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marcus

Cawc Write Up

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This is a long old read so either use the 'back' button on your browser now or strap yourself in for the ride!

The planning started nearly two years ago and included a 10 day trip out to the St Lawrence Seaway in September 2010, exactly a year to the day in order to see for ourselves the types of weather and fishing conditions we could expect the following year. We met up with the tournament organiser – David Moore - and several other people whilst out there to compare thoughts and better understand the pegging strategy. This would allow us to visit any areas we subsequently hadn’t fished in the previous 10 years of travelling to this wonderful River, and ensure any gaps in our combined knowledge were filled

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As with most other people, I lead an incredibly busy life and have a wonderful wife and two small children along with a demanding job that takes me around the country on a weekly basis. So it came as a pleasant surprise when the ‘countdown’ clock on the Carp Tournament Series website showed 14 days! I had been exchanging emails with my fishing buddy Jeff Skerratt, an Englishman, who now lives in Michigan, but had done little to actually prepare. In between meetings and home life over the next fortnight I took stock of my river tackle and spent an enjoyable few hours at North West Tackle picking up bits and bobs I needed, a quick call in to Pete Henwood at Specialist ensured I had 100Kg’s of Dynamite bait heading out to his former Riverview hotel in Waddington. We planned to source and boil the maize ofrom Terry in the few days we had free prior to the start of the tournament and as we knew a number of competitors staying at the same place, we figured it would be a fairly social affair, washed down with a few beers and a good chat about tactics.

I splashed out on a business class flight out to Toronto, primarily because it gave me an extra 10kg’s of luggage and 20kg’s of sports baggage, this would allow for all those bits and bobs I purchased at North West! A very smooth and easy flight ensued and Jeff promptly picked me up (an hour late!) at the other end. The 5 hour journey to Waddington always flies by as we catch up on our lives and discuss strategies around the unknown aspects of match fishing. We reached US border control and smiled politely through the standard questions usually beginning with ‘You catch what?’, closely followed by ‘do you eat them?’ and finally concluding with ‘we used to catch 40lb’ers on night crawlers as kids.’ It’s the same old conversation but we do our bit to try and spread the gospel on these much maligned fish in the US perceptions.

We rolled in to Waddington around midnight and visited Macks bar hoping to find some carp fishermen in there, we didn’t, so got questioned again by the usual bar fly’s , sunk a couple of bottles and drove the last couple of miles to our chalet at the Riverview, our blessedly comfortable home for the next few nights.

We awoke bright and breezy at first light and emptied the car of all but a couple of rods and leads. We had a map of all the swims and planned to visit every one of them over the next two days and map them out. The format of the peg draw meant both anglers alighted on stage and drew a peg number each, you were then afforded a mere 20 seconds to make a decision on which of the two to choose, placing the discarded peg back in the draw bag. As such I planned on taking copious notes so when the peg draw came we could quickly compare the two pegs we’d pulled out and make an informed choice upon which one we should choose.

We naturally started at peg 1 in Ogdensburg and made it through to peg 30 by lunchtime. The first 30 pegs we didn’t feel offered us much in terms of scope for change, or indeed of the potential of producing a winning peg, hence on our scoring matrix of 1-5, with 5 being ‘we’re going home’ and 1 being ‘we’re going to win’ we only had 3’s, 4’s and 5’s. We took a lunch break and had a locally caught and freshly cooked Walleye meal of stunning quality before skipping out the middle section of pegs and heading up to Massena to check pegs 55 and 56 at the Massena intake, and the remaining pegs in the competition up on the Canal in Area 43.

Having spent some time with Dave Moore and Al St Cyr the year before on these pegs at the intake, we knew they offered plenty of depth, a steep drop off and lots of fish, these subsequently scored highly in our matrix. We headed the last mile on to the shipping Canal, or area 43 as its known locally and began the walk to peg 57. It took 10 minutes but as we walked I gradually realised that we had been directed to this area in June 2007 by Jerry Laramie of All American Adventures, as I recalled, we walked the half mile or so from the car, laden with gear, in mid-20 degree temperatures at 5 o’clock in the morning whilst being bombarded by sparrow sized mosquito’s! Whilst we did see plenty of carp topping out, the depth went to nearly 100ft and at that time we believed we could never catch fish in that depth of water. We put it down to one of Jerry’s wind ups back in 07 and dejectedly headed back to the car scratching our bites and muttering incessantly. It came as quite a shock that this stretch had been pegged by Dave so we spent some time there in the afternoon re-checking depths and finding it max’ed out at around 60-70ft.

Whilst peg 57 had a sizeable drop to the water, 58, 59 and 60 were all reasonable fishing with 61 offering the most scope as an end peg and giving a large bay back behind us. We checked the depth in there and found it to be no deeper than 6ft and mostly 4ft for as far as we could cast, but it still held some interesting options so we scored it as a 2.

Peg 10

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Peg 15

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We went and checked in with Kathy, the event co-ordinator and all round mine of information. I’d spoken to and corresponded with Kathy numerous times over the past few years so it was good to finally meet her. As always Kathy was on the phone which quickly got handed over to me so I could respond to an interview with a local newspaper, so the next 20 minutes was spent answering the usual questions, at which point we drew our peg draw number of 41, this meant we were the 41st team out of 56 to go up on stage and pick our 2 pegs. Not great really but you never know what other competitors class as a good peg, and a bad peg, given our knowledge of the river and the previous years’ fishing, we hoped we’d have the scoop on some other competitors and a few decent ones would remain in the bag for us.

We headed back to our lodge for the night and gradually re-made acquaintances with the same old faces and introduced ourselves to the new. That evening myself and Jeff and Colin Peters and John Bramley from K-1 Baits headed out to the Irish Bar for a bite to eat and a couple of beers before heading back early, enjoying a nightcap on our veranda and getting our heads down. Tomorrow was to be Saturday, the day when we’d discover our fate for the next 115 hours!!

We awoke late for us, around 7:30 and found the Everton Man City game of the Fox Soccer Channel, being a hardened Toffee and having not missed a game in several years I was overjoyed at finding the game on Live, so much so it took some overwhelming powers of abstinence not to crack open a beer! Sadly football and beer still go hand-in-hand for me, but resist I did and come the second Man City goal I lost interest and got the peg notes back out again.

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We headed out to pick up breakfast and check the Whittaker Park, Little Sucker Brook, Coles Creek and Brandy Brook Sections. These were all areas we’d fished extensively in the past at varying times of the year but in order to show some consistency we still continued to cast around each peg and take notes on every swim. Heading back to the lodge mid-afternoon I began writing the notes up again, firstly to remind myself of each of the options and secondly to ensure we had clearly legible notes for the draw. Once written up I passed to Jeff to mentally consume and teatime saw us testing each other with two imaginary pegs to choose from including commentary of the peg and a decision as to which would be chosen, to which I would either agree or disagree. In fact by 4pm on the Saturday we knew each peg number and the relative characteristics of that peg without the use of notes. More than 90% of the time I would agree with Jeff’s decision and Jeff with mine so we were happy we were on the same page.

The Peg draw was due to take place at 6pm so around 5pm we headed down to the Waddington Arena, registered ourselves as ‘attendant’ and made small talk with other competitors and bailiffs. The show was soon underway after the obligatory contestant march around the arena, or trooping of the flag as we call it, the pleasantries and dignitaries were introduced and the peg draw finally began.

I started scratching off the chosen pegs in order to see what we may still have to choose from on the 41st pick, our fancied areas were strawberry fields – pegs 22 to 25, the Massena intake – pegs 55 and 56, a couple on Coles Creek, one on Leishmans Point and Peg 7 on the point of the Osegawatch River. When it finally came around to our turn all Leishmans Point had been taken, as had the majority of Coles Creek (an easy, almost luxurious camping option!) and Strawberry Fields, as such we didn’t have a huge amount to go at. Having watched the Carpworld Trio all choose pegs in half decent areas, Al St Cyr & Jack Curry (eventually taking second place) picked the very peg he spent most of last September fishing well, and local, Bob Giordiano pick the much fancied peg 23 I must admit, we weren’t feeling too confident!

Our names were called and we climbed on stage to shake hands with Organiser Dave Moore and BASS legend Ray Scott, the bag was proffered to me first and I pulled peg 3, Jeff second and he pulled peg 61. Checking the notes we had Peg 3 as a 3 out of 5 and peg 61 as a 2 ¼ out of 5 (we had gone to half marks and quarter marks to help us distinguish between mediocre pegs!) I looked at Jeff, he looked at me, 'Peg 3' I questioned? ‘Errr, OK’ he replied. The thought process behind this was purely emotional, a 48 hour tourney the same time the previous year had taken place across pegs 1-4, though with 15 or so anglers present, the winning weight over those 48 hours was just over 300lb’s and included a 30 all taken at range. Peg 61 was in the area that had rarely been fished, wasn’t open to night fishing, and that Jerry had sent us too, and we’d considered a wind up, so that was my thinking.

Dave Moore said ‘Ok guys, you have some time, we’re going to draw a raffle for a free 50lb bag of maize,’ this gave us a little breathing room from the normal 20 or so seconds. I looked again at Jeff, ‘peg 61?’ I proffered, ‘let’s take 61 mate he replied. I boldly announced this back to Dave so he could inform the emcee and announce it to the audience – 61 it was!

A quiet night was had by all competitors at Riverview, as thoughts turned to the ensuing 115 hours’ endurance competition. Some competitors went back out to view their pegs in the dark to refresh themselves on the surroundings and the ability to bivvy up or camp comfortably, one team even brought a Winnebago to fish from, and luckily they drew a peg in Coles Creek Campground!

I groggily awoke at 6am, realising where I was and more importantly when it was. A good dose of adrenaline was dropped in to my circulatory system and my mind started racing. It was obvious that no further sleep would be forthcoming so I quietly arose and took my final shower of the week. Stepping outside in to a still darkness I saw the car park was a hive of activity as the teams started their final preparations to ship out and spend the next week on the bank. I pottered for an hour re-packing the 4x4 and waiting for Jeff to wake, we had boiled, sweetened and flavoured 300lb’s of maize over the previous three days so began loading the 50lb buckets in to the trunk. It quickly became obvious we weren’t going to get the full load done in one trip so I packed as best I could and with Jeff crawling out of his bed at 7pm we jumped in the 4x4 and headed to our final destination for the week.

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The plan was to unload the car whilst Jeff went back to the Riverview to load up the remaining kit, chuck the 100Kg’s of dynamite banana nut crunch in to the trunk, pick up some breakfast and head back. Firstly though, we decided to spend 10 minutes ‘watching the water’ in our swim. It was a flat calm morning with a forecast 80 degrees (25C) with the sun rising above the Eisenhower Dam and kissing the vast expanse of water, it looked close to perfect. Our excitement arose when we saw our first fish plop out nearly half a mile away, then another, then another – a large shoal was making its way upstream to us getting closer all the time. This spurred us in to action and as Jeff left, I began lumping all our kit down the spit of land designated as Peg 61.

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By midday we had everything in place, the single 6ft banksticks were wedged in to rocky crevasses across our swim, the landing nets set up, the rods primed, newly spooled reels, fresh rigs and baits, a hollowed out area safe enough to mat the carp on and a storm pole securely embedded in to the clay bottom of the shallow bay behind us for sacking carp. We took some time out to re-hydrate having sweated all morning, and watched the water again. It was a truly magnificent sight watching shoals of fish numbering in the hundreds splosh out at incredible distance gradually getting closer and closer, funnelled in to the relatively narrow shipping canal we were about to fish. We worked hard with the marker rod for several hours mapping and drawing out sketches and depths for the 270 degrees around our point swim. Baiting could commence at 1pm so we pottered for the next hour, checking and re-checking our kit and preparing our spodding equipment.

The river was about 4ft down from its peak level which allowed us to fish on the rocky bank, the water level is artificially dropped in September for dock and boat owners, in preparation for the big freeze which occurs around December time, however this year I believe the drop was due to a shortage of rain throughout summer. The flow of the river came from left to right with pegs 57-60 all being to the left of us, the flow was reasonable, 4oz of lead would hold bottom on a short cast in to 30ft of water, 6oz was required for a 70 yard chuck on to the mussel beds and would just about hold the lead, even with the weight of the water and the bow of the braid.

At precisely one o’clock two spombs appeared to the left of us, reminiscent of World War 2 but with slightly more mayhem – crashing in to the water 60 yards out. We held off putting bait in at one o’clock figuring most of it would be either eaten or pushed downstream by the time 3 o’clock arrived. Matt and Vasile, to the left of us put the spombs away after half an hour and continued the bombardment with pack mix for the next 90 minutes. Given the flow and the depth of water we were confident a fair amount of that bait would end up in our swim so ended up not pre-baiting at all.

3 o’clock came and we hit the mark on all 4 rods, put 6 spods of maize across each and 1kg of 20ml boilies then sat uncomfortably on our rocky home and waited expectantly for the first run....

Our first ‘action’ was from Lee Jackson, heading over 2 pegs to borrow some mosquito spray, we found from our trip in 2010 that the mozzies weren’t necessarily an issue unless temperatures soared during the day and the nights were warm and still, in which case they came out in force, we sent Jacko on his way with a can of ‘Go!’ and 2 ice cold beers.

The night came in quickly to a spectacular sunset and we wrapped up warm for the night to await our fate. She finally smiled upon us at 3:15 the following morning and the resulting carp scraped in to contention at 10lb 4oz, for the 10 years or so we’ve fished that river we’ve only ever had 2 single figured fish and having kept meticulous records on every aspect of our 10 years’ worth of catches our St Lawrence average was 20 4oz with the smallest ever being 7lb and our largest at 44lb 4oz. However, regardless of the size, we were off the mark and after the 2005 WCC ending up for us as a really poor showing, we were excited to have caught early on. We didn’t sleep a wink that night and as the sun appeared in the East our expectations were sky high that more fish were on the horizon – literally!

Spectacular Sunset

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followed by a spectacular sunrise!

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With the ongoing bombardment from next door starting up again at first light, we still held off on baiting heavily and stuck to a couple of spods over each spot every hour or so. We had one rod in 7ft of water on top of the shelf at 80 yards parallel to the bank we were fishing from, the next was 6ft to the left of the first rod in 22ft, the third rod went out to the mussel bed at 70 yards in 57ft of water and the fourth at 32ft 20 yards from our near margin bank, margin not really seeming an appropriate description on this beast of a river! We did spoon in 20lb’s of maize on the close rod as other anglers weren’t baiting this close bank so thought it best to put some food out for them.

We took one more fish that morning and three in the early afternoon, all of them variants of 15lb’s and as the sun began its rapid descent we picked up our first 20 at 20lb 10oz, that was more like it! The first update on the leader board showed us in 18th place behind both the US teams on pegs 55 and 56 who started hitting numbers from the minute they started, the Romanian/US team on peg 29 had also got off to a flyer with 6 big fish right off the bat. Our stretch of 5 pegs hadn’t done a huge amount that first day and having had a couple of visits from Chilly that day mostly moaning how this wasn’t his style of fishing and how he’d prefer to be on the move and travelling light – we didn’t believe a word of it, he was just starting his mind game tactics early!!

After another scorcher of a day on Monday, Tuesday early morning began overcast and a stiffening North Easterly had blown up, within just a couple of hours of this weather system coming in the bites began, and began in earnest. From the early hours Tuesday, right through the day and in to the early evening we were getting action from all 4 rods with a total of 27 carp gracing our net that day. Every time we landed a fish, we could see down the bank that both Chilly and Jacko were in, and in the relatively few quieter periods between fish, they were both in again. We knew the fish were having it and for every fish we caught the lads had 2. The action began slowing that evening so Jeff took the opportunity for a quick toilet break, passing behind their swim Chilly announced that if they were within 100lb’s of the US teams on 55 and 56 by the next update, they were bloody well going to win this competition.....

The next update made for interesting reading as we only had 15 of our fish registered for that day so had another 112lb’s to go on the leaderboard. Chilly and Jacko were just over 200lb’s behind peg 56 and our 9th placing put us in contention for a top 10 finish. I was told that the US Team leading by a stretch, wound in for the night and caught up on some much needed sleep. By Tuesday evening we hadn’t slept for 60 hours and we were informed we were to have a visitor that night. Eric from the Detroit Free Press was writing an article and having spent time with some of the leaders the previous few days, wanted to spend a night with us. To be honest we were a little put out by this, we had a decent run of fish, were fishing hard in a difficult peg and wanted to keep the focus going which inevitably would lapse as we had company for the night. Eric turned up just before dark with Pizza, and seeing as we’d eaten very little for the last 2 days – existing mostly on Monster energy drinks – he was welcomed with open arms!

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Having a 4ft bay behind us meant that we’d waded out and stuck a storm pole firmly in the stones and clay, attached a strong cord to it with the other end tied round a hefty rock on the bank. This meant we could slip out over the rocks, in to the bay and sack the carp with relative ease. What we hadn’t banked on was the half million tonne Ocean Going Vessels passing within 100ft of our bank, the net effect was that the water drew out of the bay in it’s entirety leaving the sacked carp flopping about on the bottom. After we’d clocked this, one of us would wade out, unhook each of the sacks and nurse the carp in the water until the bay had drained at which point we held them up, the ship would pass and we had to brace ourselves for a 4ft tidal wave to crash back in to the bay re-filling it with water. The first time this happened Jeff completely lost his footing on the smooth bottom and staggered backwards and over desperately clutching nearly 70lb’s of carp! After this initial hit the water would again practically empty from the one acre bay and refill again, repeating 5 or 6 times until the water had levelled out sufficiently to allow for the safe sacking of fish again. This would happen 8-10 times a day and throughout the entire 24 hours, you can imagine our reaction to hearing the boom of a ships claxon entering the lock at two o’clock in the morning knowing that in half an hour you had to strip off and ‘take the pain’

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As the fish were in the mood that day we had started baiting heavily and often and wanted to continue this for our third consecutive night. We’d also found that whilst uncomfortable in the extreme, we needed to get a brolly in the ground on the rocks and sit on chairs in front of our rods, leaving our bivvy 30 yards behind us. We got the chairs set up amongst the rocks and helped Eric out with his, a spare we’d brought with us, put another 20kilos or so out to our spots and settled back at around 9 o’clock to answer Eric’s questions and give our own thoughts and opinions on the state of Global Carp Fishing. Action continued steadily through the night with Eric (not a young man!) clumsily leaping and slipping from rock to rock to get some action pictures. The cloud cleared around midnight and the fish went quiet, we were treated to a wonderful show from the Aurora Borealis that night and spent time taking it in and watching the various constellations creep across the sky. At around 3am Eric headed back on to the grassy bank to get some kip on the bedchair, as we approached our 70th hour without sleep we decided to take the Delkim remote back up to the bivvy and try and get our heads down. Within 20 minutes of lying down one of the rods was away and Jeff being closer went through that familiar rigmarole to get himself sorted to hit the fish. Following a 20 yard run and an assault course over the rocks the fish had taken a good 50 yards of braid and slipped the hook soon after he hit the run, to this point of the 34 runs we’d landed 32 fish using 85lb ton up as the leader and 50lb snag cord as hooklink material on a size 1 Big T Raptor Hook – we weren’t messing about! The rod was re-cast and we both headed back in to the bivvy, another 10 minutes in, the same rod is away again, and again the fish spits the hook. After the third time I made the decision we would have to wind in to get a couple of hours, as we’d started hallucinating through lack of sleep, so badly needed the kip. The alarm was set for 5:30 giving us just under two hours, and all too soon the annoying sound of the alarm clock hacked through my subconscious and I tried to open my eyes. If it wasn’t for a couple of rogue mosquito’s that had well and truly nailed me that night I would have drifted off again, but that now familiar dump of adrenaline got my weary body up and dressed and back down to the rods passing the comically snoring Eric. I gave Jeff a shake on the way out and he murmured ‘right behind you mate’

I left the same bait on we’d had the night before but dipped them all in neat Pineapple and N-Butyric and got them back to our spots. After the 4th rod was placed on the Delkim I turned round carefully and went to sit on my ‘ringside’ chair, suddenly the first rod was away with some ferocity, I was only feet from it so lifted in to it. I smiled wistfully before realising both nets were out of reach, I was pretty sure I could handle it so after the initial flat rodding I began backing up to grab a net. As I passed the 2nd rod it lept off the ground and the reel started churning; ah, now this was a predicament. I yelled for Jeff as he was allegedly ‘right behind me’ receiving no response I engaged the bait runner on the second rod and lifted that one up too. I now had one carp on its way back to shore and a second trying manfully to rip a rod out of my hand. I made a bar with my right arm across my chest, put both rods up high and wound each reel in turn with my left hand. Still out of reach of the net I knew something would go wrong, I yelled for Jeff again but still no answer, by this time Eric had left and it was still dark, could the situation get any more sticky? Yes, the third rod ripped off bouncing the butt across the rocks!!

Still groggy from 2 hours of sleep in 72, hanging on to two rods attached to two fish at varying stages of weariness, with a third threatening to spool the Infinity reel, I sucked in a large breath and yelled ‘JEFF’ I heard a grumble from the tent and luckily Jamie, one of our weigh marshals, was walking down to our swim. I shouted to Jamie to get Jeff out of bed, and if he didn’t get up, to get his arse down here and hit that third rod, I wasn’t a happy camper! In a thick Georgia accent he chuckled and said ‘you know I cayun’t!’ Legend!!]

Luckily Jeff sprinted out of the bivvy door like a greyhound out of a trap, and came slipping over the rocks to relieve me of one of the rods, the reel on the third rod continued to spin and fortunately within 20 seconds or so the carp on the rod Jeff took from me ditched the hook leaving him free to pick up the third rod and attempt to get some braid back on the reel. 10 minutes later we had two fish in two landing nets and given Jamie’s presence, it was a simple matter of unhooking both fish, weighing them in and re-casting both rods. We had another 6 fish sacked up so spent the next 20 minutes sorting those out. In the time it took to weigh the sacked fish we’d had another two takes and another fish to weigh in.

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I took the decision to improve our surroundings early that morning and spent some time clearing a path to each of our 4 rods, this was a simple rock removal process and saw the pair of us bent double shifting boulders to clear a path, whilst continuing to bait and pull in carp. 3-4 hours later and we had a definite path from the grassy bank, down to each rod, a large cleared area for our chairs and brolly, and a little path off to the bay behind us for sacking fish. Jeff then came up with an idea to build a rock walkway out to the front of our swim enabling us to sack carp without getting wet and having to turn carp nurse with every passing ship. I waded out up to my chest and drove a storm pole in to the river bed at the top of the steep drop off in to 40ft, and with careful planning we could walk out along the walkway and place the draw string of the sack over the storm pole with the aid of a landing net handle. It was a fiddly process but anything to prevent river surfing was a massive bonus.

Much improved swim

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Having made our surroundings more comfortable and by getting just a couple of hours’ sleep we stepped up our efforts and found two other hot spots within our swim to go at with two of our former spots appearing to have dried up. We were fishing neutral buoyancy baits on blow back rigs and had lost just a handful of fish, with those caught being firmly hooked in the bottom lip, in the scissors or further back in the mouth indicating just how confidently the fish were picking up our bait. We’d got through 25 or so rigs up to this point and I had 20 more pre-tied but with a small piece of rubber tubing down the shank to kick the hair out near the bend of the hook.

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In hindsight, this was a bad move, having changed 3 of the rods over to this rig we then lost 11 of the next 12 takes, with all but one of the takes experiencing hook pulls. A couple of those fish we’d hooked had felt large. We’d become fairly adept at estimating the weight of the fish a few minutes in to the fight, the smaller fish would all head off downstream in to a large bowl in the nearside ledge and bury their heads in the weed on top of the shelf, normally a bit of gentle pressure would pull them free and they’d skit about behind our peg in the 4ft bay trying to roll on the small rocks and boulders. The few larger fish we’d had stayed deep and after the initial heart-stopping run would hug the nearside ledge until finally coaxed up in the water and pulled over the ledge and in to the net. Two of the fish we had on for over 15 minutes and both had point blank refused to come up the ledge and hung in 40-60ft of water in the centre of the channel.

Having no further pre-tied blow back rigs with curved shrink tube to increase the hooks’ gape, we’d continued to put the hook pulls down to bad luck, after the 11th lost fish of the day I spat my dummy out, threw the rod of the latest lost fish at the bank stick, swore profusely and with great ardour, and stormed up to the bivvy to calm down! 5 minutes later I came back and apologised to Jeff to who just laughed at me. ‘I need to tie some more rigs mate; can you give me half an hour?’ I then sat myself in the bivvy, out of the way of the mosquito’s, put the kettle on to steam the rigs and tied up another 8 blow-backs that we’d scored so well with. I was frustrated at myself as I knew these rigs had never let us down in the past so why did I feel the need to change them, or even tie alternative ones? Well, you live and learn and I was certainly doing both. In the gathering dusk we changed all 4 rods out for new rigs fished with either balanced snowman baits or small bright yellow pop ups that just held the size 1 off the bottom. Northern Specials and Ghurkka Spice Fluoro’s were used for most of our baits fished as part of a cut down snowman over the top of Dynamite Banana Nut Crunch that we were also baiting heavily with.

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We continued to catch well through Thursday, though some of our spots appeared to have slowed down and even regular baiting wasn’t getting the response so we spent some time trying other areas based upon what we knew about under the water and the prevailing weather conditions. One tactic that did score well was casting in front of the huge ships just as they passed, there was obviously zero chance of holding bottom but 8 times out of ten within just a few minutes of the lead bouncing around on the clear bottom, we’d get a vicious take. What a turn around this was from dreading the ships arrival to positively cheering it! The only remaining downside was that we felt any serious baiting we’d done before the ship passed was wasted effort, but who knows what goes on at 60ft with a half million ton ship passing 30ft over it? As such it didn’t give us great cause for concern as we continued to catch before, during and after they passed.

As Thursday afternoon turned in to evening we had an unexpected invitation from our American friends on the next peg down, whilst we were probably seen as the poor relations, not being able to bivvy up, sleep and having no food to speak of. Matt and Vasile invited us around for a proper meal, conversely they had a chef, two bivvy’s, an eating area with grill and BBQ and real cutlery and crockery! We wound the rods in during a biblical rain storm and trudged our way round to the neighbours where we were treated to hot pork steaks and a glass of red wine. This was Michelin star stuff as far as we were concerned having existed entirely on energy drinks and tasteless nutty meal replacement bars for the past 3 days. I actually felt quite emotional at this point, there was no need or reason to offer this kind of hospitality but this is one of the reasons why I love these kind of global events, they are a great leveller and whether you’re a CEO, an angling superstar or a street cleaner, everyone on the bank is equal in the face of our chosen quarry.

Their Chef packed us on our way half an hour later with another hot Pork Steak wrapped up for later that night, we got back to our swim, re-cast our rods and had 2 celebratory beers and 2 more cans of redbull kindly donated to us by the Head bailiff, Marius – a long term friend and Doctor of some repute! – who’d stopped by to check up on us and offer up some words of encouragement.

Thursday night was tough, physically we were both shot, and mentally we were on autopilot. The persistent rain made keeping dry impossible, keeping warm difficult and fishing effectively a complete non-starter. However, feeling somewhat refreshed we checked the leader board and found that after the evening update we were in fifth position, we also had 70lb of fish to add to the posted total. We were 40lb’s behind fourth place and just over 90lb’s behind the Dynamite team on peg 55. The other US Team and Chilly and Jacko were 200lb’s and 350lb’s ahead of us so we had no chance of catching these, I looked at Jeff and said ‘I think we can do this mate, I think we can take third place’ he agreed and we decided we would pull out all the stops for these last 15 hours and hope Lady Luck smiled on us.

We set ourselves up for another night of no sleep and gave ourselves a little mental slap to get us fishing effectively again, the rain had stopped around 9pm, so fuzzy headed, and bleary eyed we re-baited, recast and put some more bait out. Within 5 minutes the action started up again and we had 5 fish in very quick succession. The marshall was hanging out all night on the leaders peg so we text him around midnight to come and weigh them in, we hooked and landed another 2 fish whilst he was present so weighed those in too. We kept the little and often approach to baiting and were getting a run every 15-20 minutes on average, so by 3am we had another 6 fish sacked which were again weighed in. The night was cloudy and overcast and the fish were crashing through our swim all night, at first light another 5 fish were recorded plus a further 2 whilst the bailiff was present, he was rapidly becoming a good luck charm for us!

snatched cat naps!

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By 7am the day had dawned clear and sunny, with the change in conditions came a complete stop to the action, almost as if a switch had been flicked, we saw no more carp and the rods remained quiet. From 8pm the previous evening we’d had 33 runs and 28 fish banked, we felt surprisingly good as the end came within touching distance, we worked like machines all night over the wet slippery rocks and felt we had put sufficient time and effort in to really challenge for third place, we had no idea what the teams in fourth and third had caught throughout the night but we had caught well. During the early morning we began thinking about packing stuff down and tidying up and by 9:30 with just 30 minutes remaining we had the bulk of our stuff packed and in the car. I’d turned off all the Delks for some reason and at 9:40 Jeff heard a reel clutch scream, looked back down the bank and saw one of the rods bouncing on the rocks, so with a gargantuan effort he skipped back down the hill over the rocks and hit in to what turned out to be our final fish of the tournament at 18lb 5oz. We called Jamie the Marshall over who recorded the last fish and headed off to sound the horn at 10am marking the end of the tournament.

With the tourney over we headed down two pegs to find an exhausted and excitable Chilly blasting his favourite rock tunes out of the car CD player, we offered our congratulations to them and enjoyed a cold beer thrust in to our hands by Matt on the peg next door to ours, he was also good enough to supply us with a traditional Romanian dish for breakfast and a pot of filter coffee to keep us awake.

In something of a blur we went through the final rigmarole of packing down our week long camp, just about getting all loaded on the 4x4 and headed off to the hotel next to the casino where that night’s presentations were to be made. The hotel allowed us to check in early and we showered and fell asleep until 5:30 waking up and heading over to the Akwesasne Casino for a 6 o’clock start. The presentations were already under way and as yet we had no clue as to where we finished. As the Emcee announced the biggest fish, the big 4 and the team trophies we clapped and pondered nervously as to the outcome. The announcement of fifth position soon came around and was awarded to the US/Romanian Team with 1,351lb’s, I shook Jeff’s hand, ‘we got fourth mate’ I said excitedly. The Emcee continued, ’In fourth place, from the USA, Team Dynamite with 1,397 3oz Stewart Mackenzie and Pat Kerwin’ my jaw dropped, I think I bear hugged Jeff and muttered some expletives. The Emcee continued ‘remember that weight folks as in third place from Team UK, Marcus Tackley and Jeff Skerratt with 1,397lb and.......9oz’ we’d taken third position with one less fish but by a mere 6oz’s

We climbed up on stage and accepted our comedy sized cheque and had the obligatory pictures taken. Lots of competitors came over and congratulated us, we caught up with a lot of people that evening and large group of us dined in the Casino restaurant, ‘All You Can Eat’ and boy, did we take advantage of that! The rest of the evening was spent chatting, drinking and playing cards, we eventually wound it in around 5am and both of us were a few hundred dollars up too.

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Looking back it seems to have gone so quickly, as fond memories often do, at the end of the day though we’d fished as hard as we’ve ever fished in difficult conditions with a lack of supplies and took 3rd place in a competition on a River that we love. It’s important to add that we always fish as a team, in that all 4 rods our ‘ours’ we bait and cast all 4 and we take it in turns to hit runs. There’s no ego involved, we discuss all decisions before carrying out any plans and Jeff can cast a line in only for me to take it out 5 minutes later and re-cast without any ramifications. This style of fishing I think is somewhat consigned to the scrap heap these days with most anglers preferring to manage their own rods and land their own fish. Of all aspects of the Carp Angling World Championships, I put this approach down as one of the main reasons for our success.

This kept us going

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Mate that was a joy to read. I look back on it as one of the best times I can remember. An absolute pleasure to fish with you. We achieved a lot, I am proud of us.

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Congratulations and thank you so very much for the great write up.

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marcus and jeff....

a very well done on a serious sleep deprived effort from you guys. you pulled a top spot,pulled out all the stops and got the max out of it. i looked at the picture of you guys at the awards and am amazed you guys look almost normal after such a herculean effort!!

thank you for taking the time to post up such a fine report on your week also.

sorry we only had a brief chat but maybe a pleasure fishing trip is in order

cheers guys

andrew

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Gents,

What a fantastic read! Thanks so much for taking the time to write up such a great story about CAWC! It really was a great event!!

This article should most definitely be published somewhere.

Exceptional effort for you guys and what a great reward in the end!

EPIC ending. Absolutely EPIC!

It's what dreams are made of gentlemen!

-Marius

Edited by supercarpio

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A truly great and enjoyable write up of a superb event. You guys were fishing a demanding swim and certainly got the most out it.

Was great spending time with you guys too :yourock:

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