Henry Lennon - Benelux Part 2
Posted on 20th December 2018 at 19:50
After the disappointment of the Netherlands carp-wise, I was hoping that my trip over the border into Belgium would be somewhat more successful. I had heard about a decent day ticket complex that held a few nice fish to 30kg, and with it being around 2 hours drive from my last Dutch location, it was the ideal venue to save my Benelux trip. A few texts were sent back and forth with the owners, and my place was secured – I was off to Het Kanaalke on the Gills and Scales complex near Leopoldsburg in East Belgium.
After a 5am alarm call for an early pack-up on the “Dark Common” water in Netherlands, I was on the road before the work traffic could slow down my trip. I shot across the border into Belgium and was soon pulling up at a beautiful set of lakes.
The owner welcomed me on arrival and told me that I could fish either of their two lakes, the easier lake with fish to 25kg (55lbs) (although this lake was no push-over and I was informed that I still needed to work for a bite), or the mega-hard lake with fish to over 30kg (66lbs). It was a tricky choice to make, but after my difficulties in Holland I decided to cash in and go for the easier lake. I am predominantly a big fish angler and would normally go for the lake with the bigger carp in, but with conditions still not looking ideal and my lack of carp thus far, I decided that I should fish the lake where I had the best chance of a bite.
Het Kanaalke 1 once supplied water for the cooling of machinery at a nearby mine but had been abandoned shortly after the Second World War. In the late 1980s, the owner’s family took over and transformed the lake into a carp fishery. The old pumphouse still remained, making for an awesome setting with the trees turning into their autumnal colours.
Depths ranged from 2ft to 12ft in places, with a fairly hard bottom all around. The margins were also full of lilies, and I was told that the best tactic was to drop a bait as close to the margin as possible between the gaps in the pads. With this in mind, I set about finding spots in the boat I was able to rent for my stay. I found some rock-solid areas in amongst the lilies, which were clearly holding areas for fish – I even spooked a few fish whilst in the boat.
I baited a selection of 6 areas with a mixture of Red Hot Bullet, Red Spice Fish, CalaFrutti and VNX in a variety of sizes, with pellet and corn added for extra-grubbing capabilities. I would rotate my 4 rods between these areas depending on action, fish shows etc. By about 4pm, I had all four rods in position and I could settle back and enjoy my beautiful surroundings.
Morning came and went, and I still had no fish. Obviously, I was annoyed about the previous night, but at least the fish were feeding in my area (no one else had landed a fish), so all I could do was keep on doing what I was doing and hope for the best for the final two nights.
The day passed without more than a few liners, but as soon as darkness fell, the beeps started again in earnest.
Just like the previous night, at 9pm I had a run and I was determined that this fish would not fall off. I steered the fish away from the lilies, and after a very short battle, a small common appeared in front of my net. I landed the baby carp and decided to take a quick photo as it was my first Belgian carp. Even if it was a tiddler, it was still a special fish to me.
Happy to have broken my lost-fish streak, I got the rod back out and got back into my sleeping bag.
I landed another small fish just after sunrise but after that the action went dead, as if someone had flicked a switch.
A few anglers arrived that morning as it was Friday, so I think that may have put the fish off. I didn’t land anything the following night and I think the extra pressure and cold night didn’t do the fishing any favours. I packed up on the Saturday morning in good spirits, ready for the drive back to the Rotterdam port. I said my goodbyes to the owner, and promised him that I would be back soon to fish the lake with the bigger fish in.
My trip to Benelux had come to an end, and although it was no red-letter session by any means, I developed my angling skill-set and broken a PB, so I couldn’t complain. I am a big fan of the Dutch style of angling for sure, so I am looking forward to trying that in the Spring, as well as going back to try my hand on Het Kanaalke 2. Now to get the long, gruelling winter out of the way before the carp fishing really starts up again.
Tight lines all!
There were a few others fishing this lake, and they were all very friendly and told me about the tactics they use and how the lake had been fishing, as they were regulars – a very different experience from Holland that’s for sure, where I rarely saw another angler and they were very secretive if I did! The lake had not done too many fish recently, with only one coming out between the three anglers fishing in the past 2 days, but they had also lost a few and said that night-time is when the action is likely to come.
As darkness fell, I began getting a few liners before I had a twitchy take at 9pm. I struck into a carp and began walking back to steer the fish away from the lilies. After a few hairy moments, I had the fish in open water and could play it with a bit more ease. After 10 minutes, a mirror that looked to be just shy of 20lbs hit the surface. As I leaned out to net the fish, the moment we all dread as anglers occurred – the hook pinged out of the fish’s mouth, and I was left scooping at water as my prize swam back into the lake. I was devastated. After such a long time without a bite, to lose a fish right at the net was very demoralizing. I tried not to get too upset, so I quickly retied a rig and got the bait back out on the spot.
I lay in my bedchair, replaying the moment over and over in my head, thinking about what I could’ve done differently. I was still getting liners, so maybe I would get another chance. I must’ve dozed off, as I was awoken from a light sleep at around 2am by a run. As soon as I picked up the rod, I could feel that the fish was in the lilies, so I jumped into the boat and went after it. As I got closer, I was fearing the worst. Once I was above the point at which my line entered the water, my suspicions were confirmed – I had lost this fish too. Again, I was devastated but all I could do was redo the rod and get it back out.
I wasn’t in my bag for long before I had an absolute one toner. I could tell instantly that this was a better fish, so I grabbed my landing net and went straight out in the boat. By the time I had neared the fish, it had buried its head into the lilies. Applying constant pressure, I managed to pull the fish out of the snag, at which point it turned and shot out into open water, dragging my little boat with it. I could tell this was a decent fish from the way it was towing and spinning me around in the boat, and with a full moon, I was crossing my fingers for a big common. After a lengthy battle, a golden flank hit the surface and I netted a very sizeable carp. I boated back to shore and lifted the fish on the matt. I could feel its weight, but what struck me the most about this fish was its length – it wasn’t a fat fish, but it was the longest carp I had ever seen. A proper gnarly old common carp, my prayers had been answered! It was hard to judge the weight, as if the fish had a belly on it, it could have gone 25kg+ (55lb) easily. However, with it being so skinny, I knew that it would be lucky to hit 40lbs, but thankfully on the scales she did – 40lbs 2oz, a new PB common! I was over the moon; this fish had made my trip. After a few shots, I returned the fish in a much better mood than 24 hours previous.
Tagged as: Henry Lennon
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