Steve Briggs relearns an old lesson in Hungary
Often it’s the simple things that make a difference. The more pressure venues come under year on year, the more important it is to recognize and then take opportunities when they present themselves. Doing just that transformed my recent trip to Hungary’s Paradise Lake.
Fishing with Atilla Pinke of catchcarphungary.com, I found a water of around 40 acres set up as a commercial venue with 15 permanent swims, each with a cabin to fish from. As with many similar waters around Europe, the swims get booked up quickly and well in advance, so the carp are constantly under pressure from anglers with a wide variety of tactics and abilities. There is a very good stock of carp in the Lake and lots of good ones, but that doesn’t mean they are a pushover. As always you get out what you put in.
I had a rough idea of what I thought would be the right tactics, my original thoughts being that the carp would prefer the central areas of the Lake. With a row of islands down the centre and some nice overhanging cover, they looked to be the obvious spots, but I guess everyone arriving for the first time would have thought much the same thing. There were fish showing at range, though, so to start with I placed three hookbaits in a line from the island margin into the open water and baited each one with around 50 to 60 Nashbait 4G Squid freebies. I didn’t go too heavy with the baiting to begin with, as I wasn’t sure if I would be sticking with plan A very long or at all.
The first 12 hours produced a couple of fish to mid-doubles, so it wasn’t a bad start, and it’s always nice to get off the mark on a new venue. However, the lake owner popped in to say hello and suggested that I put at least one more rod out somewhere, as six rods per swim are allowed. I was happy using three, but Atilla had a 9ft 3lb Dwarf rod that I could use and I wasn’t going to say no. Just down to my left was a gap in the marginal reeds and it looked the obvious place to put the ‘spare’ rod. There were no swims to my left or indeed along the bottom bank, so there was plenty of water to go at, but as I stood there weighing up my options a fish flopped out just six feet in front of me! It might have been a one-off, but the margins had to be worth a go and I do love that style of fishing.
The Lake actually reminded me very much of an English-style day-ticket water, and with that in mind I thought I’d go more English style on the tactics and use a 4G pop-up on a size 7 Chod Twister hook and Chod Link hinged stifflink. Lowering the pop-up into position was simple enough; there was a nice enough depth of around 6ft and the lead landed with a good thump. I fished it over a handful of large particle mix they sell on site. It was only around two hours later when the margin rod burst into life. In fact two runs in quick succession brought a couple of mid-twenties to the bank and the close in rod was looking like a good decision. Little did I know what was in store!
After a quiet night it was all systems go the following morning with four fish coming quickly, two of them on the margin rod. It was easy to drop the bait back in while I got the rest of the swim back into some sort of order. After a few minutes I could hear a noise in the background and eventually it dawned on me that it was the close rod screaming off again! This one was stripping line easily and felt different to the others. I took my time and after quite a battle I saw a large common slide into the net. It was in fact the biggest fish from the Lake so far this year at 55¾lb! I was over the moon with that, especially coming on just the second full day of the trip. In reality it was just the start of a very good day with 10 fish landed and most of them coming to the little Dwarf rod.
Atilla remarked that he had seen people fish from that gap in the reeds before, but had never seen anyone drop the bait in the edge. It could have been that which made the difference, or it could have been just a case of the right place at the right time. Either way, it was far and away the most productive spot anywhere on the Lake. Things did slow down a little after that hectic day, but the fish kept coming. It was also noticeable that the bigger fish were coming on the close rod. We had spoken about targeting the larger fish in the Lake and to be honest we thought that they would come from the middle area, which just shows how every lake and every situation can be different.
One evening towards the end of the trip I was once again in action on the margin rod with a very strong fish that refused to give up. They all fought hard, but this one really gave it some! As it came to the net I saw a yellow glow in the water and it turned out to be a very impressive 41lb 6oz ghost mirror. The action continued right to the end with fish coming every day and most areas (including the long range spots) produced something, but luckily putting that rod in the margins had turned a good trip into a really great one.
When you arrive at a new venue it always helps to have some sort of plan in your head, but it also helps to keep an eye on what’s going on around you. That one chance sighting of a fish close in was all that was needed, and that is so often the case. It pays to be vigilant and to act on your instincts, and as we are always being told: don’t ignore the margins!