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On my own terms

Page history last edited by Jerome Moisand 3 weeks, 1 day ago

 

When

Jul 2001 to Oct 2010

See also

PBs pics album

 


A string of Personal Bests

 

I vividly remember the first carp I caught in the US. This was in July 2001 and I had no idea how to hold this fish. I was fishing small carp when I was a teenager in France, having absolutely no clue what I was doing except that I was truly enjoying myself. Then life moved on. Then fishing resumed. 25 years later. Notably when I figured out that there are carp in the US!

 

Attached Image

 

I don't quite remember my first 10 pounder. Nor my first 15 pounder.  What I do remember is that I was lucky enough to improve my Personal Best pound per pound, or close, between 11 and 18 pounds in the course of 2002. One of the low teens was witnessed by my kids, when they were small and cute, now they are both taller than me, time flies! The 18 pounder was a triple run from the Charles river and I still remember every second of the struggle to land those 3 fish all by myself.

 

 

Then a special week-end occurred in July 2003. Not only did I improve my PB to 19 pounds and change on Friday night from a local pond I recently started to fish, but I had my first session on the Merrimack river on Sunday. The goal was for me to catch the ultimate fish, my first 20 pounder. We fished with Scott Osmond for several hours, it was scorching hot, we caught a few, but no 20 for me. While we were ready to wrap up, Scott had one last run. He told me to take it and I landed what remains my biggest common in MA to date, a 29 pounder, shattering my 2 days old PB by almost 10 pounds.

 

 

Early 2004, I was quickly becoming more and more involved with the Carp Anglers Group. A rite of passage was to go to the Austin Team Championship organized by the amazing Neil Stern and fish this big carp venue that was known as Town Lake at that time. Scott and myself paired up as a team, we didn't catch much during the ATC itself, but we heard that several swims produced real well, so early in the morning after the event itself, I was ready to go and make better use of the new rods that I bought from Terry Fishlock before the ATC. I had to kick Scott out of bed and drag him on the bank (fishing is hard work!). This proved worth it, we had a terrific session, including a run for me that felt really big. Somehow we both knew this was my first 30. Under Scott's guidance, it found the way to the net. And this was indeed my first thirty, a bulky 31lb carp (right after netting it, we rushed to take care on my second rod which was running with another fish while I was playing the biggie!).

 

 

This first 30+ PB was quickly upgraded to a 32 pounder caught in a Chicago harbor right before the CCC, using a rod borrowed from Shawn Woerlein. This led to an amusing phone call to Paul Pezalla, who just couldn't believe I had landed a 30 pounder from Illinois while he spent many years trying (since then, he landed this extraordinary 38 pounder out of the Chicago river). Delight was followed by despair as I found a way to forget my camera on the bank a few days later, right before driving to the airport to go home, so I have little photographic evidence except this shot from Matt Coll, who witnessed my lucky catch and provided the lucky opal boilie. The weirdo trying to steal the show on the pic was Louis Cook (little did he know he would become CAG president one day by then!). First time I met those Philly guys, actually.

 

 

It was getting much harder to improve my PB than in the early days! It took me another trip to Town Lake. During the ATC 2005, Iain Murray was my partner and landed a beautiful 27lb mirror and a muscular 29lb common, but I didn't get much (as usual). Most of my time was actually spent witnessing Jim Kirkman and his young friend Moses land carp after carp on packbait, including a giant 39 pounder Jim caught, which was the biggest carp I had seen so far. Iain and myself had planned to stay a few days after the ATC and fished hard, including at a somewhat secret spot that Matthias Baltin had been kind enough to share with us (where he caught a brace of 40s, no less!). Frankly, we struggled and only caught the odd fish during long hours of fishing. Then one evening at Matthias' spot, I finally cracked the 35 pounds barrier (and 30 minutes later, caught my first buffalo ever, 32 pounds).

 

 

35-8 pounds... What next? 

 

This string of Personal Bests made for busy fishing between early 2002 and April 2005. This was a really nice time. Still, something was nagging me. For all the new PBs over 20 pounds, somebody else always had quite a hand in my catch. It was Scott's rod for the 29lb, we had tips on where to go fish Town Lake for the 31lb and 35lb, it wasn't not my rod nor my bait for the 32lb... I was extremely happy with those catches, don't misread me, but they didn't truly feel like MY personal bests. And I knew I was entering the zone of the truly difficult big fish to be caught for a new PB. My new goal of course was to catch a 40 pounder. And I had to catch this one on my own terms as I might very well have to wait 20 years until I catch a 50+ if I am ever lucky enough to get one. This was the last practical big barrier in front of me.

 

So I started to fish the Merrimack river and other local venues real hard, plus have multiple trips to the St Lawrence, fishing known spots as well as trying to find new ones. I caught a few more low thirties, accumulated great memories, also landed a colorful 24lb mirror and a truly memorable 24lb koi (which remains the US record to date), but nothing came close to my current 35-8lb PB in 2005 or 2006. Another big source of frustration was my inability to catch a 30 pounder from my home state, I remained stuck with the 29 pounder from eons ago... Maybe I should have bought Scott's magical rod!

 

 

End of 2006, I had a seminal discussion with Chris Chiodo during a long fishing night (when Bob Giordano moved away from MA), during which both Bob and Chris found a way to badly hook themselves, Bob ending up in a hospital, hooked to the bone! Chris reminded me of a local venue I knew about but never fished, where big mirrors are known to roam. So early 2007, I drove out there and started to scout. As I was very set on catching on my own terms, I really didn't want to fish the swim that Chris had referred to and drove all around the venue, which is pretty large. I identified several possibilities and decided to come back when the weather would be better. In May 2007, I had my first fishing session. I started by catching a cool fully scaled from a not so great swim, then moved to another swim which was more spacious. I completely messed up the cast with my short rod (I love my 9 feet TICAs), but decided to leave it alone and to doze a bit. As luck would have it, an amazing fish came out of the water, my first 30 pounder from MA, a stunning 34lb mirror. And a couple of weeks later, I landed a 35 pounder from another swim. The goal of the lucky and greedy angler became pretty clear, improve my PB from this venue and possibly catch a 40.

 

Easier said than done. I fished hard, for several years. I explored again and again. I tried everything. I caught some really cool fish, but could never catch anything bigger. I just couldn't. The only thing getting bigger was my stomach (I took an easy 10 pounds during this time period!).

 

In the mean time, I started to go to Quebec and fish the French-speaking section of the St-Lawrence. Well, I am not sure if the river speaks French, but the locals certainly do (well, kind of). My first short trip resulted in a 29 pounder and a 32 pounder, I was amazed by the thickness of those carp. This was pure discovery out there, as very few locals had any clue about carp fishing, I actually initiated quite a few of them to my favorite quarry and fishing methods during what remains my most rewarding fishing trip ever, 9 days of pure fishing pleasure and companionship (May 2008). A couple I befriended showed special talent and the year after (in Oct 2008), I was fishing a swim they discovered and netting a 37 pounder for Daniel, a carp with a huge frame. Oh, and Melanie had landed a 36lb from this swim earlier in the year. I was really happy for them, but rolling my eyes a bit at those newbies who went past my old PB without missing a beat. A few days later, my spirits improved a lot, as I finally beat my 3 years-old PB with an incredibly long and muscular fish which went 36-2lb on the scale. First time I saw a carp not quite fitting on my landing mat!

 

 

But wait. Did I catch this fish on my own terms? Well, not entirely. This swim was discovered by Daniel & Melanie (kudos to them). Ah man, this was nice but not quite what I envisioned. I really had to get my 40 in a different way or I would regret it my entire life (add dramatic music like 'Thus Spake Zarathustra' and read the last sentence again). Seriously, this was truly important for me. I was invited multiple times to a very scenic venue in New York State that was becoming famous for his numerous 40s (and its potential for a 50+) and I stubbornly refused to go there, it would have been so wrong to just go, catch a big fish by luck, and be done with the 40 pounds barrier in such a way.

 

When you least expect it 

 

Well, I kept trying. Hard. Fishing the big mirror venue and neighbor ponds. Going back to Quebec. Spending a full month blanking at another local lake which I thought had a great potential. Exploring. Fishing. Occasionally noticing wife and kids, but not too often. Fishing again. Blanking a lot. It became a haze. Mid 2009, I invited a friend (Mike Dragone) to fish with me and the devil caught a monster at 42-8lb - yeah, I was the one who netted this amazing fish and took all pictures with great excitement, but also a twitch in my heart.

 

During spring 2010, although I landed a few really nice fish, something cracked inside me. I was getting bored and impatient during my long fishing hours. I was getting discouraged, no longer believing I could catch a 40 pounder on my own terms. I was reconsidering my decision to refuse to go to this exceptional venue in New York State, but couldn't make myself do it. And my hours of fishing dwindled. We had a big family trip abroad which occupied a good part of the summer. My work time increased (yeah, back to full time). I started to spend quite some time planning for my son Valentin's college admission in the fall 2011. I was still fishing, mind you, still enjoying myself, but it wasn't the same, I had stopped believing in miracles. A dispiriting 3-days discovery trip in Quebec left me without a single fish and my motivation in shatters.

 

One week near the end of October, Iain called and suggested to spend a few hours of fishing at the big mirror venue. I almost refused, as we had a lengthy college visit planned the day after, but finally decided that I needed a break. I was there after 5PM, set up my rods without thinking much, grabbed my PDA and started to browse some college Web sites again. My wife had insisted to try some new flavor with the maize, something really strong. Although I am increasingly convinced that using strong scents isn't as bad a tactic as the Euro guys say, I have to admit the stuff she put in the maize made me roll my eyes (if only to protect them from the fumes!). Four hours later, nothing had moved although we saw a couple of jumps 50 yards away. I was expecting I'd go home in a couple of hours with a stinky car and yet another blanking session.

 

And out of nowhere I had a run. This fish was taking a lot of line, moving steadily and just wouldn't stop. I started to realize I had a nice fish, maybe a mid 30. After a good deal of 'pump and reel', the fish finally came close to shore, making big swirls. Iain is a very experienced angler, he netted many fish for me (and the reverse way around), but somehow this carp didn't want in, we had to try three times before succeeding. I was obviously curious about the fish, but still had no inkling what was in the net. Iain then said something like "er... I am not sure how to go up the [steep] shore, this is really heavy". I thought something along the lines of "come on, you pussy, 30 pounds or so ain't that heavy". Iain finally made it, huffing and puffing. We laid the fish on the mat and I started to get the point. When I least expected it (as Pat Kerwin predicted a few years back), I caught the biggest carp of my life. I forced myself to stay calm (yeah, right) and not speculate, while Iain went to get the scale and weigh sling. I wasn't thinking much actually and found a way to stick the hook twice in my fingers before deciding to cut the hooklink to get rid of it. Then we weighed the monster, Iain with this twinkling in his eyes knew what was going to happen. And the verdict came. FOURTY-FOUR POUNDS. Right on the mark. My PB broken by nearly 8 pounds. A beast of a carp caught from a swim I discovered, from a difficult venue I know inside out, with my rod, my rig and a special bait coming from my creative wife (love you!). Oh, and the biggest mirror ever caught by a CAG member in North America (sorry Mike!) at the time of writing.

 

No need to keep rambling, here are the pics of a stubborn carp angler who did catch his first 40 on his own terms... After years of trying! For the observant carpers, this fish has been caught in the past. Not at this size though. It was actually the same fish I caught the first day I fished this venue (the 34lb) and the same fish Mike landed at 42lb... A very healthy monster, which has been swimming in front of me for years!

 

 

PS for Mario: I figured out afterwards I was using a offset hook. Stop grinning.

 


NACA cover page

 

After catching this monster, I tried to contain the information, but just the few excited phone calls I made right after catching it were enough to disseminate the rumor nation-wide! Still, I didn't make any announcement on the CAG Forum, keeping the details for the NACA (text was very close to the write-up of this Web page), and a few months later, I made the cover of the NACA!

 

 

 

 

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