I went on my last long fishing trip of 2017, at the end of October. I’d got a 10-day fishing session on Lake Šumbar, in Croatia, booked. It is a session that I am going to have great memories of which will last forever. This was simply because I improved the world record I hold by adding another country, I have now caught carp over 70lb (31.7kg) from six different countries.
I decided to spend the last of my longer fishing sessions of the year with my good friend Srečko, on a lake I have already been to several times – Lake Šumbar, which is now famous worldwide. Autumn fishing is always special as the weather tends to change very quickly. It was not any different this time around. It went up to 20 in the day, and all the way down to only 6 during the day. Nights were cold, below zero sometimes. In my opinion, quick changes are usually never really good for fishing but it was different this time. The first days on the lake were sunny and warm, with temperatures constant and the carp were not very active when it came to feeding. They were sunbathing on the surface during the day, and only some of them dropped to the lakebed during the night in order to feed.
I can say 2017 was very successful for me when it comes to fishing. All my fishing sessions have been good, but I was still kind of missing that cherry on top to be able to say that the session was perfect. I was really hoping that this fishing session at Šumbar would be the one, and luckily for me it was.
Our strategy was to feed boilies, corn, and hemp the first day, and only use boilies for the rest of the time. We picked this strategy for several very important reasons. Firstly, anglers put a lot of bait into this lake all year around, which means that in the late autumn the carp are already ready for winter. They have already stored enough fat by the autumn, so they stop feeding so actively. The second reason is that we were hoping smaller amounts of bait would attract less carp, but the ones it does attract are going to be the careful big ones. As I’ve already mentioned the lake is baited a lot, so we were thinking smaller quantities of better quality boilies could bring us some advantage compared to other anglers. Last but not least, we had a 10-day fishing session ahead of us which means we were not in a hurry to attract the carp’s attention quickly. Smaller carp are usually the ones who react to large quantities of bait while the big carp wait and hang back.
We used two types of Dynamite Baits’ boilies, Hot Fish & GLM and Red Amo. Hot Fish is a brand-new boilie for 2018. We have been testing them for a while now and I can honestly say it is an amazing quality boilie. Our second choice is a tried-and-trusted one that I have been using for a long time and it is a bait I can always rely on. As I’ve mentioned we added corn and hemp to our feeding mix on the first day. We fed with a mix of 10, 15 and 20mm boilies every single day of the session. Rigs were kept simple using Fox components: Exocet 0.40mm line, Coretex Matt 35lb hooklink, and Wide Gape Beaked size 4 hooks.
We started fishing on Saturday at noon. A beautiful sunny day made me very optimistic which is usually the case when it comes to me and carp fishing. We’ve set up the bivvies and prepared all the gear we were going to need. We decided to bait up two areas where each of us would put one of our rods and then set our third rods outside of those feeding spots, in places with a smaller quantity of food. We fed Red Amo boilies on one of the areas and Hot Fish & GLM boilies on the other. Both were in areas of 4.2 to 4.6m where the bottom was smooth and made up of clay.
Cold nights and surprisingly warm days for this time of the year made the carp behave very strangely. We were fishing an area that is known to get the majority of its takes in the daytime, but it was completely different this time around. We had very few takes of any description until the fifth night, all of those takes had happened during the night, very early morning or very late evening. I managed to catch the first bigger fish on our second night of the session, it was a 22.6kg mirror. Here I have to emphasise that this lake does allow the carp to be put in a weigh sling during the night in order to save them for morning photos. No matter what, you should always keep your carp in a weigh sling for a few minutes before returning it back into the water. It gives the fish a chance to relax and rebalance before swimming off.
On the morning of our fourth day in Croatia, Srečko caught a stunning mirror weighing 26.4kg. Our take statistics still hadn’t changed at that point. We got three to four takes every night and nothing during the day. What was interesting was that none of the other anglers on the lake got any takes during the day either. Up until that point the carp hadn’t reacted to our new feeding tactics. When I am fishing this lake I usually always feed pellets, corn and hemp along with boilies every single day, but we obviously had used a different tactic this time around. On the fifth day things started to improve when I landed a common of 23.9kg, things were starting to look-up.
During our sixth day on the lake things began to change and we got two takes during the day time. One of them was an amazing mirror weighing 26kg which was my heaviest catch up until that point. Among the bigger fish Srečko also caught a 20.3kg carp, and I managed to catch a 23.9kg beauty. Unfortunately, Srečko had to go home due to his work obligations and ended his session earlier than intended. It started raining that evening and the weather forecast said it was going to rain all day for the next three days. Unfortunately, the weather forecast was right.
The next-to-last night was truly amazing. The rain had been pouring down for about five hours and it got much colder than it had been. I had a take around 10.00 p.m. in the middle of a titanic deluge and after about five minutes of playing the fish I thought that it might be one of the bigger carp I’d been waiting for. A further ten minutes passed and I eventually guided a very big common into my landing net. I estimated the fish to weigh around 33 to 34kg, the scales however, showed a little bit less than expected at 32.2kg.
I was over the moon as it meant I’d reached the goal I’d set for myself at the beginning of the fishing season. I wanted to improve on one of the world records that I hold, and I managed to do just that here in Croatia. This catch meant I’d now caught 70lb from six different countries (Italy, France, Austria, Romania, Bosnia and now Croatia). The carp was caught on Hot Fish & GLM 20mm boilies, and a Hot Fish & GLM 15mm Pop-up. But this successful night did not end at that point as I managed to catch two more 20kg+ commons before the morning – 27.3kg and 20.6kg.
I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams what was about to happen the next day, aside from the fact that I had to dig a canal in order for the water to drain away and not flood my bivvy. I could not have cared less about the mud and rain, I’d achieved my goal and I was very relaxed about the next 24 hours. There were no takes during the day after that successful night. I climbed in my sleeping bag that night with no expectations whatsoever, and fell asleep.
Wild boar woke me up around 2.00 a.m. digging and foraging for food around the bivvy. It was their third visit of the session and I took the opportunity to take some photos and videos of them and went back to sleep. I thought to myself that it is pretty weird that there had been no takes so far that night. The first take came around 5.00 a.m. in the morning, it was a gorgeous mirror of 20.2kg. Half an hour later I landed another mirror weighing a massive 27.3kg – crazy, I could not believe my eyes, all these big carp taking my bait, and it didn’t end there. I got another take just as I was about to crawl back into my sleeping bag. It was a few minutes past 6.00 a.m. It was the rod that had been out untouched for 48hrs. After about five minutes I knew I had another big fish on the hook. The fish swam really slowly, hugging the bottom. All I could feel was a huge weight on the rod. After a further 20 minutes of unyielding pressure I finally guided it into the waiting net, a mirror that I recognized immediately.
It was the carp that was my ultimate target from the lake. It was one of the most beautiful big mirrors that I’d set eyes on – a carp named Geronimo. Having him in front of me, laying in the landing net was surreal. I needed some time to get to grips with everything that had happened, so I carefully transferred him onto my unhooking mat and then into the weigh sling. On the scales he went 37.1kg. I’d now caught 80lb+carp from three different countries.
The fish was caught on a Red Amo Hardened 20mm hookbait. My girlfriend Marina drove 180km just to come to the lake and see the fish. I knew she’d take good photos of the fish, she is the best. You might think I am crazy to go into the cold water in only a T-shirt and shorts but, to be honest, I didn’t even feel the cold until I came back out of the water. My legs were freezing, making it hard to keep walking, but I would do anything for the carp’s safety during the picture-taking process.
The rain didn’t stop pouring down and I still had to pack all my wet stuff away, but I didn’t care, nothing could bother me rain, cold, nothing. Adrenaline and excitement kept me warm as I packed all my stuff and headed home.
I would like to kindly thank my sponsors who stand by my side and support me on my journey. Big thanks to Dynamite Baits, Fox and AH Vrtač from Kranj. All of this would not be possible without you.