When it comes to big fish there isn’t anywhere in the world that can compete with one small lake over in Hungary. Producing no less than three different carp over 100lb in recent years, Euro Aqua has simply moved the big fish stakes on to another level. But besides those headline makers there are many other back up fish that would make other fisheries famous in their own right. These days demand for places is high and it’s not cheap but the lure is hard to resist and I found myself looking forward to another chance to fish the Hungarian super lake.
The majority of people tend to fly over and some gear can be hired onsite, but I’ve always preferred to have all my own gear with me whenever possible. The drive by van is 1000 miles each way, not for the faint-hearted but for whatever reason I’ve always been able to handle those drives, even if it is on my own. Having a week to get over it and having everything I need with me makes all the effort worthwhile.
As far back as a year ago I knew what swim I’d be fishing and even which side. That for me makes a big difference as I’ve never been keen on drawing for swims at the start of a trip as all your dreams and hopes can be shattered before you even start, but knowing where you will be in advance gives the chance to plan for everything. For this trip I’d be in the good company of Rob Hales again, I really enjoy Rob’s company and we seem to fish well together and work as a team to get the best out of it. Our swim for this trip would the Point swim or Island swim as it is sometimes called. Any swim can be the best on its day depending of course where the fish want to be at the time but the Point swim does give access to a really nice area of water in the center of the lake.
We knew a few decent spots out there, in particular there is one firm area that sort of divides the swim and it’s big enough for two people to get a rod each on it and it had the habit of producing the best fish on the previous trips. But really there are lots of options and it’s always a case of picking out the right ones. This was actually the first time I’d been there that wasn’t an exclusive lake booking for the English. There were two other English pairs on, along with Dutch, Belgian and Czech pairings. To our right in the bay was Dutch friend Ardy Veltkamp who was in the company of South-African based Martin Davidson, who hadn’t been carp fishing for over nine years! The lure of those monsters was too much for him to resist too.
It was a hot sticky afternoon when we finally had all of the gear in the swim. Storms were due in the next few days and of course we hoped and expected that the change in weather conditions and temperatures would cause some sort of feeding frenzy. But even as we attempted to set the bivvies up and sort the gear out we were being distracted by fish crashing close to where we stood.
There is one boat on the lake which all anglers have to share for baiting, so it would have to be a nail-biting wait to get some bait out there. Rob couldn’t hold back and decided to cast a couple of single baits at the showing fish, which proved to be a good move as before we knew it he had two rods screaming off! We had no choice other than to take one rod each. “This one feels quite good, how’s that one feel?” said Rob. I replied that it only felt like a small one with the head shaking and lack of weight. So I felt a little guilty when I saw a big head coming up to the net. In fact the one I netted went 59lb 12oz while Rob followed up with a 44lb mirror! I did get a bit of stick for that but I guess you just never know what’s on the other end?
Once we had the boat and could get a decent amount of bait out there it felt like the session could really start. We had a fair amount of in-house bait including boilies and around 25kg of hemp and tigers, but I also added a fair bit of the new Key Cray from Nash, which I thought could well make the difference. Looking in from the outside it often appears that the Euro Aqua fish are just easy big fish that are constantly hungry, but of course that is not the case at all and in fact they are very choosy when it comes to bait and they certainly know quality food from the rubbish – as they do on most waters I’ve ever fished! I really hoped that the quality would bring the better results over the week, but time would tell.
Of course after putting it a fairly large amount of bait there is always going to be a lull in proceedings. With seven pairs of anglers all giving it their best efforts, it must have been some sort of shock to the fish after two months of peace and quiet during the summer shut down. However, we didn’t doubt that it was only a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ it was going to happen.
The sun finally disappeared behind the hills and the intense daytime heat gave way to the coolness of the evening. A few distant flashes were the first signs of the changing weather conditions starting to move in. There is always an air of excitement when storms move in – at least as a carp angler. I was still focusing on the horizon when I heard a bleep and looked around just in time to see my left rod scream off. Picking up the rod made little impact as the fish just kept moving and I was forced to give line. It couldn’t be a small fish, it just had too much strength and I just held on as it charged off more or less wherever it wanted! It was a fantastic battle with the stillness of the night and lightning constantly lighting up the background and a big, powerful fish doing its best to pull my arms out of their sockets!
Slowly but surely it became a tug-of-war with me slowly leading the fish towards me. In the torchlight I saw a big wide head break the surface and now I knew it was a big one. I held my breath and walked backwards until Rob lifted the net and I felt my whole body relax. It was a big mirror, wide and deep and we both guessed that it was over 70lb. In fact it weighed 72lb 8oz, a fantastic way to get off the mark. This was just my first bite on the first evening – what a place!
The rain eventually arrived in the early hours and it cooled things down by around 10 degrees. The fish seemed to like it and by lunch the next day we’d had around another twelve fish up to 58lb 12oz. Lunch was at 2pm every day and all the anglers are expected to reel in and meet up at the lodge. To be honest it makes a nice little break every day and the chance to have a chat with the other guys and see how they are getting on. The food is always good – very good in fact. Twice I’ve had T-bone steaks that covered the entire plate! It gives the fish a brief rest too and it’s amazing how they seem to know exactly what’s going on. The lead up to dinner can often be slow affair but the period after dinner through to evening can be one of the most productive times. So it can be good to get more bait out before dinner or at least as soon as you get back. If you don’t do that then there is always the risk that the fish will move off to other areas where the food is more plentiful. All areas will generally have peaks and troughs through a session and indeed it did slow down a little for the next day or so, except for Rob’s left rod fishing alongside an island. That rod just kept going off continuously and although they were mainly from the smaller range fish, that rod had produced the 59lb 12oz on the first day so there was no telling if a big lump would be next or not.
The westerly winds at the start had been replaced by easterlies, which are always my least favourite, but for the guys on the far bank where it was blowing in to it was just about perfect and almost every time we looked up at least one of them was playing a fish. You have to make the most of your chances when they come and that’s just what they were doing. Although we were still picking them off, our hope was that the wind would drop or the fish would start to move on the back of it. As it happened the next afternoon the wind suddenly just stopped and although it was hot and still the fish moved back to the centre of the lake and our swim took on a whole different look again. Once again we got plenty of bait out there and the pole markers started rocking from side to side! I was expecting action straight away but just like the first evening we had to wait until the hours of darkness.
The first sound wasn’t from our alarms but from Rob’s phone. It was Scott Phillips down to our right in Electric Point with some big news! He’d just banked a monstrous mirror of 92lb and Rob went straight around to help out and take some pictures while I guarded the rods. Most people already had something decent to show for their efforts but Scott’s fish is really what we all dream and hope for when we go to Euro Aqua – not everyone will catch them but they are always a possibility that’s for sure, in fact that’s the third different 90lb+ fish that’s been caught just while I’ve been at the lake!
Rob returned with eyes wide open buzzing from what he’d just witnessed. It was just coming up to midnight and I got out from the warmth of my sleeping bag to hear the story. Just then my alarm sounded as yet another powerful fish took off in to the darkness. I must admit that after what I’d just heard my knees were trembling as I knew that this was no small fish! After what must have been around 20 minutes a big common loomed up out of the depths. Perhaps we got a bit carried away with the estimations and we even got poor old Scott around with the weighing tripod but at 64lb it was certainly no tiddler!
What it did signal was the start of another burst of big fish action, which ensured that there wasn’t much sleep to be had that night. Daylight arrived and I was just making a cup of tea when Rob latched in to something big and within seconds one of mine was away too and we were both playing unstoppable fish.
I knew mine was good but Rob was convinced his one was massive and the concentration levels went up a notch. Every now and then I glanced over to Rob and could see that he was totally engrossed in the battle doing all he could to gain control. But out of nowhere the tip sprang back and the fish was gone before we’d even got a glimpse. I’ve rarely seen him so disappointed but what can you say? Luckily mine stayed on and turned out to be a 55lb mirror.
It seemed that when the fish were in the swim then a take was possible at any time. At midday under the blazing hot sun I found myself doing battle once again. The power of those fish was hard to believe, I guess the drop in temperature and a few windy days had given them all the energy they needed and once again I found myself being dragged all around the swim by something that felt like a submarine. When I saw it for the first time I caught my breath as it was long and wide but it was still another ten minutes before it was safely in the net. It was an awesome looking mirror of 65lb that looked in the peak of condition – as the fight proved! Before lunch at 2pm I’d banked another good mirror of 51lb and I was actually glad to sit down and have a rest. The hectic night of action and several big fish had taken their toll and although I perhaps should have been keen to get back asap my body told me otherwise and for a couple of hours I just chilled out and had a drink or two.
By the time we got the boat that evening we sort of new that the spell would have passed and for me it proved to be the case but Rob did land a lovely 63lb mirror. It was quite clear that they would move in on the bait but it was difficult to hold them. There were fish coming out all over the lake but it seemed that the really big ones were moving about in one group and all we could do was wait our turn and do our best to entice them back. The actual spots we fished didn’t really make that much difference. We had a couple of nice firm areas marked out, which to us were the right spots to target. But to be honest when the fish were in the area they were coming from firm spots and soft spots alike. As anglers, we get it in to our heads that we need to fish on hard spots but a lot of the time I think it’s just what suits us rather than what suits the carp and they don’t always think the way we do.
With time running out I was starting to wish that I’d booked two weeks instead of just the one. A week used to seem such a long time to be on the bank but now it always seems to go by so quickly. Also the times when there is a real chance of catching something life-changing are few and far between and this was certainly one of those chances, Scott had proved that by catching another monster mirror of 84lb – what a trip he was having!
With the last evening upon us we decided that we would just take it easy – watch a film on the i-pad and a few cups of tea before a good nights sleep with one eye on the long drive home the next day. Of course the fish had other ideas and decided to give us a proper send off. Before the film had finished we’d caught more good fish with three commons of 54lb, 55lb and 58lb 8oz coming in the space of an hour along with mirrors to 42lb! It was crazy fishing really, I always make an effort to photograph most fish I catch, especially the big ones but I have to admit to putting mirrors of 54lb and 47lb back that night without pictures. Sleep didn’t really happen and I reckon I only got around two hours in amongst all of that. But if you think I’m complaining then nothing could be further from the truth because this was just awesome fishing – some of the best that I’ve had for a long time and once again fishing with Rob had produced a trip that will live in our memories forever.
There are some great waters in the world today but when it comes to big fish action Euro Aqua sits right at the top. But what the future holds no one can know for sure. Owner Alex Horvath has expressed that he wants to sell the venue and move on to other projects in the near future and so no one knows what will happen at this stage. The lake itself has a lifetimes worth of stock already in place and I’m not just talking about the big fish but the size ranges that go all the way back to the small singles and doubles that will undoubtedly grow on in the coming years. Maybe for some lucky person this might just be the venture that they are looking for and it would certainly be great to see the lake carry on in its present state – or who knows, even improved on? One thing is for sure and that is we all know what the lake can, and does produce – the biggest carp in the world and that is the lure that I find impossible to resist!