Lake Sumbar in Croatia looks set to be carp fishing’s next big thing, but what’s it like to fish there, how much does it cost and how big do the carp go?
Well, British anglers willing to make the long journey are able to fish it, and Cornwall’s Arron Fisher has recently returned from an incredible trip to the venue, so we grilled him for the lowdown...
How did you hear about Lake Sumbar?
In the last couple of years I had heard rumours of a lake in Croatia which held a large head of carp that were generally bigger than the carp in France, Belgium and Holland.
The first solid evidence was when I was told about a session Frank Warwick had done on there with Ardy Veltkamp.
How much does it cost to fish at Lake Sumbar and how easy was it to arrange?
Even though I was interested in the lake after the information I had received I put it to the back of my mind as I didn’t think it would be an easy trip to arrange.
Sumbar is a club-run lake and it can be difficult to book a swim, though not impossible.
That is until an opportunity came up and I was invited on an exclusive booking to the lake. This trip was a two-week affair and was arranged through Marc Westenberg’s company Carping Adventures.
Going through Marc’s company is another avenue as it is far easier to arrange, but obviously it is a business so will cost you more – 660 Euros a week to be precise.
It still took nearly a year of planning and the costs do mount up. It takes 16 to 18 hours of driving to get to the lake from Calais and you pay many tolls and vignettes along the way which add up to around 150 Euros for the round trip.
Also, an overnight hotel stop is advised on the way there and back to break the journey up.
There are also the costs of tackle and bait to consider and these mount up. For two people doing two weeks you want to be taking roughly 300kg of boilies and 450kg of dry particle that you cook up on the bank.
The lake does sell prepared maize on site and it is really cheap at around £3.50 for 10kg.
If I was to be honest and sum up the whole cost for the two weeks I wouldn’t be getting much change from £3,000.
Describe Lake Sumbar and its stock of fish:
The lake is roughly 45 acres in size and has around 1,000 carp from 15lb to over 90lb, although the living witnessed record actually caught by a carp angler is Dave Levy’s 88lb+ mirror (pictured below) caught while we were there.
We were told a 94lb fish has been landed but it was foul hooked by a predator angler.
There are also some cats and big grass carp in the lake. I had a 63lb 4oz grassie on this trip, which is the new lake record.
How would you describe the difficulty of the fishing – are there any specific tactics that seem to work?
Generally it isn’t hard to catch the carp but you do have to be bang on the spots.
It was weird how you could go wayward of a spot producing fish by 6-8ft and you wouldn’t get a touch, but put it bang on the spot and the rod would go again.
The bailiffs and president of the lake are very helpful in regards to areas within each swim and obviously you can have a go with the marker rod but the lake bottom is like a lunar landscape.
There are gullies, plateaux and much more under the surface including tree stumps and an old shed, but if you take your time and seek the advice of the bailiffs and locals you will soon find some spots.
Pop-ups on hinged stiff rigs and snowman rigs seem to be the most effective on there, but people were catching on popped-up plastic corn or maize as well.
We also found that fishmeal boilies worked better than most others and we would get more takes using white pop-ups.
We started our session fishing for a bite at a time but soon realised it wasn’t enough bait to hold any number of fish in our swim and we were losing out to people baiting more heavily than us.
We devised a plan of putting 50 to 60kg out over the rods every other day and then just drop a full bait boat (bait boats are only allowed on exclusive bookings) loaded with a rig in after every fish and this seemed to work very well for us.
How did your session unfold? What was your final tally of fish?
As I mentioned previously, we started off fishing for a bite at a time and it took in the region of three minutes for Liam Gingell to get the first run, which was a 54lb mirror.
After that they came steadily and by mid-morning the next day we had landed six fish with two of them being new pbs for me. This included a 59lb common and a 70lb 8oz – what a start! – along with Liam’s 54, a 40 and a couple of smaller ones.
It was only by the end of the second day after a few smaller fish that we realised the plan was starting to fall apart and the bait we were putting in wasn’t enough so we devised the heavy-baiting-every-other-day plan.
The bites started to pick up again and a few bigger ones (upper 40s) were starting to get caught.
By the end of the first week we had built a reasonable tally of fish in the region of 40 to 50 with some absolute lumps among them.
On the Saturday, over half of the lake was leaving so there would only be seven of us left on. Liam stayed in the swim with me on the Saturday night and we managed a couple, but Liam had itchy feet and decided to move to one of the point swims.
We both kept the same tactics going as we were fishing a similar area but from different angles. We built on our tally of fish steadily with me adding a new lake-record 63lb 4oz grass carp and also one of the best-looking commons I have ever seen at 57lb.
The magical moment that I had been waiting for came on our second-to-last morning when I finally got the phone call from Liam to say he had a brute of a common in the net.
He really wanted a 70lb common and when it was confirmed as a new pb at 72lb 4oz it just topped the whole adventure off for us both.
The final tally was in the region of 90 to 100 fish with two 70s, a 60, six 50s, 40-odd 40s and the rest 30s, 20s and a few doubles.
How would you sum up the experience of fishing there?
I can only say it was an amazing experience and definitely worth the time, money and effort.
The fish are in good condition, fight well and the average size is unbelievable.
I will definitely go back one day but I do recommend that if you can do it, do two weeks.
It is such a long journey with costs along the way that the extra week’s fishing is not much more expensive in comparison to one week.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the gents on the trip for making it all that more special and also some of my sponsors. So, a big thank you to CR Baits, Hooked On Baits, Hybrid Tackle and Lakebed Leads for your continued support.