Friday, September 28, 2007

mid September catch report and other ramblings

Oliver with a beautiful 35lbs linear mirror

The week started well with all swims producing good fish. Oliver and Javier from Barcelona had opted to start their campaign on the reliable Twin waddies swim – two dried river beds; and were enjoying some great action.

Javier with a big Bin el Ouidane common

Oliver hits another screamer on twin waddies

I had opted to pioneer a new swim, the French ramp, and it delivered on Tuesday morning with a magnificent brace of commons at 45lbs and 32lbs.

Morning brace of 45lbs and 32lbs

What a fish 45lbs of Bin el Ouidane perfection

A beautiful looking 32lbs that came from the same spot as the 45lbs

Peter Kent had opted for the Hotel Bay river gulley and had his PB on Monday afternoon, a fine 32lbs common.

Peter with his new PB common of 32lbs

I didn’t know it then but the next 24 hours were going to be radically different.

The storm turned and blew me away

Tuesday afternoon saw a change in weather as a nasty looking storm blew in, the water temperature dropped 3 degrees and the wind was gale force, I was pretty worried. The French ramp swim is situated on a long rocky spit that delineates the start of hotel bay. I had pegged the bivvy down as best I could on the rocky and unforgiving ground, but at around 3am the storm decided to change direction and the wind started howling straight into the door mouth of the bivvy.

pounding 3 foot waves a howling wind - scary

It was a scary night but I had managed to drop off to sleep even with the Nash double top taking a pounding. I don’t remember much but it was like being in a car smash, one minute sleeping contentedly the next in the air and hurtling towards the stony ground. To be honest I don’t remember a thing, just waking up and having leads and bed chair and all sorts of other stuff clattering around my head. I think we rolled a couple of times and I remember thinking at least I’m not in the water and trying to find the door out of this bivvy wreck.

Nash double topped after the storm

I made the best of things as the rain lashed down and the wind blew the guts from my destroyed camp. I managed to drag everything under the bivvy and peg down the sides with rocks as best I could. Crawling inside I clung on for sunup.

Bin el Ouidane 1 Nash double top 0

By Friday we were back to normal weather conditions but the storm had put the fish down and all swims were fishing slowly. Javier and Oliver decided to move to the sheltered Tortuga Bay and managed a brace of commons of 36lbs and 23lbs plus lost 3 more fish, one of which was a biggie.

The first fish from Tortuga Bay 36lbs

There were plenty of fish showing in the bay but they didn’t seem interested in the maize, the two carp captured were held in a sack for 5 hours so we could examine their faeces and both carp unsurprisingly left the sack full of maize and seed. A similar experience occurred on snake spit and the island, the carp were there but few of them were getting stuck into the beds of corn.

It seems the closer we move down the bank towards the area fished by Belgium Mark the quicker and easier the fish accept maize. Twin waddies for example seems to be an instant swim perhaps as the fish are patrolling around the headland and into Marks area, an area that’s seen heavy maize baiting for the last 2 years. The further away we go from Mark’s area the harder the fishing. The Carp in these new virgin areas show every indication that they are interested but they don’t get their heads down. It’s a question of time and bait I suppose.

Friday night was a great evening, our first Morocco Carp social.

Beachcomber John, Ebro Dan, Pete and Phil had driven down from Spain and we invited all the anglers up to the Morocco Carp Hotel roof terrace for a Berber feast. We started with Harira soup, the traditional soup that breaks the fast each day during Ramadan, followed by some delicious fried Perca Sol, freshly caught that afternoon by Oliver and Javier.

Fried Perca Sol make a delicious appetizer

The main course was kebabs of wild boar that Hamid had hunted the week before cooked over charcoal by Chef Mohamed with a tagine of fresh vegetables to accompany.

Some great local wine from the Meknes region of Morocco and even a drop of good Spanish Cava brought along by John to finish. A great night and the first of many such evenings I hope.

The Carp’s diet in Lake Bin el Ouidane

Some more thoughts on the food source

I’ve been enjoying some good smokey socials with Oliver and Javier and we have had some interesting conversations. I think I’m leaning away from the water snail theory. The shore line is awash with small white snail shells and the obvious thought is that these water snails are the main diet of the Bin el Ouidane carp. On closer inspection of the beach areas and the great tides of snail shells, most of them appear undamaged, empty but not crushed. I feel that if a carp was going to eat a snail it would crush the shell with its throat teeth and the remains would be like a white course sand when it passed out the other end, 90% of all the snail shells are intact.

We have also noticed thousands and thousands of small holes in the silt, I thought perhaps these were of the snails making but on digging into the silt we have found nothing.

Oliver was observing the Perca Sol in the margins and they hover, transfixed over these holes in the silt, as if waiting for a worm or lava to pop its head out.

I need to rig up some sort of underwater video camera, Oliver suggested a fish tank in the margins with the video camera inside and focused on one of the holes, see if we can capture on video what is actually making these holes and perhaps providing a rich food source.

Another point of note, Oliver caught a fish that was leaking sperm, the date is the 20th of September, a one off? or are the Carp breeding multiple times?- probably the latter which would explain how the lake developed such a huge population of fish in such few years.

Catch report for the week of 20th September 2007

Peter Kent – Hotel Bay

32lbs common maize/pukka

28lbs common maize/pukka

Lost 1

Oliver and Javier Twin Waddies and Tortuga Bay

22lbs common

35lbs Linear mirror

28lbs common

42 lbs common

21lbs common

20lbs common

35lbs common

35 lbs common

23lbs common

29lbs common

29lbs common

10lbs mirror

3 small carp and 7 more lost


45lbs common popup snowman opal/pukka

32lbs common popup snowman opal/pukka

Lost 1

Monday, September 24, 2007

Morocco Carp...the story so far

Our first catch report video.
August till the start of September.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New swim French ramp produces the goods 45 and 32lbs morning brace

A morning brace of 45lbs and 32lbs

I decided to try a new swim to the right hand side of the Hotel.
With clients fishing Hotel bay and twin waddies I opted for the next bay along so I could keep visual contact with everyone and help out Peter Kent, fishing alone, if he hooked a biggie.

This mighty 45lbs common had never been caught before

What with all the running around that seems to be consuming most of my days it was only really after dark that I got to fish the swim, but I was baiting morning and evening with around 20kg. The second morning saw me lose a biggie when the hook slipped after a long and strong battle, to say I was a little pissed off would be an understatement particularly as the Spanish guys on twin waddies had been banging them out since Saturday and Peter had managed a new PB common at 32lbs, I was the last one to catch.

steady girl.....

Water dance with a 44 lbs common

The Spanish guys, Oliver and Javier from Barcelona fishing the twin waddies swim had 12 fish out since Saturday with the biggest going 42lbs a beautiful fully scaled mirror of 38lbs and 2 fine commons of 35lbs and 37lbs, not to mention the further 8 fish all above 25lbs. Most of their fish seemed to be coming from around 12-14 metres (40-50ft) in the mouth of the dried river bed. I decided that I would find similar depth water infront of my swim.

Another big common graces the net of The Spanish crew Oliver and Javier

Oliver with a 25lbs common part of 12 fish catch in 3 days on twin waddies

Oliver's biggest at 42lbs but the Spanish guys are here for 2 this space

I planned to fish 2 long range rods baited with a popup snowman of Opal 18mm and 12mm pukka pineapple. I was fishing a rig that Paul Russell from Essex Angling holidays had shown me. Basically the shot is placed on the hair just under the bait and the hook is tied with a knotless complicated knot. This is basically your standard knotless knot with the hair passed over the first 5 turns of the knotless not and a further 5 turns laid down then finished in the standard way. It allows the hair to pop straight off the middle of the hook shank and I like the hooking capabilities of this rig.I was fishing with a size 6 Atomic Claw and stealth skin link, a 5 oz Atomic Morocco carp lead and 45lbs quicksilver snag leader finished off the set up.

I boated my 2 long range rods out till I hit the 45 foot mark dropped 5 kg of maiz off the back and followed it with the rig. My third road was fished at around 35 yards to a small mark I had found surrounded by Canadian pond weed, it was in only 4 metres of water but looked fishy enough.
The carp in Bin el Ouidane don't really feed at night, which is a relief in some ways as I was absolutely knackered, Im still getting used to this life as a guide and the high altitude of the lake makes everything physical seem so much harder than normal. So with the rods out I made up my bed and pretty soon I was out, confident, very confident of a run at first light.

6AM like an alarm clock, off went my inside long range rod, the same position as yesterday when I had lost the biggie. I jumped in the boat straight away to avoid snagging the lead and was soon in deep water and out of danger. The fish made some impressive runs stripping 30-40 yards of line at a time and putting up a dogged resistance all the way through. After about 20 minutes I managed to slip the net under an absolutely mint common carp. I unclipped the landing net from its pole and wedged it off the back of the boat and made the slow pull back to shore, confident that I had a new PB common ( my previous best common was 30.8lbs from the Ebro) The scales confirmed it, 45lbs and also my biggest fish to date from Bin el Ouidane.

A fine 32lbs Bin el Ouidane common to make the perfect brace

Fish were moving on the 200 metre line and I soon had the rod out again on the spot, a fish crashed twice right over my bait and I was sure it would go off again, sure enough about 1 hour after the 45lbs I had a screamer and a beautiful 32lbs common made the perfect morning brace.
If only all days could start like this - Inshalla.

white water snails - the food of big carp?

Monday, September 17, 2007

5 days of action for Essex Angling on Bin el Ouidane

Paul Russell, Tony Bartram and Paul Manning – “The Essex Angling crew” flew over for a quick 5 day session at the end of August.

The baiting campaign had been running for 3 weeks and I was pretty confident that we would have immediate action. 3 times a week for the last 3 weeks I had been dropping 25 kg of maize on 6 main swims, and it was 1 of these swims, The Island, that I had decided to fish with the Essex Angling crew for the first weekend of their trip.

The island is a mind blowing place. Imagine being marooned on a tiny drop of land in the middle of a huge lake cupped in the mighty middle Atlas Mountains. The star filled night sky is like an IMAX theatre but better, much better – the crystal clear mountain air and the scale of the vistas just totally humbles you.

Due to a bit of a delay at the Airport we didn’t really get out to the island till dark had fallen and I could feel that the guys were a little worried, but we got the Nash double tops up and were just starting to think about our rumbling stomachs when Ishmael returned with the dinner run. After we had dined and drank like Kings under the stars the consensus was to get our heads down and be fresh for fist light. Huge carp were jumping and splashing all around, it was incredible, the night was still, hardly a ripple, the moon nearly full, the guys were snoring as my PVA bags splashed in.

I had gone to bed so confident of a run that I couldn’t quiet believe that nothing had happened during the night. The fish were there for sure, Id never seen so many fish crashing at any time but we really struggled for a take. Paul Russell had a nice common of 32.10lbs and Tony Bartram the smallest fish I had ever seen from the lake, a cute 3lb common plus another of around 23lbs. It was a slightly battle weary group that decided on the start of day 3 to up sticks and move to the hotel bank.

Final tally for the Island: 2 days, 4 anglers, 4 fish.

Verdict: I will be back

The Hotel Bank

The Essex angling crew decided on the twin waddies swim for the final 3 days of their trip, and it proved to be a good choice. 2 dried river beds feed either side of a headland and it’s a little like fishing an underwater bar on a gravel pit. The technique is to find the centre of the river bed with the sonar and drop your 3 rods at intervals along this river bed gulley. As you get further away from the bank in the river gulley it gets deeper so by fishing 3 rods and staggering them along the river bed you can quickly determine at which depth the fish are feeding and move the other two rods to the same depth.

Everything was quiet for the first day but at sunup the next morning the alarms started sounding. Paul Manning ended with the biggest fish an immaculate common of 39.10lbs. Close of play on the 5 day session was largest fish 39.10lbs common and total fish 15 with 1 PB to Tony Bartram at 28.10 common.

Hope to see you guys out here again soon.

Building roads in Morocco

The JCB quickly banked up the new road

Anyone that’s fished with Morocco Carp on the mythical lake Bin el Ouidane will know that the walk down to our jetty and hotel bank swims can take the puff out of you. It was particularly hard work for our boat waiters who bring the breakfast and dinner and of course lug 100’s of kilos of equipment from the hotel down to the lake.

So in true pioneering fashion we decided to build a road!

The new road will lead directly from the Morocco Carp HQ along the side of the river gulley and straight to our boat jetty. This will allow us to use our 2 quad motorbikes (also available for hire) with small trailers to transport the massive amounts of gear, bait and food.

I blew the budget yesterday when I shook hands with a local carpenter that I’ve employed to build the new Morocco Carp HQ.

I love doing business with Africans, everything is made by hand, all problems can be worked round, nothing is impossible. I know this will change when the Ikea’s of the world decide that it is profitable to dump another branch of whatever crap they are selling close to these people.

For now, there is no other way than to build things from scratch, using whatever’s at hand. I salute these tradesmen and their skills.

In my ongoing quest to reuse, recycle and buy local I decided on the more expensive option of local red wood for the tackle shop and equipment storage rather than the other option of MDF.

I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing in terms of my carbon footprint. I mean; you have to chop down trees to get local redwood, and trees are not too common round here, so that’s bad right? Yet I want my HQ and tackle shop to look and feel authentic, I’m going to sand, stain, varnish, polish and pour some love into the finish of the place. Make it into the tackle shop I always wanted to visit, have a cup of tea and a chat… you know that tackle shop of your dreams.

MDF is cheaper to buy and I imagine it’s got to be better for the environment, it’s made from reclaimed wood and sawdust and glue – I think? But you can’t stain and polish it and it smells like shit, and I’ve never dreamt of a tackle shop with MDF shelves. I mean you just can’t love a piece of MDF.

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Video Catch reports Morocco Carp