn’t recast the rod as there were already another two in the area. An hour or so passed and I had another one, a good fish too – a 39lb 6oz mirror called The Birthday Fish.

I did a couple more nights but didn’t see another carp. It was clear there were small windows and I had to try and be there as much as I could to capitalise on them. The next few trips were lifeless, and I didn’t even see a fish show. The weather had gone cold, but I felt there would still be another opportunity. I did a couple of nights dotted in different spots around the lake and moved on my last to the Right Hand Point, just to keep fishing different areas, in the hope of landing on a group of fish. That night I didn’t catch anything but got quite a few liners. I suspected the fish were closer in than where I was fishing.

Simon focused on the Right Hand Point swim for the tail end of his season

Simon focused on the Right Hand Point swim for the tail end of his season

I normally pack up to be off by 9am, but decided to get some work done on the swim before I left. I found a gravelly area closer in than where I was fishing and put the rest of my bait on it. When I arrived the following week, I dropped straight into the same swim – I was sure they would have been on it and had a free meal. The theory was right and that first night I received three takes. I had a mid-double – a small stocky and a beautiful 44lb mirror called Bromfield’s. The lake had quietened right off now, so I had to do some self-takes with it – and it was one of those mornings, with a lake to yourself, in the cold, holding a great big mirror.

Bizarrely and unexpectedly, they were the last bites of the trip. I had planned for that to be my last session, but having had those fish I thought I would be mad to leave it there. With nobody else really fishing it and a few fish still willing to feed, I had to get back the following week. Before I left I gave them 5kg of Manilla and was sure they would return before I did. It was my birthday on the Sunday and I was buzzing to be fishing on my birthday and, having kept the captures quiet, I walked straight back in to the swim. Just on dusk on my second night, I landed one of the small stockies, which was a good sign. At around 1am I got another bite – this time something a lot bigger. It was a 37lb 6oz mirror called Bob’s Mate. I was delighted to be doing self-takes again, being the only one on the lake! I woke that morning to everything being covered in ice, the temperatures had plummeted, and I reached for the kettle to help get me out my slumber.

The left-hander melted off before the kettle had a chance to boil and I began this battle with a beast of a carp. I saw it roll a couple of times and I knew it was huge! I eventually slid the net under this colossal mirror carp and at first, I didn’t recognise it. I zeroed the sling and put it on the scales and it went 50lb 10oz – I couldn’t quite believe it. It turned out to be a fish called Armageddon, well up in weight and looking absolutely magnificent.

I had now had a 50 from both Church and K1, which is something I never expected when I first joined the lakes. Once again I’d had every intention of it being my last trip too, but now I had to go back for another go... I tend to save the bulk of my work for the colder months and that was building up rapidly, but with the lake still being quiet and the chance of a whacker, I needed to keep going. Before I left I gave them another hit of bait out there, a further 5kg of Manilla as per the previous week. The spot had a few weeks’ worth of bait on it and I thought it could only get better. My mate came down the following week, so we could have a bit of social and we were hoping to fish the spot again.

A fish known as Armageddon at a colossal 50lb 10oz

A fish known as Armageddon at a colossal 50lb 10oz

A stunning 36-pounder that again fell to the heavy baiting

A stunning 36-pounder that again fell to the heavy baiting

There was someone in the swim, which was to be expected as word had got out. Luckily, he was leaving, so I dropped back in and got the rods back out to the usual areas. I saw a few fish that first night, but nothing happened during the hours of darkness. As morning arrived, the rod fished on the baited spot tore off. Halfway through the fight, the other rod was away as well. I initially thought I had taken the line out, but it wasn’t, it was another fish. I netted the first one, which turned out to be a 36lb broken linear. I grabbed the other rod, reeled in the slack and connected with a carp. It turned out to be a 17lb common, which was a right result! I redid the rods that afternoon and gave them another hit of bait. I went to bed and heard the odd one rolling during the night, confirming I was still on them. I got another bite on first light, and it was the left-hand rod this time, which wasn’t on the spot that I was baiting.

The biggest fish in the lake, The Scarred Mirror, fully replenished and weighing a huge 54lb 8oz. It was a new PB for him

The biggest fish in the lake, The Scarred Mirror, fully replenished and weighing a huge 54lb 8oz. It was a new PB for him

Simon’s companion on both lakes over the latter half of the year was Horton’s adopted, stray ginger

Simon’s companion on both lakes over the latter half of the year was Horton’s adopted, stray ginger

I lifted in to it and it turned out to be an exact copy of the Armageddon fight, lasting for ages, and with a substantial mirror rolling around and charging up and down in the margins. I slid the net under it and peered inside – it was huge! It turned out to be a repeat, known as The Scarred, which was the biggest mirror in the lake. I had already caught her at 44lb, but she looked a lot bigger this time. I weighed her up and she went 54lb 8oz, a truly colossal weight and it totally blew my mind. We rattled off some shots and I was a shaking mess. It was a magical morning and a superb end to an amazing season on RK Leisure’s waters, with a new PB to boot.

Mick Clifford