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On my own terms - Part2

Page history last edited by Jerome Moisand 6 years, 10 months ago

 

When

May 2012

See also

PBs pics album

 


On my own terms - Part 1

 

Some of you may remember an article I wrote for the NACA in 2010, where I bragged big time about the way I finally broke my personal best with a giant 44lb mirror. The theme of the article was "on my own terms", meaning that I had caught this monster truly by myself, figuring out the spot where to fish, how to fish it, working really hard on it, and finally landing the fish of my dreams after an ungodly number of hours trying.

 

I have to confess something which has been nagging me since I wrote this article. I was so eager to claim that it was caught on my own terms that I 'forgot' to give proper credit to Iain Murray. After all, he's the one who dragged me to fish that special day. And... it really pains me to acknowledge (with a wink) that I used Iain's method mix that day, as I had none of my own. So... to be fully honest, maybe I didn't catch this monster fish strictly on my own terms after all. Oh well, this is also what fishing is about, sharing exceptional moments with friends and helping each other. So let's say that I should give 4lb of credit to Iain, and keep 40lb for myself...

 

 

At the end of the article, I said "Big koi: check. Big mirror: check. Big common: next goal." So you guessed... I am going to brag again... Yup, I caught a pretty big common. On my own terms. But let's step back in time... 

 

Discovering Quebec

 

In the fall of 2007, I made a seminal trip in Quebec, this was a family trip more intended to do sight-seeing than fishing. Still, I had my rods with me, so I spent a few hours on the bank, and was very pleased to catch incredibly thick fish, including an amazing sequence of events that left me with three stunning upper 20s on the mat. No need to say I was rather motivated to come back and log more hours on the Canadian section of the Saint-Lawrence.

 

 

I impatiently waited during our usual snowy winter (which is nothing in Massachusetts compared to what they endure in Quebec!), did extensive research on the Web (very few people fishing for carp in Quebec, so this didn't provide that much information), and planned to go spend an extended week out there right before spawning time. And I had the time of my life. I mean, I really did. I spent the most extraordinary nine days of fishing you could imagine, landing more than 100 fish, averaging nearly 20 pounds each, including two thirties and a slew of upper twenties and even a mirror. I also discovered multiple new spots, made many friends in the process, and am guilty as charged to have transformed a few local folks into true carp addicts! The picture below is the most symbolic memory of all, four rods, four quasi-simultaneous runs, and four carp landed by my new friends (Melanie, Daniel and Martin), and myself.

 

 

I went back to Quebec a couple of times a year since then, and I usually have a great time. Not only fishing can be terrific, but I can also stuff myself with delicious pastries, communicate with people who speak my mother tongue (or close!), and all of that just a few hours of driving from home via the green mountains of Vermont.  A few more things I truly enjoy while fishing in Quebec, the beautiful sunsets on St Lawrence, the really big boats navigating the St Lawrence seaway and some unexpected encounters... 

 

 

In 2009, while I was roaming around, trying to find yet another new swim along the river, I even stumbled upon carp mosaics that a local artist glued on rocks! There are 30 of those, all different, imagine my surprise when I found this totally unexpected art display. I succeeded to contact the artist, who explained that she chose carp as a symbol of dedicated hard workers who kept plowing through hard tasks without ever complaining. This was such a cool story! Well, except that I never succeeded to catch a carp from there, which is too bad.

 

 

On my own terms - Part 2

 

This year (2012), I turned 50 in April. I pretended that I really didn't care, that this was a year like any other year, but.... well... it's not. I am half way through an entire century, urg, this hurts. And I didn't catch a 50 pounder yet, I am a total failure of an angler... I decided that I needed to go on a nice fishing trip, to catch big carp and enjoy myself, and where else could that be? In Quebec, of course. My plan was actually a bit more complicated than that, I also wanted to spend a couple of days exploring a large reservoir which was right on the way to Quebec. This reservoir is actually fed by the Connecticut river which goes all the way up to the border between New Hampshire and Vermont. When vacation time finally came, I drove there, dropped my stuff at a picturesque local motel, and went to visit the few local tackle stores. Ever heard of carp, did I ask? Nope, did they say, there isn't a single carp until Lebanon 50 miles downstream. I didn't quite believe them, so I went on the shore of the reservoir, saw two anglers who told me exactly the same thing. Hm. I followed the river, this was very scenic and seemed very carpy, except that the river was dammed every few miles, creating quite some obstacles indeed for carp to come to the downstream part of the CT river. I asked a few more times my questions to local anglers, and basically got the same answer in a very consistent manner. 

 

 

For a normal fishing trip, I would probably have prebaited 2 or 3 friendly spots, and gave it a solid try the day after. Just in case, and because I don't like to give up easily. But well, I am a bit scarred from a couple of discovery trips that proved very frustrating, and this time, for my 50th birthday, I wanted to take it easy and catch. So I came back to the motel, enjoyed a movie at the local theater (Tim Burton is such an amazing movie director!) and left the following morning for Quebec. I had on my sight another reservoir which was on my way, and this time, local folks told me right away that carp were numerous in there, except that... there was no public access to speak of. After a few minutes of soul searching, fact is... I just wanted to go straight to where I had so much success in the past few years... Discovery will be for another year, let's just go catch plenty of fish!  

 

I made it to my usual hotel in Quebec, threw some maize at an especially nice spot (where the quadruple take occurred), bought my fishing license, some food, and set up my rods end of the afternoon. And I proceeded to catch... exactly nothing. Huh? I thought, ok, maybe I needed to chum a bit more, so I dumped half a bucket of maize in another spot (which is usually nothing given the size of the schools of fish), went to sleep, came back the day after, chummed the first spot, moved to the second spot and... er... royally blanked... I was starting to grumble a bit, moved back to the first spot, and finally landed my first carp. And a small one, and another one. And that was it for the day. This was progress, but not quite what I came for.

 

 

I chummed again, this spot and another one, fished again the day after, with only 3 takes on a rainy day, and nothing worth bragging about. You might ask, what did all your local friends say? And where were they, by the way? Ok, time to acknowledge something... I enjoy fishing with friends, but... I also enjoy very much to fish on my own. That's it, it is said, I certainly lack in the social skills department, but heck, I'm 50, this is a big birthday, so I had decided to give myself a break and simply fish in a quiet manner. Ahem. Quiet it was. A bit too much, in truth.  I finally decided to go try another spot, without any prebaiting. I was pleasantly surprised to get two runs relatively easily, except that I broke my line twice on treacherous underwater rocks. I tried again the day after, using some leadercore to protect my main line, and finally had a decent day with 5 fish landed, including a mid-twenty. I did lose a few more fish though, and found a way to break my leadercore on a super sharp rock, unbelievable.

 

 

In the evening, I decided to go chum yet another spot I discovered during a previous trip. I had two days left to go, I was quite discouraged, but I wanted to keep trying. I started the next day by fishing a bit more the treacherous spot, got a couple of fish, nothing exciting, and moved to my last hope swim... where I proceeded to have better luck. Takes weren't that frantic, I kept myself busy marveling at the giant boats passing by, and one fish made my day, a very thick low 30, while another one made me roll my eyes (I felt lucky to have both eyes actually, as this baby carp had already lost one).

 

 

I was running out of maize, so I spread it to keep carp busy during the night. All my sweet feed pellets leftovers, a loaf of bread, what was left of the method mix, everything I had handy went in the water! The day after, I was back early, I set up, made two bowls of method mix to chum in a generous manner (as my maize was basically gone), I saw a couple of fish jump, and I was very confident that I would finally get one of those 20 fish a day session that the St Lawrence sometimes delivers. Yes, sure. Do things go according to plan when you fish? Ahem, rarely. Fish jumped. I waited. I recast. Fish jumped. I waited. Chummed a bit more. Caught nothing. Fish jumped. All morning. You have to be kidding me, not a single run. Some wildlife came to check out the stupid carp angler who couldn't catch a carp.

 

 

I finally reasoned that the waves and wind might have pushed my bait closer to shore than I had anticipated. I recast a rod very close to shore, and was rewarded by a run within minutes. Aaaahhh... Took me 4 hours to figure that one out, yeah, well, I'm 50, my brain is a tad slower than it was, I guess. Five or six fish later, I was feeling much better about my last day of fishing. Then things slowed down again. I buried myself in a book, and just enjoyed being close to the water. Two hours later, a run out of nowhere. This fish took a crazy amount of line, running on the left side, then changed direction and moved on the right side, taking again a lot of line. I was playing it very conservatively, as this general area is also rather tricky with underwater rocks. Except that I was 40 yards from where I had left my net after some of this back & forth game. And the fish seemed really heavy. I carefully dragged it along the shore, being totally paranoid about rocks, and finally reached my net. When I struggled to make the fish enter and fit in the net, I finally realized I had something special. And when I lifted the net, I knew I had something very special!

 

I quickly weighed the fish, and it was somewhere between 39 pounds and 39 pounds and a half. Go try to stop shaking when you lift such a weight. No tree with a solid fork in sight, so I decided to give it 39-4lb. This was a really big fish, 39 inches long, 29 inches thick, a very healthy fish which probably ate a ton of snails & mussels to get to such heft. Now what about the guilty pleasure of fishing alone? Well, I paid for it, as the self-photographing with this stupid 10 second timer and a giant of a fish to lift... That was interesting, to say the least! I released the fish, recast for the heck of it, and watched the water for nearly 2 hours without doing anything but dream of my new PB common. I finally started to wrap up, and was lucky enough to get a last minute run, a low 20 pounder that I didn't weigh, such a small fish...

 

 

 

Now did I catch this fish on my own terms? Let's see. A spot I discovered myself? Check. My rig? Using a Powerpro hooklink, a size 6 hook, no line aligner, no offset hook (that's bad Mexican/Dutch voodoo)? Check. My  bait? Check (very sophisticated, two kernels of maize!). My method mix (secret recipe... er... not so secret)? Check. My hard work to make a long and difficult week of fishing finally deliver? Check. Oh, and I netted and weighed the fish myself, and self-photographed it too. And I didn't call my lucky charm (my wife) until AFTER I released the monster. Ok, I think this time, it truly counts as a fish I caught entirely on my own terms. Now do I regret a tiny bit to not have a friend to share this special moment with? Yeah, ok, maybe I do... 

 

PS: was I disappointed to not break the 40lb barrier? Actually I was absolutely fine with it. The last thing I have to acknowledge is that since I caught the giant mirror, my fishing passion waned a bit. I still enjoy fishing, mind you, but I'm less crazy about it. Still, I have one major goal that remains in front of me. And this is a 40+ common. On my own terms. And it's good to have this goal to make me want to go back to Quebec again & again... Even if I'm getting older and those rocky shores are killing me!

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