The Italian Job

Ben’s European adventure recently took him back into Italy, where he had a score to settle!

Our 7 month European adventure has now rounded the corner and we are on a long loop back home. It was therefore with a tinge of sadness that I crossed the Austrian border back into Italy, but with a determination to catch an Italian public lake fish after having blanked in June at Lago di Viverone. 

The new lake was a beautifully clear Alpine lake again, by now full of Dutch and German holidaymakers racing about on the surface unaware of the 250ft depths and big fish of all types beneath them. We spent the first couple of days looking, and early on we found them in a sunken tree, sunning themselves and occasionally disappearing into the abyss just off the marginal shelf. However, I actually decided to do a couple of nights in an area that had been previously recommended to me, and where the sonar had also picked up many big shapes in much easier fishing conditions. The second night brought epic weather with warm 20mph winds blowing straight at me, but despite it putting the hairs on my neck up it only brought big Chub and big Chub/Rudd hybrids. I’ve actually found on this adventure that heavy baiting seems to bring the nuisance fish in and wipe you out before the carp have had a chance to get a look in… chub, barbel, bream and tench all seem ultra ravenous in Europe! We chilled out in the beautiful little town at the weekend, enjoying good food and gelato and the odd Moretti, but a quick look into the snag tree on our way back from lunch one day confirmed the fish were still there. Thats decided then, it was jungle warfare time! 

Out came a single trusty 3lb 9ft stalker, 50lb braid with a .60 10m fluoro leader, and the butt bungee rear rod rest locker. I started off fishing with a pva bag containing a dozen Xcel Baits VNF and KSC shelflife baits and a 7″ braided link, but it was getting tangled by the little Dace and Bass. I switched to an 8″ stiff D rig and dropped the rig a bit deeper in about 20ft of water, before the shelf really dropped away into oblivion. A few hours later I got my first take… with everything locked up it was savage fishing and I think I played it too hard to avoid the tree. The hook pulled about three rod lengths off the net and I was gutted. I tied another rig, repeated the drop along with half a dozen free offerings and just as I was about to leave for the evening off it went again. This time the carp was mine… and it was just the kind of fish I had imagined the lake held – a long immaculate bronze common weighing 33lb, looking like a new penny and only matched in beauty by the deep orange sunset warming it’s flanks as I held it for photos. 

The next day the trick was repeated, but with a rig change to a stiff braid rig with a supple break before the hook and two boilies on the hair. I trimmed the boilies square too – the bumped fish and the common having a very light hookhold had me thinking that the hookbait was rolling down the shelf as they fed and combined with a fully stiff rig, not going in quite right. Well that change, along with only half a dozen VNF and KSC baits over the top resulted in another two takes on the last day. One was a wicked little mid double common and the other a new PB! This mirror was the longest fish I’ve ever seen, with a huge sloping head and I wouldn’t be surprised if it went 50lb+ at the right time of year. It almost drowned me too! The “swim” was actually in front of private property, so I was having to drive the boat in near shore, storm pole it securely a couple of feet from the bank, then sit in the water right next to the rod, on banksticks also in the water. Being stood in the water whilst playing this most angry of carp was hard enough, but couple that with being stood on a marginal shelf which went from six inches to 40 feet within a few rod lengths, and you can understand that when I lost my footing and it pulled me down the shelf so far that I was playing it whilst treading water, my arse twitched a little! I’m still here though, and what great memories we’ve created… my Italian blank was also no more and we both head off to France now with smiles on our faces and dreams of also erasing the Cassien blank from April… bon chance!