Sam Verstreken catches a quartet of big carp from a big Belgian pit...
A Last Minute Weekend on the Road
22nd May 2019
‘A Last Minute Weekend on the Road’
With a few days to play with, and a good moon phase, myself and my wife Sarah loaded the van, chucked the rods, bikes, some food and water in, booked a Eurotunnel ticket and headed off late on Friday evening.
By the early hours of Saturday we were plotted by the side of beautiful, historic little canal somewhere in northern Europe, the sun shining, filtering through the willows that line the canal and not a care in the world. This trip wasn’t purely a fishing mission, far from it, so the first day was spent having a leisurely stroll around a few of the local villages, taking a hike to the top of a tower for a vista, hanging out in the lovely cafés with a good coffee and then having a little scout around to see if I could find some carp to set up on for later. The stretch is quite tricky, being very long and with only a small head of carp it wasn’t an easy prospect at all for two nights of un-prepped angling, but it is a beautiful place to spend a few days and Sarah loves it there. After driving and looking up and down the entire length of the canal, I finally found a few and just on dark, after we had cooked and enjoyed the evening, I flicked a couple of rods out. The spot was just a tiny gap in some reeds, and it took way more casts than I would have liked to find spots but eventually I had the leads thudding down onto lovely clean smooth areas tucked right up against the fresh new pad growth. 40-50 washed out, heat treated and GLM steeped Krill’s followed and 16mm Krill pop ups on hinges. The rig was my ever faithful soft boomed hinge, made with a new test stiff bristle filament tied to a 35lb Tungskin boom and a size 5 OE hook.
Three hours in, after a long, fraught battle in the pads, the hook hold held firm and I had one of nestled in the folds and the trip was off to a flyer. It was one of the 30-40 year old character mirrors from the stretch, one known at Apple Slice at 34 pound and being so early in the night, the water really thickly choked with weed and pads I didn’t want to sack or retain her so Sarah shot some flash shots for me. Two more bites came just on, and after first light and I ended up with another mad little character mirror. It was another of the old ones from the stretch, but only an upper double, with a severely twisted spine, no dorsal and only one pec and a massive swathe of scar tissue down one side – I think probably hit by a boat early in its life and having stunted its growth, a true survivor though and a really cool little carp. The other was an immaculate sub shaped common of around 30 pound. The rods didn’t go back out, I put a kilo of bait on the spots that would be allowed to rest with no lines in for the day. We got the photos were done in front of the beautiful new frothy swathes of cow parsley, I got washed up, changed and we headed off into the city for the day to spend some time in the galleries and museums. The second night was almost a carbon copy, the rods went out late, just on dusk and once again I had two nestled up in the nets just after first light. Another bruiser of a hard fighting low thirty common and a mega, deep, creamy bellied 32 mirror made the brace.
That should have been it for the trip really, but after spending the day doing a 20K ride with Sarah up the canal, on the way back I spotted a little group mooching along the edge. After driving back to the village, finding a shop that sold some white bread, and heading back I snipped off a rig, tied on a hook, pinched on some flake and ten minutes later was cradling another mega black old character, this one with only one eye! Impromptu trips are often the best trips!