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   Old Thread  #449 25 Feb 2020 at 3.37pm  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #448
Now for a look at the sacked fish. I brought one of the sacks ashore and did the ritual pix. Another beautiful fish.

Finally a third common posed for the cameras.

So that is the story of how I once had four on at once and landed all of them. I guess you wouldn’t think life could get any better than that, but you’d be wrong! Later that day I had another five takes, lost one to the snags but landed the others, one of which was a lovely 42lb + common.

Another thirty pound common…This was getting boring…NOT!

It was a long trip, three weeks all but a day, and a man needs some R&R at some period during such a grueller, so half way through I wound in and walked across the fields back to the hotel for a shower and a beer or six. I was relaxing outside in the sunshine when Robert came out to join me, a couple of cold beers in hand and accompanied by a big stocky fella. This chap was from Kiev and he had told Robert that he and his friends had heard than Philippe and myself were on the lake and they wanted us to join them for a beer, if that was alright.

Alright! I should say so!

Philippe was still way up the lake and I had not heard how he was getting on, so I suggested to the Ukrainian guy that we could drive up to fetch him. Yep, this met with general approval so off we set in his 4WD. The big guy seemed confident in where he was going but after about half an hour driving this way and that, and never getting anywhere near Philippe's swim we were well and truly lost. Driving up and own the roads in the back of beyond showed me just how primitive the country was if you wandered away from civilization.

Eventually we abandoned any hope of reaching Philippe's swim and more by good luck than good judgment we eventually ended up at the Ukrainians' swim in World Cup Bay, where a good time was clearly being had by the big guy's three remaining countrymen. Soon I was deep in my cups on prime Ukraine Vodka.

We were drinking out of shot glasses with a rounded bottom so impossible to put down anywhere. It seemed the done thing was to down the lethal oil-like liquid in one as soon as your glass was filled. When one by one they started falling by the wayside I made my excuses and left, as the NotW would put it! I walked back to the hotel and cadged a bed for the night off Robert who was quite amused to hear my story. Apparently these guys were renowned for getting visitors to the lake well and truly spannered!

Nest morning at breakfast, nursing a sore head and gulping down gallons of coffee and guy came to my table and asked if he could join me. Of course, I said, and we got talking. He told me that he knew Philippe both as an angler and as a superb photographer and he introduced himself as Olivier Portrat and handed me a business card. On it he described himself as an “Angling and Outdoor Writer, Photographer and Tackle Consultant” and kind of threw in the comment that he was in Romania to do some photos for the 2004 Zebco calendar.

Now anyone who likes to mix glamour and angling will know that they don’t come any better than the Zebco calendar, and as I was just such a chap this told me all I needed to know about Olivier. And once he had shown me a few examples of his work, I had no reason to doubt the fact that here was one talented fella. We chatted for a while about this and that, and he told me that he was at the lake mainly to get some good shots of zander in the hands or on the rods of one of several Romanian models that had accompanied him to the lake. I told him where I was fishing and said he was welcome top drop in for a tea or stronger if he was passing, especially if he was going to be in the company of a pretty girl! It turns out that Olivier was no stranger to the latter!

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   Old Thread  #448 25 Feb 2020 at 3.35pm  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #447
As I was fishing on my own the easy option would have been to cast all four rods to the deep channel at 30m, but the call of distant waters was hard to resist and though it posed quite a challenge the plateau was clearly the place to be fishing. Yes, I would put one rod in the channel but the others were all going out at range with a scattering of bait, around each rod!

It was blowing hard and there was quite a chop on. In fact, getting afloat was a bit problematical, the boat shipping water over the gunwales, the waves threatening to swamp it at one stage. Still, I managed to get out far enough to stop and bail out, and anyway, I welcomed the wind, as I knew full well that they liked a bit of a blow on Raduta.

I used the boat and the sounder to find what I hoped were suitable spots, then scattered the bait far and wide about the plateau. I then dropped each baited hook from the boat and then piled a scattering of kilos of tigers over the top of the hookbaits before rowing back to the bank. So there we are, all set up for the coming night and maybe a bit of action, three rods on the plateau, the fourth being cast into the deep channel off to my right. I poured myself a beer and then sat back to watch the sunset going down leaving a purple sheen over the lake.

Nothing happened that first night in the new swim, but at first light the next morning I watched a jaw dropping display of fish showing all over the plateau. They were clearly having a very hearty breakfast!

I was full of expectation but the sun rose and the activity seemed to die out almost completely. Had they wiped me out? Should I refresh the swim and put on new hookbaits?

I was pondering the answer to those questions when the middle rod of the three on the plateau was away. I picked up and straight away the rod was wrenched down by an almighty tug. I was using 35lb braid mainline and drop-off leads so by leaning back on the rod I was able to bring the fish up off the bottom. Some 250m out a huge tail slapped the water to foam as the fish set off across the top of the plateau running from right to left in front of me. Pump and grind, pump and grind, eventually the fish was close to the bank, and after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing it lollopped into the net. Looked a good fish too.

I had it on the mat and had just reached for the scales when the rod in the channel was away. Hastily I bundled the fish on the mat into a sack, picked up the rod and struck. Immediately I knew that this was nothing special, for it felt every inch a grassie. The lack of fight told me all I needed to know. Now this may sound strange but at that time grass carp didn’t really ‘count’ at Raduta, as there were thousands of them in the lake and to be honest I think most folk would rather avoid them than catch them…I am no different!

Not bothered if the grassie got off, I put the rod back on the rest with the clutch set lightly and made sure the one in the sack was staked out securely, then returned to the rods to winch in the grassie. Beeeeep! Suddenly the two remaining rods out long went off almost simultaneously. This was the left and right hand rods and the hookbaits must have been at least 100m apart. What size was the shoal of fish out there?

Leaving the grassie to its own devices I hit the left hand rod and started to play it in. Almost immediately it snagged me up, so I put that rod back on the rests and turned to the right hand rod. This one came in grudgingly and it was clear it was no grassie. After about 25 minutes of pump and grind I had the fish in the net; a common and a good one too. I sacked that one up as well.

So the situation is this: I’ve landed and sacked a two nice commons and I've got another fish snagged up on me out on the plateau and, almost forgot, a grassie doing absolutely nothing apart from sulking somewhere not too far out. Let’s get that one out of the way! Grassies only fight properly when they see the net and then only briefly, so I simply winched this one in to the net, allowed it to go bonkers for a while and then lifted it out onto the mat. I put it straight back.

Now all that was left was the snagged fish way out yonder! I got in the boat with the rod and a net and gradually reeled myself out to the snag. The right hand edge of the plateau was the shallowest and when I arrived over the top of the snag I could actually see clouds of silt coming up off the bottom. The fish was still on!

Luckily I was using a 10m length of 45lb Quicksilver and a 2m length of 50lb nylon to deal with the abrasive nature of the lakebed, and these two were doing their job admirably! I wound down and heaved and low and behold the whole snag lifted off the bottom in a great cloud of silt. I could clearly see my line and amazingly it was wound only lightly around a large vine branch. It was a matter of seconds to ping the line off the snag, which dropped away quickly and then the fish was off like a train towing me and the boat around the lake. Thankfully it headed towards the bank but after about ten minutes it seemed to weaken and after a really brilliant fight I got the fish into the net and then into the boat. It was another scale- perfect common.

Back on the bank she went 37lb 12oz! Wow, what a result! A few pics and back she went.

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   Old Thread  #447 25 Feb 2020 at 3.34pm  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #446
After a protracted and tiresome battle I finally managed to break down the tent, pack it into the boat and transport it across the lake to the opposite shore. The map below shows the path I took with the boat and the new swim, which was more or less in the same spot as Xav had fished in May.

This photo taken in May shows the Cove Swim with out two big tents and across the other side you can just about make out another bivvy. This is Xav's biv and is more or less in the spot I had decided to fish after moving out of the Cove.

Crossing the lake with the sounder switched on revealed a couple of interesting features towards the far side, which could be fished quite easily from the new swim. However, by the time I managed to get the tent up to my liking and the bedchair and the rest of the paraphernalia sorted out it was closing in on dark and I still hadn't eaten a thing all day. I set up the rods and did a pub chuck into the lake, casting only fifty or sixty yards or so. Better a bait in the water than a bait in the bait box! Thus tidied away I cooked a bit of dinner and turned in.

You will not be surprised to know that given the pub casts the night was a blank one but at least I'd got a good night's sleep had been the result. I made a cuppa and sat in the door of the test, watching the sun come up across the village away to me left. Now, given a chance to look about I took in my new circumstances. The swim was nice and dry, flat with a bit of mud at the water's edge. The lake surface was white calm, dimpled here and there by small fry and the odd splash and scatter as the zander had their breakfast. It was a lovely sight and it heralded a warm day.

It's amazing what a bright new dawn can do to liven up one's day but it was made still better when a battered old Land River pulled up behind the swim. In it were the two ghillies who had looked after Philippe and myself in May and with them was Philippe himself. Philippe said I had made a good move situated as I was some a quarter of a mile or so down from Becker’s Point on the north bank of the huge bay.

In the past Philippe had caught well from the swim and he helped me enormously by pointing out the hot areas that had been good for him, a deep channel running across the swim some 30 yards from the bank, and a huge plateau between 150-200 yards out. I wondered if this was simply the same plateau we had fish from the Cove but Philippe said, no, it was not as wide but was much longer than the one in from of the cove.

Well breakfasted and raring to go I went out in the boat to look for the features. It was good to have Philippe's input and it gave me added confidence in the move. The echo sounder confirmed what Philippe had told me. The screen revealed a more or less lozenge shaped feature narrowing at both ends and opening out in the middle. It was I guessed some 200m long and 80m wide at its widest point, rising up from about thirty feet at its foot to maybe twelve feet at its shallowest point. The whole area was carpeted in snags: old vines and rocks that were festooned in mussels that clung to every obstruction. It was probably the snaggiest swim I have ever fished, but the fish were there.

In close the gully was easy to find, a slender channel that almost seemed to be man made so straight and narrow did it run. It was an easy cast from the bank. This is a rough idea of the features. The red dot is the famous Becker's Point, my new swim is marked with a blue dot. The rough positions of channel and the plateau are marked in white.

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   Old Thread  #446 22 Feb 2020 at 3.47pm  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #445
Three in the morning and I was fully awake. No point just lying here, Kenny boy, I told myself. Get out of your pit and put the rods out. From my previous trip to the lake I had the landmarks for the plateau more or less stored in the grey matter that I laughingly call my brain so the trip out in the dark was not as hit and miss as one might imagine. Soon the echo sounder indicated the steep rise of the leading edge of the plateau and the first rod went over the side. I dropped the second bait about twenty yards further on and I scattered a few tigers here and there about the general area.

The morning was fresh and cold but by the time I got all the rods out and the markers well positioned the sun was peeking from behind the clouds over to my right heralding a decent day, I hoped.

I got back in the bag with a cuppa and a packet of biscuits and soon I was well away, catching up on some much needed sleep, however less than an hour later I was roused from my slumber by a screaming sounder box. That was quick! I played the fish in from the bank and soon I had a rare (for me) mirror in the net. No great size, about mid twenties I would say.

Rod rebaited and rowed back out to the plateau, I once again turned in to try to get a bit of sleep.

I was rudely awakened by a loud angry voice. A gesticulating Dutchman had got the right hump with me for fishing "his" swim. He told me that he had been baiting the area for months! I told him that he was talking ball cocks as there had been no sign of him back in May! Perhaps that wasn't the most diplomatic thing to say, as his ire now seemed to go off the scale. Anything for a quiet life I told him I was quite happy to share the swim with him, whereupon it transpired that there were three of them. One I can handle, three, no way. Eventually we worked out what I thought was a reasonable compromise. I would stay put and he could fish the right hand section of the plateau from the next swim to my right below the water tower while I kept my rods on the left. The feature was plenty big enough for two, as Philippe and I had shown on the previous visit back in May.

The day passed without any more fishy action, but my new neighbours seemed hell bent on encroaching further and further onto the plateau until I found myself once again squeezed out to the left. I could not believe these guys; from the water tower to the plateau must have been at least 400 yards! It was a good long way for me at about two hundred yards but these guys were fishing twice that distance. What was galling was the fact that there are several very tasty marks in front of the water tower they could have fished. I made up my mind to move the next morning.

I could see that the swim where Xav had fished in May was free so at first light the next morning I started packing up. It was near enough a kilometre across the bay to the new swim but luckily I now had the boat in full working order but even so it would still take me at least a couple of trips to move to the new swim. I got much of the gear into the boat OK and did the first trip across without any problem. I was a bit gutted when I crossed the plateau to see quite a few fish marking the sounder but I was resigned to the fact that there was no way I could fish enjoyably in peace and quiet with my noisy neighbours. They were welcome to the fish that showed on the screen; I just hoped they were bream

Meantime I turned my attention to the huge canvas bivvy that had been set up in my swim in the cove. I had no idea how it came to bits and even less how it went up again but needs must…

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   Old Thread  #445 22 Feb 2020 at 3.42pm  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #444
So we pick up the story a few months later and again I was a guest of Robert Raduta and Philippe Lagabbe. Sadly this time I was to fish on my own as Philippe had agreed to fish with a young French guy on his first visit abroad. He was a smashing fella so I hoped that maybe we could all squeeze into a swim together as had been the case in May. However, Philippe had decided to fish a totally new area of the lake, leaving me to do my own thing, whatever that might be.

Philippe and his young companion started the two week session way up the lake towards the Sandulita Bay are we had started on the May session. According to Robert a lot of fish were coming out from that area so the pair were naturally keen to take his advice. I thought I would err on the side of caution and take the easy option to begin with so decided to fish the same swim where we had done so well last time in the small cove swim near the water tower in Preasna Bay. The read dot is me, the white dot is Philippe and his mate. That's about four miles between the two swims.

When I finally got a boat (yes, there is no way to access the cove swim by road s a boat is essential) yet more delay hit me. Unfortunately the engine I was due to use had been used and abused by the party before me on the lake and it was in need of a few running repairs. The problem was caused by floating braid, which had entangled the prop seizing the engine solid. Luckily I am used to sorting out this kind of mess but I had no tools with which to remove the prop boss in order to get at the cotter pin. When I eventually found a tool box and removed the boss, I found that the cotter pin had been replaced with a nail! If the original pin had been in place it would have sheared off making the removal of the braid a lot easier. As it was the nail didn't shear and the prop kept spinning until many yards of braid ended up in the prop. It took me about an hour to get at the pin, remove it, then remove the many yards of braid that was entangled in around the drive shaft. Nightmare!

Finally I got to the swim as night was drawing in. With no time to loose I went out in the boat to find the plateau we had fished in May. I had with me a plentiful supply of Dynamite's Frenzied hempseed and tigers, which were to be the main bait on this session.

I also had some Techni Spice shelfies with me, which I intended to use as an alternative bait on a couple of rods. The one kilo bag had been kicking around in my rucksack for a year or more as it is my go-to bait when the going is tough. That bag had done some miles! It had come with me every on every trip and in all the years I have used it, they have never failed me! I don't use them every time, only when I am scratching for a take but when the chips are down they don't 'alf work!

As before I used simple set ups, mainly tough nylon or braid knotless knotted to a size one or two hook. The pix are pretty self explanatory.

As well and the Dynamite and Nutrabaits stuff, Vlad had got hold of some very decent high oil pellets that had done well at Raduta Lake over the summer months. He'd given me a 25kg sack of them. He told me to pile it in, the more the merrier as the carp loved them!

Baiting up finished, I set about getting some rods ready. It was near enough dark by now, and I was dog tired from the trip over. First the drive up from Cornwall to Heathrow then the long wait + flight with British Airways to Otopeni Airport, and finally the journey to the lake from Bucharest. This would normally take less than an hour but for some unknown reason the driver that came to pick me up got lost! Then there was the problem with the bait and the engine…I turned in…The rods can wait!
Posts: 30589
   Old Thread  #444 21 Feb 2020 at 8.55am  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #443
What a night! In our final 24 hours Philippe continued to catch. It got so that in the end we were both playing fish at the same time. For those last four days we had a gale of wind blowing right in our faces for 90% of the time. It was virtually impossible to get out to the plateau most of the time but with just as many fish coming at 30-40 yards, it wasn’t a problem.

So that’s the story of my first trip to Sarulesti. I cannot in all honesty tell you how many fish I caught as I simply lost count after a while. Philippe reckons we caught around 125 fish between us and he says I must have caught at least seventy of them! I’ll take his word for it. All I know is I shall never forget that session on the wonderful lake.

Here the sun rises above the village of Preasna. The wind is just beginning to ruffle the surface, typical of east winds that come up with the sun. We knew that it would strengthen as the daylight strengthened heralding another day's superb carp fishing.

The lake had got right under my skin and Philippe told me they were planning a repeat visit in early autumn. He asked casually, "fancy coming along?" I nearly kissed him.

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   Old Thread  #443 21 Feb 2020 at 8.53am  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #442
Once again the weather fate lent a hand. Suddenly a repeat of that fierce wind sprang up, blowing straight into our bank with waves three feet high crashing onto the shingle beach at out feet. It was impossible to use the boat as it would have been swamped within a couple of yards of the shore. This meant that it was also impossible to take baits out to the plateau so I had no option other than cast into the wind dropping the baits only twenty to thirty yards out. I fished two rods on the shelf and two at the foot of the drop in about 28 feet of water. The wind was really hacking into out faces and once again the huge area of coloured water spread out into the lake.

I felt sure the fish would respond as they did in the previous big blow and sure enough, they did. Over the next 48 hours Philippe and I caught with almost predictable regularity, a fish an hour each! All our carp came to rods cast from the bank to the marginal shelf at depths between 15-28 feet of water. It was easy fishing, brilliant fishing, exhausting fishing, and with the fish averaging low thirties we were having a whale of a time. They were like peas in a pod, those long sleek commons. We must have hit on the Mother Lode!

The margin hot spots continued to produce and we picked up carp regularly in the onshore gale of wind. Here you can see just how rough it had become as Philippe plays a big carp in a lively surf.

It felt odd to be fishing such a massive expanse of water yet to be baiting up with a catapult or a throwing stick but the fish were in close. There must have been hundreds of them and they were on the feed and wanted bait and we were there to give it to them!

The weather continued to confuse…one minute blowing a hoolie, the next white calm. Now, as quickly as it had sprung up the wind died completely allowing me to take all four rods out to the plateau to the spots I had fished over the weekend some two hundred yards out from the bank. What a difference a day makes. Look at the lovely placid surface of the lake and compare it to the pix of the swim during the blow.

Moving them back to the long range feature paid off big style. Out on the plateau the big girls had come out to play! I caught three forty pound commons in less than 24 hours. First was a nice fish of just over the forty pound mark, followed by a 42lb 12oz common, a glorious fish a yard long and as sleek as a bullet.

The third forty was my biggest of the trip so far, a big dumpy lump of a common. It was hardly the most beautiful fish in the world but at 45lb 8oz, I wasn't complaining.

Meanwhile the blow came back with a vengeance and yet more big girls went on a feeding spree, spurred no doubt by the big wind. Across from us Xavier landed a gorgeous 25kg common, and Philippe and I both had commons of over 40lb. This is Xav's.

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   Old Thread  #442 21 Feb 2020 at 8.47am  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #441
Across the bay I could see Xav busily baiting up his swim. From when I was standing it looked as if he was fishing the same plateau as us, but from the other side…Perhaps I needed a shower!

Meanwhile Philippe put two rods out onto the plateau and two off to the right on the drop-off ledge. That left me a large bit of the plateau to go at, and as I was not having any action in close I decided to put all four rods out long again.

Tuesday morning arrived and with it came a Romania film crew. They wanted to shoot several 30-minute shows dealing with tackle, bait and tactics for the lake. Vlad was fronting the show for Romanian television and he conducted his first interview with me on the lawn of the hotel overlooking the lake. I don’t know why they were asking me about tactics as it was only my first visit to the lake, but I was flattered to be asked, however for this first interview Vlad wanted to quiz me about bait as my articles in the Romanian magazine has established me as some kind of bait buff. ('E don't know me too well, do 'e?).

Philippe and I had again caught well during the night and we had a couple of decent fish to show them for the filming. I must admit, it did feel strange but apparently the programs were very well received when they aired at prime time on Saturday mornings. In fact I’ve been asked to go back and do some more. Whatever is the carp world coming too? Here’s we are I in true pose mode!

Filming and interviewing took up most of the morning. The interviewer was my old mate Vlad Pavlovici who at the time worked for the British Council. His spoken English and French was immaculate so asking questions in either language was easy for him.

While we were being filmed a young French guy rowed across to chat to us. His arrival was well timed as one of my rods went off almost the minute he arrived. He'd blanked so far so I said he could have the honour…

By now I had caught over fifty fish and was getting exhausted! The majority of the fish were commons, many of them over thirty pounds. Sadly I had yet to catch one of the lakes really huge fish which ran to over seventy pounds, but I was more than happy with my lot and everyone agreed that given the numbers of fish I was catching it was only a matter of time before something a bit better came along. Philippe was catching plenty too but by contrast he was working less hard for his fish as 90% of his takes were coming from the margins. He kept on at me to leave at least one rod in close but I wasn’t confident about it. The fact was that even though Philippe was catching well from in close, whenever I put a rod close in on the left hand side of the swim it remained untouched. I wanted runs, the more the merrier, so it was the plateau or nothing for me.

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   Old Thread  #441 21 Feb 2020 at 8.43am  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #440
It was hard graft getting the baits in position on the plateau on my own in the rough conditions so in the end gave up on the long range rods deciding instead to concentrate on the margins, where thanks to the continuing onshore wind the fish continued to feed at throwing stick distance.

It was a decision that paid off in style; I caught eight carp in the first 24 hours while I was on my jack in the swim, all bright silver or gold commons like peas in a pod. That's more like it!

Sunday morning and the wind began to die down and the fish drifted off into the deeper water, probably heading back out to the plateau. I rowed all four rods out to the plateau and baited up heavily with tigers and hemp plus several kilos of shelf life Trigga. I also added the last of my Big Fish Mix to the bait carpet for good measure. It felt odd to be out there in the boat throwing in kilo after kilo of bait but it was clear there were a lot of carp in front of me now so there was no good reason to be frugal with the bait.

Sure enough the fish kept me awake all night. No rest for the wicked; again I caught another eight commons of between twenty-five and thirty-five pounds including a long, lean, bright silver common of 35lb 8oz.. What a night!

After a brief lull in the proceedings while I caught up on some sleep the fish came back with a vengeance any by nightfall Sunday I had landed another five thirties including this thirty pound beauty.

I looked in the bait chest. The level was dropping alarmingly and It was frightening to see just how much bait those Sarulesti carp could devour. In fact I don't think I was putting in anything like enough but if I didn't want to run out of bait I would have to start rationing!

Xav and Philippe spent another night in the hotel so again I felt pretty confident it would all kick off during the coming Sunday night. And I wasn’t wrong! I had a further nine fish during darkness including all thirties, all over 15kg in weight, magnificent looking beasts, immensely long and totally virgin, never caught before. As the night was calm I took each bait back to the plateau after every fish landed. Hard work, but worth it.

Monday morning and I felt totally knackered! The swim looked like it had been shelled, gear scattered everywhere, the tent a mess and my sleeping bag damp and cold - too much getting in and out of it to land fish! In three the nights fishing that I had the swim to myself I had caught thirty-one carp, all commons, most over thirty pounds in weight. That's the stuff of dreams and no mistake. In fact I was having trouble convincing myself that this was actually happening…I was having an outstanding session.

Philippe got back Monday mid-morning and immediately took the boat out to rebait the plateau after I had told him of my astonishing run of big fish that had been caught from the area while he was away. There was no doubting the effectiveness of the baits we were using as some of the fish were excreting the Robin Red-boosted Big Fish Mix in the sack.

Posts: 30589
   Old Thread  #440 21 Feb 2020 at 8.38am  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #439
Saturday morning came and the wind blew even harder. It was an onshore wind and the waves marched in serried ranks towards us, the wind blowing the tops off the waves and sending spray flying. Waves were crashing onto the beach and as expected the fish seemed to like the lively weather. With the wind came two exceptional fish. First Philippe latched into a fish on one of his margin rods less than 30 yards from the bank at first light. Here Xav (with the bucket) and Leon, help Philippe get ready for the pix.

The fish picked up his hookbait on the fifteen foot shelf on the drop-off and at such close range it really tore off. It was an incredible fight from an incredible fish. According to Philippe it was one of the originals, a mirror we put at about 20kg or so we guesstimated.

That fish was to result in some of the most spectacular photos I have ever taken and they have been used many times in magazines over the years. The waves and the swell we not conducive to photos of a guy trying to put back a large carp, but I thank the fishing gods that Philippe decided it was worth a try. He found out the hard way that such a task in a rising sea is not easy!

Not to be outdone Xav latched into another amazing looking fish, again from the drop-off at very close range a near fully-scaled mirror, a big round fish with massive 'apple tart'-like scaling. (Incidentally, that is what the French call these big heavily scaled fish, "tarte au pomme" - apple tarts.) It was the most gorgeous fish you could imagine, and the photos don’t really do it justice. It weighed just over 35lb.

Two amazing fish in a brief early morning feeding spell from a spot really close to the bank. It seemed amazing that you could catch just a few rod lengths out in such an enormous expanse of water, but Xavier, Leon and Philippe have caught stacks of big Sarulesti fish well within casting range and you would be wrong to imagine that all the fishing is at extreme range, taking the baits out by boat. The conditions helped no end, of course.

In fact it was blowing so strongly that a huge zone of highly coloured water began to form as sand and silt was disturbed from the lake bed an swirled into suspension in the water in front of us. I'd say this disturbed, coloured water reached out some thirty yards into the lake and obviously a lot of natural food was getting swirled around at the same time, drawing in carp to feed in the coloured water.

Surprisingly Xav decided to move across the lake to a swim more or less opposite the cove where we were fishing. Philippe had fished this swim before in very similar conditions and had caught well, strange given that the wind would be behind the angler. I think Xav was feeling a bit cramped fishing as he was between Philippe and myself, but so far I had not had a sniff while he had caught! Odd! Anyway, he packed up and moved his rods which would mean I could now get some rods onto the distant plateau.

Xavier, Leon and Philippe had to pull off the lake for the Saturday evening to say goodbye to some of their French tour anglers who were going home after a week, and to greet others who were arriving for their week. This left the swim entirely to me and I was going to make the most of it! That afternoon I caught my first Romanian carp, a common of 28lb. Nice start and who cares if mid-twenties are considered 'small'.

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   Old Thread  #439 21 Feb 2020 at 8.36am  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #438
Obviously we would need to use the boat to take the baited rods out to the plateau as it was too far for us to cast. We decided to fish two rods each on the top of the plateau and two each on the drop-off. Twelve rods on a feature may sound like too many but remember this was no small tiddly little plateau you might find in a home counties gravel pit, it was a massive one the size of a small field…

…well, that was the plan; what I had not allowed for was the highly competitive nature of my two French companions. Philippe and Xav had already established themselves, sharing a bivvy in the middle of the swim, Philippe's rods to the centre and right, Xav's to the centre and left. This left me precious little room to put my baits on the feature, huge though it was. My bivvy was on the left hand side of the swim, which meant my rods were squeezed out to the extreme left hand side. I was hard pushed to get a bait anywhere on the plateau. In the end I had to resign myself to dropping my baits way off to my left on open ground with no discernible features to be found. Here Philippe sets off in the boat to bait the plateau and drop a hookbait on it.

Bait for the trip was Trigga in both shelf life and fresh, as well as some home mades Big Fish Mix boilies that had been home-rolled prior to the trip. They were heavily loaded with additional Robin Red to compliment the RR already present in the original base mix. The finished baits were then air dried until they were rock-hard.

The boiled baits were backed up with preserved tiger nuts and hempseed from Dynamite Baits, the preserved version one can buy in the large jars. Dynamite had sent out a dozen 2.5kg jars of the nuts along with some of their preserved Frenzied hempseed.

At last we had some semblance of order in the swim, though I cannot say I was to delighted with my tail-end-Charlie position shoved out on the left of the swim. Still at least I had some rods in the water…at last!

The darkness brought a gale force wind from the east…I hate and wind with east in it, all they ever bring me are blanks! Little did I know that my dislike, on this occasion anyway, was ill informed! We sat in Philippe and Xav's tent sharing a brew, the door flap done up tight, the porch flapping in the fierce wind.

That first night, the Thursday and apparently 'big fish Thursday' according to the French guys, Xav caught a nice common of about 35lb and a grass carp, while Philippe caught two what I would call very decent commons of around 25lb or so. He didn't weight them but then he would not have done so even if they had been double that size. Philippe has never weighed a carp in his life claiming that it demeans them He likens it to you going out on the pull, scoring with a drop-dead gorgeous girl, taking her home, making her breakfast in bed, then as she is leaving you ask her to…"pop-up on these scales for us for a minute would you?"

Mid twenties are apparently considered small for the lake! They looked big enough to me; I would have given a king’s ransom for either of those fish at the time. Little did I know what was to come later!

The weather was totally unpredictable, one minute white calm, the next blowing a hoolie. Meanwhile it had become rather lively, to say the least with three foot waves crashing onto the shoreline at our feet, spray flying everywhere. It was like being on the beach at Brighton and I couldn't help thinking that the gale force onshore wind would push the carp in to our bank, even into casting range. That would be nice, as taking the baits out 200+ yards to the plateau was rather wearing, especially if you had to bail out the boat first!

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   Old Thread  #438 15 Feb 2020 at 4.16pm  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #437
So long story short, the signs all seemed to suggest that the fish were grouped up in the bigger bays so after a quick scout around we all decided to head for Water Tower Bay where a few fish had been caught by the rest of the party. Now here we were in our third swim, a beach-like affair not far from the eponymous water tower in the massive bay. There were just three other anglers fishing the bay before Phil, Xav and me arrived so we doubled the number of anglers fishing there. Mind you, in 700 acres you could never call it crowded! That red dot indicates our swim.

After setting up camp in two substantial canvas tents we went out in the boat for a look-see. The bay was 700 acres and the swim itself was about four miles from the base camp at the hotel so we also needed to shop for food and other victuals. The whole lake is more than 1,200 acres in size so you can imagine how essential it was to have access by boat as the roads were non-existent!

With the outboard engine chugging along happily we used the echo sounder to scan the lake bed. The underwater topography looked perfect. From the margins in front of the tents the bottom dropped away quickly to about 25 feet, then shelved gently as we moved out further into the lake. Then about two hundred yards from the swim a large plateau began to show on the sounder, the bottom climbing steeply from thirty feet to about 15 feet in a matter of yards. Further exploration showed that the plateau itself was huge stretching out over an area the size of several tennis courts. It was roughly rectangular in shape and the depth to the top varied between 15-18 feet, the surrounding water being an average of thirty feet deep. The red line shows the distance and rough size of the plateau.

Using a donking rod (a six foot long sea fishing rod carrying a reel loaded with braid with a ten ounce lead on the end) we found that the lake bed on the top of the plateau was pretty solid and by dragging the lead over the lake bed we could feel the distinctive pluck-pluck of mussel beds,

In close, no more than 30-40 yards from the bank, the bottom plunged steeply down in an acute drop-off, falling quickly to about 25-30 feet and half way down the drop-off a narrow ledge some two yards wide seemed to run along its length. Depth to the ledge was also about 15 feet. This looked as if it would be an ideal spot to fish after dark or in big onshore winds when the fish would almost certainly patrol the drop-off. We baited the plateau and the margins with tiger nuts and boilies; lots of boilies; about 10 kg of boilies…!

How much! Well there was method in what may seem at first to be madness. All three of the guys had fished the lake before and they knew full well the size of the shoals that formed in some of the bays and just how much bait these fish could go through. Luckily we had a lot!

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   Old Thread  #437 15 Feb 2020 at 4.11pm  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #436
Now while it was supposed to be a 2-week trip a strange set of bizarre circumstances conspired to limit me to just eight days proper fishing. Basically what happened was this. I was working for Fox International at the time and the gear I wanted to use was sent out for me by Fox, as was the Nutrabaits gear Phil and I were going to use. The whole shebang was flown out in three pallet loads by FedEx and was supposed to complete the journey to the hotel by road transport. Romania was adapting slowly to the idea that they would have to abide by the rules and regulations of the EU in less than four years time, Union having announced that together with Bulgaria the country would join in 2007, however, in 2003 corruption was rife in the customs and excise service. Surprise, surprise, my gear was impounded at customs until the relevant 'import duty' was paid, something in the region of $500! I didn't have that amount to hand and anyway, I was buggered if I was going to give in to bribery and corruption.

So I ended up with no rods, reels, end gear, leads, bedchair sleeping bag and worst of all, no bait. Luckily for Phil all his gear had arrived thanks to the company for whom he worked, the tyre company Michelin. They had sent his tackle and bulky items via their own contract with DHL and because they had a few irons in the fire in Romania no such 'duty' was necessary and his gear made it to the hotel without having to cough up the 'duty'.

As for me, well there was nothing for it but to wait until Monday and then go in to try to sort things out at Customs. Meanwhile I slept under a blanket of the floor of the tent while in the village a huge party went on through the Saturday night and into the Sunday. The noise was raucous and continued unabated more or less for the whole weekend. I stuck this out for the Saturday night but come Sunday I was tearing my hair out. Luckily Robert offered me a room in the hotel which meant I could get an early start in retrieving my gear. Phil meanwhile had cadged a bag of Leon's bait off him so at least he could fish. Here an old church dominates the far side of the bay, which dwarfs Phil's rods.

I slept like a log that Sunday night after enjoying a very nice dinner and a few ales as well as a bit of a party with some German hunters who were breaking their stay at the hotel while on a hunting party shooting wild bore. To be honest I think the wine, women and song was more important than the wild bore! If you've ever been to Robert's hotel you may know what I mean!

Monday I telephoned Vlad Pavlovici who worked for the British Council, though he was also a consultant to various tackle companies including Fox, Solar, Nash and Nutrabaits…He had some clout in other words, and this clout extended to him having a quiet word in the necessary ears, as a result of which my gear mysteriously was released with no 'duty' owning. Thanks, Vlad!

Phil fished the weekend to no avail and had decided to move so on Monday morning he arrived at the hotel with much of his gear. The bailiffs (they were more ghillies than bailiffs to be honest) were bringing the rest of his gear by boat. Leon and Xav had not started fishing yet but by Tuesday we were all set up in various swims in the Hotel Bay. My gear had by now arrived thanks in part to Vlad's intervention and perhaps also thanks to a quiet word from Robert, who had even more clout than Vlad. I set up on a point looking down the channel towards World Cup Bay. It was a tasty swim that looked very promising as it covered a huge area of the lake, which I had all to myself.

Thirty six hours into the trip and reports from the various pair of French anglers spread out around the lake began to trickle in. It seems that the two largest bays were providing the action, that is if you could call six fish between twenty anglers 'action'. It was nice and warm in the spring sunshine and the hotel was in easy walking distance…the bar beckoned and as Phil has the breaking strain of a Kit-Kat it didn't take much arm twisting to persuade him that a glass or two would be a great idea. Certainly we weren't missing much as nobody in the Hotel Bay had so much as a sniff. However, it was nice to watch the storks stalking!

…and then getting fed up and flying away!

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   Old Thread  #436 15 Feb 2020 at 4.08pm  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #435
Anyway, back to the story (incidentally this is an expanded repeat of one of my blogs for Haith's).

In all honesty I never had the slightest intention of fishing the lake, not even when the press was being flooded with articles and pictures of huge fish caught in true adventure-style conditions, complete with marauding mice, plague dogs, humans bones and gypsy villages. That's being a bit unkind to the dogs, as they were usually loveable old rogues who only wanted a bit of love shown to them. Once you had befriended any one of the hundreds of dogs you had a friend for the entirety of your stay. This one adopted Philippe and me when we fished close to the village of Sandulita.

Come the early noughties and Sarulesti, to give it its proper name, was well entrenched on the ‘circuit’ and not being one for following the crowds to such venues I steered clear. And that’s how things would have stayed had I not got caught up in the French carp protection group the UNCM run by Philippe Lagabbe and Eric Deboutrois, both of whom had been to the lake at least once and were raving about it. At the same time I had started writing for a Romanian publication submitting words and pix to the carp editor of the magazine Vlad Pavlovici.

Back in France, Phil had teamed up with a couple of well known carp anglers, Leon Hoogendijk and Xavier Paolozzi and the three of them had started doing trips to Sarulesti. Meanwhile Vlad was on about me going out there to fish the huge lake and maybe do some TV…Hang on a minute, this is me you’re talking about; me…Ken Townley. Are you sure?

I remained rather reluctant to go out there until finally Phil twisted my arm. He said that he, Xavier and Leon were taking a group of French guys to the lake for a fortnight's trip and did I want to come? I could fish for free and all he asked was that I make myself available and maybe give a few tips on carp fishing and generally make myself useful. Oh yes…and he’d pay my expenses too! Well a man can only put up so much resistance and so it was that I found myself in the heady company of a group of French carpists drinking cold beers in the lakeside hotel in the red-hot May of 2003. This Robert Raduta's hotel situated on the banks of the lake that is popularly known by his surname, Lake Raduta.

I believe Robert himself was quite well connected and he moved in pretty impressive and exclusive circles. In particular he was apparently an excellent tennis player and coached the Romanian team that included Ilie Nastase.

I flew into Bucharest airport and met up with a few French guys who had just arrived. A battered fleet of minibuses was on hand to take us out to the lake where I met up with the rest of the party, as well as Leon, Xav and Philippe. Here the trio is outlining the areas to be fished, briefing them as the group drew for swims.

Me and Phil ended up right at the top of the lake in a swim beside a rubbish dump - I kid you not - at the mouth of Sandulita Bay. Home for the trip was a huge canvas tent that had been erected for us by a couple of the lake's bailiffs…they could have chosen a bit more of a salubrious spot!

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   Old Thread  #435 14 Feb 2020 at 4.12pm  0  Login    Register
In reply to Post #434
Sarulesti 2003

OK, I know I was going to talk about my couple of years on the Emperor Lake Syndicate (ELS) but that can wait for a while, as instead I want to revisit the two trips I made to the famous Romanian lake at Sarulesti. This is a huge lake some 45 miles east of Bucharest, capital of Romania. The country was once part of the Iron Curtain countries, very much under the thumb of the Russian bear and ruled by the hated dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. This man was as feared and despised every bit as much as were Stalin and Hitler, ruling Romania from 1965 until his death in 1989. He became infamous for his lavish lifestyle, and started to build a palace for himself in the 1980s with miles of marble floors and thousands of crystal chandeliers with gold lavished upon the interior while his countrymen starved. He was overthrown in the popular revolution of December 1989 and together with his wife was summarily executed by firing squad on Christmas Day of that year.

Often called 'The Last Stalinist' Ceausescu was cruelty personified but strangely enough the lake at Sarulesti is a direct consequence of his plans for a vast self-sustaining infrastructure. Part of those plans called for the construction of dams along the course of a large tributary of the Danube and these created vast reservoirs that were used for irrigation, fish farming and other commercial fresh water activities. This is just a tiny part of the Sarulesti Lake (Raduta Lake) seen from the dam wall.

And this is a nice common caught in the small Dam Bay (if you call 100 acres small!)

The lake is 1,200 acres in size and was created when the valley was flooded to create one of the five huge lakes that lie along the river's course. The reservoir below Sarulesti is even bigger, being over six miles long and measuring 2,000 acres!

As an historical footnote, the water also flooded several villages on the river bank and the residents were offered no alternative accommodation nor given sufficient time to relocate their monuments, churches and graveyards. Consequently human remains could be seen washed up on the banks.

You can more or less split the lake into distinct, almost separate zones, the canals and the bays. Naturally enough the canals connect the bays, most of which are huge in themselves. They are all huge but one of the largest is Preasna Bay, which is 700 acres. It is named after the village that lies on the western side of the bay and overlooks it. Other bays are the so-called World Cup Bay, Sandulita Bay, the Hotel Bay and Magureni Bay. On my first visit we fished initially in Sandulita and our swim is marked with a red dot. We moved from there to Preasna Bay, again indicated by the red dot. The hotel is marked with a blue dot.

Fish are caught all over the lake and while each bay and channel seems to hold a resident population, they are also pretty nomadic and they wander from one end of the lake to the other is a surprisingly short time. For instance, the fish shown below was initially caught in Preasna Bay and was then recaptured the following day in Magureni Bay, a distance of some four miles. No wonder it was hungry!

Back in the early noughties Raduta was famous for its carp but nowadays there seems to be more emphasis put on the Beluga sturgeon that go to over 300lb. That's not to say that the carp fishing takes a back seat, far from it. The carp fishing has come on it leaps and bounds since the fish kill in 2004 and once again there are several fish in the 60-70 lb bracket.

In addition the predator fishing is as good as ever with some enormous perch, black bass, zander and pike being the prime species. The lake is absolutely crammed with bait fish so it is small wonder that the predator fishing is so good. The zander in particular are great fun.

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