The weekend before the VBK meeting and the show season kick off and not much fishing done after my October fishing trip to the UK, I’ll give you an insight on my angling I did this year. Recently I keep planning sessions, but keep skipping on them as I have lost my fire and during the last couple of months and I haven’t done much fishing. At the beginning of this year at the Carp Show in Zwolle, I got a lift home from a guy who fishes a lot on the mighty Albert Kanal here in Belgium. I have always wanted to fish this awesome big canal, but never got around to doing so. Talking to John on the way home, I started to buzz about the idea of fishing on this mighty waterway as it’s something that I have wanted to do for a long time.

By March I started fishing a smaller section of the canal, but blanked twice as it was still too early. I had to start sometime and you can’t catch them at home. It was soon April and it was time to get my teeth into the Albert Kanal (the AK as us locals call it). I was buzzing and loved every minute spent on the venue. Yes, I was blanking as it can be rock hard on as there are miles and miles of water all connected to other canals. Between this network system of water are locks and the fish are extremely nomadic travelling through locks and into other sections of canals. Targeting just one fish is nearly impossible, but catching fish is not and catching big fish is possible (which one is another story). I am not fishing all the time as many people think, as I have a misses who I need to keep happy, so every fortnight I do two or if I am lucky three nights.

In May I visited the UK for my first trip of the year, which was to the Quarry with Gardner Tackle Benelux team member Vincent. I had a blast catching 5 carp (I lost 2) two of which where new UK PB’s for me, in the shape of my first ever UK thirty pound mirror and a new PB common. To say I was buzzing was an understatement! These two fish made my year and to catch carp in the UK is special for me (a Belgium) but love it and they don’t have to be massive carp to get me buzzing.

After I returned home it was back to the AK as this was my main water for the year, but it was hard going as I have mentioned. On my third session I got very lucky and landed a 20kg mirror. The buzz I got after catching this fish was an awesome feeling and with an AK fish in the bag (and what a fish) my year was made!

Things got even better, as the weekend after I was back on the AK at another stretch and driving along the path I noticed a fish roll. Location is key but very, very hard on such a big canal and I was blessed to see a sign. On close inspection there was an inflow of water coming into the AK from the flooded fields as there had been a lot of rain in the previous few days leading up to the trip. This inflow had attracted some carp as I saw another one show, and another one. Rig wise choice was a presentation that had accounted for all my fish so far this year, the awesome Oz Holnes rig (Hybrid rig as I call it these days). This rig combined with a Salty Squid pop up was the down fall of 6 out of 7 fish I caught in a short space of time (a little bit more than 12 hours).

To say this AK is rock hard, it was damn easy on the few hours fishing in the right spot at the right time. Dead simple at times but after that spell of good luck it was downhill as I had no more takes at the AK, and I did try on a few more sessions but failed to catch anymore!! But 9 fish in 8 sessions is not bad on my first year at this mega water. And I will be back for some more punishment in O17. In July I had a trip in France with a good mate of mine, but again it did not go well and it was hard to get amongst the bigger fish wish this lake holds, but made up with a few smaller fish and a good 15kg fish in the end. It was a nice social session in the end and I really enjoyed the company. After that session the blues turned in and my angling fire was not blazing as it was too hot to get out or I did not feel it!! And I was so looking forward to that next trip in October to fish in the UK again, after my success in May I was back on the Quarry for another week with my good friend Peter from Holland, but we blanked as the lake was fishing really poor at the time. After 4 nights of blanking we got the chance to fish one of the syndicate lakes in the Cleverely fisheries portfolio, being the famous Top Lake in Essex. Having 3 more nights we were buzzing again at this new chance, but this place is rock hard and we blanked in style the 3 nights we had left but we kept trying to turn it in our favour but missed out. Again another great trip in very good company, but them carp gods where not on our side!! We will be back in 017 that’s for sure. After this blanking trip I got myself a ticked to fish a moat not far from home, but did one sort session and it just did not feel right and that was it. End of the year is closing in and maybe I do one or two more sessions (but not sure yet)… Plans enough for next year again!

I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Tight lines, Tommy De Cleen