12 Acre German Mystery - Part 1
Fred Foley managed to get himself a ticket on an old 12 acre gravel pit after retiring to Southern Germany, he had no information about the water but this just made the adventure more exciting...
I have been living in Southern Germany for 32 years and in that time I haven't done a lot of fishing of any kind. When I was single and living in England I fished the open match circuit around Essex, I held a C.A.P.S ticket from the late 70’s till the mid 80’s so naturally match fished Layer. My PB at that time would have been around 15lb, so when it came time to retire in Germany I started to look around for somewhere to while away my retirement hours. Through the magic of Google I found a lake only a 10 minute drive from the house and a post on a forum, although seven years old, said they did day tickets. It also said that he had seen some huge tench in the margins. I went for a quick walk round and it looked good but by this stage a dirty puddle would have looked inviting! As far as I could tell it was about 10-12 acres of clear weed less water, I had seen a few carp under the heavily wooded north bank that looked to be low doubles and had seen a bream glide over a gravel bar, so I was hooked. Time to organize a ticket...
A week or so later after sorting my old match tackle out, I paid a visit to the farm to secure the day ticket only to be told by the farmer’s wife that they no longer did day tickets, only season permits and I should come back the following year. The next bombshell was that there were only limited tickets and it was “dead man’s shoes” so to speak. To cut a long story short after a few visits to the Farmer and a Covid lock down I was informed that one person had not yet renewed and I could have the ticket. I was given a set of rules and it was most of the normal stuff but one that screamed at me off the page was NO FEEDING, when I questioned this he said that although the odd handful would be okay they didn’t want loads going in but I could use a feeder. My immediate thought was “I have some feeders the size of coke cans” but I let that slide. When I asked about depths he gave me a contour map that showed it went down to over 8 meters in parts and the norm was 6 meters. There was a shallow area (3 meters) in the north east corner where I had seen the gravel bars on Google earth. Let the fun begin.
I don’t remember much about my first visit except that the records showed I blanked! This also happened on my next two visits but it was nice to be out, feeding the crayfish and watching a pair of Kingfishers go about their business. It was slowly dawning on me that my tactics with the method feeder were not working and as I hadn’t seen anyone else fishing it was time for a rethink. I had caught one roach of about 3oz, which I thought was better than blanking and I might get some bigger ones eventually. The next day I returned with my trusty 12ft match rod, 6lb line, 3lb hook link and a size 14 hook. I trickled in some corn and a few 6mm pellets to keep the crays busy. After about an hour of inactivity I sensed that the float moved I then gave it my full attention and did indeed move, as it slid under I struck into what felt like a barn door that started to move as to hook link parted. Searching through my hook link box I found some size 12’s tied to 6lb, and decided to use halibut pellet paste as it had given me some success in England. About an hour later the float slid away again and this time everything held, the fish powered off into open water and kept going. Even though I knew the spool was fully loaded I looked down anyway, plenty left but I’ve got to stop it. I gave it the big heave and it miraculously stopped, then the tug o’ war started to get back the 80 yards it had taken. Eventually it flopped into my 20” pan landing net even though the carp was over 30” long. This was certainly the biggest fish I had ever caught, I had no idea how much it weighed as I had never seen one that big on the bank before. I had no scales so unhooked it in the net, took a quick snap and let it go. It was a good job I was sitting down as I don’t think I could have stood up! I reached for my thermos and just sat drinking tea until I stopped shaking, that had not happened to me since I was a kid.
Packing up I noticed an angler setting up a bivvy on the far side, so I stopped for a chat. When I told him I had a carp of about 10kg he just shrugged and said “that’s about normal”! My response was just how big do they go in here, 20kg was the reply but the grass carp are bigger and then there’s the catfish. It was then I realized I had never asked the Farmer how big or how many fish were in here. It was now obvious that my tackle needed a major overhaul, I was on a limited budget but needed to make a shopping list and prioritise it to my finances. It took a few weeks but I put the necessities together, and the equipment I chose was at the lower end of every companies range but perfectly usable.
A week later I returned to fish the paste again but had also taken an old heavy feeder rod to fish the bomb and corn. Picking a spot was easy, it was as far as I could fire the corn with a catapult. Sitting on my box concentrating on my float I became aware of an unusual sound, looking around I realised it was the bait runner on the feeder rod that I had never heard in anger before. The result was a 13 1/2 lb mirror that I was soon to catch again at a later date!
I was not keeping detailed notes at this stage but I blanked the next 4 visits spread over 3 weeks, I must have had a rethink as the images from my phone show me fishing the diagonally opposite corner on my next visit. The details of this trip are a bit vague but my spreadsheet shows I had 3 fish, first was a mirror at just under 14lb (recapture from above), an hour later I had a little common of 7 1/2lb followed by an altogether different animal! As soon as I tightened down to the fish I felt the the raw power and the fish just plodded off in an unhurried way. Every now and again I could feel the single beat of its tail but I was winning the battle, when the carp surfaced I was pleased I now had a 42” net! I was on my own (as always) so I unhooked it in the water and staked the net in the margin to get everything ready. The scales settled at 39lb 8oz, I took a couple of quick snaps on the mat, treated the hook hold and returned her. She was not the prettiest mirror I had ever seen and the pictures on the mat did no justice to her true size but I was buzzing. And now totally hooked!
My records show I didn’t return for a week (I was probably waiting for more gear to be delivered) and blanked but the next day I had 4 smallish fish (low doubles). And so it went on, and a couple of weeks later in the middle of July I had a recapture of the first fish it weighed 23lb 7oz so my guess wasn’t that far out.
This was the start of the adventure that continued on until the end of our season on 15th November, the numbers for the season were 74 captures of 55 different fish made up of 2 forties, 4 thirties, 16 twenties, 39 doubles and 13 singles. The fact that none of these fish have names and as far as I know all of them were stocked as small fish over a number of years makes it even more enjoyable. In the next part I will go through some of the more notable incidents and some of the schoolboy errors I made. It was a steep learning curve, you might be wondering why there is no mention of the other big fish; quite simply there was nothing remarkable about them apart from their size. At this stage I still had no idea how to do self takes so my only concern was getting them weighed and returned as quickly as possible. The rules do not allow the retention of fish and that was the one rule I would adhere to even if I would bend some of the others! Read part 2 of my story here!