Guido Richard: The big dream

Guido Richard: Der große Traum | Hammer Tackle

The story begins in May 2019. I returned to France from a full year of fly fishing in New Zealand. And I was excited to go carp fishing again! But neither the canal nor the usual small reservoirs in my region turned me on. I had simply fished there too many times and the appeal was gone.

I was really excited about a large body of water where I had already spent many days and done a lot of blanking. Because I spent a lot of time on this body of water with my spinning rod, I had a good plan as to where I could find the fish in spring. My focus was mainly on a huge arm with around 150 hectares and lots of shallow water areas and weeds. I fished various areas throughout April, always looking for carp by boat or on foot, but unfortunately caught and saw nothing until the end of April.

It was a warm afternoon, the north wind had calmed down for a few days and the water had already gotten almost seven degrees warmer since my last visit the week before. The predatory season was over again, so I left the carp rods in the car and fished the edges of the large shallow water areas for pike from the boat. At the same time I was able to look for carp.

Whitefish and bream in shallow water: The carp couldn't be far. In fact, a little later I saw three small fish among the bream. But I continued on, drifting slowly along the edge and continuing to fish for pike. The water suddenly became much murkier and it didn't take long until I saw a carp jumping. I approached the spot and suddenly saw a school of 20-30 fish. Almost all of them were larger fish and they were eating! I had found her and was in a feeding mood. I drifted away slowly and discreetly at first and then quickly drove towards the boat ramp and car. I was so sure it wouldn't be long before I could catch the first one.

When I got to the car, however, everything looked completely different. The window was smashed, all my carp equipment and a lot of other things were gone! The W%$ers even stole a bucket of corn, the camera and my second predator rod. At least I had the good depth sounder mounted on the boat. I quickly went to the police, even though it was already clear to me that they couldn't do anything about something like that. But at least I had proof and maybe could get some reimbursement from my cheap insurance.

But I was also annoyed because of the fish I had seen. And so, thanks to all my nice fishing buddies, it only took five days until I was equipped with basic equipment and could go fishing again. I immediately drove back to the place. But everything was completely different, the warm weather was gone, the cold north wind was back and it was raining non-stop. Of course the fish were no longer there. I still tried it two nights in slightly deeper water and caught nothing except two bream. I continued trying there throughout May, even though the water didn't get any warmer due to northerly winds and rain. But I was still so angry that I had missed the fish and that everything had been stolen from me that I wanted to fight through it. At the end of May I gave up. I felt empty, disappointed and turned back to easier waters.

When I thought back on that spring later, I had just been stupid. I had forgotten the most important thing about carp fishing – thinking logically. Of course there were no more fish there throughout May; after all, it had already become very warm this spring at the end of April when I saw the fish. And then it just stayed cold and wet until the end of May and everything was delayed this year. Even in the small canal the fish had only gathered at the end of May.

This all came back to me last winter; after another trip to New Zealand for a few months. The Corona hysteria had already broken out and the complete lockdown was not long in coming. We were locked up in France for the whole of March, April and the first week of May. We were only allowed to leave the house for one hour a day and then only for a valid reason such as shopping, going to the doctor or going to work. And that was strictly controlled. Everyone can imagine for themselves what that meant for an angler in the spring. I couldn't wait to get back to nature and fishing. It had been very warm in the first half of spring and I had no idea what it looked like out there.

On May 11th we were allowed to move freely again. And right then it was bitterly cold. Ice Saints! The depth sounder showed a water temperature of 13 degrees at the surface. I had to be patient a little longer until I could find the fish in the targeted area again. So I continued fishing for predatory fish all week. I had a lot of fun finally being on the water again. Ten days and a few pike later, the depth sounder shows the correct temperature. It was time to get started.

That same day I drove to the large shallow water area in the afternoon. In fact, I saw four small shad and lots of bream moving along the edge at a depth of just under a meter. I staggered my three rods on the sloping edge at one, two and three meters depth, hoping that the better fish would move along a little deeper.

I set up the rods on high banksticks about 80 meters from the bank. Only here did the 80 cm edge slowly fall away. Fishing from the bank would have been simply impossible because of the floating chew.

With the waders I could quickly run to the rods if I got a bite. Sure enough, at dawn, a constant sound pulled me out of my sleeping bag. After a sprint through the shallow water and a strong fight, a small scale landed in the landing net. With the first rays of sunshine I photographed the fish and happily packed up my stuff. I fed properly along the edge because I wanted to come back straight after the weekend.

On Sunday I was there again late in the afternoon. I brought my three rods with my waders to the edge and enjoyed the nice, warm evening atmosphere. When it got dark I caught a small mirror fish and then a bream every half hour! This continued until midnight and I was exhausted from running around in my waders. At some point when the bream were full, I finally found sleep.

It was dawn again when my radio box woke me up from my dreams. That definitely wasn't a bream! I ran through the water to the rod and when I picked it up it felt completely different. The fish swam calmly along the edge. Without using much line, it quickly came to the surface, splashed around a bit and slid into the net.

When I looked into the landing net, I could hardly believe my eyes...

There he was finally, the giant I had dreamed of for so long!

I quickly called my friend Laurent and asked him to come with a camera and scales. I wasn't entirely sure what I had in the sling, but I estimated the fish to be between 24 and 27 kilos. But when we weighed the fish together a little later, the scale turned out to be over 30 kilos! I was just shocked at what lay in front of me on the unhooking mat...

It was magical! The sun was shining in our faces and there was a mirror in front of us that was simply too big for the unhooking mat. Its proportions, the scars, huge fins and then this body of water. So big, so wild. I'm sure this fish has never seen a hook before.

All the hardships with stolen tackle, missed fish and all the unsuccessful nights in the previous years finally paid off.

I will remember all my life how that broad back swam away in the clear water. Goodbye forever!

I celebrated late into the night with the whole district and my closest fishing friends: Merguez, champagne and loud music. And the image of this mighty ridge kept appearing before my eyes.

It was the beginning of an incredible fishing year in which a lot was to happen...

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