Mark Van Rhee....

It 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 wereimage 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 the 21st of September I arrived at 18:00 pm local time in Ottawa after a long journey via Brussels 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
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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 for 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 order.

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 difficult to 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
image 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 nice feeling! The 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 Netherlands. 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
. imageOn 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.
 On 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
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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.
A great 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
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imageThe 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
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  My 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 +. My 33lb + image

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 En
gland and will be leaving on their flight back to England 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 Lake Ontario 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. There 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 & Lisa Hunt, canadiancarpin.com 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 just mental!