This time we ventured over to the vast canals of Holland in pursuit of big carp, with little information to go on, this was going to be a difficult one.
After a relatively short drive through Europe we arrived on the canal system early morning and pub chucked the rods near some monstrous barges. Safe to say this tactic wouldn't be the one and we were rewarded with a blank. An early pack up was on the cards and we started hunting after depositing some bait just off the barges. Just before we left Matt saw a big mirror break the surface, a great sign for returning to at some point. The great advantage with James' truck meant one of us could ride the roof and spot through the polaroids as we covered endless miles of canal.
11km down and very little sign of carp it wasn't looking good...... and then..... a few bubbles prompted us to stop. As we got out the van and peered through the undergrowth we saw a big dark shape, an easy 15kg fish, although difficult to judge. Suddenly it was apparent to see a lot of fizzers, dark shapes all over and we concluded we had found the main group. As we hadn't stocked up on food yet we decided to suss the remaining few km of the canal and then pop back to this area for the night.
When we returned, the fish were still heavily in residence, we used the shears to cut through the extremely dense bushes to create something resembling a peg either side of the main group. We catapulted a spread of around 30-50 boilies.... and then.... that was it, no more shows, no more dark shapes. We had spooked them off.
However, the early morning resulted in runs for both of us and we banked a small, but immaculate common and a mirror. We hadn't seen fish this size in the group before so we're convinced the big girls had left.
That day we searched, searched and searched. With the heavy boat traffic it was difficult to see anything and by 6pm our efforts were fruitless. We decided to move back to the boats were we had baited 2 nights prior. Casting up to the sheet piles of the canal margin and into the silty channel running through the middle and a very light scattering of baits. James spotted a couple of shows and put a bait on its head. The night passed through without a bleep and then at 3am, I heard on the radio from James 'I've got a dinosaur'! I ran over and sitting on the unhooking mat was a big, brown, scale perfect common, the exact type of fish we had come here for. The fish had made an initial big run before kiting into the main channel and then came in relatively easily. We popped her in the sling and waited till daylight to hoist her up and do pictures. The Reuben's read 31lb 3oz, a magnificent specimen with great proportions! Check out the pictures.
As far as we were concerned that was trip made! However, only 2 nights in, there was still plenty to go at. We spoke to many locals who told tales of 20kg fish but their tactics as far as we could see we're very much sit it out and wait, not something we could afford to do with limited time on our hands.
We resumed our searching process and located the carp around 1km away from where we had seen them previous. A noticeably more overgrown stretch with little interruption by people this area felt very good.
I found a peg where I was able to cast to the overhanging bushes in the margin around 150 yards from the carp in an attempt to give them some space and let them move onto me as I knew there were 3 anglers the other side of the group which I hoped would act like a net and push them to me. I waited till nightfall to cast the rigs out with minimum disturbance and 4 baits on each one.....
James returned to the prebaited boat area he had caught the 30 from having been unable to find a suitable place to fish to the main group. The night passed again for both of us fruitless, despite us both seeing plenty of shows. In my mind the carp were comfortable in their area and had no reason to venture up towards me. For James, he was disturbed by a local angler at 4am casting over his lines - chance ruined.
And then at 7am, my left hand rod nearest the group ripped off and I was in, the fish came towards the net very quickly and then it woke up! The hardest fight I've ever encountered with a fish took place and I was greeted with a long chunky common slipping over the net. I was ecstatic! Although James' 30 had made the trip I wanted one myself and I couldn't have been happier with it for our efforts!
Later that morning I bagged another 2 fish and lost one as the backlead disgorged it! Both smaller commons but great to feel the plan was working.
The final night came round and James moved down to my area and jumped in an overgrown peg the other side of the carp. Unfortunately neither of us caught that night despite the careful baiting but we were confident we had sussed the main area the carp lived as the continued to show all night.
An awesome trip once again and proof in the pudding if your willing to 'rough' it and put the effort in the results are there!
An early pack up this morning, we have driven to a different country and scoped the location of our next adventure! A special one..... stay tuned!
James Morley & Matt Velamail #teamsummit