EUROBANX 5: Behind the scenes

EUROBANX 5: Behind the scenes

In Eurobanx 5, Alan Blair caught carp from 10 different countries in just 13 days – in this exclusive behind-the-scenes piece we find out how he did it…

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With so little time to fish each venue, the fishing was very much focussed on nicking quick bites. In order to do this you need to find the carp, and arrival at each venue was followed by hunting down carp and signs of fish before setting up.

Sight fishing and stalking formed the mainstay of this ‘in and out’ approach, with any fishing behind static rods done using proven rigs and bait, with great care taken to position rigs so they were fishing as effectively as possible for the limited time at each venue.

Filling it in with quantities of bait isn’t normally conducive to quick bites, so it was very much a case of using a quality bait, but just enough to get the fish feeding around the hook bait.

Germany

The Bread Bomb was the weapon of choice for the majority of the fishing in Germany.

Passing through Cologne on the way out, the lads met up with Marc Voosen at a German shopping centre. The lake here in the centre of the complex was full of hungry common carp, and having selected the biggest one he could see it took Alan just two seconds to tempt it into snaffling his Bread Bomb.

German carp number one, hooked almost immediately!

German carp number one, hooked almost immediately!

On the way back, their first stop was for a quick overnighter on a large, deep gravel pit. Fishing a shallow plateau jutting out from the bank into the lake meant that by moonlight it was possible to wade out the rods to the edge of the drop off and lay a perfectly presented trap consisting of a Scopex Squid Cultured hookbait and a couple of handfuls of Scopex Squid flake.

A surprise gravel-pit ghosty that fell to Alan’s hand-placed hookbait

A surprise gravel-pit ghosty that fell to Alan’s hand-placed hookbait

At first light one of Alan’s traps was sprung. In a lake containing some giant mirrors, it was a surprise when up popped a 30lb-plus ghosty. Not quite what Alan was expecting, but a welcome surprise nonetheless.

With the sun out and the weather warm, it was once again time to load the trusty Bread Bomb as the lads tackled a couple of German park lakes.

Alan located and then agonisingly struck out of a huge common – possibly in excess of 50lb – before successfully landing a gorgeous scaly mirror, and a brace of mid-20 commons on this underrated tactic.

After pulling out of a huge common, this mirror was Alan’s prize

After pulling out of a huge common, this mirror was Alan’s prize

Czech Republic

Following a mammoth journey of 950 miles, it was the early hours when Alan and Oli set up on a wild Czech river.

Set up on an island in the middle of a Czech river

Set up on an island in the middle of a Czech river

The first short night was unproductive, yielding only chub. As they were returning again for a second night, Alan baited the river before they left to go stalking for the day, depositing a mixture of Scopex Squid boilies, flake, pellet and groundbait all dowsed in Squid Syrup in the swim, hoping to attract some carp and hold them there.

With the river already baited, when they returned to fish he just put 20 freebies around each of his 24mm Cultured hookbaits.

Large hookbaits helped to combat the attentions of the nuisance chub. In the early hours he had a steady take on the longest rod and began a battle with a true river monster – a long, powerful common carp of over 30lb.

Alan’s river monster

Alan’s river monster

Baiting with Scopex Squid also held the carp in Mira and Jacob’s swim further upstream, as they went on to bank the same squid-loving carp three times in five days!

Slovakia

It was a quick hop over the border from the river to fish a lake known as the ‘Slovakian Rainbow’.

This maze-like lake is broken up by many islands and channels and although it was pouring with rain there were quite a few other anglers fishing.

On any busy lake, the quiet corners are always well worth a look, so the lads baited a couple of areas in a quieter bay away from the main swims with sweetcorn and Scopex Squid pellet.

It didn’t take long to see some feeding activity so Alan and Oli both set traps in the edge. Simple rigs fished with fake corn did the job and within five minutes the first bite came.

Small, but welcome in the rain of Slovakia

Small, but welcome in the rain of Slovakia

The lads had a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours and banked a succession of small carp before heading back to the Czech Republic.

Hungary

Not many people would bother turning up to fish one of the largest freshwater lakes in Europe with just 12 hours to catch a carp, but that was the plan!

Thankfully, Hungarian Nash man Zoltan was having his annual weekly holiday at Lake Balaton with his wife that particular week and had invited Alan and Oli to fish with them.

Even with Zoltan’s vast experience they would need a bit of luck in order to bank a Hungarian carp from this inland sea in such a short time.

Fishing from the end of a wooden pontoon protruding 200 metres out through the vast reed beds, they dropped snowman rigs made with 20mm Cultured hookbaits and 18mm white pop-ups a further 250 metres out, with a light scattering of 20mm Scopex Squid boilies over the top hoping to stop any passing fish for long enough to get a bite.

Alan’s slip-D rigs. ‘If you’re not driving, you’re tying…’

Alan’s slip-D rigs. ‘If you’re not driving, you’re tying…’

A ‘quick overnighter’ on Balaton - madness! But…

A ‘quick overnighter’ on Balaton - madness! But…

Amazingly, by first light there were four carp – two each – waiting in the retainers.

Just before leaving, Alan had another bite resulting in a fish of around 25lb. While Balaton has the potential to produce truly giant carp, and the odd enormous fish is occasionally banked, a fish of that size is still at the upper end of average.

…it certainly paid off!

…it certainly paid off!

SERBIA

Serbia was only meant to be a stop off for a quick meeting, but running late and reluctant to drive through the night to Montenegro, the lads managed to arrange a ‘carp hotel’ at a park lake in the heart of Belgrade, arriving after midnight.

The venue in question was one of the first venues in Serbia to enforce a catch-and-release rule to protect their stocks of fish and contains some lovely old carp.

With an early start planned, there was just five hours in which to snatch a ite.

While Oli prepared a couple of rods to lower in the edge, Alan grabbed his Sawn Off and went stalking. By the faint light cast from the restaurant opposite, he located carp rocking the water, got them feeding on bread, and managed to nick a bite very quickly off the surface – within 15 minutes of arriving!

The fish was a lovely old common of around 25lb, and bagging it so quickly meant that Alan could go straight to bed and actually get some sleep!

Night-time stalking by the glow of restaurant lights

Night-time stalking by the glow of restaurant lights

Croatia

Dawn was just breaking when the lads arrived at the river Kupa in Croatia. There were plenty of fish showing, so it was looking good for a bite or two that day.

It was back to the standard river tactics that had been employed successfully in the Czech Republic – large hookbaits on long hooklinks and heavily glugged freebies attached via PVA stringer.

Alan’s stringer setup for flowing water

Alan’s stringer setup for flowing water

It didn’t take long for Oli to get the first bite, banking a lovely 20lb-plus river common. Alan also managed two bites that day from this idyllic but wild river, but unfortunately both fish did him in the savage underwater snags.

A Croatian river carp

A Croatian river carp

Persevering, he eventually got another chance the following morning and, third time lucky, banked his Croatian river carp. This was followed by a second as they were packing up.

Slovenia 

This was another unplanned stop off, turning from a cup of coffee into an overnighter on a 600-acre lake.

Despite its size, it turned out to be exceedingly well stocked, with first Oli, then the following morning Alan, struggling to keep two rods in the water. Following a surprisingly quiet night for Alan, a change of tactics from pop-ups to Cultured hookbaits and a little move up the lake brought about a total change in fortune for him.

Slovenia was prolific for the lads

Slovenia was prolific for the lads

Fishing at comfortable casting range and scattering 20mm Scopex Squid over the top with a throwing stick, Alan got the carp feeding and the bites flowing.

In total, between four anglers over 50 carp to 30lb were landed in just a few hours. It was so prolific and enjoyable that – surprise, surprise! – it made the lads late in leaving for the next destination in southern Austria!

Austria

The huge, deep natural lake in Austria was the venue where the lads had hoped to hunt down carp of over 20kg. They had two nights to try and do so, which was a luxury in itself.

One important rule at this particular venue was the ban on any kind of loosefeed. It was single-hookbait fishing only! Rigs and tactics were adjusted accordingly, and the hookbaits consisted of 20mm Scopex Squid bottom baits wrapped in a large piece of white Scopex Squid paste.

The carp duly obliged and Alan, Oli and Mario all banked fish, but unfortunately nothing of any size. Mario came the closest to the target of a big Austrian carp, frustratingly losing at the net a very large mirror on the final morning.

A future giant from Austria

A future giant from Austria

Netherlands

Temperatures were touching 30C in Holland and as a result the carp that the lads encountered at the first port of call, a small park lake, were extremely lethargic.

Perseverance did pay off but it was a grass carp that eventually succumbed and snaffled Alan’s Bread Bomb.

Alan worked hard in the Dutch heat

Alan worked hard in the Dutch heat

The second venue was a lily-covered marina in Felix’s back garden off a quiet stretch of canal on the outskirts of Amsterdam. The lads had actually fished there back in April on their way to the Zwolle show, bagging a trio of Dutch commons using Citruz pop-ups.

A grass carp reward

A grass carp reward

Remembering this, Oli again turned to the Citruz and was the first to tempt a wild Dutch common, followed shortly after by Alan, who got bored of sitting waiting and stalked one on the trusty Bread Bomb.

Alan’s Bread Bomb business end

Alan’s Bread Bomb business end

Belgium

The final country the lads fished was Belgium, and this was another unplanned pit-stop session that only came about at the last minute as, for a change, they were actually early for the return crossing back to England.

With carp caught from nine different countries it seemed rude not to try to make it a round 10!

Once again calling on the main man at Monkey Climber magazine, Gio Vanhooren, for advice, Alan and Oli were pointed in the direction of a Belgian day-ticket fishery.

With just an hour to fish, Oli and Alan employed their go-to quick-bite tactics: Oli fishing a Citruz pop-up on a multi rig in the edge next to some pads and Alan opting for his Bread Bomb after finding fish in a quiet corner.

Within 30 minutes both approaches had proved successful, with Alan picking out one of the larger residents in the shape of a 20lb-plus common, and Oli nearly losing his rod to a lively mirror! 

Rounding it off in style in Belgium

Rounding it off in style in Belgium