Davy Claus – Persistence Pays Off

13th December 2022

Persistence pays off in the end.

The waiting game.

If you’re targeting big carp, a lot of the time things just don’t seem to want to fall into place. But luckily every now and then there are those moments or periods wherein the stars align, when your relentless efforts are rewarded and everything starts to work with, instead of against you.

The captures I would like to write about here are a textbook example of how persistence and flexibility very suddenly can pay off, when lady luck, for whatever reason, decides to join your side and the most hopeless of autumn campaigns can become one of the most rewarding ones in the blink of an eye.

The first one of those captures is an elusive common carp that lives in a 200 acre lake I’ve been fishing on and off for almost 20 years now. What is really special about this particular common, is that up until 2020 no one knew of its existence. With the lake being fished quite regularly, it is hard to grasp how it avoided getting caught all this time. That being said, since the first known capture in 2020, its behaviour seems to have changed, as my capture was now the third in line. Nonetheless it still feels like I’d got the winning ticket out of a lottery!

As is often the case the capture came by a stroke of luck after a chain of coincidences…

To go even further in trying to put this capture in the right perspective, I should inform you briefly on how my angling went that autumn. I had been chasing a very big carp on another lake much further from home through most of the summer and autumn. Since this particular fish was my main focus, I’ll refer to it as plan A. Due to the situation that came with plan A, I had to bear trough a six-week spell, during which I was unable to get the rods out. It involved burning through a lot of car fuel just to sleep in my van without fishing. Like being stuck on an airport waiting to check in for weeks on end.

At the same time, I was keeping an eye on Plan B, a windswept, and very deep 120 acre pit that was the home of another Belgian giant. As it goes, Plan B has its own set of difficulties and restrictions. There are only a handful of swims available on there of which only 2 really matter. And unsurprisingly these two swims were being fished in rota for months on end. In both the cases of plan A and plan B, I knew what I had signed up for, so I waited patiently, hoping an opportunity would come eventually. I did everything you should do as a carp angler, except actually putting a rig in the lake. On plan B I made secretive boat trips at night to get to know the lakes topography and bait up a certain area. I pinpointed the location of the lake’s small carp population by standing on the lookout during the late and early hours of the days. Come to think of it, in a way I experienced how the old UK close season must have been, with the small difference that other people were angling…

This period of perseverance (which lasted from halfway September to the end of October), ended when my car broke down on the way back from another fruitless journey to Plan A. Getting the old vehicle repaired was quite a palaver that took the best part of a week. And as luck would have it, the targeted monster at Plan A made it’s once a year appearance exactly during that week. After all the hard work I’d put into that campaign it really was a blow in my face. But I managed to accept my defeat quickly and refocus. It was time for Plan C!

The local lake I was so familiar with seemed my best bet to profit from one of those late October Atlantic depressions, that hung over Belgium at the time. So as soon as I got the car back (and after quick detour to bait up Plan B), I started preparing everything needed for Plan C.

I drove over to the lake to bait up the chosen spot once. Not wanting to lose any time, I wetted the lines one day later, and stood there baffled when the big common showed up in front of the landing net only a few hours later…

After standing in the waiting line for six weeks on end it really was a boost for the ego, and food for the soul.

Little did I know that this was to be only the first of a few special captures…

Another special one.

The second capture I would like to tell you about came very shortly after the first.

Trying to make the most out of that last weekend of October, with splendid weather conditions, I did go back to the big lake the day after I caught the elusive common. Strengthened by the result of the previous day I chose not to change the tactics. Although I went in with a bit more bait when I started, trying to dodge the more recently stocked, smaller commons.

Shortly after I’d gotten the rods in order, two mates dropped by for a visit. When bite time came, one of them made a remark about me being a bit on edge. As I was frequently interrupting my continuous staring at the spot, I was fishing to check the time, or have a close look at the rods.

So, in contrary to my two visitors I was not at all surprised when one of the alarms burst into life not too much later. From the off it was clear I was into a good fish. And what followed was one of those moments that as an angler you can only hope for, played out in the nicest autumnal atmosphere imaginable.

There was a mild southerly wind blowing in my face. You could hear it singing in the tight line as I was playing the hooked carp, and see it take leaves in a mixture of colours as it went. There were waves lapping into my legs as I waded out to net the fish, and then there was a stream of superlatives after a moment of silence when my visitors made visual contact with what laid in the landing net. Finally, there was a warm glowing feeling inside, the clicking sounds of the camera’s, thee and pastry.

But, as they say; a picture still says more than a thousand words…

Up the ante.

The moment I saw that big framed, heavily scaled mirror turn on its side on the surface after a tense battle, I just knew one of these lovely periods with tailwind had come. And finally, I felt once again how the Carp Gods smiled upon me.

Strengthened by this realization I upped the number on my old van’s odometer a little further by making regular trips to Plan B, just to check the situation there and get some bait in. Meanwhile, I did a few short sessions on Plan C and caught a few more, but very quickly got the feeling that I’d got the best out of the spot already, in the form of that special brace the first weekend. When one of the two swims on Plan B came free during the second week of November, I started contemplating having a go on there. Although the best option was still taken, the swim in question had been occupied since spring that year, so there was at least some reason for excitement.

By following up the situation on Plan B, I knew the giant that lives in there had made two appearances on the bank that autumn. The first time was 3 days before the September full moon, and the second occasion took place 2 days before the October full moon. So it seemed quite obvious to me that the great fish became a bit more active during the full moon phases. With the next such moon phase only a week away, and again excellent weather conditions predicted, I decided to abort Plan C, and planned a trip to Plan B exactly on the full moon night.

On the Tuesday night I put in eight kilos of boilies during another secretive baiting mission. And clocked the other angler still bivvied up in the best plot. But when I arrived on Thursday evening he was gone, and I could think of only two explanations for that. Either he had given up, which seemed unlikely, or he had caught the giant…

No matter what had happened I opted to fish the night anyway, after all, I had been waiting months for this opportunity. I also chose to spread my two rods out and fished one in front of each swim, trying to hedge my bets. At 9pm the rod in front of the swim that had just come free was away, and I caught a 30lb common. After that first bite my confidence was sky high and I had a strong feeling more action would come.

It was one of them nights you know. Full moon, windy conditions… I spent the night twisting and turning in the sleeping bag and was wide awake when the bite came at 4.30am. Again on the same left hand rod. Immediately I hopped into the boat and steered it in direction of the hooked carp. Once above it I could feel that tell-tale heavy resistance of a big’un, and although there lived a few big carp in this lake, I could only think on the one. Not much later a giant framed carp with a huge set of shoulders appeared for a first time on the moonlit surface, I burst out in laughter. And when it dived back down with force in the 40ft depth below me I just knew it wasn’t going to come off or get stuck somewhere, it was going to be mine!

And mine it was. All the way back in the boat I was shaking my head, chuckling to myself. How the events of that autumn had culminated in the capture of this 75lb public giant just felt a bit unreal. The frustrating six weeks without fishing, the mega brace on Plan C and then the disappearance of the rota guys on Plan B followed by netting the targeted giant during the first night.

That same morning I caught another 30 pound common on the left hander, and could net a cool 51lb common above the right hand spot. A fish that fought like a demon. Luc came over to do the pictures, and like myself was blown away by the sight of that huge male mirror on the mat. Soon he as well was shaking his head after I told him the full story. He quickly came to the conclusion I was either the world’s greatest opportunist or just a very lucky bastard.

I just sat there staring at the lake, taking it all in, with an ear-to-ear grin that stayed on my face for days on end.


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