Mark Van Rhee....
was a cold winter’s morning in
Holland as I
drove alongside my local fishing spot, and to my dismay there was
still a considerable layer of ice on the water, so I drove back to
my house without wetting a line and started reading some carp
literature. That’s when I came across an impressive article that
completely stole my attention, on carp fishing the St. Lawrence
River in Canada.
The article’s description of strong fighting, wild common carp
inhabiting this massive river system together with wonderful
surroundings without a doubt made my carp heart beat stronger. The
only thing I could think about after reading the article was to feel
the fight of these wild commons for myself, to hold one of those
amazing Canadian carp in my own hands and to see with my own eyes
this amazing river and the splendid surroundings. I have to go there!
There are a few venue possibilities, but
after visiting the featured venue’s website and speaking to some
fellow Dutch who were familiar with the St. Lawrence River in
Canada, I had made a decision. I
decided to go for one week in September with the featured venue,
Canadian Carpin Holidays run by Paul and Lisa Hunt. Canadian Carpin
offers all-inclusive holidays and Paul has 18 years experience of
carp fishing on the river. There is no need to lug out your own gear
as all tackle is provided for you and consists of only top quality
brands and well as anything else you might need. All that
along with the impressive waterfront location of Canadian Carpin
venue The River Island Manor, were the decisive factors in my choice
to fish there.On
of September I
arrived at 18:00 pm local time in Ottawa after a long journey via
and New York.
I was met by Canadian Carpin upon arrival in the airport and
transported, along with the other guests who had arrived from London, the short distance to the venue. After
nearly a total of 22 hours traveling I definitely needed some sleep.
But first upon arrival we are served dinner and got acquainted with
our hosts Paul and Lisa and fellow guests. Paul informed us all
about the last weeks catch reports and what first time guests can
expect during their holiday. We are advised that during September we
get up each morning at around 05.30 am and then Paul brings us by
boat to the swims.At around 18.00 pm we are picked up and
brought back to the venue where we enjoy a nice cold beer and hot
shower. After that the delicious evening meal Lisa has prepared is
ready and there is plenty of it! Some guests go to bed early to be
in top shape
the next morning, and others stay up to enjoy a few more drinks
while playing pool or just enjoying the view of the massive river.
One thing is for sure when I do sleep, I dream about strong fighting
carp which are waiting for me.The following
morning we all have breakfast, and grab our packed lunches and meet
Paul in the tackle room where he gives us our fishing gear. We are
supplied with top quality equipment from brands like Daiwa, Nash,
Fox, and JRC which Paul regularly renews to ensure good working
Seeing as I came out on my own Paul teamed me up for the week
with Dennis who had also come out on his own. We are then
transported by boat to our first days swim the “canal bank”. We
fished with 2 rods and fished run for run. The rigs that we use are
very simple: 15 cm by 65 lb braided line with a size 2 strong hook.
A fairly long hair which could hold at least 4 grains of maize. We
use 4 oz inline leads on the 80 lb mainline, because otherwise as
Paul advises when you get a run the strength of the carp coupled
with the rivers flow will snap your line.
We all then board the boat and set out to
our designated swims. On the bank Paul advises all the anglers on
how to fish their particular swims. In our swim he tells us to cast
as far as possible, and he has purposely supplied us with lighter
line and stronger rods 3 ½ lb . At a distance of 75 to 100 meters. A
very strong wind picked up from the west early on and it has brought
in quite a bit of weed, making it
fish at distance.
By the strong current and the
hard wind it is almost impossible to fish at the right spot.
Spodding also became quite difficult due to the wind. After several
attempts of trying to have it, we decided to contact Paul via the
walkie talkies, which he supplies to each team so we may keep in
touch with the other anglers and get additional advice from Paul.
Paul comes to pick us up and moves us onto a more sheltered swim.
Our new swim is located between 2 other teams who are catching very
well, on a long stretch of bank. However, for us several hours pass
with not a bite, and then suddenly the left rod comes to life! A
run, as hard a run as I have ever seen or heard before! The carp
seams unstoppable! After I engaged the Baitrunner and start setting
the clutch throughout the play, the carp takes no notice and
continues ripping line off the reel. Finally, I gain some line bit
by bit which made me think this carp had to be a good size as
compared to my previous catches in
Holland. After 20 minutes the carp is near
the net and I see my first Canadian carp glide into it. To my
surprise the carp weighed in at only 15 lb, but had the strength of
a Dutch 40 lb Carp! It is hard to describe what you feel with that
first run of such a strong St. Lawrence carp. Just great and a very
2nd day we fished on platform 3, the closest to the dam. We
fished about 20 meters from the bank, just short of the strong
current. There is also the possibility to fish towards the dam with
boilies. However, we decide to start with maize, the bait everyone
uses for feeding and baiting up, which has been supplied to everyone
by Canadian Carpin. 3 pieces of maize on the hair with a plastic
piece on the end to keep the corn from falling off, giving a
critical balanced bottom bait as advised by Paul. This way there is
no need to change your bait every time. Paul also advised that you
absolutely must pay attention that the hook is still sharp each time
you cast out in regards to the bottom rocks which can blunt the
hooks, which is the culprit for most catch losses on the St.
Lawrence. We are provided with spod rods which Paul instructs us to
use frequently to keep the carp interested. So every hour we spod
around 3 to 5 spods, to keep the carp occupied and hold them in the
swim. The little and often method is the best.
After a beautiful
sunny day yesterday the weather has switched to quite cloudy and
rainy. In the afternoon it started to rain so hard, more than I have
ever seen it rain in the
And you guessed it ... of course, in the half hour of downpour we
get 3 runs. Paul advised us that the overcast cloudy weather plays a
contributing role in the number of runs we get in the fall time on
the river. Our catch for the 2nd day is 16 carp. Dennis and I
catch 8 each, the heaviest was 25 lb. All of them are incredibly
beautiful never before caught commons up to 25 lb.
On the 3rd
day we fish Platform 1, Paul rotates the swims each day so each
angler experiences the different aspects each swim offers such as
depths, flow and the ever changing currents of the St. Lawrence. It
is a beautiful day, as evidenced by the spectacular sunrise that
morning. What is better than to sit behind your rods on the St. Lawrence River and enjoy a warming sunrise and then
hear the sound of a buzzer screaming off! I can tell you that for me
this stirs up the ultimate carp fever. That screaming take provides
me with my first 30lb common on the trip. After another solid drill
I see the carp in the crystal clear blue water below me continuing
its fight. The water is so clear you can see up to 8 meter depths.
The beauty is that you can see the carp movement under you rod tip
in the clear water, what a beautiful sight! Eventually, I land the
carp and get the scales to record weight of 31 lb 5 oz. Furthermore,
it is rather quiet that day. We have caught 8 carp up to 31 lb 5 oz.
On my 3rd
day Denis and I realized that once you get a run you can normally
expect that you will get several more runs in quick succession
before the shoal moves through your swim, as the carp swim in large
shoals in the river.
day 4 we are on an island swim off the main channel called the
Rolling Rock, which was aptly named after a few well known carp
anglers caught their P.B.’s there. We fish the swim with the
appropriate gear supplied by Paul for this particular swim. We are
advised to fish one distance rod straight our from the swim where
the two currents off the tip of the island meet downstream and one
rod to the side close in off a 35 ft drop off. We get many runs,
especially on the long rod that we cast about 100 meters from shore,
but unfortunately we did lose a couple of big carp due to a weed bed
on the left side of the swim which we were told was particularly
thick due to the past warm summer .
We bank 5 carp with the largest
topping the scales at 30 lb. After that day I decided to do one
night fishing on platform 2.Paul ensured
that I had all the necessary equipment and food for the night.
Immediately after setting up the night’s first run screas off.
After a hard battle I landing a perfect 22lb carp, I re-baited and
cast out in the same spot and right away the rod was away again! And
after a 20 minute fight a lovely 26lb common was in my net.
start to the night! By 01:00 a.m. I had landed 9 carp to 27lbs. I
decided to take a short break have a bite to eat and absorb the
incredible series of catches I just had. I sunk into my bed chair
and contently fell asleep only to be awakened by a resident skunk
that was getting cozy under my bed chair! It was quite a rude
awakening to say the least, but luckily for me he kept his tail
neatly down, and was rather friendly. After an hour or so Paul
arrives by boat with the rest of the anglers and drops Dennis off in
the swim along with my breakfast and packed lunch, after filling
Dennis in on my nights fishing we experience a slower day than
yesterday landing carp to 25lb probably due to the weather change.The
6th day of fishing will be my last as I am scheduled to leave
earlier than the rest of the group due to my flight back to
Holland. So I arrange to once again fish
through the night as seeing the end near I want to get ever last
minute in that I can on the river. We are fishing closest to the dam
and Paul advises us to use boilies in this swim as there is more
chance of a big fish on boilie in this swim. We fish one rod with
boilies toward the dam and the other with corn just on the drop off
in front of the platform. Again shortly after setting up the short
rod goes and produces a 15lb caught on corn followed soon after with
another on corn weighing in at 19lb. approximately a half hour goes
by when the boilie rod screams off, and It seems the carp was well
on it’s way powering off to the other side of the massive river.
After a great fight lasting 25 minutes we see the strong common come
under the platform. The carp gives one last strong flick of its tail
before it’s brought into the net. The carp weighs in at 27 lb. The
next two catches come in soon after, both on the boilie rod and
weigh in at 21 and 26 lb.
The demand on my right arm is taking its
toll, but it’s an ache I will happily live with! The afternoon is
quiet, the weather is beautiful with bright blue skies and low winds
which in turns means that the takes slow down somewhat.
Later on in
the day we catch another 18.5 and 26 lb carp. Again, both on
boilies. It comes time for Dennis to be picked up by Paul, and I am
once again on my own for the night. Soon, however, is the first bite
into the corn bait. And after another immense battle I land a
beauty, a 28 lb common. Quickly I get a picture and return the wild
carp back into its equally wild water. I am quick to recast and to
my delight the line screams off within minutes! This one feels as
strong as the last. At this point I am starting to distinguish the
bigger fish from the smaller ones, which isn’t that easy in this
river as they all give an incredible fight. The larger carp are
heavier in their runs, they power off hard, typically without
stopping, taking 100 yards of line off the spool. The smaller carp
are more explosive and their runs are shorter. After I finally
netted this one he did indeed weigh in at 26 lb. My streak does not
end there, I barely have time to compose myself when again less than
five minutes after recasting yet another take screams away! I am
clearly in a big shoal of carp. This is what I read about in that
article that cold morning in Holland and here I am in the midst of it!
Just an unbelievable, wonderful feeling! After my swim is back in
order, and the rod cast, it will now take quite a bit longer before
the next carp bends the rod. But it does come and going by the take
this carp is looking to be a good size again. And what a result
after another battle, 30.5 lb! And so it goes I will have yet
two more banked by midnight a 29.5 and a 23 lbs.
arm is aching and I’m getting somewhat tired now so as per my
routine now I decided it was time to have a bit of a rest under the
stars. As I try to drift off into sleep it is not the bites that
keep me awake, but the huge splashes in the water I hear. From all
sides carp begin to jump. 5 yards out from the bank all the way to
the other side of the river
which is up to one mile away. The full moon lights up the river so
beautifully, you can see the shining carp silhouettes jumping out of
the water. A very beautiful sight indeed. To just lie there tucked
away under your nice umbrella enjoying this wonderful river and
hearing nothing but carp jumping, what dream could exceed this? ....
Right, another take! Which is exactly what happens and 20 minutes
later a great Canadian River
cracker posing for you in the net. That is the ultimate carp
fishing. The takes continue throughout the night on the St. Lawrence
with the best result being 33.5 lbs. Cracker common! The crown on
this fantastic night. I catch 14 carp including 9 in the 20 to 30 lb
range and 2 30lbs +.
The next morning I get picked up at 7 am
and I am able to say goodbye to the fellow anglers who are all from England
and will be leaving on their flight back to
the following day. Unfortunately for myself the end had come as I
was to be at the airport by noon for my flight back to
Holland. I am happy that I chose to fish a
couple nights during the week as for as much the experience of night
fishing on this incredible river as for the extra catches it had
allowed me. All in all a great week! The shoulder pain and fatigue
were well worth it!Unlike Holland
everything in Canada is so much larger with incredible expanses of
land, rivers, lakes, houses, boats, dinner you name it in Canada
they are 10 times bigger!! For instance
which drains into the St. Lawrence River
is about 200 km long and 35 km wide. That is more than half the size
of the Netherlands! And
that’s not mentioning the other Great Lakes in Canada.
are definitely carp in the St. Lawrence in the 40 to 50 lb+ range.
In such a large system you just must have a bit of luck on your side
to bank one. Paul & Lisa as well as many of Canadian Carpin guests
have banked 40’s and up to 50 lb 9 0z. Look on the website of Paul &
to see for your self. The site is full of videos and information.
Just contact Paul and he will give you all the advice you need. They
are just great people, who make you feel right at home in their
venue. An incredible venue that is situated beside an amazing river
filled with wild carp!
Speaking for myself, I have enjoyed this
week tremendously, not only the beautiful and strong carp that I
have caught but also of the environment and the people I have met.
It was my ultimate carp holiday. But who knows what the future will
bring for me, I will go back again for one week in June 2010, this
time to experience what the early season on the St. Lawrence offers!
Like one of my carp friends says all the time, Canadian Carpin is