Shutdown Fishing: A spontaneous road trip through Germany

Shutdown Fishing: Ein spontaner Roadtrip durch Deutschland | Hammer Tackle

Brisk wind shakes me awake early in the morning. The stretched tarp gradually comes loose because the short pegs can hardly find a hold in the fine sediment of the sandbank. Through sleepy eyes, your gaze wanders over the rippling water and gradually becomes aware of the idyll of this oasis. While it had been pleasantly calm and cool during the night, the sun was already beating down mercilessly on the oxbow lake. At least the wind promises a little cooling.

Little by little I remember where I actually ended up. There are currently 700 kilometers between me and my home. In times past it was probably nothing out of the ordinary, but currently, in this unusual and confusing situation, it is not a trivial matter. Despite the difficulties, I set off towards East Germany a few days ago.

I had actually planned a larger tour through France and Holland this spring. My friend David Rosemeier had the same plan. However, it quickly became clear to both of us that such plans would be unlikely to be implemented in the near future. Feverishly searching for a solution, we came to the conclusion that only in Germany was it possible to at least partially implement what we had planned.

Some people may certainly criticize the decision to go on a road trip these days. I have to add, however, that I had a job as a photographer in Bavaria, which is why I set off partly for professional reasons. However, in my personal opinion it was by no means a crime. In fact, it had some amusing advantages, because I found our otherwise congested highways to be completely deserted.

Cold times on the canal

The Main-Danube Canal offered David and me a good starting point for the venture. This canal stretches for many kilometers through Bavaria, interrupted by numerous locks, and has a very good fish population across the board. Luckily we managed to get fishing licenses through a good friend. However, the following days presented us with many fishing challenges. On our first night of fishing the temperatures dropped well below freezing. In addition, we were at the end of the lock stop, which meant that the inhabitants of the canal behaved largely lethargically due to the lack of water movement and almost completely stopped eating. Only the blazing sun made me suspect that I would find fish in shallower turning pools. The difficult conditions were also joined by numerous anglers on the banks of the canal. Something strange for me, as I come from an area with plenty of fishing waters. The opposite was the case here: the area has only a few really interesting fishing areas and is home to an extremely large number of carp anglers.

In order to avoid the high fishing pressure, the only option was to present individual hookbaits where only very few people would throw them was the motto.

For the following two days and until the end of the shipping ban, this assumption proved to be correct. Although the majority of the currently active anglers returned home with dry landing nets, we managed to catch at least a few smaller carp.

Everything changed dramatically when the canal was once again plowed through by heavily laden container ships. It was immediately clear that the carp's behavior would also change. In addition, the temperatures rose to almost 20 degrees this weekend, with brisk winds. With wise foresight, we drove to a completely different part of the canal to fish a large area in front of a lock.

In fact, the water became increasingly cloudy with each passing hour. So it's no surprise that the first action didn't take too long to arrive. It was amazing to see how bites came more and more frequently on the second day under constant conditions and how the first 30-pointer also got in.

Of course, my single-hookbait strategy had no prospects in the muddy waters. So I began to carefully feed some areas at a distance that I could just reach with the spomb. Chunks of dough, canned corn and halved boilies served their purpose excellently in these situations. Nevertheless, it seemed as if the carp were still eating very cautiously, as each fish was extremely tight. I attributed it to the still very cold water and fishing pressure. So from then on I fished on fine rigs with extremely sharpened hooks. It was a bit risky, because the bottom of the canal is literally paved with junk such as bicycles, shopping carts and other things. Unfortunately, I couldn't avoid a few slip-ups, but that didn't particularly bother me. In fact, I was happy about the constant action, because otherwise there still wasn't much caught. As rapid as the activity had come, dead silence suddenly returned. Apparently I had completely smoked out the area around the lock.

I had experienced situations like this several times on my travels. It often makes sense to persevere in frustration. But I can only recommend that everyone use this as a good opportunity to set off and visit other places. It gives me the greatest satisfaction to have been to as many places as possible and to have always made the best of the given situation.

So, very spontaneously, I arranged to meet my best friend in Leipzig. With the trip to Leipzig, the meeting with David turned into a road trip. The evening before I had thought about going back home. But it is precisely such unexpected twists and turns that provide one of the greatest feelings of freedom in travel.

So I'm lying here on a sandbank on the Elbe and reflecting on the past few hours. Last lunchtime I drove my Opel towards the Elbe region. We explored at least a small part of East Germany on deserted country roads. With the sun getting lower, we came to this oxbow river of the Elbe, only accessible via a few barely passable dirt roads. Lined with old pastures, sand banks and washed-up trees, the waters of the Elbe lay before us in paradise. A few geese chattered in the reddish evening light, otherwise we were in absolute silence and seclusion. In the light of the last rays of the sun I kept seeing bream rolling. Apparently they gathered in the shallow oxbow lake to spawn. Would the carp join us here, as they often do? I carefully placed individual pop-ups and only fed a few boilies afterwards. If there's one thing I've learned from the many sessions while traveling, it's that I can now rely on my intuition and a keen eye. Should I be lucky enough to actually catch my first carp?

As the sun went down, we put up our tarp on the sandbank and spread out sleeping mats and sleeping bags. As I climbed the embankment to get something out of the car, a huge blood moon suddenly floated in front of me. It rose big and bright on the horizon like a burning ball. We stood there in amazement, petrified, unable to tear ourselves away from the magical phenomenon. As we watched the rare spectacle in detail, the evening coolness crept under our jackets. We built a fire out of driftwood, drank a chilled beer and chatted long into the night. Our quiet conversations were accompanied by the ever-rising full moon, which now bathed the scenery in its cold, clear light.

In the early hours of the morning I found myself on the bank with my rod bent. Barefoot, I tried to follow the angry fighter. But I quickly gave up because the countless mussel shells made rushing along an unbearable torture. A few minutes and a few quick escapes later, my first Elbeschuppi rolled around in the sling. Without my landing net, which had been stolen from me in the urban area by the canal, I had to use skill and improvisation.

As I admired the flawless scale, I noticed that the line on the second rod was pointing in a completely different direction than it originally was. My suspicions were confirmed: I, a snoring nose, had forgotten to turn on the bite alarm. I followed the line for over a hundred meters towards the main stream until I found it caught in a root. Half swimming, half diving, I pulled out the root and freed the cord. Sure enough, I sensed a carp at the other end. The rest of the fight went smoothly and I was really happy about my second Elbkarp.

Before it got too hot, we decided to say goodbye to this oasis and move on. After a short stop in Dresden, where I said goodbye to my friend, I made my way back. Although it was definitely a detour, I couldn't resist paying a quick visit to my buddy Felix. Over time we had become close friends, largely due to our shared enthusiasm for fishing for anything that had fins.

On the last evening, warm rays of sunshine fell through the willows that lined the banks of the meandering river. Butterflies fluttered through the mild evening air, mosquitoes buzzed around us and from time to time weighty chub and carp broke through the surface of the water. Everything around us was peaceful and quiet, only when the bite alarms sounded did our pulse increase a little. There was nothing to indicate the hectic course of world events at the same time. In the meantime I had forgotten what rhythms prevail in everyday life. With the setting sun came tiredness, with every sunrise I and the nature around me woke up.

Inspiring conversations and encounters with people often take me further than many weeks in the daily grind. Travel, with its unexpected turns and events, feels more enriching in retrospect than some turbulent times at home. Setting out on a journey free of expectations and fixed ideas, constantly finding your way in different situations and chasing the unknown - that is the freedom in fishing that inspires me and which I have learned to appreciate so much in recent years .

Jacob Mehltretter

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