An arduous 11-hour round trip to Yateley’s famous Car Park Lake couldn’t wipe the smile off Richard Onions’ face as he bagged ‘Paddy’ at 41lb.
The 23-year-old from Llanidloes in mid-Wales landed the fish from his first bite at the historic Hampshire water.
“It was my first UK forty and a new UK personal best,” said Richard. “At first I was just jumping around like an idiot and then I just sat there in a daze. It’s taken a long time to sink in.
“It normally takes me about four hours to get to the lake but I was held up on the M4 for three hours on the way back but I was just smiling the whole way home.”
The caravan park proprietor fed a kilogram of tiger nuts, hemp and Sticky bloodworm pellets over a gravel area during his 72-hour session in the Curly Wurly swim.
Recalling the take that came on his second morning, Richard said: “I initially thought it was a coot because I’d been picked up by one of them the morning before and as I looked up there were a few birds over my spot. But my alarm kept beeping and I put my glasses on and picked up the rod. It started to plod about and then took me into a weedbed and I ended up just netting a whole ball of weed, so I didn’t know how big it was at all.
He added: “I joined the lake last year but with the distance and my business this was only my fourth session down there. There are only three ‘originals’ left in the Car Park so I told myself it was now or never in terms of getting a ticket. Although this fish isn’t an original it had been in the Match Lake so it’s a proper Yateley fish.”