Monday the 4th of May it is finally a fact. The Belgian goverment decides that there will be a first form of relaxation concerning the covid 19 lock-down. The fishing ban will be lifted. It can be said that only individual practice of our hobby is allowed. Of course the health of the home front, family and friends comes first. It is very pleasant to be allowed to step back into the wide world, limited or not. That Monday morning many carp anglers are in the car on their way to their favourite fishing waters. Hoping to get another place. It seems that an invasion carp anglers is taking place on the banks. Everywhere bivvy's come out of the ground like mushrooms. In no time at all, some lakes, no matter how small or large, are completely full. Satisfied or not, I personally cannot take part in this madness. The work schedule is too busy at the job and the first night of fishing can only take place at the end of the working week.
Friday afternoon I stop a couple of hours earlier to drive to the Waesmere. Once I arrived at the lake it appears that there are almost no swims free. I don't have much choice and immediately start stacking the wheelbarrow. In itself it is a tough route to the spot but halfway it becomes clear why the particular spot is still free. A massive tree has toppled over, blocking the path. I can't do much then either turn 180 degrees and return home or unload everything, lift it over the tree and then stack it on the wheelbarrow again. Of course I choose option 2. The weather is very favourable and sunny all week. It is pleasant to stay on the banks and I also have a real shallow area full of weed in front of me. While setting up the equipment I see a carp swim by in the corner of my eye. He is right in front of my feet. 5 minutes later another one follows by 2 smaller ones. The doubt starts to increase. Suddenly I hear the ominous sound of spawning fish. Thinking to myself how it is possible. Normally it's much later in the year here. So much is clear, they spell their game and for me the chances have visibly diminished. Still, I'm willing to take my chances. The result, a sleepless night of countless line swimmers. While cleaning up I see a recognizable thick carp body passing by with only one goal in mind. The big boys have already arrived. All I can do is pack up and go. A new attempt will have to be made elsewhere.
A few days later I drive through the gate of the Heikant-syndicate. It is no different here since the corona measures have been taken. The scarce fishing spots are almost constantly occupied. The result after a week of fishing is that only a few carp have been caught. From the weights of the caught fish you can deduce that they were well provided with the necessary snacks during the lock-down. This aside, the annual ritual is also in front of the door. To summarize the 24 hours session briefly, I am already in the car in the early morning. I have one more short night on the program and decide to use option 3. It is a small but tricky syndicate lake that is under constant angling pressure all year round. I've only been there a few times in those 2 years I've been a license holder. Got some very useful information but in general I have very little insight on the water. You wouldn't think the best option to get into this situation. But with the thought going, if you don't shoot it will never hit you, I will drive there. Upon arrival the crowds were not too bad. There are only a few fellow carp anglers present. Unlike the other waters, they were well caught here. This is hopeful, so I have to make my choice quickly and set up camp. A few hours later almost all the remaining fishing spots have been taken. The carp react enormously to this line pressure. This can be felt on the bites. Only one person knows how to outwit a few smaller specimens.
Sunday evening I am back on the appointment and there is only one carp angler present. The intended spot is free and I do not hesitate long to claim it. After all, you never know how many colleagues will arrive. The water has been described as not very easy. Once the choice of spots is made they will be fitted with 14mm club/red herring boilies whether or not halved or crumbled. Both rods are in position and traps are set, the waiting game begins. Another striking detail of the swim is that there is fishing against/between fallen trees. This must be done in the first place in the most responsible way possible. Here's how I take on this situation. Reels are equipped with a braided line, slip-resistant and the rods are clamped to the rear supports with a stretcher lock system. In this way when our friend the carp gets hooked, he gets very little space. This makes more sense that you should never move too far away from your rods. With the slightest registration of the bite indicator, even at night you have to inspect the situation. I can tell you that your sleep is interrupted many, many times. Often for false alarms, but you should leave nothing to chance. You could lose a fish just like that or even worse you could lose a fish due to a line break. Another thing you have to deal with this kind of fishing is, as soon as you get a bite, unlock the rod from the backrest and walk backwards in a healthy way. Under no circumstances should you give the carp any freedom of movement. Repeat this until the fish is in a safe area.
During the first night I manage to cash in 3 bites. Two smaller stock fish and a pitch black beauty of a common carp of just under the 40lb mark. With this last mentioned fish I am a very happy man. I have a weakness for these pitch-black tinted carps. In the course of the day almost nothing happens anymore and the rods are deliberately held up. First of all to take away the angling pressure from the fishing spots. On the other hand the missed social contact can be retrieved, of course all at a safe distance. After dinner, the rods are dropped back onto the exact spots. Again the night's rest is limited to a minimum. Three fish in a low 20 pound class are the victims. I’m not less happy about it because the approach works and that's the most important thing. During the daytime hours everything is repeated like earlier in the week. It's only after supper that the rigs fly back towards the horizon. Around 8pm my left positioned rod comes alive. The first crucial minutes go according to plan and the fish is in the "safe zone". What follows next I will carry with me for the rest of my fishing career. Pulling in is going well and the carp comes slowly but laboriously to the shore. Once in front of my feet he shifts up a few gears and shows that he can do it differently. Not much later he appears at the water surface and I can say with 100% certainty who my opponent is, the biggest mirror of the syndicate lake. This carp goes certainly in this period of the year through the limit of 25kg. In my opinion the carp gives one last attempt to get rid of the hook. This is the last thing I can remember. The unthinkable happens. A nightmare for anyone who practices this hobby. The pressure falls from the rod and the rig meets me out of the water. At first I can't believe it. It's 0-1 for Mr. Carp. Soon everything penetrates and a wave of disappointment, failure, a missed opportunity etc etc. overwhelms me. . I cast the rod in a civilized way between the reeds. I'm ready for a walk. During the remaining time I have to tell my story somewhere to some of the present fishermen. All kinds of questions cross my mind. Did I put too much pressure, had to give more wire and so on. It took a few days to be able to place the whole thing a little bit but the feeling of disappointment is hard to get rid of. There is only one solution left for me and that takes the cow by the horns. Operation payback starts.
In case of a normal situation, no fishing time is foreseen for the coming week. A mid-week trip was planned to Edinburgh to celebrate the birthday of my future wife. The whole corona situation has thrown a spanner in the works.... We decide not to spend these days at home between our four walls. My girlfriend suggested 3 days in nature. Sounds like music to my ears and all the options were considered. First of all, we choose to go down to the Heikant syndicate. Here prevails an enormous peace and quiet and you only have to deal with a few visitors. Upon arrival we notice that we have the whole lake for ourselves. The result of another difficult fishing week for my fellow carp anglers. My choice falls for a swim where I am very familiar with. From the past I know how to find the exact spots and it saves me a lot of work. At the same time, the chosen swim in question has the option that there is a nice sunshine all afternoon. The latter is greatly appreciated by the girlfriend. The afternoon, evening and night go by in the blink of an eye and without you knowing it we are already well into the morning. Everything is dead quiet. Rods untouched, zero activity by carp. After lunch we decide to clean up anyway. It's not going to happen here and I can convince my girlfriend to go down to the small, tricky syndicate lake. When we drive through the gate of the domain almost all places are free. Without a doubt, the intended swim will be incorporated. The very first job is to provide the fishing spot with a few hands 14mm club/ red herring baits. With the help of the throwing stick these are carefully spread out. With the idea that the already "present" fish can feed quietly without any line pressure. We both very much enjoy the nightfall. I have a good feeling about it. A few hours later this is confirmed and I am standing with a parabolic rod into darkness. The carp in question produces a very weird fight that I have seldom experienced before. The fish swims towards me like crazy. At first I thought I was dealing with a catfish or something. It was almost impossible to keep up with it while turning the reel. Then he decides to switch the rudder and go full throttle to the other side. At first I couldn't keep up but after a while I managed to turn the tide. In the little moonlight a white stain suddenly appears on the surface. It is one of the few koi that is responsible for all the commotion. The fish is quickly put on camera to soon enjoy his freedom again. In the next few hours, three carp will be visiting, the largest being a not yet spawned mirror of just under 33lb mark. In the mean time the dawn has arrived and the mirror slides back into its element. Due to the lack of sleep I want to jump straight into the sleeping bag for a while before both of us are boiled out of the tent. It must not have been much later when I am promptly pulled out of dreamland by some bleeps from the receiver. While lying down I look through the mesh of the quick up shelter at the indicators. They still hang exactly the same and not much later this is repeated but then more aggressive. In 2 seconds time I am standing next to the rods. Hoping that al the events are caused by feeding fish and not by the presence of the mitten crabs. These intruders have already found their way to this water and are sometimes a real plague. Just when I want to make my way back to the shelter, the indicator popping against the carbon. Lovely to engage in a fierce battle when the sun rises. I soon have the feeling that my opponent on the other side is of a different calibre. After a while the feeling creeps up on me that all this is very similar to the big fish I had lost a week earlier. I have to convince myself to stay calm, because you never know. The carp continues to pull very powerfully under the rod top. Some big air bubbles appear on the surface and the canvas falls. Yes, again it is the big mirror that scratches the surface of the water. I'm calling in my girlfriend's help to shake the giant in the landing net. Once the latter is perfectly accomplished an enormous pressure falls from my shoulders. How is that even possible? Only last week I was completely downcast and disappointed and now extremely satisfied. How quickly the tables could turn. I never expected this scenario to become reality. The folded net is placed in the weigh sling to lift the colossus safely out of the water towards the unhooking mat. Already at the first attempt to lift it out of the water it felt very heavy. Up to two times we weighed the fish because I could not believe it at first. The needle of the scales comes to a standstill at 61lb. This last one is an unexpected. During the immortalization of the experience it really gets to me. Thinking to myself that this was supposed to happen. I'm going one last time in the water to release this freshwater buffalo back into its habitat. Conclusion, if you don't give up, sometimes you're rewarded with almost the impossible, pay to work. I'm over the moon with this result. We've got one more night ahead of us and all that's happening is bonus. Again in the early morning a 33lb mirror is embraced. I decide its been enough, time to go home. While writing this article I realize what a story this is. Expect the unexpected. . . .