On the rocks at Pusiano - part one - Jake Langley-Hobbs

Téma Dobrodružství Jakea Langley-Hobbse, publikováno 19. 6. 2012, přečteno 5882x.

Hi and welcome back to my carp fishing adventures. 

I had come up with a plan whilst finishing my Cassien session. I planned to fish with some German guys I met at Cassien, on their ‘home’ waters. However there was one place I wanted to visit first and it was on my route, and that was Italy. The great Italians lads I met at Cassien had all kept mentioning one lake to me in particular, Lago di Pusiano. It was described to me as a wonderful lake of approximately 500 hectares containing a very large head of carp; the majority of these were commons, as seems to be the case in Italy. The average size was quoted as being around 12–13kg, but like most other lakes it also contained some bigger specimens if you were lucky enough to make contact with one. I was also told of another larger lake about 50km from Pusiano, and this was called Varese. At 750 hectares it also held a good head of fish, but the average size was quoted as being about 15–16kg with a distinct possibility of connecting with a larger fish. This sounded more like it! So I decided Varese would be my first choice with Pusiano being the back-up plan. It is always essential to have one of these, just in case. I just had one more thing to do? As the Italian carp fishing season was closed from May till the end of June in the region I wanted to fish, I had some time on my hands. Whilst at Cassien I had been thinking that keeping my possessions in storage for several years was financially a daft idea, as everything inside would probably be worthless by the time I returned, if ever, to the UK. So I hatched a plan. EBay! I returned to England for 20 days and sold everything from bikes to DVD players, and ski boots to furniture. Incredibly it all went, which meant I released my unit too. This meant more cash in the fishing fund, and many more months on the road. Result!

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Not a monster but my first carp from a new country, which will always be special.

I returned to France at the end of June to pick up my transport, which Hamish and Alex had kindly let me keep at their beautiful home. I now had one horrible task to undertake, sorting out the chaos in my van. It had been packed in a hurry after Cassien and needed repacking. I contacted Leicester Lee who had had a result at Cassien. Not a big fish alas but a guide’s job with Angling International. I made my way to their camp and spent a day unpacking and repacking my Van. To give you an idea, it is like playing Tetris! With both boats on the roof rack, I said farewell to Lee and then collected Charley and Flash from the Kennels; I don’t know who was more pleased to see each other! With Varese inputted my sat nav led the way and very soon I was driving up via San Remo. A precarious road, full off twists and turns, with a multitude of tunnels and hillside greenhouses, what an experience!  I had one drama when my van for some unexplained reason decided to cut out and dramatically ground to a halt on a motorway. Fortunately it was up an incline and no one was too close! 

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Just to give you some idea of how bad the mosquito situation really was. And they did bite!

As dusk approached I pulled into a lido area at the edge of the lake. In the fading light I could see a big expanse lined with reeds. I watched my dogs cool off in the shallows and wondered whether Varese would be as kind to me as Cassien was. Only time would tell? I slept in the car park that night and at first light, in the rain, I went for a drive. I had no license or real clue where to start, but I eventually found a tackle shop and managed to extract some basic information. In Italy licenses are regional and have to be obtained from the Towns provincial offices, which must then be paid for at a Post office. Most Italian waters require boat permits, so I needed one of those too. Once my fishing license was obtained and paid for I then had to locate the private house of the man in charge of boat permits. On arrival a sweet, fragile, old lady motioned me inside, whereupon I handed over 40 Euros for my permit for 20 days. The old man, bless him, had dementia, and his wife obviously looked after him full time and was now responsible for boat permits! On the wall were some very impressive B&W pictures of some big pike, and the young man in the pictures was the old man before me. I said my fond farewells and now armed with the correct documents was keen to get started.

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Varese was a big place. This shot is just a very small section of the lake!

I was given a photocopied map by the provincial office, of the carp zones at Varese. There are eight small zones you can legally fish. The majority of the lake is out of bounds or has private houses lining the bank. I chose a zone in-between the villages of Grappelino and Calzate de Pesca. You can’t park near the swim so the boat was loaded up from a suitable place with vehicle access half a mile away. To say it was like sailing into no-man’s land would be an understatement! The water levels were higher than usual and I was looking for a tiny area that vaguely resembled a swim. To add to this it was now 32 degrees and I had two panting, uncomfortable Dobermans in my boat. I was also using my trailer boat for my tackle for the first time, and typically it wanted to go in every other direction than behind me. Help! An hour later I spotted something hopeful. I wasn’t sure if it was a swim. It was near the end of a private garden on some public looking land. The owner of the house appeared as I approached and seemed happy for me to be there and as there was enough room to erect the bivvy, I was staying whatever!

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The glider base to my left provided the entertainment during the day.

Looking around me I realised I could not have been in more carpy territory. It was a small bay off the main lake and along the reed lined edges were lots of lily beds. The lake was deceivingly deep and a quick recce with my echo sounder revealed depths in front of me to 15m. The reed edges and lilies were about 4m and there were was a sudden drop off in front of my swim to 6m! I settled for the edge of some reeds to my right, the edge of some pads, also to my right, and the final rod would be put in front of me at the drop off point. If the carp patrolled the edges then I could maybe intercept one at some point. That night I just decided to trickle some bait into my areas. The rods would be placed in position the following day.

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Somewhere over both rainbows…lurks a big fat carp!

It was now about five pm and I noticed there were an awful lot of mosquitoes starting to get very active. I say mosquitoes, maybe they were something else, but there were literally millions of them, and they seemed to be hatching from the water’s edge all around me! It was still sweltering conditions and I was starting to realise that maybe my swim choice had not been the best one after all. Repellent only seemed to excite them so I hurriedly got everything done, and then there was no choice but to simply hide in the bivvy with my dogs, to avoid the biting, buzzing bas***ds. I looked at my trailer boat which I had restored at Cassien, and at one point I could barely see the camouflage paintjob I had proudly given her, instead it was now just a brown mass of clinging flies. To make things worse, I now also had a chorus of frogs outside. I was soon hallucinating and dizzy with the heat, the croaking and the buzzing, and fell into a sticky sleep! Now who said carp anglers are crazy?

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I settled for a swim known as the ‘Bosco’, on the south side of the lake near Rogeno.

By lunchtime the next day, using the boat, the rods were all in position. The days were very pleasant. Gliders were dragged up into the sky from the base to my left, every 30 minutes or so, and it was a perfect place to be until 5pm arrived and with it came the flies. Once again I was confined to the baking hot bivvy from that time. I can’t imagine the horrors that prisoners had to endure in a concentration camp, but from 5pm each night I felt like I was in one. On my second night quite out of the blue at about 2am, I had a few bleeps from the reed rod at semi-long range. I scrambled through the mossy net and out from my hell hole and picked up the rod. It was all solid for a few seconds and then I felt something move, I had to ensure it did not kite to my right as I bought it back towards me. After a few minutes of winding and pumping the rod, all the time holding it over to my left, I saw a swirl twenty yards to my right. It did not look huge, but it was my first Italian carp and I was elated once she was safely in my net. It was a common or ‘regine’ as the Italians call them, and I safely sacked her up so I could admire my prize at first light. One remarkable thing I noticed as I unhooked her was a very pungent silty smell she was exuding, which gave away a big clue about the areas she liked to feed in?

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My swim was not the most attractive, situated adjacent to an electric pumping station.

Once dawn arrived I weighed my regine and then self took some shots. As I slipped her back I saw in the edge there was a thick sludge of dead fly corpses. So pleasant! I decided to concentrate my efforts close to the reeds for the next few days. Because of the intense heat, the fish were probably hiding away in the shade of them, and I did observe a lot of reed shaking going on as I approached them in the boat. Needless to say, no more fish came my way and on the Saturday I finally gave in to the flies and the heat and decided to resort to Plan B. Lago di Pusiano.

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The abundant small commons were in pristine condition and scrapped like tigers!

It was around lunchtime on Sunday when I finally left Varese. I did most of the packing up on Saturday evening amongst much fly swatting, which just left an hour’s worth Sunday morning. With both boats loaded I set sail for the area where I had left my van. The sky had started to turn a very ominous shade of black, so I had to go flat out. I seemed to have arrived in Italy during their thunder and lightning season, just my luck! I made it to the shore when suddenly the heavens opened and big waves ferociously lashed the shoreline. All I could do was throw a tarp over the trailer boat, bundle myself and the dogs in the van and sit it out.

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Another perfect Pusiano regine!

I eventually got going and arrived an hour later at the most beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. The Italians description was spot on. It was a very wonderful lake! Now more out of luck than anything else, I hit a goldmine on arrival. I drove around the lake and had a look at a couple of areas and then continued onto the south side of the lake. There I met a few friendly Italian carp anglers, Danny and Jackamo and their friend Mattia who spoke excellent English. This was his local lake and he quickly became my guide! He turned out to be incredibly useful and went out of his way to help this ‘outsider’, who had turned up to fish ‘his’ water! Before long I had been told of the best place to fish with the option of parking my van behind my swim, where to get my boat permit from, the best baits and the best techniques in his experience. I took the dogs for a walk where upon we got caught in a massive thunder storm, all soaked and slightly bemused; I decided it best to sleep in the van that night. I spent the evening with my new friends sharing a few pizzas and just before I hit the hay, I had the pleasure of witnessing Jackamo land his new PB carp, a lovely 18kg Regine. Satisfied with everything I slept well and at first light I set off to buy my boat permit. Obviously it could not be obtained from the same place you get your fishing license, which cost 18 Euros for a year? No, it was the other side of town to that! I must stress that you do need one on most lakes in Italy and there are stiff penalties for offenders. They only do six month boat permits for Pusiano and at 120 Euros it wasn’t cheap, but them’s the rules, as they say.

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It was time to get on the ‘rocks’. These were supplied by Stefano, who became my ‘rock’ dealer whilst at the lake!

Back at the lake, I opted for an area known as ‘Bosco’. This area is close to the large river that flows into the lake. The fish obviously like the extra oxygen it provides and old river beds in lakes are very often hot spots. There were three swims to choose from. Already there were three Italian lads, fishing in the swim to my right in the forest. The swim to my left had far too much weed in front, so I opted for the middle swim with an ugly electric station behind me and a sea type wall on my right hand side. Now I should mention that I was warned to watch my tackle and vehicle as there are a lot of thefts from the lake. Thefts not by Italians I might add, but another nationality that I won’t mention,  so the thing I liked most was I could park my van right in my swim, meaning less worrying about security. I think the phrase out of sight out of mind, is not always the case? It was now nearly 3pm and the water was really wavy. I decided to put up camp and make myself and the dogs at home. The rods were lobbed in the margins near the abundant weed and lilies for the night as a concerted effort would be put in at first light with the boat and echo, hopefully taking advantage of a flat calm surface.

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Karp Kombat Team member Stefano, with his 20kg speci.

I woke at 5am to a different lake. I put the kettle on and sat back enjoying the sunrise to my right, when all of a sudden fish started crashing out all over the place. Every three seconds for at least an hour, fish flung themselves clean out of the water. Out in the middle of the lake it was as if a shoal of tuna were moving through! I have never seen such a display and it was the same practically every morning. One of the things Mattia had mentioned to me was extreme range fishing was the best method here, and it now seemed clear why, as the acrobatic eye-opener was mainly all at long range.

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Fishing with the rod tips in the water helped keep the line tight and sunk.

Now one slight issue I had with the Italian lads to my right, who were all fishing out in the deeper water, was the fact that one of them was ‘kind of’ fishing in my water out in front of me. It wasn’t a problem as such, but just meant I had to fish in the shallower water to my left. They had already been there for two weeks and just had a few days left, catching a string of good fish between them to 22kg which were coming in depths of 5–7 metres. It seemed the lakes smaller inhabitants at this time of year preferred the shallower depths, where I was now fishing. The deepest areas I could find, 3.5m, were at a range of 350 yards. Long range fishing was a new thing to me. I had never fished in excess of 130 yards before so once again I was faced with a new challenge.

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Unbelievably this shot was taken at 3pm! Moments afterwards the Tornado struck Pusiano.

Now my helpful guide had mentioned to me that I was in fact fishing in one of the hardest areas for long range tactics because of several problems. These were as follows. Firstly there were a multitude of snags; trees, boulders, branches etc, littered all over this part of the lake. Secondly, there were weed beds everywhere. Another problem was a certain type of small lily with very long tentacles. These can move in a ten feet radius, depending on the tow, so they would constantly pick up your line, bringing it to the surface. On top of this, every other day there was a strange water-based farm machine, working 500 yards to my left that seemed to collect weed and lilies. These were then bailed for feed or fertiliser I guess? The excess of this would then drift on the surface also picking up your line. Finally the many kayaks and boat traffic were always in danger of terminating your line if it was near the surface. The aim therefore was to get your bait in position, return to your swim in the straightest line possible, and get everything to sink and fish as tight as you can. If your line was not sunk, then the floating weed and the lilies, octopus like, tentacles would slowly bring it up to the top. Then the boat traffic was at your peril. I started off using mono with heavy backleads, because this was sinking better than my braid which was sold to me as ‘sinking’ braid but it was fighting that case every step of the way!

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The Tornado was so powerful that this tree stood little chance. It was situated 30 yards to my right!

By Thursday I had had four takes, resulting in two pristine commons. The other two, once I had gone out 300 yards in the boat, had managed to drop the hooks in the snags. When I was getting takes, they were just one or two bleeps. My lead size and the stretch in the mono was the problem, and because of the stretch it was still creeping up to the surface. Mattia happened to arrive that afternoon and told me of a technique that he and many of the regulars used, which was ‘Rocks’! Rocks of anything up to a kilo (?!) used as a lead weight substitute to enable an extremely taught line. Coupled with braid and big backleads this seemed to work best to overcome the weed/tow issues. (He had even developed a technique of placing curtain hooks with 5gram weights attached, which he would then hook over his braid every 50 yards on the way back in the boat. If he got a fish they would simply fall off during the fight, certainly innovative?) So it was time to switch to braid and get ‘on the rocks’ so to speak. Hence my title!

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The resident swan family were regular visitors to my patch.

It was now Friday and after overcoming the above hurdles I was now really happy with my set up. I wasn’t comfortable using such big rocks as some of the lads used so I settled for ones which weighed around 12oz. I would tie some braid around the middle of the rock, and then tie a ring swivel on using the loose ends of the braid. It is important that you tie the rock so it is balanced so it sinks directly to the bottom without swaying, to reduce any chance of a tangle. For safety I used an ESP ‘peg’ lead clip, which releases the rock every take. My captive backleads were made more effective by placing three or four flat stones on the cord to prevent the backlead lifting under the tension; plus I was fishing with the rod tips in the water. Also to help me come back in a straight line at night in the boat, which is so critical at snag infested Pusiano; I used a bicycle rear LED light to guide me.

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I used a bicycle rear LED light at night, to guide me back in an all important straight line in the boat.

I had by now caught another three small commons, the biggest going ten kilos. All the fish were in pristine condition but I had not come all this way to catch small ones. The bigger fish did seem to be in the deeper water and it was clear I was going to have to wait till the Italian guys (the Karp Kombat Team as they were known), left on Sunday. On the Friday night they managed to land two more fish, a 17kg Regine and a 20kg Speci. The 20kg mirror had basically come from the water out in front of me. I had no big problem with this, as they had arrived first, but I was kind of itching to be able to fish there. Sunday could not come quick enough!

In the meantime, I got a nice surprise when two of the Italian lads I met at Cassien, Alberto and Gian, called me to say they were turning up to fish for the night and for a catch up. I was expecting them to arrive at 3ish that afternoon and whilst waiting the wind picked up and in rolled very dark, threatening looking, clouds. Up until this point there had been a thunder and lightning display every other day, but this looked much more severe. I had a quick run around outside collecting items and put them inside the bivvies, then zipped the door down and battened down the hatches. Now I was unaware of this at the time, but a news flash had arrived on Italian TV to warn people of an impending Tornado. As I sat on my bedchair I noticed my dogs looking slightly uneasy. If they could talk I am sure they were asking each other why we were here. The wind got stronger, and suddenly hail stones started raining down. Big ones! The wind got more forceful, and my bivvy shook from side to side and literally was vibrating. For a few seconds I was genuinely scared for our lives. A few minutes later and it had passed. I stroked the dogs and ventured outside to see what the damage was. Everything seemed to be in place, and there were no broken bones. I then looked at my van parked to my left sheltering my bivvy. All along the left side were little dents from the hailstones. I then realised that my van had probably saved us and the little dings were a small price to pay. Stefano, one of the KKT appeared holding his camera nervously giggling. Two trees, in the forest behind me to my right, had literally been torn out of the ground. One of them missed this guy’s bivvy by ten feet. We had all had a very lucky escape. Two carp anglers further down however were not so lucky and both had their bivvies literally ripped out of the ground, which were then tossed mercifully into the back of the forest. Apparently they are still searching for them today!

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These nasty little things were the seed pods of the small lilies. They were all in the edges and easily penetrate feet and flip flops!

At 4pm my shocked friends turned up. The town of Pusiano was completely shut off due to numerous trees coming down, so they too were relieved to arrive in one piece. We ate some food and talked about Cassien and the good times and I gave them a slide show on my laptop of my captures! It was great to see them again, my friends, not the fish! Finally after a bottle of fine Italian red was devoured we called it a night. The next morning I woke to bit of a crisis. The water levels were rising fast, and my food/bait bivvy already resembled a pond. Could things get any worse? I hastily took everything down and moved things to higher ground. I was now feeling rather down. Should i just pack up and head to Germany now? It was one of those moments. Alberto came over and told me to relax. I noticed the KKT was packing up. I would now be able to fish ‘my’ water in front, and find some better depths. It was make or break time. I had gone to Varese and then onto Pusiano with one goal, one target, a 20 kilo Carp. If I left, then that wasn’t going to materialise. So I decided to stay and give it one more week. I spent the next few hours sorting out my houses on their new elevated position. The lake was far too choppy so I had no option but to leave the rods where they were for the night, but tomorrow was Monday and the start of a new week for me. Varese and my first week at Pusiano had been educational and very eventful but not what I had hoped for, so my strategy for week three was to treat it like a brand new session. Join me and my dogs back in part two, to see if I can locate the larger inhabitants of the lake.

Till then ciao!

JL-H

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