Tom Meager embarks on an emotional and obsessive roller coaster of a campaign...
Sam Verstreken – “The Canal”
26th April 2020
After catching his number 1 target last spring (see TA website: https://thinkinganglers.com/sam-verstreken-spring-monster/) Sam decided to stay in the same region of France to fish a stretch of canal that had also drawn his attention…
“Seeing that I’d been lucky enough to catch my target quite early that spring, I still had a good few weeks left before the summer came around and I would start fishing the Big Pit in Belgium again. I didn’t know a lot of this particular stretch of canal beside the fact that there were some good fish in there and the few images that I’ve seen from of fish where enough to really get me going!
The first trip to this stretch was together with a good friend of mine. We arrived quite late in the night and decided to fish a random spot on another stretch of canal, the next morning we would pack up really early so we could go and try to find some fish on the targeted stretch. Seeing the weather conditions, we would receive the next 2 days (bright and sunny) and the fact that it was still spring, we both felt that we could have a chance of finding something. That being said, it was never going to be easy because the water in the canal isn’t really clear and it’s also quite a long stretch with only day fishing allowed. The next day we started walking the canal to find any signs of life and as expected it took a long time before we found something. It was already afternoon when we walked by what seemed to be a shallower part of the canal; at first, we didn’t really see anything, but just before we wanted to leave, we noticed a few silhouettes of carp. Taking into consideration that we didn’t see anything else over the last few hours and also the fact that the anglers that we’ve crossed told us that it was really tough the last few days/weeks to locate anything, we were more than happy to have found a few fish!
Tactics-wise it was an easy spot to fish, the sides on this piece of the canal where quite shallow and as far as we could see there were a few fish passing over this shallower area. We fished right under the rod tips with a minimum of line out, reducing the chance of spooking any fish. Rig-wise I used a standard blowback snowman rig made of approx. 5/6 inches of Tungskin 25lb, Curve Point size 6 with a TA Olive Camo leadcore leader. A simple, but a strong and reliable setup!
After putting the rods out we didn’t really know what to expect and we hoped that we hadn’t spooked the fish. This didn’t seem to be the case as only a few hours later I received my first (unexpected) take. After a short but intense battle I was able to put my net under a short but very deep bodied mirror of just over 40lb. I didn’t expect to get a bite this fast, so I was absolutely chuffed with this one! Again a few hours later my friend was in, it was clear that the carp were in this area and we managed to catch a nice amount of 8 carp between us in the next 2 days. Looking back, it was a really good result for this stretch and we both were more than happy!
I decided to go back for 2 nights to the same spot a week later. Before I left the last time, I baited up quite heavily with the hope this still would have a bit of an effect for the following session. The first night, all stayed quiet, but in the morning, I had a screaming take and after a heroic battle of 20 minutes a really nice 44lb 3oz common was in the net. This fish clearly hadn’t spawned yet and was in perfect condition!! I also caught a few other ones, so I knew the fish where still in the region! Once again, I was more than happy with the result.
Although I had the feeling there was more in store on the canal, I was really starting to get drawn to the big pit in Belgium. Because of this I decided to plan my next session over there. At least that’s what I hoped… Upon arrival the next week at the big pit it became rapidly clear that it was not going to happen there. It was absolutely full of anglers and the conditions were not in my favor. Therefore, I made the last-minute decision to go back to the canal. Due to the previous events it was really late in the evening when I arrived at the canal. I decided to bait up the swim quite heavily and not fish it before first light the next day (night fishing was forbidden). This seemed to be a good decision seeing that it only took about 15 minutes the next morning before I had my first take. After a good fight I ended up with a really nice unit of a mirror of 42lb 8oz, deep bodied and a special scale pattern on it, I was absolutely chuffed!! The next day and night I only caught one smaller common and it started to look like the fish have started moving out of this region. It was time to say goodbye to this spot but with a really good feeling!”