David Grimes has been knocking around the Irish carp scene for quite some time now. Before carp fishing commanded most of his attentions and interests, he was an avid course angler. With an impressive list of tench and bream to his name, topped by a record breaking bream. He also rattled the bar of the tench record a few times. He recently returned from living in Belgium where he caught some very special fish. The best being the biggest common ever caught by an Irish man at a massive 63.7lb
Being a Kells man I guess it all started for you guesting on the Blackwater or was it somewhere else?
Yes, I originally started fishing at a young age on the Blackwater in Kells, fishing for trout, perch and pike. I spent much of my time fishing also down at Headfort bridge where I caught tench, bream and rudd. I would often cycle to Maudlin Bridge which was beside me and to Headfort bridge. We’re lucky that theres one section which is coarse fishing at Headfort.
At what point did you progress to tench and bream fishing and where did that take you?
I caught my first tench and my first bream when I was 12 years old at Headfort bridge. I spent every evening after school and weekend on that bridge. This is where I grew to really love fishing. I went on to fish at Moynalty lake, Gaulmoylestown and lakes around Cavan and Monaghan where I caught numerous tench and bream. I later went onto start specimen hunting.
Tell me about how your honesty cost you the bream record?
The year before the record was broken by Paul Mathers in 1997. In 1998 I started off early in the year in Bolganard. I had done 1 or 2 sessions with alot of small fish, on the third session very early in the morning I captured a Bream of 12lb 6 ounzes, but unfortunately I had no witness. I got in to the car and drove into town but everywhere was closed. The week before I had met a guy on a two week session on one of the other lakes fishing, so I decided my best bet would be to go and get him and get back to the lake to take a picture and have him as my witness. After doing this my reuben heaton scales which was registered before was actually out of date. And sadly I lost out on the Irish record. A week later after catching the Bream I sent my scales back to Dublin to get registered and of course it passed.
You’ve been carp fishing in Ireland for a long time now.Where did you catch your first carp?
I caught my first carp when I was around 17 in Gaulmoylestown, Mullingar on one of the road swims. I’d been waiting all day, I had tried severly different baits and just before I started to packup to go home, one of the rods tore off and I hooked into my first carp. It put up an excellent fight and this is when I became addicted to carp fishing. I went on to spend many years in Gaulmoylestown where I met some great characters along the way.
After a long break from fishing on a short session on Maynooth you managed to pull out one of the most highly sought after fish. The big common. Tell us about that?
I hadn’t fished for a number of years as my interest in bikes took over. I went back fishing in 2008 to my usually spots from years back. Some spots had changed alot and some were gone. I wanted to do some time on the Maynooth fisheries. I had taken a winter ticket and I managed to pulled out a couple of nice sized fish. On one 24 hour session I managed the big common, caught him with sweetcorn and some maggots. That was my first ever 30.
A few years back you moved to Belgium. How does the carp angling scene differ from here?
I moved to Belgium in 2012, I didn’t know where to fish. I spent time driving around talking to different anglers. I then picked out a couple of different lakes and canals to fish on. The carp fishing differs in Belgium as they have many club waters to choose from with huge waiting lists for the most popular ones. They have a higher stock of carp available than we will ever have in Ireland. The fish sizes can really vary in size to quite large sizes that we don’t get over here.
While living in Belgium you came across a few nice waters. Both lakes and canals. Did you find the canals completely different from what your used to here?
2014 I decided to go for a very famous canal called the Kempisch. It’s a very pressured and hard water. It’s also very busy with boats and barges, it was harder to fish and I would have never fished on canals before. Everything had to be pinned down so the boats wouldn’t take my lines. It would take me long time driving to find my way in and out on the canal. I started off on one section 9 and 10, which is 10km long fishing two rods, one to the middle and one close in, I managed one 16. The Kempisch got very busy on 9 and 10, so I moved onto 8 and 9 which was a shorter stretch and more quiet. After a couple of weeks I had my 2nd fish, just over 23lbs. The canal was a great experience and I would have loved to have done more time on them. Every section is different from depths, bottoms, weeds, harbours, etc, which have an overall affect on the fishing in each section.
I know you found one water that captured your imagination in a big way. Can you tell us a bit about it?
I came across a new public water in Belgium. It was 44 hectares in size with 120-130 known fish with some of the biggest fish in Belgium, weighting as big as 70lbs. It captured me first of all on its beauty and secondly on how difficult the water was to fish. It was a great challenge which I loved. Also there was large space between anglers and no bait boats were allowed. At times I thought I was out of my depth but I persisted. It was also great to rub shoulders with some of the great anglers, Philip Cottenier, Alijn Danau and Darrell Peck.
To finish up your stay in Belgium before you moved back to Ireland, you planned to do a really long session, 3 months in fact. What amount of planning goes into a session like that?
First of all, I did a few sessions at the start of year along with some research of the area. I didn’t tell anybody on the lake about this planned session. I had prepared for it for a whole year buying hooks, weights, safezone leaders, updating all my equipment and stocking up. 50 kilos of base mix that I would make along the lake. I also bought an extra bivvy for making the boilies with 20 kilos of maze. And just before I arrived on the lake I did a big shop of 500 euros of essentials that wouldn’t go off and keep me going while I was there.
On this lake there was a lot of swim related politics. What swim did you choose and why?
The large swim area which I wanted had been taken. I decided on another swim area called Jimmys Swim, as there wasn’t as many bivvy marks left. I had heard at the end of the season and witness that some of the biggest fish came from this area. It had loads of open water with big distance between anglers. During the year most of the swims are rotated and it’s impossible to get onto the good swims on the main body of the lake. A average swim can be 3-5 months on rotation. You really have to be in the middle of the lake at the end of the season to catch the really big fish. I had walked around the lake before my big session before deciding on my area, the lake was receiving a lot of pressure from other anglers, some guys were there for 1 or 2 months.
Tell us a bit about how that session went for you. Both mentally and in terms of captures?
After 3 weeks of catching nothing which was disheartening, it was really hard to stay there. I had changed all my rigs numerous times, even was that bored I started measuring my rigs. When you’re catching nothing, it’s very hard to know what you are doing wrong. I also took my rods in for a day or two to rest the swim. I read my books and watched all my movies on my ipad to past the time. I had tried everything. One of the rules of the lake is you can’t go more than 80 metres each side of you. I also couldn’t go to the shop, as you can’t leave the lake. I had seen the fish in my swim two to three times, but nothing was catching them. After 5 weeks all I had caught was 3 bream. I decided that after a further 2 weeks if there was no progress, I would leave the lake. I went on to catch three 30s, four 40s and one 60.
Through the session you changed the type of bait you where using. Do you think that this made a big change in the out come of the session?
Yes it really changed the session around. First of all I was making boilies with a well known base mix, but it just wasn’t working. I had been talking to some of the other anglers on the lake about different boilies from bait companies that were from Belgium and the Netherlands. I decided to go with a bait company called KGB baits and it also gave me a new lease of life. The boilies were called epic spice which had an unbelievable smell. I ordered 30 kilos of it and two packets of wafters. I decided not to fish in my swim for 3 days and I put 3 kilos of my new boilies in and left it to rest. And then I started to fish. On the 2nd day I had my first run at 4am in the morning and the fish continued to come.
How did Catching the biggest common ever caught by an Irishman feel?
It felt brilliant, when I caught the fish at first I didn’t realise what I had. I got one of the other Belgium guys to give me a hand to get the fish out of the water to weight him. We lifted him out and on to the cradle, when I pulled back the net I couldn’t believe my luck. We weight him and he was the heaviest common carp I had ever caught. We took pictures and release him back in the water. It felt great after such a long stretch of nothing. I didn’t realise what I had, only when the other anglers came up to congratulate me.
Have you found it hard to get enthusiastic now fishing for our little Irish fish?
I never lose enthusiasm for fishing whether they are small or big as I just love the sport. However the carp fishing in Ireland is very poor. I’m always on a look out for my next fishing session or trip abroad.