Chris Ball....Return to a carping paradise!Since Carp-Talk started in June 1994 I have been lucky enough to visit the mighty St. Lawrence river in Canada a number of times, the last four visits stopping with the most experienced and longest running company in those parts, Canadian Carpin, headed by Paul & Lisa Hunt.
Because of the distance involved (though in reality it’s only 6-7 hours away by plane) the vastness of the Canada was too much of draw for my wife Lynne and I to spend just a week in Iroquois, Ontario fishing at Canadian Carpin.
Our two weeks in Canada saw us initially touch down at Halifax in Nova Scotia then over the next six days (stopping at bed & breakfast establishments) we travelled by car through the stunning scenery of New Brunswick, Quebec and finally Ontario arriving at Ottawa Airport in time to meet up with the other UK anglers who were to fish the same week as me at Canadian Carpin.
This collection of anglers turned out to be totally diamond people and as diverse as you could get. For instance you had Fire-fighters Shaun Cozens and Bob Ramsay, Bill Blackman and Rob Puff (really a predator angler - more of this later), youngsters, Dave Bartlett and Richie Seaman (nearly every carper is younger than me these days!) and father and son carp fanatics Mike Cuff and son Matt. The look in all their eyes, which I’ve seen a thousand times before meant business. Mike Cuff’s comments of “I’ve come to fill my boots’ was particularly telling as we sat eating late that evening. With thoughts of those amazing St. Lawrence carp slowly revolving around my mind punctuated by Paul Hunt words, “We’re off at 6am sharp” registering a distant drowsy thought as sleep took hold.
Bright and earlyThe hustle and bustle of the kitchen area in the River Island Manor was well underway when I arrived there, and it was only 5.30am! After a quick bite to eat and packing the coolbox soon saw us anglers make our way out into the gloom of a St. Lawrence September morning. All the tackle, carefully prepared by Paul Hunt, was ready to be stored on board his boat along with tackle bags, chairs, unhooking mats etc. With collars turned up and hats pulled down we set forth on our journey. But no white-knuckle ride this time for Paul’s new boat oozed luxury, boasting a full covered seating area and very stable on the water. However once Paul put the hammer down the craft raised it’s bow and made a tidy entry and exit at some speed through the mighty Iroquois dam bursting out to an ever brightening sky. Moments later it was time to drop off the first of our two passengers onto one of the three specially constructed platforms situated just a few yards from the shoreline up stream of the dam. These custom-made structures (made by Paul) have tubes inserted at a 60-degree angle set at either side at the front. Once you cast out it’s then a simple matter to place the rod in the holder and you’re away - remembering of course to flick the baitrunner to the on position. Beware, if you don’t a blown apart rod might be the consequence!
We dropped off a further two pairs of anglers onto the remaining platforms then it was on the Lighthouse Swim on the Rollin Rock Island. This swim has been created since I last visited and has proved to be a winner - and did so during the week. Then we came back downstream to the famous Rollin Rock swim which is situated at downstream end of the Island. In 1999 I fished with the infamous Derek Ritchie in this spot and it was Derek who gave the swim it’s name after standing on a large rock a little way out from the swim which provided an excellent platform to play and land fish. Derek’s cry of ‘Get on the Rock - the Rollin Rock’ (after the beer of the same name) stuck.
For Paul and myself it was fishing off the boat tied up next to platform three. As with all the swims Paul’s expertise is invaluable when knowing where to place your bait in these specially baited areas and it appeared I’d got it in the right spot. A string of doubles to 19¾lb followed, but then the boilie snowman rig rod burst into life for the first time. Lifting the rod met with a solid resistance that moved slowly upstream, straightaway Paul said, “There’s no weed on the line, that just looks solid, could be a big fish...” He wasn’t wrong, and with teeth gritted finally we saw a fantastically long common fold into the landing net. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen Paul Hunt gulp, he thought momentarily it was a 40-pounder!
I held the scales while Paul securitised them, “38lb” he announced with a smile on his face. The beastie was 39-inches from the nose to the tip of the tail and if it had been a little fuller in the body (like many of the other fish landed) it would have tipped over the magic forty pound mark.
Then the same rod burst back into action a short time later, the resulting common tipped the scales close to thirty pounds - 29¾lb.
While all this was going on, Shaun & Bob were hauling as were Mike and son Matt and at the end of the day nine weary anglers sat down for dinner. (You get three meals a day including a freshly made dinner to die for.)
Next day it was all change time, the system Paul uses means that anglers get a chance to fish all the swims. However this morning Paul wanted to look around at other areas where we could fish off the boat, but this proved troublesome as we just couldn’t hold the anchors to make the boat stable enough to fish from. After several hours we gave it best and returned to base. This was no problem as the famous garden swim was available. So in the afternoon I trundled down the lawn, set up and plopped a bait (underarm) just beyond the drop off 30ft from the bank.
Can you believe it after ten minutes the rod violently lurched downwards as line exited the reel in double quick time and I found myself attached to a fish that went storming off into the mighty St. Lawrence flow and kept going against a fair bit of pressure before stopping abruptly. This allowed me to draw breath and get it on the move towards me. Rolling in the clear close in I could see it was another really good fish. Once landed I shouted out to Paul, “You better come and have a look at this.” It was another flawless specimen that tipped over the 30-pound mark by 8oz.
Paul reported that Shaun & Bob were having a superb time on platform two (everyone had walkie-talkies as standard issued, Paul’s current models were in tasteful Realtree camo finish.) Later when Paul journeyed out to pick everyone I waited to see their smiling face. The biggest smiles without doubt belonged to Shaun & Bob, they’d had 36 runs landing 32 fish including a couple of rare twenty pound plus mirrors, both to Bob Ramsey. Again Mike & Matt were hauling and Dave & Ritchie had a good day too.
The Rollin Rock
Rollin Rock, the swim where Paul and many of the customers have enjoyed outstanding catches over the years. Paul’s favourite spot was at extreme range right out in the main channel that’s used by the vast ships that navigate the St. Lawrence seaway everyday. Paul’s beautiful fluid casting action combined with maximum tip speed meant the rig simply flew out far beyond the 100 yard mark. In fact several times he was left being able to see the backing on the spool meaning nearly 150 yards had been cast! But this was the spot to be and Paul’s ‘workrate’ that day had to be seen to be fully appreciated, he simply didn’t stay still for the next 10-hours. If he wasn’t playing fish, he was spodding and if he was doing neither I was talking pictures of him with his catch. This included a fabulous brace of 30-pounders, the best a 35lb beauty, plus a string of others. Still I wasn’t complaining managing several fish to 25lb that day.Later that evening Lisa told me that Paul was really buzzing about the day proving you never lose the knack of catching big fish, something Paul Hunt was supreme at in the UK way before he set-up shop in Canada. Everyone had another good day and being Saturday night we all bundled into the Canadian Carpin wagon off for a meal at the local restaurant. A good night was had by all and filled with renewed energy another early start next morning saw our intrepid anglers once more leave to do battle. On the last morning I decided not to go on the boat and fish beyond the dam but stay at River Island Manor, we were due to leave around 4pm that day. In the garden swim was Bill fishing for carp and Rob fishing for the bass, hed got worms and lures, he even brought some rods and reels with him for the purpose. I wandered down for a look-see. He soon caught some Gobies (like a bullhead) as livebait on small pieces of worm. The livebait was set up on a float rig, the bait just tripping bottom. But can you believe when the float/worm set up dipped down for the umpteen time the rod hooped over and as we stood there out flipped a nice bass that promptly threw the hook! It was Rob’s only chance of a bass... but hey that’s fishing. Statistics Now for some quite extraordinary catch figures related to this 6½-days of fishing days only at Canadian Carpin.8 x 30lb to 38lb 121 x 20lb to 29¾lb 249 x doubles to 19¾lb Everyone of these carp are wild fish running around in a 1,000 mile long river system in depths of up to 50ft. The sheer spectacle of fishing for these superb fish in amazing surroundings with the massive movement of water pushing relentlessly through your swim is both thrilling and massively exciting. My recommendation is... just do it.