A Stroke Of Luck
Mirko Schulze catches one of Germany’s biggest carp...
I close the door behind me, in one hand my food for the next days and in the other the car keys. I squeeze the food bag into the tiny space that I saved in the car and head for the autobahn, radio on – my time out starts now!
Taking advantage of no speed limit, I drive towards my destination, each kilometre bringing me closer. Somebody behind me seems to be in an even greater hurry; if he could take a short cut through my boot he probably would. For a split second I wish I was Chuck Norris and daydream about somersaulting right on to the bonnet of his car to see who really is in the greater rush here. But I am not Chuck Norris, just Mirko Schulze, and remembering where I will be in just a little while quickly brings me and my nerves back to reality. I forget about the pushy idiot and carry on. Only a few more kilometres.
The weather report forecasted a mixed bag; a bit of sun, some cloud and the occasional shower with a westerly breeze – perfect!
I arrive at the lake and the usual unpacking, lifting and shifting begins. I have been fishing here for a few years now and you could probably call it my local. It measures over 80 hectares and offers over 19km of bank. It is beautiful, but it can make choosing your spot a bit tricky. There are endless possibilities here with some very weedy spots and also plenty of underwater gravel features, but those become more interesting later in the year when the warmer surface water mixes with the deeper water.
At this time of the year (May) most fish are found around the edges looking for food; closer to the bank the water warms up quicker and has much more to offer them. Several spots have proved to be very promising since the beginning of April, and many carp have fallen to my rods, but mostly they have been on the small side. The really big ones are definitely in the minority here. Catching them requires a lot of luck, whereas the smaller ones, of which there are plenty, are much easier to trick. They show up rather quickly at the feeding grounds, clearing it out before the bigger old guys arrive there! I’ve witnessed the same pattern here before, with the bigger ones keeping to themselves. They are almost loners and you only very rarely see them swimming in groups. I assume that they don’t tolerate any competition from smaller companions, and make sure that they feed undisturbed.
The spots where the bigger ones can be seen are very often neither spectacular or obvious. Small, flat bays, very steep banks, and also very long and straight featureless areas. If you have time and a bit of luck they can easily be spotted and targeted, but back to this particular trip...
My plan is to stay for four days. The first day I will be on my own, but my friend Heinz will join me on day two. Heinz has decided to keep growing his rather impressive beard until he catches his first 20kg fish of 2015! It’s a tricky one for me, as obviously I would love my friend to catch his first one of the year; on the other hand I really enjoy the thought of him transforming into the next member of ZZ Top!
I choose my spot this time for several reasons; it’s not too obvious, not a lot of traffic, quiet and away from the spawning areas. The water still isn’t very clear, so I can forget about visually locating the fish. I have to trust my instincts – and obviously a portion of luck.
I decide on two spots that I cannot reach from the bank, so I use the baitboat. I drop one at a steep bank with a few huge rocks on the bottom, and the other on a much flatter area with a gravel bottom that, provided the sun makes an appearance, should be perfect. On the spot with the rocks I use some tiger nuts with Intense Hemp and Sweet Nut Cloud Spod Mix, and on the gravelly spot just a few Equinox boilies.
With everything in place I can rest and watch my surroundings through the door of my Titan. The wonderful carefree feeling of freedom and contentment sets in and for a moment the world is just right. This is one of the reasons why I love this so much. I relax and doze a bit, but soon my stomach rudely interrupts the bliss and I start to prepare some food. A few sausages in the pan and some potato salad, one of my staples at the water; simple yet extremely delicious! Full, happy and relaxed, I stretch out on my bedchair and soon fall asleep.
My right bite alarm makes the occasional tiny noise, whilst the left one keeps quiet, so I sleep through pretty much most of the first night. I leave both presentations on the spots until midday then rearrange them. At around 4pm Heinz shows up. I’m really happy to see him as we have not fished together for over a year, so we have a lot of catching up to do.
Heinz places one rod close to the bank to his left and one to a sandbank in 5.8m depth. The second night closes in and isn’t much different to the first. At 8am, however, one of Heinz’ rods, the one close to the bank, kicks off. Right away the fish applies loads of pressure, which turns out to be the issue. It just keeps going and going, turning left around a corner in the bank, and eventually the line gets caught on something. Heinz quickly strips, jumps in, and I hear a massive gasp – I guess 17°C still feels pretty cold! The next thing I hear is mainly cursing. The line has snapped and I can see the disappointment on his face when he comes back to the bank. Massive excitement and disappointment only seconds apart – welcome to the world of fishing.
The third night approaches. We both stick to our tactics, only I stop feeding tiger nuts on the left and change completely to Equinox boilies. I pull a bottom bait on to the hair and a pop-up from the new Hellraiser range with some added Green Zing flavouring. Heinz and I chat into the night, always coming back to the subject of that lost fish, wondering and speculating. Eventually we get into our sleeping bags and call it a night.
I’m awoken at about 7am by Heinz, pointing at my left bite alarm. Something is most definitely amiss, but what is it? Did I miss a bite? Heinz picks up my left rod and starts reeling in. Now I can see how much my line is pointing to the right. I quickly climb out of my sleeping bag and take the rod from Heinz. The next 10 minutes are quite unbelievable! I keep on reeling, at times not even sure if there is anything at the end of the line. After several metres it completely changes direction. My braided line goes further and further to the left and I drag in a massive bundle of weed that has become caught in the line out of the water. Metre after metre, I keep on reeling line in until it is running almost parallel to the bank. Then the absolute nightmare: I’m left standing on the bank with an arrow-straight rod. The line has snapped... How is that possible? Why now? It must have caught somewhere, maybe those massive rocks.
Luckily Heinz is incredibly switched on and intuitively grabs one of his rods and casts it across my snapped line. We are incredibly lucky and he is able to catch my line with his first try. I immediately wade into the water and grab the end of my line. I instantly notice something on the other end. There is definitely a fish still attached and it’s becoming more active. I have to soften the lunges as much as I can – I just know it is big, very big! Heinz passes me the landing net and with a massive effort I manage to net a massive common – it isn’t going anywhere for now! Wow, it could have easily gone either way, especially after Heinz’ experience... I am over the moon. I get up and give my good friend a massive hug. The scales rest at exactly 37kg (81lb 9oz), and I let out a massive scream across the lake – a mix of extreme joy, excitement and relief.
The last night approaches. We double check our equipment and then check it again. Rigs are retied and baits rearranged. Eventually, we have a well-deserved beer and call it a night, which turns out to be uneventful once more. Around midday we pack up and say our goodbyes. On my way home my thoughts keep going back to how sometimes things just fall into place. My tactics proved right, but I had a great friend at my side and a huge portion of luck too. It’s a good feeling, a mix of pride, happiness and appreciation as I return home.