Damo Lands Scar! - Damian Clarke

Our very own Damian Clarke has become the first English angler to bank two 40kg carp after hunting down the famous Scarred Mirror, from Luke Moffat’s Les Graviers lake, near Dijon in France. The huge mirror, which is among the very biggest fish in the World, is the second fish over 88lb that Damian has successfully targeted, after banking the huge Saussaie common at 88lb last year. He told us, “After targeting and catching the Saussaie common last September, I wanted to catch something as big or bigger. The intention was another 40kg carp but the list of accessible venues that hold carp of that size and are accessible to all are extremely limited. The Graviers holds the famous Scarred Mirror that was once the World record at 99lb. As well as this fish there is another over 80lb, I felt confident they could be targeted.”

Damian quickly hatched a plan to single out Scar. “Scar is a fish that is seen a lot in the margins and with the calm cold weather I just imagined him visiting this area that was well over 200 yards out from my swim. I'd not seen anything; it was purely an instinctive decision.” Damian headed out in the boat to investigate the area close to some dense foliage that extended well beneath the surface. He took his rod with him and ‘donked’ around with the lead to find a firmer ‘sweet spot’ in the area that he fancied. He explained exactly what he was looking for, “The bottom of the lake has a lot of clay on it and I simply bumped the lead on the bottom while holding the rod in the boat until the lead didn't 'stick', indicating a much harder spot. This was where I placed my hook bait. I actually did this when placing all my rods on the various spots. To complete the trap, I dropped twenty 15mm Mainline Hybrid boilies and a very small handful of sweetcorn. I've been asked why I used sweetcorn on a lake that has a great many bream in. Well I wasn't too concerned about the bream. I had seen how corn was used to get an immediate feeding response in similarly cold water conditions on the Underwater 7 shoot, so I wasn’t about to leave it out of the baiting situation.”

Damian explained what he took into consideration when coming up with a rig to target one of the biggest fish in the World. “I'm not one for using really big hooks, I know that 60lb carp have huge mouths, but I’m confident in a particular setup. The rig featured a size 6 Wide Gape X hook, with a ring sliding on the shank and a small piece of shrink over the eye of the hook. The hook link material was my ever-faithful Hybrid Stiff in 20lb, 5.5 inches in length. This setup is something both Danny Fairbrass and I have caught a lot of carp on from a variety of different waters. It has been christened the DF rig and we recently released it in a ready-tied version. I threaded two standard out-the-bag bottom baits onto the hair. The reason I did this is firstly to be a little different; most anglers use singles or snowman type setups and, secondly, one of our lads has caught a great many big carp from Gigantica using multiple baits on the hair.”

The instinctive choice of location and carefully thought out tactics bore fruit in the very early hours of the Wednesday morning of Damian’s weeklong session. He takes up the story; “The fact that the fish was slowly taking line against a tight clutch at over 200 yards was the first signal that it was a big fish. Just five minutes into the fight I was convinced it was the one, even though there is another nearly as big. It took about 30 minutes to get the fish to within 20 yards, and a further 15 minutes of absolute arm-aching fight to get it near the net. From the first sighting, the huge scar that runs down its flank was clearly visible. This was the moment I'd been waiting for; the adrenaline was pumping. It was definitely the one! Being attached to a carp you know weighs over 90lb is certainly intense. Finally, I was able to net the fish and was absolutely blown away by the sheer enormity of this carp! Luke came round and with help from my fishing partner Clive Gibbins and another angler, Vernon Leadbetter, we carefully weighed and photographed the Scar on an extremely cold and misty November night at 93lb 8oz.”

As if the Scar wasn’t enough, Damian also banked mirrors of 20lb, 38lb, 40lb, 41lb, 48lb and 55lb 14oz! So, where next for Korda’s monster hunter? “Well, the obvious place would be Rainbow Lake but there is another beautiful 80lb plus carp I would love to catch along with the Brown Fish at Graviers. Those, along with the huge creatures that inhabit Gigantica, will certainly keep me busy for the next few years!”