by Rick Warren

The lake we fish is about 100 acres and full of features like islands, bars, fallen trees, musclebeds even a manmade damwall running the top length of the lake. Its located in a wood less than a seven minute walk from my home. A paradise some might say and yes indeed it is, but it gets even better . The lake is really only fished by a handfull of carp-anglers, with whom we all get along with very well, i.e share catch rates, results and techniques. And most of them don't even fish the lake all that seriously. The reason for this being, although there are a lot of big carp in the lake, the lake has a wide range of carp between the 4lb and 10lb barrier. Most anglers tend to head straight for the canals were the chances of catching bigger fish is greater.
Carp Net ( The Carp and Carpfishing Network )

You see this lake is not the hardest lake in the world, but to land a big fish here can be bloody hard. And there are some exceptional specimens in here weighting well over the 20lb+ mark, with the lake record being a 35.05lb common and I mean Dutch pounds! The later was becoming a fishing obsession, I had to catch one of the lake's thirty's. The problem is trying to get the more larger fish to take a bait, without the smaller, more greedier fish picking the bait up all the time.
So here is how we did it, and how we made this season one of the best seasons on the lake yet. The winter this year was extreme, with the temperature falling to -15 and a wind chill of around -30. All the lakes, rivers and canals were frozen over, the ice was at least 25 to 30 centimeters thick. So we were able to put most of our fishing time into thinking time. The lake like I said was covered with ice so we had the chance to explore some of the features, able to walk to them and observe them can really help when choosing a swim for the coming season. It was a case of dodging the ice-skaters and telling them to; ....OFF, we're looking for fish! Carp Net ( The Carp and Carpfishing Network )

We could also retrieve some of OTHER peoples (yeah right) lost leads, that had been cast onto the islands, and snags around them. Some of the larger carp could even be seen down deep, through the ice, amongst the fallen trees. With all this information we had gained, it was time to make a decision which swim we would fish, what bait to use and how to present it. We had come up with two best possible places to fish. These spots covered a vast expanse of the lake. Thus making it possible to sit within a safe walking distance of my other two fishing buddies. It was now truly a team effort to land some of the bigger fish that inhabit the lake. The bait we decided on would be NASH BAITS. We had some really good results on his readymades, at the Twenthe-kanaal, landing some 20lb + fish, and me losing a 30lb+ fish, due to a fault with the landing net. So we already had a bait that had proved itself, and time wise it would be better than rolling the bait myself. A girlfriend and college take up a lot of my time between fishing! But I still like to roll my own baits from time to time, maybe just to give me that certain edge over the already, very popular, readymades here in Holland. The flavour we chose was WHITECHOCOLATE. We liked the smell and colour of the bait, as to the SCOPEX I widely use, and wanted to try something different yet still have a creamy type flavour like scopex. This would be teamed up with particles like MAIZE, CHIC PEAS, and TROUT PELLETS. As for the RIGS, these did not need any major changes. I am very confident in the rig that I am using at the moment: The M.C.F inline lead (3oz) used with ARMATUBE to 15lb SILKWORM and a FOX series 2 size 4 hook; When fishing close to the snags I would use a 25lb QUICKSILVER hooklength and a NASH specialist hook size 4, due to its longer shank and wider bend results in a better hooking of the fish when putting the pressure on. Combine this with the ARMATUBE and both rigs become very safe, extremely reliable, no tangles, and cast very accurately. My two fishing partners are named Leon and Eric. We met in our early carp-fishing days at the lake and have become extremely close friends since then. They would be using roughly the same rigs as me, but with a few personal changes made to them. It was not until the end of January that the weather started to look up. The ice, that was covering everything, was now starting to disappear. We could now finally start baiting up the areas that were going to be fished. I started prebaiting with two pound of bait a day, around seven days before our first session. Our first session would be a three day stint over the weekend and I was looking forward to getting back behind the rods after a three month stop. Friday morning arrived and the weather was looking good, so it was time to head for the lake. On arrival I noticed we would be the only ones fishing, Leon and Eric had got there the night before. Things were looking good, Eric had landed a 19lb common, 95% of the lake consists of commons, and Leon had lost a good fish. It was time to get the Titan up the rods out and the tea on. My left hand rod was cast to within 2yds of a fallen tree, the middle one to the island and my right hand rod was cast to a musclebed about 50yds out. Out came the cobra-stick and about 100 freebies were baited around each rod. Time to put the kettle on and wait for the DXR's to explode into action. It was so peaceful at the lake, it felt great just sitting there optimistically observing the baited area's for signs of carp. At around 4.30pm I had a violent take on my left hand rod this resulted in a 10 minute battle and a beautiful 15lb common on the mat. An excellent start of the season fish. Just as I was returning the fish back to the lake my girlfriend arrived with Leon's sister, they had bought us a chinese take away. So I cast the rod back to it's original position and sat down to the wonderfully aforementioned take away. It was starting to get dark when a slow take, again on the left hand rod, broke the silence. I wound down on the fish then STRUCK, I connected with a heavy lump that slowly started taking line. I managed to turn the fish before it could reach the safety of the submerged branches. After this initial surge it came to the net quite easily, I think this was due to the low water temperature as the fish here can give you one heck of a scrap. Leon netted the fish and said, through the hefty weight in the net, that it would be a twenty. We laid the lump on the mat, pulled back the net and recognized the fish as " Dumbass ". Last caught by me, last season, at 21.05lb. After weighing her she went 24lb+, a weight gain of around three pounds, which is exceptional for the lake. The rest of session produced three more fish for Leon in the region of around the 17lb mark. I was disappointed to lose a decent fish to the snags, but the first session of the season was very encouraging. As the areas we fished produced some good fish, even though the water temperature was very low, we knew that our choice of location was spot on. So we decided to keep our baiting campaign going, but with the exception of one pound of bait a day, as to the previous two pound. However the word had been spread of our success, swim location too. On my next trip to the lake, two days after our weekends success, to put some bait in. I discovered that three local carp-anglers, even though they were aware that we had bait going in and were going to fish it that coming weekend, had also decided to fish these swims this coming season. Starting with a seven day stint. Therefore we could not continue with our consistent prebaiting, so we had to rethink our strategy to an already successful beginning of the season. We had to find another location so while walking around the lake Eric and I spotted some fish feeding actively from a swim that is known as the " forgotten point ". Out came the binoculars. I could see fish roll 3yds from overhanging trees, and there was also some activity in the bay. As no one really fished these swims for carp, hence the name, because a path runs along the wooded bank close to the areas fished. It would be an excellent place to try. And this was also an area that was on our minds when we looked at the lake in winter, the sun shines on this area most of the day. We would be fishing to the fallen trees and reed pockets that lined the bank. So we started prebaiting with the aforementioned two pound of bait per day, four days before our next session, in 6 to 8ft of water. It had been raining all week so when it was time to erect the bivvy and get the rods out I was happy to see the rain had stopped, I hate having everything damp and wet before I actually start fishing. Leon had arrived already and Eric would join us later in the day. I cast my left hand rod to a reed bed 60yds out, my middle rod was cast to a fallen tree, a cast of over 100yds, and my righthand rod went to a marker in the middle of the lake. With all the most possible areas covered I could now walk around the bay and put some bait in by hand. Quietly crawling through the reeds and bushes not to scare any feeding fish, a task I had been performing all week. I cobra'ed some 50 freebies to the marker and with all the preparation out of the way I could now sit down and relax, not for long I hoped. An hour later I had my first take on my left rod, an impressive run that had my baitrunner working overtime, It kited away from the reeds and headed straight for the marker in the middle. With some side strain I managed to turn it's head, it then started to swim towards me, I manoeuvered the fish around the over two lines and put the pressure on. After a 10 minute battle The fish lay, exhausted, on the surface. She went 19.03lb a beautiful common, the weight was a bit of a disappointment but the battle was worthwhile. Photo's were taken and she was released immediately. I recast after changing the NO SPOOK tubing which I sometimes use; to ARMATUBE. Although the NO SPOOK is excellent, combined with the M.C.F rig it tends to snap off just above the lead. Eric arrived, together with the rain, so Leon and I helped him erect his bivvy and sort his gear out. Expectantly we got soaked. I had merely put some dry clothes on, when a sudden take to the middle rod alerted my attention. I struck, and was into a young wildie. I was just playing the fish to the awaiting net, when a continuous tone erupted from my righthand DXR. Leon struck into the fish, as I was already engaged in a scrap with a not so willing wildie. I netted the wildie with haste, then continued playing the lump on the rod Leon had struck. The fish was all over the lake, as she continued taking line. I increased the drag and bullied her from the reed pocket, that she was heading for. When I got her under the rod tip, she showed herself above the surface. A shiver went straight through me, as a glimpse of a mirror started heading up the lake again. I did not want to loose this fish, as mirrors are a rare catch in this lake. After a few exciting moments, I gradually coaxed her to the net. The lead hit the spreader and she was mine! Meanwhile, the wildie had been released by Eric. I opened the unhooking-mat and laid the fish in the protection of the padding. As I drew the net back my bounty was revealed, an as yet uncaught, beautiful mirror. She weighed 21.05lb, another twenty! I was thrilled. We christened the mirror " Stephana ", after my girlfriend, whom was not pleased,,. The photo's were taken and she was returned. We put the kettle on sat down to a cuppa, an improvement in the weather was a welcome sight as the sun broke through the clouds. I was extremely pleased with the catch, not only was it a mirror but it was caught on an innovative rig I had never used before (see figure 2); The Amnesia rig. I had read about the Amnesia - stiff rig, and how it could be used affectively, in the Carpworld and thought I could put it to good use on this lake. The result was rewarding, as I would go on to catch a lot more fish using this method of stiff-rig. It shows you can learn a lot from: where,what and how people are catching carp, to improve on your own skills. The session was a success, I had a total of seven fish, including two twenty's. Leon had six, and Eric had caught four, including a beautiful 18lb common. But the best was yet to come. And my obsession to catch one of the lake's elusive thirty's was far from cured. It was around August time when my brother, who live's in England, phoned. He was planning a trip to the Twenthe-kanaal and wanted to come over. I had already spent around thirty nights on the lake and decided a session at the Twenthe would be a welcome change. Thus far I had caught five 20lb+ fish from the lake, this may not sound like a big deal, but from this lake it was exceptional. So when I told my brother the news; Twenthe was put on hold. He wanted a crack at some of the larger inhabitant's which swim the lake. Although we were having some tremendous results on WHITECHOCOLATE, an opportunity to use a bait by John Bosch was not refused. I decided on the Cougar Baits Red-Hooker boilie. It's a spicy/fruity strawberry flavoured boilie that has been used to great extent on the big pit's here in Holland. My brother arrived from England four days before our session, and my dad would also join us in our quest. As my brother, named Chris, had not been fishing for over a year he had to make some necessary preparations to his tackle. We then went for a trip around the lake. As I showed him the productive areas, we could see fish roll above the baited swims. We put some bait in, and would start fishing the "forgotten point" after the weekend. The weather was hell on the monday, as we carted all the gear to the swims the rain just seemed to get worse. As I mentioned earlier, I hate setting up in the rain. Two hours later, and with just about everything soaked we were finally fishing. I decided to put some additional bait in after the rain had stopped. And opted for the warmth of the bivvy, and a cup of tea to get dry. I chose to fish the reedlined margins of the opposite bank again. A place I knew would be successful. Especially with the wind blowing full-on in my face. My dad was sat to my left, also casting to the opposite bank. While Chris had confidence in the island, Influenced by carp rolling 2yds out. It was around three o'clock when the rain stopped and the wind died down. The surface of the lake looked dead-calm and the wood's around us felt so peaceful. I was enjoying my umpteenth cup of tea. When a few bleep's from my left hand rod saw me out of the bivvy and actively playing a fish. I played her cautiously to the net, were Chris did the honour's. A 13lb common was soon returned and I could start making preparations for the evening to come. As a result of observing feeding fish last season, I noticed that a feeding frenzy of smaller fish were spooking the bigger carp. Thus the bigger carp were staying just outside the baited area's. Therefore I always have my hookbait, surrounded by five or six freebies, just outside the heavily baited area. A method that has increased my catch rate on this lake considerably. It was time to have a walk around the bay to put some bait in. A consistence of maize, boilie-crumb and Redhookers were the evening special. With the carp Hopefully satisfied with their Tucker it was time to feed ourselves. So we had a cobrastick-boilie throwing contest to see who would go get the takeout. After I (the wind turned) got the chinese take away, and was about to enjoy it. Chris had his first screamer. Initially it seemed like a big fish, but within minutes it was at the net. To our surprise she still went 18lb+ on the scales. She also had a distinguishable scare on the left side of her head. With the carp back to it's own environment, could we now enjoy our plawnclackers? Nope. For as I was about to take my first mouthful. A slow dropback had me running to my rod. I wound down, until I could feel the fish. It felt different, not the usual serge of powering up the lake. She stayed in one place, it felt as though I had hooked a brickwall. I knew it was a big fish. Putting the pressure on, I could feel she was starting to move. She was getting closer and closer to the awaiting net when suddenly everything went limp. My line had snapped. We then saw the fish come to the surface, it looked well over 30lb. I was gutted, it could well have been the lake record. The words, ' f***, f***, f*** , could be heard over the whole lake. Distraught I sat down, to a by now not so appetizing takeaway. The next run came to my dad, about an hour later. The fish made a run for the reeds that lined the bank. While fishing so close to obstacle's, especially reeds, I always use Big game line. There is little stretch in this line and it is very abrasion resistant. The reeds proved no problem for the 15lb Big game So within minutes the fish was away from danger and heading up the lake. Big game line does tend to work better with reels equipped with a Power Roller or Twist Buster . Especially with the larger diameter's as this eliminates kinking of the line considerably. After a battle, matching that of a large twenty, she was netted. On the mat lay the same 18lb+ scare face caught a few hours ago by my brother. Talk about hooked!. With the evening approaching we changed our hookbaits and rebaited the swims. It was now time for a long awaited cup of tea. There was little action through the night. And although the rain had stopped, the wind had gone from a slight breeze to hurricane force. While having breakfast we had our first take of the morning. An almighty screamer to my righthand rod. After a short scrap, and a scary moment by some snags. She laid within the safety of the net. This was another fish that had been caught using the amnesia stiff-rig. It was also an old friend. He was my first double I ever caught, over six year's ago. I have had the pleasure of catching him three time's since then. At 11lb, 15lb, 17lb and now at 19.05lb. The fish is known as Dickhead, due to a deformed bump on it's head. It is also one of the most ugliest carp I have ever seen. As the Wind had changed direction, It was looking promising for my dad. Within an hour after bacon and eggs, saw my dad into his first fish of the day. It was a ponderous struggle as my dad fought the fish to the net. The tubing broke the surface, but the deep darkbrown colour of the water would not reveal the treasure. My dad applied some stick, and a beautiful orange tailed mirror showed itself. Just before I could net the fish. The hook pulled. And with one last glance at a most impressive coloured fish. She splashed her tail and was gone. Although no monster, my dad was very disappointed. He changed his hooklength, put a fresh boilie on and cast the rod back to it's position. I walk around the bay and put some bait in for him. As I returned my dad was into another fish. This fish stood it's ground, unlike the torpedo like nature of the wildie's in the lake. So we knew this was one of the larger carp. As my dad had changed the previous hooklength, he was more confident the hook had struck home. After what seemed like an endless struggle, Chris finally did the honours. To our surprise it was another mirror. And the fish resembled, " STEPHANA" . I checked my photo's, and indeed it was. She now went 22lb. And was still a most wonderfully looking fish. The last evening of the session was upon us. As we sat down to a boil in the bag dinner we were almost expecting the rod's to explode into action. It looked as if it would be a clear night, so I decided to sit by my rods until about 2.30am. It's a feeling of such freedom, being by a beautiful lake looking at the different constellation's. And the adrenalin-rush of a fish any second. The adrenalin-rush came 2 minutes after my head hit the pillow of the bedchair. A few beeps erupted into one continuous tone. I ran from the bivvy and struck into the fish. Only to realize I was on my socks. So while playing the carp my dad kindly helped me put my boots on. I overcame the same feat at the Twenthe-kanaal, only to be coverd in red ants. Apparently the pain had not learnt me a lesson. Meanwhile the carp was playing havoc with my other line's. I let the rod take most of the strain and do all the work. I knew if I would give the fish some line, I would have a bird's nest of tangles. The rod had the advantage, the fish turned and came towards the net. My dad succeeded in netting the carp first time. Chris emerged from his bivvy to see what all the commotion was about. As he put the kettle on, we weighed the fish. A 21lb common was the result. Brilliant! After a quick brew I returned to my bivvy. As I laid in my sleeping bag I started to reflect on the season so far. My conclusion was, " it had been excellent!". Not only was I catching some of the biggest fish in the lake. Other carp anglers were fishing to maybe 18lb+ or had just a single twenty this season. But I had also enjoyed myself considerably. We had such a laugh sat by the lake's edge. I awoke at about 6am. Chris was already making breakfast. so we sat watching the water, while having a traditional English breaky. I was surprised to see the amount of action above the baited areas, yet the buzzers stayed silent. I was thinking of recasting, but did not want to spook any feeding fish. So for the last few hours of the session I would let the rods stay in their rests. We started packing the gear away around mid day. A task I hate doing, especially when It's damp and wet. As usual we left the rods and landing net to be packed away last. But to no avail and eventually these were returned to their holdalls. The session for me had been a success although Chris was not as happy, he had caught just Three fish. When I arrived home the first thing I did was have a long hot bath. A welcome site after a week of living semi rough. Before Chris headed home to England we had a 24 hour session on the canal. This resulted in a 18lb common which fell to my irresistible Redhooker. I only managed to get two days of fishing in during october, due to the start of college. Like 90% of the season so far the weather was appalling. Strong winds and heavy rain. Yet as if textbook by this lake, the run's occurred within minutes of the rain stopping. I caught three fish during the two day stint, the biggest carp being a 16.05lb common. This was to be the last carp for me of the season. The winter arrived early this year, and saw the lakes covered by a thick layer of ice at the beginning of december. It was Time to evaluate the previous season and make preparations for the new year ahead, I hope jack frost departs soon. Although this is not an article about tremendous 30lb+ caught carp. It's about a magical lake that give's me much pleasure. To me carp angling is not just about catching monsters, it's about just being there. And this place is one of such beauty, it's a bonus that if applying the right tactics carp to maybe 30lb+ can be caught. I read a lot about carp fishing, especially articles in magazines like Carpworld, Carp talk ext. And can honestly say these magazines have helped me improve my carping considerably and contributed to me catching more than six twenty's this season from a lake that rarely produces more than two a year. And as for that thirty, well maybe next time.

Rick Warren

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