Around a month ago I fished the BCAC with my fishing partner Graham Mabey and doomed with a bad draw yet again we ended up finishing in 5th place and missing out on a qualifying spot. We have fished the competition for around six years now making three semi- finals and decided that we weren’t going to do it anymore for several reasons but I won’t go in to that now. We had booked a second qualifier but cancelled it and instead Graham made a few calls to plan a nice fishing trip for us with no pressure of a match. Graham contacted Hans at the Resort De Der (http://www.carpconnections.nl/cc/home.php) in France to see if we could re-visit the venue for a long weekend as a bit of a treat for us both. Hans said this would be no problem but also made us an offer we couldn’t refuse! Hans was holding the 2014 Dutch World Carp Classic Qualifier at his fantastic resort and that meant any nationality was welcome to enter. He also invited us to fish for and represent his team Carp Connections and would sponsor us to do so. Let’s just say we jumped at the opportunity and were soon heading across the channel for five days.
We arrived late on the Sunday night after an extremely long day of travelling and spent the evening catching up with Hans and enjoying a few cold beers with the other competitors before retreating to the comfort of our bedchair’s. We were up at first light and doing a few laps of the lake to try and locate the fish and work out where they may end up with angling pressure and predicted weather forecasts. Every single swim had a few acres of water and we felt it would fish well with only four rods per pair being allowed. We had our swims in order of favourite come draw time and it worked slightly different from what we were used to in England; You pull a peg from out of a hat and take a look, if you like it you can take it however if you don’t like it you can put it back and choose another, only this time you are stuck with it and there is no going back to your first draw! We were the 11th of 14 pairs to pull from the bag and there were still a few of our top choice swims available so when we drew what we deemed a duff peg first time around we went in for another go getting a second choice peg on De La Haie. We made our way to our peg and began to set up as the fish began to spawn against the island in huge numbers; the noise they made was incredible!
The island was around 180 yards from our swim but closer to other pegs and we didn’t want to fish for spawning fish so decided to use the opportunity to have a good lead around and prepare some spots for if they stopped and fancied a feast! We fished in the middle of the open water to our left at around 130 yards and decided to bait fairly heavy from the off going on Hans’s advice and gave them a bit of everything really. Our mix started with some Hinders Hemp and Maize to which we added Hinders Big Bite Pellet Combo, Bloodworm Pellet and Little Gemz along with a good helping of Carp Company Icelandic Red 18 and 22mm boilies both whole and chopped. We wanted to make our mix stand out as far as attraction levels were concerned, so we added a good dose of Fish Pro liquid, Chilli Hemp Oil and Carp Company Antarctic Krill Powder. Our approach was to bait the two spots each day after the initial hit to top it up after any captures and keep any fish visiting the spot. We were both going to have a spot each, keep one rod on the bait and rove around with the other if needed or on seeing a fish show in our swim.
Gardner Drop Out Lead Inserts, so we would lose the lead on the take and hopefully bring the fish up in the water.” alt=”At the business end we were fishing with 3oz flat pear inline leads with Gardner Drop Out Lead Inserts, so we would lose the lead on the take and hopefully bring the fish up in the water.” width=”623″ height=”467″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-14459″ />
A few fish came out the first afternoon on both lakes but unfortunately none were to us! It was the swims with the shortest chuck to the island that had caught but the fish were still spawning, so we left them to it. Just before the evening I noticed a fish show around 10 yards off the island and I just knew it was a feeding fish as it was just such a different show. The spawning activity had also subsided significantly and the few we could still see were in another area of the lake, so I decided to fish a single pop-up on a chod rig as close as I could get to where the fish showed. After a few tricky casts into a headwind, I had a bait around 20 yards off the island on the bottom of the shelf and an hour later it ripped off! The fish put up one hell of a scrap and felt big from the off, kiting all the way to our left. After a bit of a tussle in the margins it lay beaten in the folds of my net and looked to be a fish of around 40lb. It weighed 42lb 8oz and after a few trophy shots she was safely on her way. We were hopeful of more action that night but awoke to motionless bobbins. We proceeded to blank until Wednesday afternoon when we had a double take on Graham’s rods and the first bites from the baited spots. A brace of 30lb fish put us back in contention and things started to look good as the wind picked up towards us and temperatures dropped as the weather turned wet and wild. We were using our favoured approach of fishing with solid pva bags over the bait and on the roving rods. As leadcore was banned we used 5 foot lengths of 30lb Gardner Mirage fluorocarbon for our leaders with blobs of Critical Mass Putty at 15 inch intervals from the lead joined to our 12lb Pro Light Blend main line loop to loop so we could change them quickly with pre-tied ones if needed. At the business end we were fishing with 3oz flat pear inline leads with Gardner Drop Out Lead Inserts, so we would lose the lead on the take and hopefully bring the fish up in the water. We used 5 inch 20lb Trickster Heavy hook links with size 4 Covert Longshank Mugga hooks fished blow back style with a ring opposite the barb. Hookbaits were some home-made 14mm pop-ups in washed out pink and yellow.
Just like our spod mix we wanted to make our bag mix as attractive as possible, so we added lots of attractive small pellets no bigger than 3mm plus Hinders A Mix and Carp Company Antarctic Krill Powder. A couple of handfuls went into a Gardner standard size solid pva bag and received a good splash of Elips Oil mixed with Nodd Oil and Fish Pro. We knew when fish were on us as the bags would flatten the surface of the lake to something that would resemble a sheet of glass. We steadily caught a few more fish over the next day and I even managed another 40lb mirror in the middle of a torrential downpour in the middle of the night, but the best was yet to come. Graham managed to catch a monster of 55lb 2oz the following day and the fish put us in to 1st place, but it was tight with only one night to go.
We managed another fish in the evening and it then went quiet for everyone and we were nervous all the way to the finish just trying our best to nick another bite as the guys in 2nd hot on our heels. They even lost a fish with 15 minutes to go which had us pacing around all over the place. The final hooter went and we packed up and headed to the presentation where it was confirmed that we finished in 1st place and Graham had also picked up the prize for the biggest fish.
Myself and Graham now progress to the World Carp Classic at Lake Bolsena in Italy in September to fish for the Carp Connections team and of course represent England. We are excited to say the least and have already started our preparations so wish us luck!