My Belgian PB
Long time carper Steve Spurgeon reflects on a recent trip to Belgium that saw him bank a stunning 35lb mirror.
Over the years I have been very lucky to have fished for and caught carp from a number of countries including Russia, Portugal, Spain, America and France, but I had yet to fish in Belgium. I am not sure why I hadn’t been, as Belgian carp are amongst the best lookers out there and, whilst the average size is nowhere near as high as in France, I have always wanted to fish over there. So when my colleague and friend Lewis Porter invited me to join him on a birthday adventure to Belgium, I immediately jumped at the chance. I joined Lewis and his mate Dave for the four-night road trip. Once we arrived in Belgium we met up with Fox Benelux consultant Chris De Clercq as well French consultant Jean Baptiste Morel for what would prove to be a thoroughly enjoyable and productive long weekend.
Over the four nights we fished on three different venues: two canals and one lake. Whilst I was very fortunate to catch from all three, it was on the 30-acre park lake where I really enjoyed my time and caught my biggest of the trip in the form of a stunning, dark old mirror of 35lb. I spent two days on the park lake and managed to bank eight carp including a scraper thirty common too. All of the fish fell to the same approach and a rig that I haven’t used a great deal in the UK before, but I can see it playing a bigger part in my fishing moving forward.
The rig I opted to use on the lake was an adaptation of the hinged stiff rig, which saw the stiff boom section replaced with a more supple coated braid. The reason for this was that I was fishing over a light covering of weed at around 70 yards range and needed to fish with tight lines and the clutch locked up due to nearby snags. This meant that a chod rig was out of the question as the tight line would have hindered the presentation. I had seen Lewis using the hinged rig on a long boom on the canal we had fished the pevious night and it made sense to look at something similar as it had a lot of benefits. Firstly I could use a lead clip so could eject the lead should the fish get snagged. Secondly I could fish with a tight line to the lead and not affect the presentation as the rig was on the other side of the lead. Finally the long boom would allow the hookbait to sit nicely on top of the weed, meaning I was fishing very effectively. Due to the weed I was fishing over I went for the Coretex Matt in Weedy Green colour and used a boom of around nine inches. The hook section was tied from super-stiff 30lb Rigidity with a size 5 Arma Point SR hook. Due to the hook-and-hold scenario I need super-strong end tackle that I knew wouldn’t let me down. I used a Submerge leader and lead clip with a 4oz lead to complete my setup.
Steve’s spod mix
- STEP 1: The base of Steve’s mix is Scorchin Seeds particle mix
- STEP 1: Next in goes a classic favourite, sweetcorn
- STEP 1: Crumbed Essential IB yellow boilies then go in
- STEP 1: Add some whole 15mm Essential IB boilies
- STEP 1: Finally add some whole and crumbed Hybrid boilies
- STEP 1: Give the whole lot a good stir and you are left with this highly attractive mix
I didn’t really go too mad experimenting with hookbaits as I got bites pretty quickly, so I just stuck to what worked: Hybrid pop-ups in both fluoro white and pink. I think these hi-viz pop-ups fished over the top of a really bitty spod mix works a treat, as the carp will be grubbing about, then clock the bright hookbait and almost speed up to snatch it before one of their mates gets to it, making them very easy to trip up.
I found great success by feeding on a little and often basis, almost like I would in a match situation. I dropped my rigs to the spots out of my baitboat along with a good helping of spod mix, and then put two to three spods out every 20 minutes or so to keep the fish competing. My mix was based around using a variety of ingredients to really get the carp grubbing about and feeding with confidence. The main base was particles in the form of the Scorchin Seed Mix, which includes hemp and tares plus some chilli flakes and really turns the carp on. To this I added sweetcorn, whole and crumbed Essential IB shelf-life boilies plus some whole and crumbed Hybrid boilies. This little lot really did prove to be a winner (I know Lewis used a pretty much identical mix to bank 12 fish to over 37lb in the two days as well). From memory, nearly all of our fish were crapping out the mix all over the unhooking mat so it was pretty obvious that those Belgian beauties really got a taste for it!