So, we left the Austrian adventure with me trying to stalk an Austrian lump from the margins of a beautiful lake in the mountains of southern Austria, even though stalking was not allowed!
I grabbed a landing net and ran back to the spot, it was only a 50 yard walk/run and my heart was pounding as I crept back towards the spot. I peered over just as a couple of fish drifted into view followed by a third smaller one. the leader of the pack was a bit of a unit, a deep bodied mirror with hardly and scales. The water was crystal clear and I watched for as long as I dare, not wanting to alert the fish to my presence. It had only been 30 secs or so but I sat back down next to the rod, batting the mozi's away as the buzzed around my head looking for a free lunch.
It must of only been a minute before the line twitched once and the rod hooped over! I only had 8 foot of line between the spot and the rod tip so the bite was about as aggressive as you will ever see, I grabbed the rod and a great big mirror wallowed 6ft below me, after a few plods I lifted the rod and the fish hit the surface, I went for it and sunk the net under the fish and heaved! She went in first time and the water erupted as the realised I had won the battle!
Thomas came bounding down the path after hearing the commotion, I can't remember if I shouted to him or not but he was laughing as I pointed to the net and said 'see, it's easy!'
We both had a chuckle and I guarded the fish as he fetched the cradle, sling and scales. We sorted the fish out and being barbless hooks I was able to unhook her in the net with relative ease, we soaked the cradle and took some photos first, its much easier to take pics first, then weigh the fish as the fish is then in the sling ready to be put back into the water. If you do it the other way around and weigh the fish, then take pics, you have to put the fish back into the sling after photos. If you do it my way, the fish is already in the sling and its much less stressful for the fish, something to think about maybe.
With the pics done we hoisted the fish onto the scales, I waited with baited breath as Thomas read out the weight '20...... 20..... no 19 kilos exactly!' the europeans use kilos and not pounds so I figured out that 19 kilos was almost 42 pounds! What a result, first day and a 42 stalked from the edge!
We let the fish go and she swam off strongly, none the worse for her ordeal, we gathered the kit and snuck back to the swim. Hid the stalking rod away and I flicked the kettle on for a well earned cuppa for us both. We sat and chatted for a bit, it was all very relaxing and Thomas was great company. He lived an unusual life and basically lived in a camper van and travelled around Europe fishing and finding odd jobs where ever he goes to pay for his fuel and food, as a Nash angler he has all the bait and tackle he will ever need and he was a very accomplished angler having caught carp to well over 70lbs.
We decided to get two rods out each to the point in front of us, having baited it the night before. I whacked a lead out without a rig to gain an idea of how far it was and I fell well short, I wound it back in and gave it full beans! BANG! Out it went and the lead landed on the bank! Bloody hell, I put the rod in the rest and was about to go and retrieve my lead and leader when Thomas stopped me in my tracks 'what are you doing?' he said. 'Take your rig and some bait with you!'
What a great idea, I could go and retrieve my lead from the bushes, Thomas was going to tighten up to the lead in my hand and then I could lower it into the margins surrounded by a handful or two of bait, genius! I legged it round with a bucket of bait and in the bucket was a rig, spare lead and leader set up just in case. I reached the point and there was my lead and leader dangling from a tree, I quickly retrieved it and Thomas slowly tightened up to the lead, I attached the rig and with a quick thumb up, I dropped the rig into the margins which by now were clouded up, no doubt from the carp feeding on the bait from last night. I threw in a few handfuls of bait and went back to the swim. We repeated the process for Thomas so he could have a rod over on the hot spot as well, my right hand rod was cast into the bay to our right, I catapulted out 100 baits around the rig and sat back.
By now it was the afternoon and Arno popped into the swim for chat, it was quiet up the other end of the lake and nobody had caught, I grinned and showed Arno the pics of the 41 from earlier, he laughed and gave me a slap on the back he was as chuffed as I was, especially when he found out it was stalked from the edge, he pulled up the guest chair and I made him a coffee, he then went on to explain a few things about Austrian angling. He explained that as a whole, Austrian anglers like to fish as far out into the lake as possible, bait heavily and wait, that's the way they like to do things and that stalking was a ludicrous idea that will never work, of course that mentality is a generalisation and there are anglers that fish more a more conventional style but it prepared me for the Show Weekend starting tomorrow.
Thomas was the only one to catch that afternoon, an upper 20 from the point spot. I had really expected it to kick off over there but I couldn't help think we were doing something wrong? The rigs were good, the bait was good, we were on a good spot and the rigs were presented well? It was baffling but we went to bed that night full of hope!
Simple but effective snowman rigs, size 4 Twister hook.
The show was due to start at 10am so we were up early and went for breakfast to allow us to be back in the swim for 9am to prepare. Each of the swims had a particular subject to focus on for the show and ours was rigs and rig making. Simon was looking after the bait side of things and Andy was helping with the casting demos to our left. Thomas and I set up a big trestle table with benches round it for everyone to sit on and we could talk all things rig related, Thomas was going to translate if needed and I went to the van, grabbed the box of rig bits and set about making it all look pretty and inviting, We would leave the rods out and anyone in the swim at the time was allowed to take the rod should we get a take. By 10am anglers, families and passers by came trickling down to us, we went through a few of the basic rigs, how to tie them and when to use them. It quickly turned into a bit of a bait demo as well, the purple monster squid was met with a great response and by now we had well over 50 people in our swim! It was great chatting to the Austrian anglers and their families, lots of kids came through and we gave them rigs we had tied and gave them packets of hooks, hook link materials etc to take away as presents, which they loved.
Throughout the day we even caught a few fish, Arno was making a video for the you tube channel so I didn't get any pics but I will leave a link to the video at the end of this piece.
That night we chose not to fish, we baited the point spot heavily and went for a bite to eat at the clubhouse. We had pork schnitzels, creamy potatoes and veg it was lovely and with full bellies we retired for the night ready to do it all again tomorrow! We awoke and I put the rods out ready for the 10am start. Again the crowds descended and it was mental busy but great fun, again we caught a few carp for the people who had come to see us and I even managed to bag a proper lump of 47lb but watch the video its all on there! Nash Austria Show Villach you can even see me getting a shower as my reward for catching a biggun!
With the show weekend done and dusted we packed away all the kit that was on display and we dished out the remaining bait to the Nash Austrian anglers as a thank you, they all left with over 10kg each and loads of pop ups, dips, glugs etc. Arno came round to say goodbye and thank you and we all posed for a quick team photo, we now had the lake to ourselves for the rest of the week so Mon to Fri with just us on the lake! Up until now we had caught a few, but when Thomas and the rest of the lads left we knew our chances of a big hit would go through the roof. Simon joined me and we had a rod on the point spot each. Thomas and I had all 4 rods over to the point area but I felt this was too many so Simon and I just had two positioned either side. Another change we made was to cast the rigs onto the spot rather than walking round and dropping them in the edge, I felt that all that disturbance on the far bank was spooking the fish out the area, only time would tell!
That night we went for a curry at the local Indian and with full bellies ye we took the opportunity to restock supplies at the supermarket too, we got back to the lake well into dark and we left the rods in and crashed out.
I was up at first light and out went the rods, it was 140 yards to the point and we were fishing 5 yards down the side of it, this was the max of my casting ability and I was firing leads all over the place in an attempt to drop it right on the money, finally I had a rod sorted and Simon did the same, I walked round and let them have it! 10kg over each spot, it was a big gamble but I just had a feeling they were hungry, how right I was!
I won't bore you with the details but I landed well over 20 fish in the 4 days that remained, it was an amazing trip and with carp to over 47lbs and plenty of them, I was made up! The more bait we put in the more we caught, I dread to think how much bait we got through in the 4 days but it must have been 60kg plus, we didn't go home with any, lets put it that way!
We packed down on the Friday and loaded our gear into the van ready for the gruelling return journey. We were shattered, smelly and ready for home but what a journey it had been!
Until next time...... tight lines.