Darrell has been rattling up the mileage this month, with numerous cross-channel trips, as he forges relations with a few of Korda’s European team members, and also looks further afield in readiness for autumn as it looms over the horizon
Darrell has been rattling up the mileage this month, with numerous cross-channel trips, as he forges relations with a few of Korda’s European TEAM MEMBERS, AND ALSO LOOKS FURTHER AFIELD IN readiness for autumn as it looms over the horizon. But perhaps the time has come to review the transport’s CARPWORLD window-based cooling system...
Sgerman ince my last piece I have flown to Italy twice, driven to France, been to Dorset for a carp academy, and I have just driven all the way home from the
border with Denmark! I have certainly clocked up some miles in recent weeks and I even sandwiched in a personal road trip to Dundee in Scotland, taking the missus and kids to meet my 90-year-old grandparents.
Today’s date is the 19th August 2018 and tomorrow sees yet more work on the horizon, with another French trip and then the week after, another filming trip, with the destination yet to be confirmed. In all honesty, I have overcooked my workload this summer by trying to keep the entire autumn free for myself.
The knock-on effect is that I am slightly worn out from the relentless driving and sweaty nights on a bedchair, not to mention the guilt for the amount of time I have already spent away from my young family. Autumn is now looming large and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Once I get these next two weeks behind me, I will have a week off to recharge and then I will set about an autumn assault.
Anyway, enough moaning and talk of what will be – what has actually happened this month? What have I caught? The first venue I visited in Italy is a match-style carp venue, a big lake – at a guess, around 80-100 acres in size, but absolutely loaded with fish. In the main they are mostly doubles and low 20s, but there are bigger fish too, some in excess of 50lb. The idea behind the trip was to meet up with the Italian Korda team and learn a bit about their style of fishing and where needed, pass on any English tips.
The lake was certainly picturesque, set between mountains, the only eyesore being the large water cooling towers opposite. After making a few casts it became quite clear that it was pretty deep at around ten metres. Having not fished here previously and despite the reassurances of the team that we would catch loads I was still a little apprehensive. It was 30-odd degrees, the lake was pretty damn big and I couldn’t have anticipated just how many fish were present.
I cast out three spinner rigs with pink Fruity Squid barrel wafters, clipped at 29 rod lengths, and then started spombing the granny out of it with a mix of Banoffee boilies, tigers and hemp. At a guess I put out 30 or so Spombs before I got bored and it was about half an hour later that the spools began to spin. The packs of fish attacking these spots must have been pretty big as it didn’t seem to matter how much bait you fed, it was almost impossible to slow them down. Every time I’d Spomb there were would be a brief pause in the action, but rather than backing off I think they were just eating up in the layers – on the drop, as such. With the fishing being so easy I just assumed accuracy would be the real key, forcing the fish to feed over the rigs by accurately baiting. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Once I’d had a gut full of these bionic, double-figure commons, I wandered down to see Antonio and Stefano and had my eyes opened by the method feeder and Antonio’s special groundbait. It didn’t matter where they cast their feeders, a fish would find it inside five minutes – every time!
I had wandered up thinking I was going to demonstrate to them what I was doing, only to sit there dumbfounded with eyes like saucers. With the water being so deep and the temperature so warm, these oily method feeders enabled the fish to zone in on it with incredible speed. What was in his groundbait I hear you ask? Something revolutionary? Nope, simply ground pellet and flaked maize! The oils lift from the bottom and the carp home in on them, attacking the feeders with gusto. I don’t want to dwell too much on this week or the week after as, if I tell you that it was boiling hot, we ate well and caught loads of small fish, that pretty much sums it up.
The week after this there was a gap in my calendar and I had been eying up a very large, French reservoir. I had wanted to give it a go
I don’t want to dwell too much on this week or the week after as, if I tell you that it was boiling hot, we ate well and caught loads of small fish, that pretty much sums it up
for a while, but information was almost nonexistent. The pictures of the fish I had seen were certainly not monsters by French standards, just 30 to 40-pounders, but they were very dark and I reasoned it possible there could be bigger ones in such a lake. To catch an unknown monster sometimes you have try these sorts of things I guess? The trip was a total f*cking nightmare, from start to finish! The Tunnel was running behind schedule and then the air conditioning went down, leading to more delays. I arrived at the lake around 9pm and then I discovered I had forgotten my landing net – still in my hard case with my other rods from the Italian trip. With no ticket for the lake and no net I settled down to an early night bivvied on the side of the road next to my van. In the morning I shot to a tackle shop which was a 45 minute drive and bought a cheap net. From there I then drove to the ticket office, purchased the required permit and, only after all this, found out that fishing from boats was not permitted! Now I was in a situation. I had towed my fully-laden trailer all the way here with two large boats and I certainly couldn’t leave them unattended. For 30 minutes or so I started to drive towards the Orient, only receive word that all the areas I fancied were already occupied. By this point the temperature was into the 30s and in the oven that is my un-air conditioned van I was starting to lose the plot a bit. I pulled over and in a moment of rage booked a return Tunnel crossing. The session ended without me even wetting a line. A 24-hour return trip to France – pioneering at its best!
Following on from this was Korda’s Carp Academy at Todber Manor, which was another monster drive in the cooking machine. Harry was the most experienced of two lads I had with me, having caught 40s in France, but my other lad, Ben, had a personal best of 10lb... I said to Ben, “Your first take will be a PB”. It didn’t come perhaps as quickly as he might have liked, having to watch on as Harry caught the first couple weighing 29lb and 25lb. I could see the look on Ben’s face though and it was obvious he’d not seen fish of this size before. With Harry a pretty competent little angler I was able to focus a bit more with Ben and about 24-hours in he had an 11-pounder. A PB it was, but all the same a 20-pounder was what he really wanted. Luckily, he didn’t have to wait that long – just another 30 minutes later and he landed a 23lb mirror. I have to admit I got quite a buzz out of seeing a young lad so pleased.
After getting Scotland out the way, my next work destination was Kiel in northern Germany, just a few miles from the Danish border. I had the option to fly to Hamburg but, because of my previous failed trip to France, I decided I would drive over early and have five nights on the big French reservoir, before making the monster 10-hour drive to Kiel. I arrived
On this occasion with it being a social trip and temperatures into the mid-30s my new electric fridge had to come. It was obviously also loaded to the hilt with Belgian beers, which I had insisted Derek collect en route
around 9pm again and after such as long journey I settled on a swim close to the van and put just one rod out at super long range with the bait boat. In the morning and after a quiet night I packed up and went for a drive about. I wanted to have a look around the lake and take in the surroundings and try to get my bearings a bit.
Lakes this big, without boats, are always a ballache logistically but this one was on the next level. Car access was non-existent and all the swims I fancied were absolutely miles from the van. Derek Harrison arrived around late lunchtime and together we decided on a swim that was at least 5km away from where we parked. It took us both two trips each with the wheelbarrow and we were both absolutely knackered by the time it came to getting the rods out. I am normally of the opinion that if you can’t take it in one barrow load then it’s not worth taking, but on this occasion with it being a social trip and temperatures into the mid-30s my new electric fridge had to come. It was obviously also loaded to the hilt with Belgian beers, which I had insisted Derek collect en route.
As we set up there were a couple of disturbances on Derek’s side of the swim but having not seen them first-hand, only the aftermath, I laid blame to a cormorant working the area. We cast our rods out to some weedbeds, fishing spinner rigs with IB pop-ups over just a few Spombs of a mix comprising Cell, some prototype boilies and tiger nuts over the top. It had been an exhausting day and after a few beers the eyes were soon heavy and I treated Derek to some of my best snoring. The next thing I remember I was bent into
something that had found sanctuary in the weed. After a little pulling at my end I had it free but not a lot was pulling back. I assumed it was a tench or a bream and pulled it into the edge, only realizing my mistake after putting the rod down and torch on. There laying beached was a small mirror! What happened next was quite funny. I lay the net next to it before grabbing it with my hands manually and chucking it into the waiting net. The commotion woke Derek and he just couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing!
Having caught one, I had a feeling the disturbances we had seen the previous day were fish showing and the following morning we saw a few more, further confirming those thoughts. I replaced my rods where I had caught and Derek moved his rods out towards the activity. That evening the wind blew up, the clouds were dark and I had the feeling Derek was going to catch something. Despite the great conditions the alarms remained silent and it wasn’t until first light that suddenly my right-hand rod burst into life. I had been so confident for Derek that I had almost forgotten my own rods were even fishing! The fish ploughed straight into the weedbed again and almost instantly ground to a halt. I was tackled for such events and with 20lb Carp Line running to 50lb Arma-kord, it was coming out one way or t’other. With steady pressure and a couple of hefty lunges it eventually came free. Once on a short line Derek went for the salmon swoop with my ‘new’ net, when, at the penultimate moment, the spreader block decided now was a good time to
pull off the end of the pole. The panic on Derek’s face was a picture – he was absolutely mortified, but, for some reason, despite it being a decent-sized fish I was quite calm. I knew Derek had time to sort a quick, makeshift fix and now clear of the weed the carp was in open water. At the second time of asking there was no messing around and what a fish it was. On the scales it went 46lb and being so dark it certainly made the previous wasted trip less sour – not to mention the barrow-push from hell. That was the last of the action unfortunately, as the remaining two nights proved uneventful.
From there I made the long drive up to Kiel on the Sunday and spent a very welcome night in a hotel. A shower, a steak dinner and change of clothes and I was ready to meet the German team on the following morning. The lake was absolutely lovely – small, at about 10-acres, but mature with beautiful willows all around. What’s more, on arrival I was greeted with a coffee and before it was even drunk, Andreas and Felix had both banked a brace beautiful 40-pounders, reminiscent of the old Yateley ones. I didn’t manage anything that big myself over the four days but I did catch a few nice ones up to 33lb. I decided to pit in at Belgium en route home for the road trip hat-trick, but all I succeeded in doing was picking up a tick for my troubles. Hopefully, it wasn’t a carrier of the Lymes disease because the last thing I need with autumn just around the corner is a dose of that! Anyway, that’s enough for this month.
Until next time, be lucky! Cheers, Peck
BELOW Down at Todber Manor with Ben and Harry for the Carp Academy
RIGHT Ben’s 23-pounder put a broad smile on both our faces!
RIGHT A lovely, dark 46lb mirror from the French venue LEFT Beached!
RIGHT A nice sight welcoming me to the German lake
TOP My swim whilst in Germany for a few days
ABOVE It was nice just to unwind and relax a little, after a hectic few weeks behind the wheel
BELOW My largest of the trip was this lovely 33lb mirror
ABOVE Another 40 for the locals