Angling on a large lake - Alex & Caroline

Angling on a lake of more than 5000 hectares has little in common with the predictability of a small gravel pit. Everything needs more time, especially when carp have seen boilies only rarely and in comparably small amounts.

Even reservoirs in France of several hundred hectares are not comparable. This may also be due to the fact that carp in such a Spanish mega-lake are mostly born and have grown up there, and are not at all dependent on angling bait. They don't come to the angler, the angler has to come to them.

They have their clear preference for water depth, distance to shore or food and may change these preferences daily. Those who use their French reservoir tactics might be disappointed. Variability in your fishing is the key, particularly during the period of spawning.

In the beginning, my fishing was not variable enough. All carp we caught in the first days came from an easy-to-cast-to area for Caroline. The marker was actually so positioned that we could cast easily there, right in front of our bivvy.

My superbly positioned French-style super rods were just there for the odd four-rod buzzer bar, high-tech rod pod photos. Thus, the first ten carp came on Caroline's rods. They were not only small carp, believe me.

After some days, however, her rods became silent and my rod pod finally became meaningful. I almost thought that I understood something, but then the page turned again and the rods cast short fired off again constantly.

‘Keep it real’ is our motto. Therefore, we also had 80 kg boilie mix with us. No boilie catches 12 weeks after its production as well as its fresh brothers. 80 kg mix also means around 120 kg of fresh boilies. This saved us almost 40 kg in the load for the VW van.

However, the strange expressions in the supermarket when we had an egg-filled shopping cart was something we had to live with. As well as with the fox that visited us the night after rolling, the painful wrists from kneading the dough and the stinky fingernails for days after. But it was certainly worth it!

It did not take too long until we found our fishing groove again. We spent four nights on the first spot. The result was, however, rather poor: one mirror of approximately 10 kg and a tench.

We tried to bear in mind the circumstances: one carp every four nights would already be a great average on the sparsely stocked lake in the mountains. This was rock-hard fishing over here. A French angler told me about his friend, albeit seemingly not a skilled angler, who managed to catch one carp of 12kg in the last four years.

Before our fishing break last week we banked two forties in just two nights - one of the original stocking and maybe older than 35 years. This was more luck than skill. The ratio of carp over time could only become worse from now on. But somehow something held us there, it felt right and the magic of the water did not let us leave so fast.

So we changed the fishing spots and tried to ignore the fact that there were fewer monster carp in the several hundred-hectare lake than in some significantly smaller gravel pits in southern Germany.

This fact, combined with the extremely small stock of carp, gave a special mixture, almost a recipe for an angling psychosis; it had certainly already happened here with quite a few guys.

Luckily, three nights later we were again into a fish and a common carp landed in the net. A lovely tench was a nice surprise as well. It seemed that we’d done something right. It’s impossible to have caught all the carp just by chance.

Had we already find the key to success at this very difficult venue? Certainly not - one thing that we have learned in the last months is to never believe you understand completely a large lake and the fish swimming therein. "Stay flexible and try everything, even if it seems too crazy or trivial," became our motto.

For example, we hooked the last common carp just three metres in front of the rod pod, between the stems of some willow trees in less than a metre of water. I washed myself there on the evening before and put the rod there just because it seemed crazy. We were lucky to have landed the common as he swam through the other lines, around some bushes and the line was also tangled in a long root. I freed the line but was soaked.

We’ve now been on the road for four months but we are fine. We are together 24/7 so it is impossible to fool each other or take a break from time to time. But we have found our rhythm and can enjoy the adventure entirely. I know too well how lucky I am to have Caroline by my side. Life is beautiful.

At the beginning of the next week fishing was really slow. Besides a 9 kg common carp we could only catch some chub. Carp had left the shallow spawning areas, it seemed. Due to the fact that we did not have indication of much food for carp, we assumed that carp might swim long distances while foraging.

Probably they also would not stop too often as food seemed scarce and food patches should be cleaned rapidly. And we didn’t know these areas. Other anglers also had practically no results or blanked mercilessly. What had to be done? Should we wait for days or weeks until carp eventually returned? Or should we move daily and hope for the chance to be at the right time at the right place? Both seemed hopeless.

In the end it was the arrival of our friend Jan, who came by plane to visit us for some days, and the bad weather forecast that pushed us to leave the lake. In the afternoon we picked up with Jan and tackled up in the evening at another lake.

I knew the spot well. I had fished it this year already twice for several days. The first time was at the end of February when I lost a supposedly very large carp during the first night. I had the impression that it was one of the largest fish ever on one of my rods.

A return in March brought us an immaculate common carp of 15 kg; caught in the same five square metres. Some days ago at the end of May, we tried our luck for the third time. Would the big one be still around? At 3am we got a one-toner - again the same spot. Similarly to our first night in February, the line was stuck in an obstacle only seconds after. Would I lose the carp again?

This time I had the waders on and walked chest-deep into the lake to free the line. I could feel the fish abruptly taking line that probably was rubbing along a rock or tree. I could not free the line - until the carp changed direction and swam to the left! Immediately, I could feel the mass of this fish. Would the line still be strong enough? Was the hook hold still steady?

Despite all my doubts I had to increase the pressure to hold the carp from the obstacles. This time I was lucky! An immaculate giant slipped into the net. He had more back than belly and was built like a bull. Was this the lost giant?

My Reuben Heatons approved that it was indeed one of the biggest carp I have ever caught at 29.2 kg. This was, however, not solely my capture. Caroline and Jan certainly had their part. I will tell why another time.

After this capture we were satisfied and stayed mobile. We packed in and went once more to the mountain lake. Another blank night and we were back again at the giant lake and finally arrived at a third lake in the Cote d'Azur region. There we angled with fly, spin carp fishing rods and enjoyed the nice weather!

Keep it real,

Alex and Carolina