In Pursuit Of The Very Largest

Two weeks at Romania’s awesome , Lake Raduta.
“The most incredible carp lake on the planet Chris.”

Statements like that are enough to make me go anywhere, I just wish I’d got myself on the plane sooner.

Of course, I am referring to the awesome Lake Raduta in Romania, where I was lucky enough to spend a fortnight from 6th – 20th October 2001 and where I will be spending another two weeks in early May 2002. I’ll be back there yet again in September too, representing the UK in the World Carp Cup.

I’ve fished many of the biggest carp waters throughout Europe and the rest of the World, but Raduta really is something special. ‘The Jewel In The Crown’ ??, maybe, I doubt if there are many more waters out there with the kind of statistics that Lake Raduta can boast….

Home of the world record Mirror at over 82 lbs, home for one the biggest Commons known on earth (in fact the biggest carp caught in 2001) at over 73 lbs, lots of fifties, sixties …need I go on ?? I had to have some of that !!

Getting yourself on one of these trips is not easy, there are only limited slots for respective countries throughout the year, with limited places. For us Brits, using 2002, as an example, we have been allocated a mere six weeks. In 2001, it was just four. I’m pretty sure I’m correct in saying that 20 anglers per fortnight is the maximum, so if you consider that most of these places are booked by ‘regulars’, who get priority, then that doesn’t leave a lot for anyone else. 2002 is pretty much full as I write this, so if you want a piece of the action for 2003, then you ought to be getting yourself booked up now !!!

It’s not a cheap trip either, over a grand for the ‘basic’ fortnight, add on to that the bait, food and gear you must hire due to the flight weight restrictions, and I reckon it cost me the best part of 1500 quid. Let’s hope the wife doesn’t read this !!

OK, enough of the waffling, let’s get on with some serious carp fishing…

Lake Raduta is approximately 2500 acres, situated in the Sarulesti Valley, approximately an hour away from Bucharest Airport. From Heathrow, the flight to Bucharest is more or less three hours.

We met early on the Saturday morning, a motley looking mob, who were sure to be under close scrutiny from the airport security. Steve Briggs was called aside for a bit of extra attention, could it be that beard Steve or the Hutchy ‘Addicted’ tee shirt?? !! (Allow me some poetic license please!!)

We arrived late on the Saturday night, it was too late to get out on the lake as waters levels were apparently down, you’ve probably seen pictures of the horrendous snags that stick out of the water all over the place, so the thought of ploughing into one of those in the boat on the way to the swim was not comforting. We kipped, after a few beers, OK a lot of beers, in the hotel’s garage and very comfortable it was too.

Roused at first light on the Sunday morning, to get our first view of the lake. Wow, there I was looking out across Hotel Bay (as the area of water in front of the hotel is known) with the famous Pylon swim to my left and an area known as the plateau to the right. Both areas that I knew had produced fish in excess of 70 lbs, unbelievable.

Making the decision of where we were going to fish the night before had been a difficult one. I had obviously done a lot of homework on the known areas, read, re-read and watched the video. OK, so you shouldn’t have pre conceived ideas, fair enough, but you have to start somewhere on 2500 acres.

My plan was to be mobile and I was prepared to work my nuts off to get amongst the whackers. I’d heard many reports of people coming back fishless, or catching just a few small fish, touch wood not me. My original ‘starting point’ was penciled in as directly opposite the hotel, however that was blown out of the water when I was told we couldn’t fish there or in the Pylon area. Briggsy had swooped in on the area of Hotel Bay that you could fish known as The Plateau, so that was this body of water pretty much out of the question.

Myself and Joe Goldson from Liverpool teamed up together, and opted to fish an area in the main body of water to the left of the hotel known as the ‘Gypsy Village’. My thanks to a couple of the ‘regulars’ who had fished this area in the past, they offered some handy advice on features to look out for. From here we could cover a huge amount of water, with the plan being to move after three nights if we didn’t manage to get amongst some decent fish. We had a huge area of water in front of us, this had to be a good choice.

No wind as such to speak of, and with forecast temperatures of as low as zero at night and over thirty degrees centigrade in the day, conditions were not carpy. In fact, they were damn right uncarpy, way too hot and the water subsequently like a millpond virtually every day.

First job, after we’d been dropped off by boat at the swim, was to get out with the echo sounder and see what we had in front of us. With a mile of bank space for just Joe and I, there was a lot of rowing to be done !! I found a very sexy plateau, ranging in depth from 10 feet at it’s edge dropping sharply to 27 feet. Very carpy, just had to be the spot.

After dropping four markers at varying depths and varying ranges, recording everything in the log, it was time to bang in a bit of bait. Bait was Mainline Grange Red, Maize and a Mainline Hemp Pellets, a very inviting combination. I did have 25 lbs of chopped tigers sent to Romania too, however they failed to get there for one reason or another. Make do with the Maize Chris, I had no other choice ! Undeterred, I put in 3 kilos of the above mix in around every marker to start with.

I had 40 kilos of Grange Red boilies with me, unlimited supplies of Maize from the hotel and a couple of large buckets of Mainline Hemp Pellets. I’ve always been keen on using plenty of bait, and there are enough fish in Raduta to mop up my measley offerings in no time. Hookbaits were rolled for me by Ian Russell at Heathrow Bait Services, heavily glugged and they performed perfectly.

I was buzzing with enthusiasm, I felt so confident, it is hard to describe in words. I’ve caught a stack of big carp including several over 50lbs, but here if the buzzer sounded it might be a 90, crazy stuff!!!

I’m lucky to be associated with Essex Angling, one of the premier tackle shops in the south of England, so I have exceptional gear, really the very best that money can buy in my opinion. “Tackle Tart”, call me what you like, but I really put the gear through its paces and expect no less than top performance. As well as the magazines, I write for a number of the big UK carp fishing websites, my views on tackle and bait are expressed honestly and openly, if the stuff is crap you will hear it from me !!

To give you a quick idea, 5 oz Fox Stubby Pear Leads & 6oz flat sea leads, 80 lb Kryston Ton Up leaders, 65 lb Power Pro braid and 35 lb Suffix Tritanium main lines. Size 4 Kamasan Super Carp hooks, Long Shank Nailers, 25lb Kryston Mantis and 25 lb Korda IQ hooklinks. 4lb TC Harrison Rods, Daiwa Infinity X 5500 BR Reels, 5 oz Solar indicators (Yes, 5 oz !) and the amazing new Fox RX Digital alarms.

The area of the plateau where I was fishing was not mega snaggy, I really only had a few lumps of concrete and a couple of old telegraph poles laying on the plateau to worry about. However, I opted to go heavy and used the 80 lb Kryston Ton Up leaders throughout my stay. They are amazing, you could tow a truck with them !! I had not a single cut off, impressive result.

By early afternoon, I had the rods in position and buzzers cranked up full. Nothing happened until the early hours of the morning, not a whacker, not even a double but a welcome common. First light and I was away again, this time with a common of just over twenty. The rest of the day was hectic, and reading my notes here now, I had some 23 fish that first day to 26 lbs. “The Sprat Pack” as I’d heard them referred to !! I was knackered I can tell you !!

It appeared that the baits in the deeper water were producing slightly bigger fish, coincidence ?? I didn’t think so, and started to move the hookbaits away from the beds of baits into the deeper water. In the first four nights, I had 39 fish to 40.5 lbs, this being a Common and a personal best Common to boot !! Strangely, I had a 34lb Mirror and the very next day had the same fish from exactly the same spot !!! The deeper water was consistently producing bigger fish.

I was catching consistently, surely there must be some real whackers out there ?? Mid morning after about a week, I thought that I was really in for a lump when the most powerful carp I have ever hooked ploughed off towards the horizon. Hooked in 25 feet of water, the power of this fish was incredible. Half an hour later, a massive Grass Carp of 42.5lbs kissed the spreader block, truly an awesome beast and a new personal best Grassy as well !!!!

During the course of the second week, the average size was still creeping up, with many thirties to 37.5 lbs and two more forties. This included a Common of 42 lbs and a Mirror of just under 44 lbs.

By the time I packed away the rods, to spend the last night in the hotel for some much needed kip and a shower, I’d had 90 runs in 12 nights banking 83 fish. For the statistically minded, 4 forties to just under 44 including 2 commons and the 42.5 lb Grassy, 11 thirties to 37.5 lbs, 16 upper twenties and a stack of the ‘Sprat Pack’ from a pound to 25 lbs !!!

Although I walked away a happy man and with the ‘Top Rod’ title, I was still a little disappointed to have not banked a whacker. A ‘whacker’, Christ a 42 lb Common is a whacker Chris, get your feet back on the ground !!

It was hard fishing, or at least getting amongst the bigger residents was hard, and I can honestly say that I worked like a Trojan the whole time. It was a very tired Chris who got to the hotel, I can tell you.

The other lads had struggled, everyone putting it down to the weather basically, there had been an odd forty here and there and one fabulous Common of 57lbs to Rene Hawkins of Essex, fishing in an area of the lake known as ‘The Islands’. Well done mate, and another ‘Essex Man’ to boot, nuff said !!!

My fishing partner Joe was a bit unlucky, only managing about 30 fish to 27 lbs, but considering it was his first carp fishing trip overseas he did really well and has definitely got the bug !! Will Chris Woodrow be writing about Joe De Blank in Carp Tales 3 ?? Watch this space !!! If you haven’t read the recently published Carp Tales 2 yet, get it, it’s a great read and you’ll be laughing out loud !!!

I cannot wait to get back in May for another attempt ‘In Pursuit Of The Very Largest’, truly an experience. Thanks for giving me the idea for the title of this article by the way Tel, pint I owe you !

For those of you that think Raduta is ‘easy’, think again, many many people who go blank. We worked very hard for every fish banked. Thanks to everyone out there who helped with info, you know who you are guys !!

Chris ‘Essex Man’ Woodrow - 2002