The Battle with the Common in the Raging Storm!

Jake Hobbs Jake recalls a heartstopping battle with a large Italian common carp…..


Yesterday flew by and by late afternoon I had done most of my planned work. I had gone out to my distant bottle marker and placed two more to its right, to create a line about 50m long. The three rods were to be placed in front of each and the depth was around the 12m mark. I then fed along and around the line with 15kg of Halibut pellet and 15kg of Mussel and Shellfish and bright orange Tutti Frutti boilies. A couple of days ago I put the same amount of bait in, around and to the left, of my original 450m marker, and it obviously worked in getting the fish down and feeding. The reason incidentally I have now gone to the right hand side with my new markers, is so my friend can stick a rod out there too, if his spots fail to produce, and he can therefore put a rod to the left of my original marker.

With everything looking good, and the bait put in, I then dropped the rod in position that I had with me in the boat. This was put 10m in front of the middle marker, and the bottom, not surprisingly, felt soft as my rock lead touched down. I don’t have a problem fishing in soft lake beds, and with a bright pop-up – how could it fail! Youmay notice I mentioned rock leads. I have now made up some large rocks to be used as lead weight substitutes as these work better at range when fishing in soft bottoms; not only do they get a better hook hold, they enable a very tight line, and you can be sure they will release after a take!
I now just had one rod to put out so I returned to shore and returned with my made up rod.

The earlier carp I had lost, when the lead did not release, was dropped back in position immediately after the loss. I had dropped it back down with an 8oz lead as I hadn’t made up the rocks yet, so I now wanted to replace the lead for a rock. As I went out with the final rod to drop, I also went in the direction of the rod that needed some swap-work doing to it, so I let this rods braid, run through my fingers, till I got to its drop position. I then lifted up the rig from the bottom, swapped the lead for a rock, replaced the hook, put on a fresh bait, and then lowered it carefully back into position. This is another trick you can do, when fishing at long-range, and it saves having to reel in or go out with the rod to undertake a task you can do with a little clever thinking.

I dropped the final rod in front of the far right hand side marker and then whacked on my motor to return to shore – nothing happened! My duff motor had packed up again and I was now faced with rowing back 450m in a slight crosswind that had just picked up. By the time I got back to shore I had a big bow in the line and the braid had now got caught on an underwater obstacle to my right about 100 yards out (probably a branch). I would now have to redo this rod, but first I needed to repair or try to repair the motor. I took the wretched thing apart and fortunately I managed to fathom out what the problem was. As I was putting it back together, I noticed the lake’s Tourist boat was doing its rounds. This cumbersome boat, now tends to stay away from the edges of the lake, as its driver had a reputation for destroying carp anglers lines, pods, and rods in the past. I watched as it chugged past and suddenly my right hand rod, that I needed to redo, took on an alarming bend, then suddenly dropped back. The boat’s undercarriage had caught my braid but fortunately it had sprung free.

I decided to attempt to reel in this rod to prevent any further mishaps. From 450m, and with a rock on the other end, it took a while, and eventually it got caught on the branch to my right. I rowed out and freed everything and returned to the swim. At that moment dark clouds moved in and specks of rain dropped from the skies – we were in for a storm!

I put the motor back on my boat and decided I would wait till the storm passed before going back out to redrop the final rod – again! The rain progressively got harder and the winds picked up a little. Claps of thunder made us both jump, and flashes of lightning raced through the darkened skies. This was a typical Italian, out of the blue, thunder-storm, and I have experienced plenty of them this year. They are actually quite fun when you have a good bivvy and you know you are protected and after the heat of the last few weeks it was quite refreshing anyway. I was watching from my porch, when suddenly my middle rod signalled a take. Excellent!

Getting a take in the middle of a thunder and lightning storm is never the best news. The take is obviously a good thing, but you are suddenly faced with this dilemma; boat or play from the bank? I remember talking to Tim Paisley last year about exactly the same subject and comparing it to the Orient. When do you decide it is unsafe and do you really want to die for a carp!! Tim replied with “Well, if you have been waiting three weeks for take, then I guess you go out in the boat!” You have gotta love Tim!

I started to play the carp from the bank and surveyed the situation. The lake wasn’t actually too choppy, the rain was just pelting it down, and there were some fairly strong cross winds coming from my left. The lightning was my main concern as I would be waving a carbon rod around, like a wand, and combined with my carbon landing net handle, I was going to be a good conductor! I was trying to gauge the size of the fish, and as it wasn’t really doing much I figured it was probably a good fish. “Sod it,” I thought. “If I die at least they will say he died doing something he loved!”

My friend threw me my life jacket, and I handed him the made up rod that was ready to go in my inflatable. I walked out with the boat and clambered in, my friend wished me good luck, laughed, and ran back to the cover of his bivvy. “Cheers,” I laughed back.

With my motor on full power I set off. I crouched down as low as possible and kneeled on my unhooking mat whilst reeling in as the boat plodded on. Every now and then the fish pulled hard, to a point where I should have given line, but I was getting soaked, I was expecting to get struck by lightning, so this fish was getting nothing. I was now about 400 metres away from the bank when I suddenly caught a glimpse of my braid cutting through the water to my left. I cut the motor to half to keep up with the carp. I was still half expecting to see a small common bobbing around on the surface but was relieved when this fish suddenly felt heavy and pulled hard. I was now in for a battle in the middle of the storm and only one of us would win. Every so often I caught a glimpse of a dark shape in the swell, but it would then dive back down and have another go. I knew netting the fish was going to be tricky and I didn’t want to mess it up after all the risk. The fish began to slowly tire but still had a little more energy in reserve. It was now just gliding slowly under the surface and precariously rolling in the chop. All the time my SK4 had a healthy bend as I held on for dear life and despite the terrible conditions, I did feel in control of the situation (that’s a terrible lie)!

Finally the carp came up and expelled a big sigh of defeat. I was still unsure of the type of species until I saw this long common bobbing from left to right. I reached out the net and half the fish was in and half was hanging over the net cord. “I wish I had longer arms,” I thought! I dropped my rod in the boat and grabbed the net, I heaved forwards with both hands and luck was on my side, the carp flopped forwards and was mine! I did let out a war cry… but I doubt anyone heard me!

I now had to get back to shore. I lifted the carp into the boat, which took two attempts, and secured it in my Armo mat. I dropped the motor on full, but I was now in the brunt of the storm. The wind had picked up and the rain was hitting me like bullets. I rowed as hard as I could and finally I hit the shoreline about 200 metres away from my swim. I had made it, I had my fish, I was still alive – boy, was I relieved!

My friend, who had been sheltering in his bivvy, and occasionally looking out to try to check I was still afloat, now couldn’t see me anywhere! Where was I? Apparently he presumed I had capsized, and was starting to panic; when I suddenly appeared with my boat to his right. I had walked up the rocky shoreline in the margins with my boat and now I was safely back. “I thought you had drowned,” he shouted! I lifted the carp from the boat and placed it in the water. I estimated 18kg and slipped it inside my Armo weigh sling. I found a good spot and secured it, so the fish could recover a little. I had been wearing only shorts the whole time and I was actually shivering from the cold. I dried myself off and put on my shell jacket. I looked at the rain; it didn’t look like it was going to stop, so I told my friend that we would do the pictures immediately, with him taking them from the porch of his bivvy. I weighed the fish and 17.8kg or 39lb 4oz was the recorded weight. This is actually my third largest carp during my Italian trip…hard to believe really with all the carp I have banked, but then it makes each capture more significant and more memorable. This is not France after all!

With the photos done I returned the carp. I held him in the water for a full five minutes till he was absolutely ready to go. He had probably had quite an ordeal too, and it was my responsibility to ensure he also came through it in one piece. Satisfied he was strong again, I watched as he slowly glided away with his pectorals fanning by his side. Thanks for the fight – it was an experience I won’t ever forget!

The storm continued for a further two hours. It got dark, I cooked some food, and we both listened to the World Cup on ESPN radio. I was waiting for the weather to improve so I could get the other two rods back in position. Finally at 11pm the winds subsided and the storm seemed to shift into the next valley. I quickly emptied the copious amounts of water from my boat, put a guide light on my rod pod, and off I went to drop the rods. Fortunately the little wind that remained, was blowing in the direction of my swim, so it meant returning, in the all important straight line, was easily achievable, even in the cover of darkness. Having reflective tape on your markers also helps greatly meaning you can find them quickly with a good head torch. Thirty minutes later I was all done, and that was that for the night. I needed some sleep, I was rather chuffed with my earlier capture, and hopefully more action would arrive in the morning.

Nothing happened this morning, probably as a result of the change in weather; I actually suspect the fish may have gone on the move last night following the winds, but with more forecast heat, I am confident they will return to the deep spot soon.

Have you got the sense for an angling holiday with adventure included – go to www.anging for details of French commercial lakes and fishing in Thailand and Spain.

Catch you all later, Jake and the dogs.


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