Sam Verstreken catches a quartet of big carp from a big Belgian pit...
25th April 2019
‘Early April myself and Marcus had a few days pencilled in to head off into Europe again to see if we could track down a few big carp and do a bit of a recce trip for a filming mission at the end of May. Neither of us have done all that much on the big water public waters in France so we thought a week exploring and checking out some new venues would be a good idea to try and make the most of the May trip and get a feel for the waters and the area. With a pretty dire looking forecast we were unsure initially where to head, sub zero temperatures each night and a relentless North and East wind and high pressure wasn’t the ideal conditions we were looking for so instead of heading all the way south, we decided to check some big reservoirs I’d had my eye on and had heard contained some lovely big mirrors. With fairly shallow water and reasonable temperatures in the region over the preceding few weeks I hoped they would have warmed enough to get the fish moving and offer us the chance of a few bites. The usual bleary eyed 1am departure saw us hit Folkestone at 4am, followed by another six hours drive south, arriving late in the afternoon.
After a good look round we got a boat built up and headed out to see what the topography was like and to see if we could find any fish, ten minutes in my motor conked out, leaving us with a big row back to shore and at a bit of a loss. After taking it apart it became obvious it was an internal issue and not one I could fix, so leaving Marcus with the boat and on carp watch I headed off on another two hour round trip to buy a new motor from the nearest Decathlon store – there was no way I’d travelled all that way to be beaten by a broken outboard! (note to self, always bring a spare.) Arriving back late evening, Marcus had seen a few shows on the far bank so using that as a starting point we loaded up the boat, he headed off in that and I drove around to meet him. We worked until 1am to find and mark up some spots with bottles and get the rods rigged ready for the morning, finally turning in completely exhausted and beaten from the big drive and 24 hours with no sleep. Essentially we had 70-80 acres of pretty featureless, soft reservoir bed in front of us, slowly shelving off into 3-4 metres, but amazingly we stumbled across two big, hard bottomed craters out in the middle (of nowhere), and did find the remains of an old road, both of which produced the bigger fish for us each of us as it happened. With a thick white blanket of freezing fog that first morning we had to wait a few hours until it had cleared before getting the rods out but as soon as we had some visuals we got them all out there, working as always as a team to drop, bait and tow the rods back together. Rigs were big beaked point hooks with long shrink tube extensions to help them turn in the big mouths, and 25lb and 35lb Camsoft and Tungskin hooklinks and nicely balanced 20/16mm snowman hookbaits – big kit for big carp!
Bait wise we used the ever faithful Sticky Baits Krill in 16 and 20mm, all crusted up in GLM and Krill powder and used just four to six handfuls spread nicely around each rod, despite the scale of the water and situation we just fished for a bite at a time, feeling that the weather and water temperatures weren’t quite right yet for any big hits. Despite the seemingly poor conditions, and almost complete lack of activity we steadily picked off bites each morning, with a total of twelve between us, one mad spell bringing five bites for me in the space of just over an hour. Nets wedged in the clay with carp in, others propped on the boat with carp in and playing others at the same time. With the water levels low, rods spaced a hundred yards apart along the point and everything caked in clinging, clay thick mud it was a physical challenge as much as anything else. What had initially started off a just a short recce trip, turned into a right result and we returned home with five forty pounders between us, a 46.10 and 40.10 for me, and a 48.12, 43 and 41 for Marcus along with a handful of other lovely thirty pounders and a few really nice characters.
Roll on the next trip, and look out for the film of this one coming to the RAW Youtube channel soon.’