THE SIMON CROW COLUMN: TEN DAYS IN THE SUN
There’s something special about escaping the bleakness of the UK winter. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy carping in the UK at this time of the year because the banks tend to be a lot quieter than other seasons. However, it’s nice to break up the cold months, so when I was offered the chance to go to Morocco Carp’s Bin el Ouidane reservoir for 10 days in December, I didn’t refuse.
Back in 2006, I was one of the first Brits to fish this special lake. I had a wonderful trip together with Steve Briggs when we shared 80-plus fish in only four and a half days of fishing. It was an amazing memory and I vowed never to go back, as I knew we’d had it really good. I remembered it not just because of the fishing, but also for its stunning scenery. The lake is situated in the most incredible region, right in the heart of the Atlas Mountains. Its red-coloured sandy banks made it look like Mars, and with the venue containing some outstanding carp, once I was back on its banks, I was certainly glad to be there.
The forecast for the trip was for settled weather in the mid-twenties. It certainly looked good as I made my way to the lake after spending a night in the lovely Hotel Bin el Ouidane. The lads at Morocco Carp were great hosts, filling me in with all the info about how the lake had changed in the 12 years since I’d last been there. It’s fair to say that in 2006 the carp were very naive and not difficult to catch. Once you’d located where they were, it was pretty straight forward. Twelve years on, and with lots of angling pressure from anglers all around the world, the fishing was going to be very different.
I was advised to go into a swim called Stephane’s Point to begin with. This area had been fished a lot leading up to my trip, with a steady stream of maize having been introduced. One of the guides, Grant, had actually been fishing in there for four days prior to my arrival, catching a 35lb-plus common amongst lots of smaller-sized fish. It sounded like the carp had spawned extremely well as most of his captures were only a pound or so in size. Most had come from long range and in deep water of 10m-plus. The water level was rising, though, so for the first day and night I decided to target the shallower areas and go from there. This is a tactic I know works well on lots of big waters, as the fish come into the margins to browse new areas.
Last time I’d been at the lake, there were fish showing like mad in our swim, so we staggered the rods down to 50ft until we could find them. Eventually we put all of the rods at 40ft where we caught 99% of the fish.
After a quiet first day and night on this occasion, I decided to move the rods deeper, settling on 7-12m where I knew there’d been lots of maize baited by the anglers. The 10m spot eventually kicked off with tiddler after tiddler coming my way. Grant had told me the better fish would be amongst them, but after a few hours of rowing 200m just for a tiny carp, I decided to switch from boilies to tigers in the hope it would slow them down. I’d been using stack rigs incorporating two 22mm SLK boilies and a Corker pop-up to keep it up off the deck. I then changed to four tigers on the hair, which certainly slowed the smaller fish down, but at the back of my mind I didn’t feel happy in the area I was fishing. I wanted to have a look around the lake and try to find some better fish, so the next day the lads from Morocco Carp took me out on the main boat for a scout about.
I’d not had chance to see the vastness of the lake in 2006, as it was a very short and intense trip. We couldn’t have picked a better day for cruising about. It was stunning, with blue sky all around and not a ripple on the surface other than from the boat. I couldn’t believe how big the lake actually was. Unfortunately, half of it is out of bounds to anglers, but there were so many good areas available to fish, it was hard to narrow it down. In the end I chose an area known as Kwinces, which was very rocky and looked to be the ideal terrain where carp would feed. There were some cracking areas out in front, including big bars on both sides, which looked perfect for the second half of my trip, as Ant Molyneux from Avid was joining me for these days.
Both sides looked good, with me going on the left and Ant on the right. There didn’t seem to be many small fish in the area, which was a bonus. Unlike at Stephane’s Point, the echo sounder was very quiet with fish symbols. Of the fish I’d seen showing, they looked to be of a much better stamp too. On the first evening I saw a couple of good shows, one on each side, and both fish I estimated to be bigger than 30lb.
From an angling perspective, the staple diet of the carp in BEO is maize. Every angler who fishes the lake uses it, as it’s so readily available. It’s always difficult transporting boilies to somewhere like Morocco, unless you want to spend a fortune on excess baggage. I’d packed a couple of kilos of SLK. Although I’d used them in my first swim, I’d not baited heavily with them as I didn’t have many with me. The base bait had been maize. However, I had a feeling it wasn’t what the bigger fish wanted. They’d probably seen the yellow stuff for years on end and were very wise to it. For some reason, though, it didn’t stop me baiting my new spots in Kwinces with maize. I think I was on autopilot, dropping the tigers over the top before getting my head down.
After 24 hours of no action in Kwinces, I sensed there was something wrong. I’d seen more shows in the area, so I knew there were decent fish about. My experience told me it had to be the maize. The fish just didn’t want it, so I reeled in all of my rods and switched back to SLK. I just used snowmen on this occasion, as there weren’t any small fish about. I’d cut everything back too; instead of putting a bed of bait out, I just offered three or four free offerings next to each hookbait. I moved the rods to new areas as well, to ensure they were well away from the beds of maize.
JUST LIKE THAT!
Bingo! Fewer than three hours after changing tactics, I was into my first decent carp of the trip. It turned out to be the best one too, a beautiful 42lb 12oz common which put up a great fight just as the sun dipped below the horizon. Ant captured the moment perfectly with his camera, and I had some stunning images with the fish as the sun set behind me.
Only half an hour later I was in again, this time with another good fish. It was classic big-water carping. As soon as I’d found the common denominator, things kicked into place. The second fish weighed in at 37lb 12oz.
The next 24 hours saw me land three more fish, the best being another big common of 40lb 6oz. With us both filming the trip as it developed, it was the perfect ending to what had been a great adventure. SLK had done the trick and I was leaving an amazing carp water with more incredible memories.
My thanks to the lads at Morocco Carp for making it happen. Look out for two films about the trip, part one on the Simon Crow YouTube Channel (launched on Friday 11th January 2019), with the second part aired as Avid Adventures Part 6 on the Avid Channel.