Sam Verstreken catches a quartet of big carp from a big Belgian pit...
Gaz & Marcus – The September Session
18th November 2019
“With the summer heatwaves in Europe gone, and temperatures returned to normal we planned a return to some of the big, wilder public venues in late September.
Originally it had been planned as a filming trip for next year’s Reflections but with Dan and Big Rich having some late notice commitments they couldn’t miss we got a ‘free pass’ to use the trip to go and explore some new places instead with the filming put back until February or March. First stop was a big reservoir in the south, it was new for us but we knew it held some incredible carp, and some huge ones too and the first night was planned as a social night with a friend who was also in the region. Arriving late to some thundery showers and rainbows, we set about building the boat and getting out and finding some spots in the fading light. It could not have been more different to our last trip – from 6 wrap spots across a tiny old intimate canal… to thousands of acres of windswept barrage, ankle deep mud and 350m tows in the boat with 8oz leads; that is exactly what I love about the public fishing though, the wildly different scenarios and landscapes you continually find yourself in.
As darkness fell, big shafts of light punched through the clouds on what was an especially moody evening, but despite the uncomfortable rain, mud and wind, it felt like it had big carp written all over it. With no bites between myself and Marcus that first night, and just one to Mikey, it was a little anticlimactic, but we vowed to give it at least one more night before considering heading off elsewhere if it wasn’t happening there as we had a fair few other venues we wanted to look at. After our friends had left we set about spreading the rods out and finding some new spots, taking advantage of the extra room, splaying them out over a huge area from the central point. That night Marcus landed a lovely 41 mirror to start proceedings, and I followed it up with an incredibly long mirror of 43.12 later that afternoon.
Deciding to stay, we thought that conditions felt right for a big hit of bait, so finding a nice central area at range we dropped two markers thirty yards apart and gave it a 15 kilo hit of the new Krill Active, each fishing a rod on the area. Rigs were our usual ‘big’ styled set ups with size 4 Thinking Anglers Curve Points, the new Semi-stiff Camsoft we have been testing and big 25mm hookbaits. That night brought me three bites, one smaller mirror, a long common just shy of 45 and a 36 mirror. With one last night to play with we re-did the rods full of expectancy and the roles were reversed that night, with two bites for Marcus in the form of lovely mirrors of 39 and a 35. As soon as the shots were done we wrapped up and headed off, visiting five new venues that day, and covering a few hundred miles before finally arriving just on dark at another new venue, another big reservoir getting on for 1000 acres that we knew very little about, other than it holding some amazing carp, and a few really special older strain mirrors that were apparently 30 – 40 years old. After a good scout around, and hearing a number of big fish crash out in the darkness on the strengthening south westerly, we settled for a day zone that let us cover and command a big swathe of the water down at that end of the lake. After setting our brollies and beds up we just tied rigs and set the alarms for 4am, ready to get rods in position by dawn.
The first day was relatively quiet, with just one common around 30lb falling to my rods, so on the second day we rethought our approach and fished longer out into the central bowl area. Tactics were simple, just two handfuls of the 24mm Active Krill’s spread around each hookbait. Within a few hours, the bites started to come and that afternoon as the conditions and moon phase culminated in a perfect storm we struggled to keep rods in the water, landing eight fish in the space of a few hours before once again having to wind in as darkness fell. By that time we were ruined… soaked to the skin, the swims trashed, kit everywhere and in desperate need of a mega sort out. We sacrificed getting the fish shot in the daylight for getting rods back in the water, as the ever present chance of a true giant was always on the cards. The leviathan never came, but the best two fell to my rods at 38 and 42 and Marcus also landing a lovely 32 mirror. My favourite of the day though was a particularly cool old mirror, with great big scales and an overslung mouth, it was shame we had to flash shoot her!
The last day was quieter, the pressure rose, the skies cleared and we managed three bites between us, a nice 30 common and 27 for me, and a smaller common for Marcus. We didn’t manage to latch into any of the lakes real giants that trip, but we had certainly found ourselves a few new venues and had a blast along the way!”