My Gigantica Week - James Gesner

Back in September we offered an incredible opportunity to fish with Darrell Peck, at the stunning Gigantica Lake. The week was a huge success and one of the anglers who fished with Darrell, James Gesner, has been in touch to run us through his week.

“The anticipation leading up to November 9th was like waiting for Christmas day as a kid. Having seen the advert for the trip on Korda’s Facebook page I was all over it, especially after seeing the lake on Thinking Tackle and wondering what it would be like to hold a big girl in my arms. The six of us made our way to the lake in the early hours and arrived in good time on the Saturday morning. Darrell and Mike met us and the dreaded draw was done. I was lucky and drew ball number two out the bag. This was good news for me as it meant I would be able to get in one of my two preferred swims, The Alamo or Alcatraz. We had all studied the map of the lake in the build up and these two swims have excellent access to the kill zone and were central for a social on either bank.

I chose Alamo, even though it was under a foot of water and the wind was hacking into it, making fishing at range hard work. I knew the wind would die off, so didn’t panic knowing I was on for the week. In my own fishing I only ever do overnighters, so this was a whole new ball game for me.

No fish had been caught over the weekend and I was starting to get twitchy, thinking the 6kg of boilies and tiger nuts that I had put in with the boat on the Saturday afternoon was a mistake. This was not the case because on Tuesday morning I woke up to a couple of single bleeps on the right-hand rod, which turned into a slow take, resulting in my fist Gigantica carp, an immaculate 31lb mirror. When playing the fish I didn’t want to let anyone know I was in; all I wanted to do was take my time and get the fish in the net. My heart was going like the clappers and after a few hairy moments in the deep margins the fish was mine! I yelled out “GET IN!!!” The relief was unbelievable and the mood in the camp rose, like Cristiano Ronaldo for a far-post header. The breathtaking breakfast roll that Mike the bailiff delivered at 8.30am tasted immense with one in the net. We all gathered round for the pictures and a few lagers were downloaded. I then received a soaking, after having realised I had a hole in my waders! The water level had risen over knee height, so wellies are as good as a blunt hook.

During Tuesday I re-baited with around 20 Spombs of chopped and whole boilies, with a few nuts thrown in. The wind was finally off my back for the first time, which was good news, making it a lot easier to put the bait out. Both rods were back on the money at 31 wraps. Then the third rod was cast to a shorter spot, which I had baited from the off. I was confident of another bite through the night and at 4am on Wednesday morning the right-hand rod was away again! Like Usain Bolt, I jumped out my pit to see line peeling off my tight clutch. After five minutes of applying steady pressure, I had it under the rod tip and into the net she went. Playing the fish in the dark, standing in two feet of water, in just a T-shirt and boxers was rather epic for November! I placed her in a retention sling for a short while and let out another message around the lake via the walkie talkies that we all had. Anyone going to Gigantica needs to take these, as they are great for banter and sharing info round the lake. Not one fish showed on the lake without someone seeing it (normally Paddy in Pole Position). It was clear that the fish hate the pressure and they love the middle where you can’t reach them! Thirty-seven pounds eight ounces was the weight and probably one of the best-looking fish in the lake. DP will tell ya...

That afternoon I decided to have my first shower of the week and ended up sat in Pole Position with Paddy. Now, Paddy had been fishing his nuts off all week and was due a bite. A crate of Kronenberg was winking at us and three hours later we had done two cases and put the world to rights... you can’t beat a good social. That night the weather had got colder and the new moon cycle began to light up the lake like headlights on a Range Rover. Fish were showing at range and I was confident that another bite was on the cards. The evening meal went down a storm and by midnight Jeff, John and I’d had enough lagers to sink a ship and got our heads down. By the morning nothing had happened and the frustration round the lake was evident. Everyone had fished well and only three fish had been caught so far this week. Darrell in Co’s was confident he would get bites after baiting up a spot at 33 wraps but nothing materialised. Mark in the Beech had been rotating spots well but without success, Jeff had moved from the Tree Line to Oblivion after seeing showing fish and John was in the Stink at 27 wraps. Patience was the key and ‘Big-Fish Thursday’ was upon us and a full moon was on its way.

By 6pm that evening Darrell had lost one and landed one. Then Paddy in Pole Position was in and he landed a mint 39lb mirror called The Rudder. The roar across the lake was heard back in Calais as he pulled the big mirror over the net cord. He was due a fish having fished hard and the delight was clear to see across his face. Danny Fairbrass was on hand to do the pictures and there was optimism flowing round the pond once again, three bites in three hours! I suddenly realised that my 70 euros for biggest fish was in jeopardy having already won 70 euros for the first fish. Luckily, the right-hand rod was in action again and produced another nice fish of 32lb, again Danny did the pics for me. That was three fish to the Bannoffee wafters; you can buy these from Gigantica when you’re there and they are sure to catch me a few back in England.

The rod went back out first time onto the 31-wrap spot slightly to the left of the big tree in the distance. It cracked down like a snooker ball landing on the green baize. “That’s a bite”, I thought. I nodded off and was woken at midnight by a slow take again on the right-hand rod. On went the waders and I connected with the fish and proceeded to give it 40 yards of line straight off the clutch. This was a first, and Darrell had said to be bold with them in the 23 foot of water on the impressive tapered SUBline. Once I had gained line I started to apply pressure to show it who was boss and it felt a good fish at 140 yards. Was this going be one of the bigger fish resident in this awesome lake? The water was bloody freezing and I was desperate not to lose the fish. I had to keep maximum pressure on with the barbless size-six Wide Gape. I had to give it some welly as it kited left towards the overhanging trees between Alamo and Oblivion. John from the Stink was there with me at this point, holding the net and willing me on. The walkie talkie was sending out messages to the lads letting them know I was in again and John was commentating like Chris Kamara on Soccer Saturday. The fish stayed deeper than the others and I had a real feeling it was a lump. Well that was an understatement as it popped up under my other rod and surfaced like a scuba diver who had run out of air! Into the net it went and the relief was something I’ll never forget. I peered into the net and would describe it as not only the biggest fish I had ever caught, but bigger than anything I had ever seen before! John was a great help getting it into the sling and up onto the scales where it went 50lb 8oz. To say I was chuffed would have been an understatement.

We all gathered round for the photos, I knew this wasn’t going to be easy but with some help from the lads she was up in my arms smiling for the camera. No more fish were caught on the Friday and Saturday morning and we all packed away, getting round to the lodge for 9am to get showered ready for the eight-hour journey home. To sum the week up in 300 words wasn’t possible, so sorry for dragging it out, but when you have weeks like this they will never be forgotten. I already knew Jeff and had met Darrell twice before but Mark, Paddy and John were amazing people and made the week. Fishing with them was amazing and it doesn’t matter what background you come from fishing brings people together and the support we all had for each other was incredible. I was the lucky one and it’s not about the fish I caught. It’s about the time spent together, the banter we had as a group and the look on my face when I look at the pictures. I can’t wait to go again and hopefully next time we will have a few more out!"