I have been fishing a fair bit since my last post on here and to be honest its been much of a muchness, lots of canal fishing and not enough river action due to some pretty evil conditions. Rather than boring you with the mundane details of that instead I will tell you a bit about a recent trip to holland.
Back in the autumn I was offered the chance to go and fish the open street event on the canals of Amsterdam at the back end of February. I didn't need asking twice and travel and hotel arrangements were quickly made. After that I pretty much forgot about it until the week before when the realisation that I might need to get some stuff ready finally hit me
Not knowing exactly what to expect saw me pack two rods, a light dropshot and a medium jigging setup as I had been advised it was fishing very hard and even the locals were struggling. Seeing as we were flying out there I was limited due to weight restrictions so I had to scale things back as much as I could. A small bag, my rods/reels and landing net was all I took tacklewise and my partner in crime,Potto, took the same. We manage to shoehorn both lots of gear into one suitcase and a flight tube which was pretty good going I thought!
Eventually the big day arrived and, after an infeasibly early start, myself and travelling companions Potto, Steve and Nick all found ourselves stood outside schiphol airport awaiting our pickup. Local angler And event organiser Frans soon arrived with his van and we all piled in and headed to his tackle shop. There we met other locals Gab, Richard and Leo and, after a quick coffee and sorting out some licenses we wasted no time getting tackled up and heading out onto the streets for some practice!
Although I have carp fished in holland before I was still struck by the sheer amount of water to go at out there, every corner turned presented us with a new canal and some were truly huge. The size of the boats motoring up and down them put our poxy little narrow boats to shame!
We started in an area on the northern bank of the river Amstel and the fishing proved to be very tough as we expected. Steve had a tiny perch first cast and Gab managed to nail a jack but the rest of us remained biteless despite our best efforts.
There was so much structure to fish to it was difficult to pick out fish holding areas. It all looked good but due, I think, to the size of the venue, the fish were massively spread out and only a few of these spots actually contained fish.
After the early start I was feeling somewhat jaded and struggling to concentrate and I think that feeling was shared with the others so we decided to have breakfast at a local cafe before continuing our quest on the much busier south side of the river.
It certainly was much busier too and as we disembarked from the ferry outside Amsterdam Central station and nearly got wiped out by several mopeds and pushbikes I knew to keep my wits about me!
We started around the boats outside the station and the sheer depth was the defining feature here, it must have been 30ft at least under the rod tip! After an hour or so with no bites between us we decided to head through the station and into the streets beyond.
Moving through the crowds was impossible with the rods made up so breaking them down was the only option. Nobody seemed to bat an eyelid at these weirdos walking amongst them with fishing tackle, it was certainly not like the UK where people look at you like you've got two heads!
Dropping in off the first bridge we came to yielded a nice perch and zander to our group which lifted our spirits and we thought we'd found a few fish but after another fishless half hour we moved on into the red light district.
Here the canals were a lot smaller, shallow and more intimate and although I missed a couple of plucks I still never caught a thing. We didn't give it much longer after that before heading to another tackle shop to get some lures and then onwards to the hotel.
The following day after a good nights sleep, our group split up and did our thing. There was a canal Imediately behind the hotel which potto and I decided to try for a bit but the sun was very bright and not surprisingly we blanked.
From there we walked into Amsterdam town which was much further than we anticipated but there was plenty of water to try on the way, all of it barren it seemed! We wanted to concentrate on the area where the match was going to be and seeing as it was so tough the object was to just find some fish!
We found some cracking looking spots but with it being Saturday everywhere was crazy busy with boat traffic and people. I got run over twice by people on pushbikes so we decided to head to a quieter area in the suburbs. On the map there appeared to be a nice looking loop around the back of the cities zoo so we headed over there.
It was indeed a lot quieter and the water was much less coloured too, for the first time since the morning I was actually quite confident. By now it was late afternoon and we didn't have long before darkness fell. I changed my lure to a little reins number remarking to potto that it was my top zander catcher and within a couple of casts I hit a pluck which turned out to be my first and very welcome Dutch zander!
We fished on for a short while afterwards before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the evenings shenannigans. Four other lads from the UK had come over for the match and we were already overdue to meet up with them in town.
Ahem, Fast forward to the following morning and everybody was late getting up, in fact by the time we assembled in the hotel lobby there was only around 30minutes of registration time left before the match started and we still had to get halfway across the city! Despite certain members of our party being somewhat worse for wear and dealing with a stroppy taxi driver we made it by the skin of our teeth and registered with less than five minutes to spare.
After the group photo the shout went up and everybody set forth across the city. Potto was still a bit worse for wear from the previous evening so we headed the opposite direction to the bulk of the crowds and after a ten minute walk we found our bearings and came upon a spot we had fished a day previously.
I was surprised to get a tap first put in and I reeled in a tiny perch which dropped off as I lifted it out of the water, I wasn't too worried though as it was way undersize for the match and it was a good sign. A couple of casts later and I hooked another tiddler which proved to be an unexpected oddity in the form of a Goby!
One of the Dutch lads informed me that these are quite common around Amsterdam as are other saltwater fish such as flounder and mullet as the water has a quite a brackish content in it.
I fished on in the spot for another 45mins, losing another fish and missing a couple of bites before we decided to move on to pastures new. Ideally we would've liked to fish back on the loop behind the zoo where I caught the Zander the previous day but we weren't 100percent sure how far away it was from where we were or how to get there.
As we fished I made a note of the nearest ferry movements and they all seemed to converge on Amsterdam central so we headed across the river. A few other lads were already working the whole area around there and , unsurprisingly, potto and I failed to trouble the scoresheet.
Back over the river and we continued to blank, the icy cold wind was picking up and to be honest I'd kind of lost interest in the fishing. The previous couple of days exertions had finally caught up with me and I was pretty fed up with dropping into superb looking spots and getting no reward whatsoever. Upon our return to the cafe noorderlicht a few other anglers had already returned with nothing to report. In fact by the time everybody returned it was apparent that 90percent of the field had blanked! The lads that won and placed all did so with a handful of Zander between them so it was certainly a tough one!
We departed from the venue and went straight to the airport and I eventually walked through my front door six long hours later. I was knackered but despite the hard fishing I had really enjoyed myself, potto was great company and it was interesting doing something outside my normal fishing boundaries. Would I do it again? Maybe if the fishing was slightly better next time!