Monday, August 24, 2009

The Giant Carp Quest

The Giant Carp Quest 1st. Day | 40pound + On Fly
2 Days Rod´n Reel Torturing
by Stephan Dombaj
feat.: Matthias Burget &
Nikolai Prietl

A passion is always a walk on a tightrope, if you take it too far it tends to become an obsession. Well, I have to admit... I am pretty obsessed... obsessed by the thought of slamming down a carp of more than 40 english pounds on a tiny silly flyrod. Fortunately there was another guy who was crazy enough to give it a serious try. Nikolai Prietl, member of Loop´s Austrian Pro Team, a headguide of (best service for flycarp tours in Europe) and a real carp crack just like me...


Location: The Location was the cracking point because it's for sure the most important part of that whole quest. The chance of hitting an appropriate spot is rapidly decreasing if one may consider a flyfishermen´s requirement. During our last carp trips we were trying to figure out all necessary requirements and unlike coarse fishermen we are kinda bound to some limitations such as water depth... for a flyfisher, a 60pound carp ain't worth a penny when it's cruising around in 10meters depth. Best situation would be a mudding fish, a surface-feeder or a school of itinerant fishes. Another important point is the availability. Not every water can produce a fish of that size or even bigger ones. Finding an appropriate water that matches all requirements and fullfils all other facts is a puzzling game. So, back to the roots of modern carp fishing...

("Dude, that is nuts...")

Specimen hunting has a long history here in Europe and it's still in focus. Ever since carp/specimen hunters went out to explore new lakes, channels, reservoirs or rivers they wrote detailed descriptions, took pictures and conveyed the message of possible giants across Europe. There are even some sorts of lists of Europe's biggest carps, where they swim around and the best way to approach them... some of them are very famous like that fish from Lac. St. Cassien called “Banana” or UK´s “Benson” who died a few weeks ago. Long story short: This knowledge was a main part of our research. Our perspective journey should lead us to South-Austria.

(A hind?)

My first impression of the lake was just too good to be true. The upper and narrow section was part of a degenerated river mouth system with a lot of vegetation, submersed logs and, due to the former creek that flew into that lake, a very structurized ground. Within the first 10 minutes a saw a whole bunch of feeding fish along the shoreline – a dream came true!

(Getting ready)

Equipment: If a 40 pound meatball starts to run it's tails of you better should be prepared. It ain't no secret that a carp is a hell of a fighter and considered to be one of the most enduring warmwater-fishes on a rod. So let's have a look at the main part of our hardware.

(Tool of torture: 6# 12ft.)

Kick ass recommendation:

6120 Göran Andersson (UL-Doublehander) + 7/9 Evotec G4

890 OptiSalt (X-Grip) + Opti Speedrunner

693 OptiCoast (X-Grip) + Opti Runner

Of course you can fight a big carp on your trout 5weight - no doubt that it will work out, but we were aiming for the "DA MAMA"; a fish with an incredible BMI (Body-Mass-Index). Just in case you hook up such a monster, you'll get to know if your dragystem is worth it. The first run is breathtaking but nothing to fuck up a rod (if your reel works properly) - the landing is the cracking point. You need a rod with a lot of backbones because unlike troutfishing you need liftingpower. What I mean, don't mess around - we are not talking about a 15pounder! Not only because you could mess up your trophy-moneyshot... you could harm the fish as well; releasing a fish that is almost dead is just perversion at it's finest.


Two driftboats, sparereels with other lines, tying vise and material, landing net, digital scale, weight-matting and some other small items completed our hardware. Ammunition? Well, let's see: Glo Bugs, Crab- and Crawldadpattern, Damsels, Bloodworms, Terrestrials (Ants, Bugs ans Hoppers), some sort of Breadcrumbflies, Rubberlegnymphs, USD-Streamer, Charlies, San Juans...and so on. Carp's favourite dishes!

(After 2Days: Screwed Foam-Ant)

(USD-Damsel - heavy and light)

Starting up: Even though there were a lot of fish, it was still a tricky thing. Either because it was hard to stay calm or even harder to not react when a school of smaller fishes (Up to 15 pounds) passed by just to not mess up the chance of hooking a big pig.

(Wading the "turtle flats")

1st. commandment: " Act like a heron!"

3 guys stalking the shoreline, hiding behind any form of cover and remaining statically for minutes... just to get the perfect shot.

"School ahead, big fish infront - feeding the weedfields... can you see it?"

Yeah, I do... a simple bow and arrow cast with my 12ft. 6wt. and the presentation is done. The mudding fish in front of the school reacts instantly after my fly bumped just a few cm away into the water. As it "tails" for that USD-Damsel pattern I set the hook via flyline. Instant Start-up! A good fish... mid-twenties for sure! Check the pics from the first fish of the quest!

(Landing the first fish of the quest)


(Weight-in: 24 pounds)

(Eat, Sleep, Fish Pt.II)

Every carp on a fly rod that cracks the 20pound mark is a real good fish, no doubt about it. Considering the facts mentioned upon, a 20pounder is often the top of the edge in most waters. Well, a 24pound warm up carp... seriously, things could be worse. I never expected the first fish to be that big, even though it's still far away from the our final goal.

2nd commandment: "Down & Dirty!"

(Structurized shoreline)

Due to the enormous amount of structure, which is very good for fishing but the worse case for fighting a giant fish, you need to get a plan... or at least a tactic. Carp reacts very well on pressure directions since it wants to reach mostly the opposite direction. If you pull your rod to the right, the fish turns left - if you lift it, it wants to reach the ground and way around. If you stay calm enough to remember this while you are playing a good fish you have a good chance to direct the fish away from any sort of obstacles...and away from the ground. "Down and Dirty" describes very well what I it? Enough theory for now... time for Niko to fight the next carp...



(Nice fish)


Everything was possible, we knew it! The first rush yield to a collective insanity. We were wading quietly along the shoreline, watching for itinerant schools and it felt a bit like bonefish-hunting. Backingruns, fully bend rods, big crackers, massive boils... the first day was really a picture-book day of carp fishing. We thought it couldn't get any better... until we came back on day two...

(I want my Backing back...)

(First attempt)

(WTF, NO!)

(Yeah, Baby)

(That´s the name of the game)

(Good stuff)

(Niko with another one)

(Release Pt.II)

(Happy landing)

Click here for the 2nd part!