Carping Extremes – Ian Hirst


I hate the 3 am wake ups in readiness for an early morning flight to Spain, but on a the plus side it does enable me to get to the venue in good time and set up camp in daylight hours. The venue in question for this session was the mighty Orellana lake in Spain all 25,000 acres of it.

It was full to the brim when we arrived, the normally productive shallow bays now had an extra 15-20 feet of water on them. On top of this was un-seasonally warm conditions which meant the carp where becoming pre-occupied with carnal duties (spawning).

We scanned the area, myself and my angling buddy Gary Thorley, via boat and sonar looking for spots to place baited rigs.

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The day and night passed without any indications and no carp showed in the large bay. We packed up and headed to an even larger bay where we had heard that carp had recently been showing. Planning and preparation before these type of trips is essential if you want to save blanking and heartache.

We loaded the boats but the wind had picked up as we were heading off making it really difficult as we were in such an exposed open area. Eventually via an electric outboard engine and lots of rowing manpower we got to the spot we wanted. Unbelievably a group of Spanish anglers had beat us to the spot, our spot!! On a lake the size of the Orellana it was disheartening and I was somewhat dismayed to find someone in ‘our’ spot!

We made friends with them and they were quite chatty, they told us they had seen a few fish but hadn’t caught despite being there for 3 days!

We were goosed from the effort of moving locations, it’s a big job when you’re moving all your gear, food, water, large amounts of bait, etc, loading boats, vans, re-loading boats etc so we decided to give it two nights in the bay fishing well up to the right of the Spaniards.

Two days passed and no carp banked, only the occasional carp showed itself, it was obvious they had left the area, time was running out, I had 3 days left to find them!

We packed up yet again as the sun began to beat down and by mid-morning it was already 25 degrees. A quick dip in the crystal clear waters was so refreshing and I felt revitalised for the next leg of the journey. Firstly though we headed to the local village, found a bar and had breakfast and coffee.

Re energised we decided to head to the top end of the lake, its generally shallower, but can be busier, not just with carp anglers, but Bass anglers, belly boaters and folk out for a picnic and swim in the beautiful surrounds. It was also a long bank holiday weekend in the region so we decided to get a move on and we set off along the dusty tracks that creep down through the hills to the water’s edge. Google earth/ maps is a God send.

We loaded up the boats again and set off across the vast wind swept open waters to scout the area for a suitable place to pitch up for a few nights.

We settled on an area with a deep margin gully, a gravel bar and a fairly flat area beyond that which held a little weed, we had options.

Not long after getting settled in a mid-20 graced the net for Gary, spirits were lifted and hopes were heightened.

The night passed and it seemed that the area also held a lot of Tench, we had 6 in a night. I upped the hook baits the next day to doubles and hardened Poloni Dumbbell’s to try and avoid them and to enable me to have a bait in the water long enough to avoid the Cray fish that were also on the baited areas. You can’t leave baits in for more than 12 hours max.

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The wind picked up that night and by morning a huge raft of weed had covered and even submerged all the rods. It took almost two hours to remove it and untangle the lines, it was a nightmare.

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Undeterred we rebaited the spots and I put on the larger double Poloni 18 mm hook baits and prayed to the Gods that the wind and weed would not return. That afternoon our luck would change as a procession of carp picked up our baits. My best was a scraper 30lb fish, it was long, lean and extremely powerful, built like a torpedo. I was happy to catch such a splendid creature.

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Gary went one better with his Orellana personal best at 40lb 7oz. Our luck changed for the worse that night as the weed returned, we tried in vain to shift it by going out in the boat in darkness to head it off and we scooped out what seemed like half a tonne or more of the stuff into the boats and then on to the bank. It worked to a degree and enabled us to catch one more mid 20 lber each in the early part of the night before the rods and line were wiped out again, by either Cray fish or weed.

We woke early as we had to get back to the car for the long drive back across Spain and return me to the airport which is where it all began.

As per usual it didn’t go to plan as we somehow managed to rip a hole in one of the boats which meant shifting the bulk of the load on to one boat, on top of that the battery was running low so more energy sapping rowing was required.

These trials and tribulations only make for a more memorable trip and on top of the awesome looking, uncaught, unnamed carp we had managed to catch and despite everything seemingly against us these inconveniences only make the heart grow fonder for the place. As soon as I’m home and recovered I am itching to get back in search of unknown monster carp that lurk beneath the clear waters of the Orellana. The place has magnetic powers as it pulls me back again and again in search and hope of that 50lb plus fish which I know one day I will catch.

Until the next time, happy hunting.

Ian Hirst
Carp Team


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