Fantastic winter haul for Ben Austin!

Italy probably isn’t top of the list for most UK carp anglers travelling abroad, but the country has some fantastic fishing on offer, as Ben Austin discovered when he broke both his mirror and common PBs during the same winter session!

The 1,200 mile journey which he made to Parco del Brenta, along with several friends – including The Big Fish Off star Dean Macey – proved to be worth the effort when he landed a huge 65lb 14oz mirror, along with others of 54lb 10oz and 50lb 3oz, and several others over 40lb, plus a cracking 57lb 12oz common.

Ben revealed: “We’d heard about a water in northern Italy which was producing some big carp, so we planned a road trip and finally set off on the 1,200 mile drive on a Saturday morning, crossing five different countries, and eventually arriving 26 hours later!

“We were surprised by just how cold it was, just two degrees, and the forecast was for more of the same for the rest of the week. We all wanted to get the rods out, so after a quick walk round it was finally time to get everything set up.

“The atmosphere was electric that first night and I was a bit like a child at Christmas, as I waited for the first fish to show during the hours of darkness. Finally, at around 10pm, they were crashing all over the lake, with quite a few in my area.

“The carp kept me awake most of the night, and it was really exciting as I’d seen pictures of fish up to 70lb. As I sat wondering what the week would bring, my right-hand rod – fished tight to a fallen tree in a bay about 50 yards out – was away and the carp knew exactly what to do.

“I went straight for the snags, but I had total confidence in the size 4 Wide Gape X that I was using and after five minutes of applying pressure it came free and I was back in direct contact again with my first Italian carp.

“As it went over the net cord I knew it was big, but wasn’t expecting a new PB common of 57lb 8oz on my first night! It is always an amazing feeling to get off the mark early on a new water, as it gives you confidence straight from the start.

“When we arrived we’d been told not to put bait in, but I do like to do things a bit differently so I found a small area of hard silt with bits of gravel, and baited that steadily throughout the week with 10mm Mainline Link boilies and 15mm Cell, all soaked in metamino, which I’m a huge fan of in the winter. I was fishing with hinged stiff rigs over the baited spot, tied using N-Trap Soft and 20lb Mouthtrap.

“I was also reeling in and resting the swim every day as bites weren’t coming until late afternoon onwards anyway, and on busy waters I’ve found you always pick up more bites by doing this.

“it took a while to get a bite on the second night, and when it did come it was from the baited spot and turned out to be another personal best, this time a mirror of 65lb 14oz – which was me second sixty, from two different countries!

“The bites started to come thick and fast over the next few days, landing several 40s and the odd 50, and fishing two different approaches was proving very successful, although the next few bites all came to PVA bags cast at showing fish.

“I was fishing 10mm IB pop-ups on a size 4 Wide Gape X with 15lb Supernatural to a Kable leadcore leader and a 3oz inline drop-off. I was filling the bags with pellets plus crushed boilies and then injecting the bag with Pineapple Goo. I found that I wasn’t getting bites on the small sized bags, but the medium seemed to hold just enough food to tempt one.

“Not many fish were showing during the day so I was getting all my PVA bags ready for the night, and have at least ten tied up in advance. All too soon the last night was upon us, and although the rods remained motionless until we packed up, I was more than happy with the result that I’d had!”