JAMES JONES is used to catching huge fish, but he was amazed when this 88 lb 4 oz common carp took lots of line from his reel at long range.


The Gigantica carp venue in France was where James tempted the winter hulk, known as The Immaculate.

James, 39, from Southminster, Essex, is no stranger to colossal fish. He banked a catfish of 144 lb from his local Oak Lakes in 2012, which was a UK record at the time.

James, who works as a bailiff on the Gigantica carp fishery, said: “After coming second in the draw, I chose Alcatraz, as I fancied being on the back of the wind.

“I fished a clean area at 24 wraps. It can be tempting to fish further, but accuracy is key at this time of year.

“I baited a tight spot with Mainline Essential Cell crumb, pellets and hemp, starting with 3 kg a day.

“I set up with spinner rigs, guaranteeing perfect presentation. That’s something that was important, as during the winter I could be leaving my rigs out for up to three days.

“It was clear that the fish weren’t in the area, so I stopped baiting and decided to leave the rigs out, hoping that they’d move on me.”

Gigantica carp arrive after 48 hours

James continued: “The tactic appeared to work, as 48 hours later I heard fish showing in the zone.

“Not wanting to make any disturbance, I left the rigs out for another day.

“With no bites materialising, I changed my hi-vis pop-up hook baits from pink Toasted Almond to Pineapple, tipped with fake maggots.

“The fish continued to show, and the change in bait worked, as on Thursday morning I landed a rare visitor to the bank, Mr Tong, at 48 lb.

“With two rods still on the spot, I decided not to recast, and a few hours later I was away again, with a 31 lb mirror, before my one remaining rod went off with one of the 2019 stockies.

“The spot was rocking, so three new rigs were cast out, followed by ten Spombs.

“Within an hour I landed a dark, scaly ‘banger’ that hadn’t been caught since it was stocked last year, a fish known as Big Blue, at 33 lb.

“It was a crazy morning, and the best was yet to come.”

Special finish with 88-pounder

James continued: “I took a 31 lb mirror the next morning, and going into my final night I baited with a further 3 kg of crumb.

“I began to hear some ‘chunks’ showing in the area at 3am, so I put the kettle on, absolutely buzzing.

“It didn’t take long for the middle rod to be away, and a very different fight began.

“It was stripping line at 100 yards, and I knew this was going to be special, as she plodded deep in the edge, trying to shake the hook.

“She surrendered as I slipped the enormous bulk of her into my net.

“Gigantica truly is a special place!” concluded James.

His 88 lb 4 oz Gigantica carp ranks as one of the heaviest commons caught in France. It’s been an impressive water for many years –  find out more here.

The biggest common carp ever caught fell to a British angler at Lake Serene in summer 2019. The captor was Terry Harbert, and it scaled 101 lb 6 oz.

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