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Tales From Across The Pond

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Last Updated: 27th July 2016

If you were a student in the American public school system in the 1980s into the 1990s you are probably familiar with the video game The Oregon Trail.  If you are unfamiliar let me guide you through the basics (it does tie in with carp fishing so here me out). A quick synopsis of the game is that you had to guide an 8-bit family through an abundance of 8-bit obstacles to the goal, which was an 8bit settling  and gold. It was commonplace to lose 6 of your 14 children to the oxen not being able to withstand the current of the Snake River (which is also an excellent river to fish)! If you were fortunate enough to make it to the other side then you were susceptible to disease. You name it and the disease was prevalent Dysentery, Cholera, Typhoid, and Malaria were all ready to meet you making that goal of reaching the gold just a little bit more unobtainable.

 

The Oregon Trail game was not unlike the session that Josef Raguro, Zach Testa and myself have just embarked on, in more ways than one. On the drive you even witness historical roadside markers pointing out existing areas of the Oregon Trail. The obstacles I listed earlier are still all present, just more in a first-world manner.

You never know when you’ll be in an area that will allow you no cellular signal. This would lead to all sorts of issues, such as no music, no map service to find grocery stores and you wouldn’t be able to show your friends your most idiotic YouTube video of a kid falling off of a slide or something. In short, it was tough.

 

That aside, the scene we witnessed on reaching the lake we were going to fish was very rustic and promising. Plenty of free swims based around every sort of feature you can imagine.

After much debating, we settled on point in the main lake that was being battered by white-cap waves, as it was pretty windy, but the waves were stirring up the water and colouring it up.  We’d made a 23-hour drive to reach this lake, so as you can imagine, it was sweet relief to finally be here.

Like sweet saccharine, the next morning we were into carp and the action had kicked off in earnest. Nothing huge, but we’d only just started. One thing to mention to any overseas readers is that mirror carp are somewhat rare in certain regions of America, so a 23-hour drive to a lake nestled between snow-capped mountains paired with cool, dry air and the chance of catching some mirror carp was completely worth the effort.

As the shoals of carp move into our swim, we can watch them advance, as they show regularly, head-and-shouldering among the waves, getting ever closer. Eventually, the screaming alarms let you know that the shoal’s arrived… and they’re hungry.

 

The takes weren’t coming as quickly as we would have liked in comparison to the number of fish we could see showing. The three of us were in our bivvies’ pulling out tricks and edges to see if we could fix this matter. My trick was to try a Solar Secret Corker on a Multi-Rig. I whacked it out toward the showing shoal and was in within minutes. The Aniseed & Bunspice Corkers were also taking an equal amount of fish, as the combination of a hi-viz hook bait with a powerful fragrance proved the answer to more takes. In fact, these two baits continued to out-perform the other baits for the next 5 days.

 

There were more than few semblances of Oregon Trail life on this trip. One of them being the absence of any civilization. Our nights were cool, quiet, and absent of light pollution. While this feeling of isolation may have once been disconcerting for the weary Pioneers, we found it to be the most ideal place to repose and recollect over a day’s fishing.

All was going too well until I had a constant uneasy feeling in my gut. No details are needed on this bit of the story, aside from the fact that I was getting multiple runs, and not all of them were coming from rods! During the days we’d gather in a makeshift shelter constructed of poles and a tarp. Under this shelter we seldom discussed carp, most of our conversations were in fact based around nothing in particular, which is something we rarely get to do.

 

The action remained constant throughout the trip. I did not document the astonishing amounts of doubles we had as a group, or as an individual, but it was many.  Alongside these, the ‘average’ size was a decent stamp too, with most fish being in the 20lb range. Again, I didn’t count the number of twenties we had, but suffice to say there were plenty.

Part of the discussion in our ‘shanty town home’ that did regard carp was the absence of the larger carp, with an expectation of thirties and a few forties on a trip like this.

For Zach Testa that was to come the following morning. After banging out a flouro pop-up well beyond the baited area Zach received a run that stripped line from his reel and just kept going. Eventually the fish neared the bank and I caught sight of it among the weed in the clear water. It was a deep, long fish and I signalled to Zach with a thumbs up; I figured this gesture was clear, but also too vague to say anything if the hook pulled.

Knee deep in water I eyed the fish for some time with the net in my hand. Netting a friend’s fish is like being a soccer goalie. You’re role in the grand scheme of everything is small; however if there is to be a loss and the ball hits the net you are the subject of blame and ridicule. The fished slipped in and 36lb of PB was soon in the hands of a deserving angler.

 

The following morning it was my turn, as I received a long, powerful run from a hard-fighting fish. The previous year when I fished this water the larger carp, 40lb+, were rather slow and hugged the bottom during the fight. This one felt different as it charged around, but perhaps the clear water was making the difference, as last year the water had ben rather murky.

Zach played the goalie this time and managed the fish to the net. At 38lb I was elated, but realized that at a different time of the year this fish would likely be well into the 40s!

It’s hard to believe, but at one time we had 7 fish at once between the 3 of us, and the aftermath left the bank covered in mats, slings, rods and general carnage.

 

On our last night of the trip we gathered under our ‘shanty town home’ and looked through all the pictures we’d amasses over the past few days, with a few celebratory drinks to boot. By this time the Dysentery, or whatever I had caught, was long gone and the dread of sorting all the gear and loading up the next morning was the last thing on our minds.

 

Until next time, tight lines. Erick Maybury.



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