After a lengthy time away from fishing due to the passing of my Father in Law and starting a new job the time had finally come to start organising things ready for my first fishing trip in almost five months. This was due to be a memorable trip to the Amazing Carplantis Lake situated in Drenthe, Holland. Not only was I looking forward to making the trip with good friend and fellow Mistral Baits team member Ryan Bull, I was also looking forward to catching up properly with some great friends from across the water. Amongst them, Chris Vandenhaute, a very good friend of mine and member of the Belgian Gardner Tackle team.

To briefly describe Carplantis, it’s a quarry that is approx 50 years old which was created when sand was extracted to build the nearby N33 road during the 1960’s. The depths go down to over 40 feet and the bottom of the lake is an array of different contours and plateaus which need to be explored thoroughly before fishing. The lake is completely fringed with reeds and beyond these are plenty of mature oak and beech trees which shelter the lake from the wind. There is a fully equipped log cabin with viewing balcony, room with microwave, fridge, freezer, free coffee machine and a modern fully equipped toilet and shower room. As well as the fishing it is a haven for wildlife, and several different species of birds of prey that have inhabited this truly amazing place can be seen. My most memorable encounter being a sparrow hawk striking a swallow literally two feet from the boat whilst I was baiting up.

Talking of boats, most of the “spots” are located using the boat as is baiting up and the placing of rigs. There are four amazing double swims at Carplantis all of which have been well thought out and created in a very professional manner right down to having a drainage system incorporated which is covered by grey stone chippings, keeping the area dry and free off mud. Every swim is equipped with weighing tripods, un-hooking mats and nets (two of each). On top of this each of the swims has a top quality flat bottomed boat equipped with electric outboard motor, battery and echo sounder which can be used for a few extra euros. This eliminates the need to take your own boat leaving room for all of the other tackle required for a week’s fishing.

Ryan and I had opted for swim one named “Plato” this is the first swim you see on entering the lake and conveniently situated right next to the cabin! Once set up we decided to take a trip out in the boat and look for some likely looking areas. I was fishing the right hand side of the swim and on closer inspection opted for an area at approx. 150 yards. This was a large plateau that was adjacent to a big overhanging tree, depth wise I had 12 feet of water that slowly dropped down to 20 feet and further inspection from the boat with a rod and a 3oz Bolt Bomb discovered several “hard” spots. Once found, some H-Block markers were placed on the spots and I headed back to shore to make up some rigs and mix up some bait ready to place on the “hard” areas. Carplantis is far from being a “runs” water but I was very happy with my spots and I set about getting things ready for fishing.

Ryan and I had arrived at the lake late on the Friday night so decided to sleep in the lodge on the first night, not only did this allow us to catch up on some sleep but it would rest the swim for 24 hours after the previous occupants had left. This paid off immediately for Ryan, he had found a silty gully at around 120 yards whilst out “exploring” so decided to fish a rod on it. After placing his rig and approx 3 kilos of pellets, particles and boilies in the gully he headed for shore with his rod. He then passed his rod to me from the boat and I placed it on his alarm. Before he could set his bobbin he was “in” so we both jumped back in the boat and the battle began, after ten minutes of going around in circles I finally took control of the boat and slipped the net under what looked to be a good fish. On closer inspection and after weighing Ryan lifted his prize for the cameras, a lovely looking mirror of 47lb 12oz. Not a bad start! The only person slightly disappointed was Koos the lake owner, this was only due to the fact he couldn’t call the fish the “five minute” fifty. He didn’t think the five minute forty sounded as good!

After the early excitement I set about putting rigs and bait on my spots, as always things were kept simple with each rig consisting of a size 4 Covert Continental Mugga tied knot less knot style to some Vigilante hook link in 35lb in conjunction with a 3oz inline Bolt Bomb and a length of 45lb Heavy Plummet Leadcore. Bait wise I opted for a single Mistral Baits i40 in 20mm on the hair tipped with half a white wafter that was fished over a spot baited with approx 5 kilos of matching boilies in 15mm, some chops, ten pellet and particles. A mixture I was sure the Carplantis fish wouldn’t be able to resist. This proved to be the case after several positive “liners” my middle rod ripped off resulting in a stunning mirror of 33lb 2oz, this was a lovely fish known as the “Flower” due to a circle of apple slice scales on its flank. We had made a great start and hit the sacks in a confident mood!

Little did we know that the rest of the week was going to be a grueller! Ryan and I both, disappointingly, lost fish the second night but we did awake to a pleasant message from Chris who had managed to land a lovely 37 pounder. After a quiet night on the Monday we started to wonder what was happening with the conditions being perfect and with fish still showing we struggled to get takes. On the Tuesday night I was once again awakened by a one noter, this time on my right hand rod. After a tense battle trying to stop the fish I managed to get the fish into the margins ready for netting, just as I was walking backwards it became apparent that the fish had gone around my marker and at the vital moment my line went solid. The fish had transferred the hook into the cord of the marker! I was devastated, it looked a decent fish and to be fair there aren’t many small ones in Carplantis.

There was no further action through the night, the heavens had opened and if I’m honest I awoke a bit disappointed at what had happened. As often happens in fishing the disappointment was short lived when I had news from Chris that his friend Ken (a self-confessed Belgian Gardner Tackle addict) had smashed his pb with a fish of 50lbs. A stunning, big framed kipper known as Moby. Happiness had returned, it was a very special moment for Ken, one that we celebrated that evening with our European angling companions and some other friends who had travelled down for a few beers and a bbq.

This gave me a new lease of life; I now knew where my spots were and decided to remove the markers. By using the echo sounder and bank side markers I confidently placed three rigs on my spots and headed for bed in a confident mood. Whilst sitting having a coffee before bed a lump showed over one of my spots. Shortly after, the liners started and at 1am I again had a one noter and this time I was confident after removing my markers. I headed for the boat, and at this point everything gave way and the hook had pulled! I was gutted and once again Carplantis had delivered me a devastating blow, carp fishing can be really unkind at times. I decided to leave the rod out as my three spots were in close proximity and I didn’t want to disturb them. This didn’t prove fruitful but Ryan did manage his second fish of the trip at 4am another mirror this time at 30lb exactly.

Thursday didn’t produce anything for any of us other than an amazing storm that lasted for an hour cumulating in the most amazing rainbow. It really was an incredible sight and as we were admiring the rainbow a kingfisher flew past proving that it’s not always about the fishing but sometimes just about being there. Big fish Thursday proved to be fruitless for all of us, or as we thought! As the sun rose on our last morning we got news that another Belgian angler had landed the new lake record, a fish simply known as “The Big Male” at an amazing 58lb.

As we started a slow pack up over a coffee we discussed our week of ups and downs at a truly amazing venue, nobody had torn it apart and with 11 fish between eight of us it was far from being the most productive week of the year but that’s fishing and I’m too old and too ugly to let that bother me. If you’re looking for a premier water to fish and fancy a change from France give Carplantis in Holland a go, this water is only going to get better and the fish just keep growing. After a final coffee with Koos the lake owner before heading for home, the question was asked “will you be back next year?” ………………….. My answer? ……………… “Stupid Question!”

Until next time, tight lines, Rich Adams.