• By overseas adventures I am of course talking about the road trip style missions where you truly never know where or on what type of venue you may end up on. This sort of angling is very much about the weather, particularly early and late in the year on the continent, so if it might be cold for example across a large swathe of a country, I’ll often head for better weather wherever it may be and check out any waters locally once I arrive. It may sound obvious, but the first tip is to never leave home without enough kit to cover all eventualities. For me that means anything from river fishing to fishing at mega ranges so I need tackle to suit each and every situation. That means carrying everything but the kitchen sink as much of what you might need isn’t readily available in rural France for example. What’s more, having to waste valuable time when you only have a week or so at your disposal simply isn’t an option because time really is of the essence on the average trip which is seven to ten days.
Large expanses of water demand rods capable of fishing at range and pulling big carp from the depths.
• Always ensure you have enough bait with you. Again, an obvious one but in good conditions and should you be lucky enough to stumble onto a lake, river or whatever full of hungry carp you will be surprised how quickly it disappears. Of course this includes a big selection of hook baits including some super hard ones. I hear countless stories from people who’s trips have been a disaster because they simply couldn’t keep a bait in the water because of any number of pests that whittle them away to nothing in no time. Believe me when I say it can be soul destroying to have huge carp jumping all around you only to reel in with no baits on. Crayfish, poisson chat (small voracious catfish), crabs, shrimps; there really is an endless list of things you regularly encounter all over Europe that can make short work of even stone hard hook baits. With this in mind don’t ever forget heavy duty mesh for meshing baits or some of the bait armour which is essentially clear shrink tube. In an effort to keep costs down I always have in the car a sack or two of pigeon conditioner particle mix which can be picked up cheaply in 20 kilo sacks. Remember, you can bring any bait home you don’t use and with that in mind I choose to take plenty of Sticky Baits Krill shelf life as, hand on heart, I can say that the fish show no preference over freezer baits to these.
I have the utmost confidence in shelf life boilie in Europe, and take plenty of it.
• Again it might sound obvious but make sure you have a proper unhooking mat or preferably more than one mat. Big European carp can not only be much bigger on average but can also be amazingly powerful and can easily damage themselves, so deal with them carefully. This means donning your waders and doing as much as possible in the water where they are least likely to come to harm, and getting them returned as quickly as possible, especially when its hot.
As demonstrated by my daughter, Honey, in Belgium – you need a big mat.
Retainers are a great short term solution to get your camera ready, but get them back as quick as you can, especially in the heat.
• Always book some euro breakdown cover. This is relatively cheap these days but it does give you peace of mind. This is particularly relevant because as I write this I have two friends in France who are in a pickle. A week or so back my friend Kev booked his van into the garage for a service before their road trip this week to make sure it was all cool, it was . Thankfully he also booked his euro breakdown cover, and good job he did as almost 1000 miles from home with 250 left of the big journey they felt a bang and a short while later the engine warning and oil lights came up on the dash and smoke started coming from the engine bay. 10 litres and a couple of hundred euros later they limped to the lake. Yes they are fishing and were lucky to get there but are now faced with having to get the van fixed or shipped home, imagine if you had forgotten to book breakdown cover!
Imagine if the van broke down with all that gear in it...
... European breakdown cover is a must.
• Make a really in depth list before you leave and tick everything off as you get it organised. Be sure everything that needs to be charged is fully charged before you leave is always number one. These days we seem to carry more and more stuff that needs charging, headtorches, radios, computers, boat batteries, camera batteries, the list goes on and on. Everything, even down to carrying bin bags needs sorting. I find it easier to use boxes and have several food, cooking stuff, you get the picture. I’ve been doing these style of trips for years so I know all the pitfalls well. Put simply I find that the better organised I am before I leave the more I enjoy my fishing time because nothing is left to chance.
It may look like chaos, but everything here is listed and checked into the car. I take minimal luxuries, but rods for all applications and plenty of bait.