Keep On Striving
Jay Cater finds his efforts are rewarded in Hungary.
A year ago we booked a two-week trip to Hungary’s legendary Euro Aqua, and at times it seemed as if it would never arrive. We had a Facebook group running, so the anticipation was building until the day finally came.
Plans were made to meet at the Folkestone tunnel for 7am and 12 hours later we were having a few beers at our hotel. It was another four hours the following day before we reached Tapolca, a little town close to the lake. We stayed the night there and made our way to the water bright and early on the Monday morning. Our swims were already chosen, with Merv Pennell and I in Zirclin’s Point. We were both buzzing and we knew we would not have a better chance of bagging a big ‘un. It was cold, so cold in fact that when owner Alex Horvath greeted us he revealed the temperature had dropped six degrees overnight and the water was cooling fast.
We had a feeling about where we wanted to be fishing and, with the help of the boat, we had our marker poles in position. It really does help on these trips to get as much information on the swims as you possibly can and we were lucky to have been given plenty. A big thank you to those who shared their knowledge – they know who they are! The first casts were made and the atmosphere was electric. The lake holds the world record at over 104lb and the feeling that you are fishing for a carp that big is unreal.
It didn’t take long for Merv to get a bite, but a stunning 20lb-plus koi was not what we’d expected. Still, the bites kept coming and before breakfast the following day we had caught a good few fish to mid-thirties. The bigger fish just weren’t in the swim, but we knew that all we had to do was keep going and wade through them. I had a take on my rods, and the fish stayed deep and wasn’t happy about me pulling it towards the bank, but I finally took control and landed our first biggie, a good-looking carp of 50lb on the nose. The pictures were done and she went back nice and strong.
Merv was due to fly home for a meeting, but just before he left he banked a lovely 30lb mirror. So it was just me in the swim for 48 hours. I had already planned on keeping Merv’s area topped up with bait and both morning and mid-afternoon saw me in the boat putting a fair amount of crushed boilies on the spots. I was glugging the bait in DNA Baits’ Hydro Wheat and I also had a bottle filled with the liquid, which I pierced and placed next to the marker pole, fixed in place with wire.
Not long after Merv left I had a slow take, and this fish fought like no other. I’ve never felt power like it and if it had got away I would have sworn it was a catfish. It didn’t get away, and when it finally hit the surface I saw it was a good common. It really did not want to come in and found every possible reed or obstacle it could to try to evade capture. A size 4 Chod was my hook of choice, with my ever-faithful multi-combi-rig fished snowman-style. The setup held strong and the fish was soon sliding over the cord and into the net. I let out a big cheer, as I knew it was a good one! It went 65lb, my personal best common, so as you can imagine I was made up. I kept catching after that, but the fish were mostly under 30lb.
Upon Merv’s return he was straight into the fish and we were both catching well, but I was struggling to get into the bigger stamp of carp. Merv was having a ball though, and by Thursday had caught a few sixties. The two weeks were disappearing fast and when Merv had another good run of big fish my hopes were raised that we had a shoal of big ’uns feeding. He topped his run off with an amazing carp of just over 80lb, a new personal best. Job done – that’s what we’d gone for!
Friday night was party night in the clubhouse. Schnapps is not your friend at Euro Aqua, but Alex loves it! We had a great night and I was asleep before I knew it, but Merv had his share of fish through the night, with fish of 61lb and a 45lb.
Nothing came to my rods that day, and I was into my final night before the long drive home. I have to admit I was a little deflated. I had worked my backside off for 13 days, fishing hard 24/7. The carbon RidgeMonkey throwing stick had taken a hammering as I was fishing at 135 yards, but it sent the bait out there no problem at all.
My mum had passed away a year earlier, and that night I looked up and asked her to have a little word with the carp gods. Well, just as the sun was rising, I had a bite on my long rod. I knew instantly it was not small – you can just tell the difference from a head shake. The fish stayed deep and swam slowly, right to left, and I couldn’t make an inch on it. I just had to let it do what it wanted, but eventually it started to come closer. By then my legs were shaking because I just had a feeling it was a lump. The light wasn’t great and it was misty over the lake, but I guided the fish between the other lines with a bit of effort. The moment the fish broke the surface took my breath away, but it wasn’t done yet. At Euro Aqua you fish from a platform and this fish was smart, swimming under the staging three times. It was all I could do to stand there and wait; holding on and praying. What felt like a lifetime was probably 10 minutes before it finally came out and Merv scooped it up first time.
I was jumping around the swim like a kid, while Merv was playing it down, saying, “Fifty, maybe sixty”, but I knew it was much bigger than that! It took both of us to lift it into the retainer and the needle settled at 86lb 6oz. I let out the biggest cheer ever, and everyone knew then that I’d caught a great fish! Five minutes later she was safely retained and we were waiting for Alex to make his way around when Merv had another take, a 67lb fish gracing the net. Videos taken, photos done and I could not stop smiling. I had all my mates there to witness it and I stayed in the water until the fish powered off. The trip could not have ended better if I’d written the script myself.
Never settle and keep on striving – that’s my motto. I’m now on the hunt for a 40kg carp!