Tackle, Tactics and Experience

Going Dutch - A fishing holiday in Holland

My account first, followed by Michel's.

Getting Ready

Michel Huigevoort first contacted me about the Lure Fishing UK website late last year. He has provided an article about lure fishing in Holland and regular pictures for the gallery. Early in the summer (of 2000) I emailed him with some questions about canal fishing and he said it would be easier to show me than to explain the possible answer to my questions. So I invited him to come over here, he responded with an invitation to visit Holland, which I accepted. His job running a campsite meant he would be too busy in the summer but with the end of the season he would be free in October. So we agreed on a visit then.

As September passed I booked flights and we made the final arrangements. I had originally planned to drive but the total cost of the petrol, ferry, insurance, and a service for the car added up to a lot of money. I was also not too keen on driving on the "wrong" side of the road! I checked flights and found I could fly from Liverpool with Easyjet for £77 return including tax, the cost of car parking added £29 to that. So flights were booked and paid for online. There are no tickets with Easyjet, you just turn up with your passport and they point you in the right direction, it's one less thing to remember.

I've only flown once before and I get a bit nervous thinking about it, it isn't the flying that bothers me as much as the powerless feeling I get from having to put my trust in others. The confirmation email from Easyjet stipulated the luggage weight and size so I was relieved to call their helpline and be told: "No problem" when I described my luggage. I bought a Flambeau Bazuka rod case from Harris Angling which is an excellent piece of gear and easily accommodated the three rods that I wanted to take. With a rucksack full of lures, reels and stuff (weighing over 30lb and no fun at all to carry far), a little travel bag for clothes and my Bazuka I was ready to go.

I had been very edgy in the week leading up to my flight but I was calm on the Saturday night before my flight, everything was ready and double-checked. In a way I was lucky that I'd had to do four extra days' holiday cover in the fortnight before I flew so I was too busy to worry too much and too tired for the excitement to keep me awake for long.

A colleague raised the issue of safety. I was flying to a foreign country, to stay with someone I'd never met, who I had contacted via the internet - was this wise? He might be a mad axe murderer! Meanwhile in Holland, Michel's friends had suggested that he was crazy to invite a foreigner into his home, a foreigner he had not met and who had contacted him via the internet. What if he was a mad axe murderer?

It had never occurred to me to be worried about such things - fishing was the only thing on my mind. Too late now! I rang Michel on the Thursday before I flew, just to confirm all our emails. He didn't sound like a mad axe murderer! We discussed the week ahead and agreed that we would not try too hard but make sure we enjoyed our holiday.

The Journey

I set off for Liverpool on the Sunday morning and arrived a couple of hours before my flight. I checked the gear in, explained to the luggage security people that it wasn't a bazuka (stupid name for a piece of specialised aircraft luggage), bought a book and settled down for the wait. The plane took off on time. A window seat and a clear sky gave me a good view of the country and I saw The Wash as we headed out over the North Sea and into cloud.

I realised somewhere over the North Sea that there was one rather important thing that I had forgotten to bring, Michel's phone number and address. If for any reason he wasn't waiting I was in bother. The plane was delayed a few minutes before it could land but I was soon waiting by the luggage carousel. Two other planeloads of passengers were in line before us. When the right luggage started to come round my clothes and rucksack came through quickly enough, but there was no sign of the rods. I waited, and waited, every one else had gone bar one other bloke and we stood there very forlorn and worried before someone came to help us. After an eternity and several calls on the walkie-talkie a porter came in with my rod case. I hoped Michel was still waiting, the plane has been down ages. I marched through customs, fully expecting to be stopped but they were too busy to bother me. Then I'm stood in a shopping mall with a few hundred people milling around. I tried to make myself prominent and it was only a few seconds later that a smiling Michel found me and my holiday began properly.

At the first road junction I was terrified! To imagine I'd actually seriously considered driving over! I'd still be sat there now, a quivering wreck with an ever-increasing queue of cars behind me and Amsterdam grinding to a standstill! By the end of the holiday I was still confused at junctions, never quite sure where we were going or where the other traffic was coming from (I'm not much different in England, come to think about it!).

Making Michel's place look like my garage - click for full-size picture It was a journey of a little over an hour and a half to Michel's home. A beer or two (or three or six) and we began to relax as we got the gear ready for our first day's fishing.

Michel had caught two nice metre-plus pike in the three weeks before my visit so we were quite optimistic. He had also caught a perch of over 18" while his regular boat partner had recently landed a zander of over 6kg. High hopes.

The Fishing


We had decided not to go mad and get too tired early in the week so we had a leisurely start on Monday morning, leaving the slipway at about nine. As we had loaded the boat Michel had put the landing net back into the van, deciding we did not have enough room for it. I took it back out of the van and said I'd look after it. He had mentioned how difficult and dangerous it was to land fish with big ships and a strong wind on the river, so I was keen to have it aboard.

Big ship! - click for full-size pictureWe set out from the marina and soon reached the main river, the Maas.We tried jigging for zander on the junction between the canal and the river but the flow was too strong and we soon moved on to trolling. Michel set one rod in the rest and held another, I decided to stick with one rod until I got used to things and the way Michel handled the boat. I thought the Severn was a big river but this was in a different league, and the ships!

Fast ship! - click for full-size pictureThe ships are big, seagoing things and some of them really belt along. Luckily the river is wide and straight so there is plenty of room and you can see them coming from a long way off. The fast ones leave a very big wake and the boat has to be turned into the three feet high waves to stop them coming over the sides.

The weather was quite pleasant, not warm but bright with broken cloud and a nice breeze. We covered a lot of distance with a couple of stops to retrieve snagged lures but without interruption from fish. I tried Supershads and Little Ernies as well as smaller lures that Michel recommended. It was obvious that my lures were not getting deep enough because of the thick braid that I had loaded for casting heavy lures.

Lunch break, there is a windmill just about visible on the skyline - click for full-size picture It was not until midday that Michel had a fish, a small perch on his light rod. We turned the boat around, I swapped to the light rod that Michel had provided and we trolled back over the fish. This spot always held perch, but they had never taken any pike, Michel informed me, but he thought they must be close by feeding on the perch. We hooked fish simultaneously but mine dropped off. Two more passes produced no fish so we decided to adjourn for lunch, pulling the boat onto the shore and stretching our legs.

The next plan was to motor up a dead arm of the river and drift while casting for pike. We tried this for some time without success but the wind was a little too strong, and freshening, so we decided to troll again.

This time I wanted to use the second rod. I dug out a Manns 25+ that I hoped would dive deep enough on my thick line. I'd only had this lure for a few days, I'd swapped it with Danny Hyde for a Bagley Monster Shad, I'd hoped to use it for trolling this week, I don't know why I hadn't tried it sooner.

The lure was cast and the rod dropped into the trolling rest while I picked up the perch rod, hoping to get one as we trolled back over the earlier hotspot. We started to motor and Michel noticed I'd got a turn of line around the tip of the rod in the rest. I put the light rod down and picked the rod from the rest to turn it over, as I did so I realised I had a fish on. It felt like a good one and Michel began to reel in the other lines. I could feel that it was quite a heavy fish, a good double anyway. Then I saw it, about three feet down as it turned and dived. Michel saw it as well. It couldn't really be that big, could it? It must have been a trick of the light! But I suddenly knew it was a very big pike and everything sort of slipped into slow motion. It felt as if Michel took about a year to reel in the other rods, then a couple more to reach the net.

In the meantime I was backing the clutch off as the pike powered away several times. I never touch the clutch when a fish is on, it is set and that is it, but this was not an ordinary situation and I needed to know that it was going to give line if it had to. I was also very aware of the big difference between a story of a monster that got away and the picture on the wall. I was happy that I had used my DLST Raider rod for trolling, it is very absorbent and it just kept soaking up the pike's powerful lunges.

Suddenly the pike was ready, Michel was there and the pike went first time into the big net, accompanied by a joyous yell from Michel and a stunned feeling of relief from me. We cut the line above the leader to prevent any tangling, only the plug's head and lip were visible out of the front of her mouth. We quickly reached the nearby shore for the measuring, weighing and photographs. The front treble had caught behind the first gill raker and another had nicked a loose piece of skin, very easy to unhook but she was never going to get off.

Just the head and lip of the plug showing - click for full-size picture 'I'm going to lift her' - click for full-size picture'She's very heavy' - click for full-size picture Fish of a Lifetime - not a bad start to my holiday! - click for full-size picture

Oddly enough I was not thinking about the weight, she was so huge that it seemed almost irrelevant and I suppose I knew that she must be a thirty. She was 115cm long and weighed smack on 15kg, that's 46" and 33lb, a fine deep-bodied unmarked fish, almost certainly never caught before. She was soon back in the water and quickly swam away, gone...

While I was holding her I was astonished at how difficult such a heavy fish was to hold properly, not the sort of thing I'm likely to get much practice at. I am also eternally grateful that Michel has a good camera and an eye for a photograph and he works quickly, the fine photographs are all down to his skill.

We didn't rush back to fishing, it was just too much to take in. Words were just wholly inadequate to describe how I felt. I yelled and whooped a few times. We kept laughing. What a fish!

Some kind of sanity eventually returned, we relaunched the boat and carried on. I didn't put the 25+ back on, it was just too precious, it's going to go into the frame with the picture somehow, leader, line and all.

I had gone to Holland to catch a few fish, knowing I would be on a good water with a chance of a twenty, but catching such a huge fish had never crossed my mind. Then the sheer luck of it all struck me. Having the net on board was kind of important, deciding to use the second rod, having the lure that I'd swapped, picking the rod up to untangle the tip, Michel seeing the problem, being in Holland at all, just dropping that lure onto that fish. My contribution seemed limited to simply trying a deeper-diving lure and using strong-enough gear. It seems like the fishing gods had decided that it was my turn, and everything was going to work for me. I had been complaining to a few friends over the previous few months that I thought it was both odd and unfair that I had never had a really big pike, significantly over the 20lb mark. Considering the amount of luring that I've done in the last 12 years - admittedly not always on the greatest waters - this failure had begun to irritate me a little, this irritation was compounded by the regular Angling Times stories of the ten-year-old child who has caught a "27", or similar, on his second cast with a spinner! So this was pay-back time, and it felt good. It still feels good.

Michel with a perch taken on our homeward troll - click for full-size picture Trolling back to the slipway I had a perch and Michel had three or four as well, but everything seemed a bit wierd. I was on another planet.

We drank plenty of beer that evening and Michel annoyed a lot of his friends by ringing them with the news. I emailed a few friends with some serious bragging. I kept imagining that I had somehow not landed the fish but the alcohol and tiredness eventually overcame my excitement and I slept well.


The weather forecast for Tuesday was not good. Too much wind for safety on the river so Michel decided we would try some of his local bank venues.

First choice was a canal about 25 yards wide, the rain was belting down so we parked under a bridge to unload the stuff. Then we began fishing under the same bridge and Michel soon saw a fish, a small pike made a half-hearted attempt at the Slapper he was trying. A little later he landed one on a different lure. The rain stopped and we ventured out from the shelter of the bridge and made our way along the bank. We had no fish though.

I must improve my Dutch! - click for full-size picture Here I was photographed in a minefield! "Don't stamp your feet", Michel said. There's really no danger he said. My Dutch is somewhat limited but the word "explosiven" on the warning sign seems straightforward enough. Apparently everyone used to fish here but a few years ago they found some mines when they built a new road so they fenced the area off. The fence is broken down now because it happens to be on a well-known pike hotspot and a few mines aren't going to stop people fishing.

We tried a few other venues during the day without success, although Michel lost one pike. I blanked! We parked in a carpark next to the crematorium and when we returned the place was full to overcrowding, obviously a popular person. Michel was not deterred from having a few casts in a tiny drain adjacent to the car park and he nearly had a pike as well but it missed the lure.

We stopped for lunch in a café while the photos were being developed. This is another act of faith, entrusting that very important film to strangers. I need not have worried, the photos were great and we picked one for enlargement to A4 size.

I ended Tuesday with no fish, but it didn't seem to matter much.

We had a good talk later about how catching the big fish had put a strange perspective on the holiday. What do you do to follow that? You could decide to try and get another but then if you didn't you might be disappointed, which would be a stupid emotion to experience after catching a monster. So we decided to relax instead. We went shopping on Wednesday, and I'm glad we did.


Tackle shop in Tilburg, more lures than you could shake a stick at! - click for full-size picture We visited two tackle shops in Tilburg, both stocked more lures than you would see in any UK tackle shop except for the very few specialist lure suppliers. Then we travelled to Belgium and Jensen Sport at Kessel near Antwerp. This is a big tackle shop with more lures than you would see in any shop over here. There were also loads of rods, reels and other lure tackle.

Jansenn Sport, 9 trolling motors to chose from, a few of their vast selection of lures in the background - click for full-size picture Jansenn Sport, kessel, Nr Antwerp in Belgium, an Aladdin's Cave for the lure angler - click for full-size pictureMost of the lures are aimed at zander anglers with a lot of jigs, soft plastics and small trolling crankbaits. Jansen Sport seemed to have the entire Rapala range on the racks. There are also big pike lures but that is only a relatively minor interest over there at the moment. Zander tournaments (boat fishing) are becoming popular with top prizes such as electric outboards as major incentives. The future looks lively, although there are many anglers with reservations about tournaments. The zander tournament organisers seem to have the right attitude with prizes for the biggest perch or pike as well, this latter prize encourages the anglers to use wire leaders.

Surprise, surprise, most tackle is cheaper over there, between 20% and 50% less than in the UK, similar to American prices, and no VAT or import duty to concern the customs of course. I saw a limited colour range of Rapala Supershad Raps on special offer for about £4.50! But the normal price was only about £6. Cheap lures mean there are plenty of anglers who can afford to use lures, which means a big turnover, which means cheaper lures, and so on. The price discrepancy between the continent and the UK cannot simply be down to higher mark-ups over here, the wholesalers or importers must be charging more. I thought the free market was meant to end all of this. If we keep having to suffer these price discrepancies it will always keep the UK lure scene depressed and our lure suppliers will find ever-increasing numbers of us looking oversees for our tackle, which is already happening with internet shopping. We've seen car prices fall to near European levels in the last couple of years, but there must be a lot of other consumer goods similarly overpriced in the UK, not just fishing tackle.

Provided you had some help over there to get to the shops it would be practical to fly to Holland or Belgium and equip yourself for nearly all your lure fishing needs. You could pay for your holiday out of the money you would save as well as actually being able to see and touch the goods before buying them. The three shops I visited were all willing to talk serious discount on big orders as well. The only real barrier is the language but when money is being exchanged people seem to understand a fair bit of English and sign language.

One of Piet Driessen's bedroom walls! - click for full-size picture In the evening we went to visit Piet Driessen aka "The River Piker" a sort of Maas pike guru. A real enthusiast, Rapala tester, unmarried and with a house full of lures, fish photos and tackle. He was very happy that I'd caught my pike, but was keen that I did not reveal the exact whereabouts of the capture. He needn't have any worries on that score, I want to go back!

There isn't the sort of pressure on waters in Holland that we see here, there is just too much water, but they dread the arrival of German pike anglers who take everything they catch. The Maas is so big and daunting that I cannot see too many wanting to get on it, the thought of a close encounter with one of the big ships would make most think twice. While at Piet's I was shown a photo of a 50" pike taken from the Maas this year, weighing 14kg. Weights are far less important over there with only the biggest fish seeing the scales, length is everything. A metre (40") pike is a good one whether it weighs 15lb or 25lb. It is a bit daft that we value a spawn-filled early spring 20lb pike more than the same fish caught in July at 15lb. We're all frustrated matchmen really!

We made plans for a full day's fishing for Thursday, my last day. I wanted to try jigging for zander as well as the small lure trolling that works so well for perch. My tackle is so pike-centered that I have to leave all my rods at home, borrowing two softer trolling rods, I also tie a 20m length of thinner braid onto the end of my heavy stuff, now I'll get the lures down.


Friday, dawn over the marina. - click for full-size picture We launched the boat at dawn from a different slipway this time. The plan is to fish three marinas as well as the Maas and the canals in between. There is such a maze of waters that I'm surprised Michel can find his way around but they are all familiar places to him and he's constantly warning me that the depth of water is about to change or that we'll we'll reach some underwater feature soon.

I saw some photos of bigger pike marked with these distinct pale spots. - click for full-size picture First fish of the day - click for full-size pictureWithin a few minutes of starting I'd taken a perch, then another, Michel had a pike. Another two passes produced no more so we moved off, trolling for a while then motoring to the first target area, a marina. Here Michel had a few good perch but I didn't. His fish came on an outside turn around some boats, I think my lure was just travelling too slowly on the inside line although I lost one fish.

Trolled zander - click for full-size picture One very smug tourist! - click for full-size pictureAce guide in a hurry. - click for full-size picture Motoring off again we fished a length of wide canal (as wide as the Severn) Michel got a couple of pike and I had a zander, all on trolled lures. A little while later I got another zander while Michel carried on as before with another couple of pike. It seemed very strange but I suppose it was just down to the different running depths of the lures.

A trip to another marina gave Michel a small perch but nothing else.

We tried the Maas, especially it's confluence with a canal, a prime jigging spot. The wind was too strong to control the boat so we were forced to abandon this idea because we could not keep in touch with the bottom. These favoured zander spots are always on a slope and the precise nature of the presentation means you must keep in contact with the bottom, this is impossible if the boat is moving too quickly. This slope preference from the zander matches my own results from fishing at home.

This small perch signalled the beginning of some frantic sport for the remaining hour or so of daylight - click for full-size picture A session of trolling on the Maas produced nothing and I realised it was over 3 hours since I had a take! Michel decided we should try the second marina again for the remainder of the day so we motored back up the canal. This time the we found that the perch were really having it.

One of the bigger perch - click for full-size picture Michel's prize- click for full-size pictureMichel into a lively pike on the light rod- click for full-size picture We were hitting them as fast as we could cast and turn the boat around, takes came a little faster if the lure was slowed down then speeded back up by rod movement. With as many as 4 hits on each pass but not always a fish, it was very busy for a while. We both had pike, not big but respectable 70 to 80cm fish that fough very hard and were a real handful on the perch rods.

The perch were of all sizes between a couple of ounces up to maybe 1¾lb, most were well over ½lb.

But the light was fading and we had to head back to the slipway with the fish still feeding hard. These feeding bursts are quite common among the perch apparently, it is a case of motoring around until a big active shoal is found then taking advantage. Michel and his regular boat partner have had over 80 perch in a day from the boat, with a few zander and pike among them as well. Great sport.

It was dark when we got the boat back on to the trailer and my fishing holiday was over. We bought our dinner from the Chinese takeaway and discussed our week.


The big pike had obviously dominated the week but there was much more as well. I had made a small contribution to Michel's knowledge with my demonstration of big jerkbaits on Tuesday, but it is a bit too specialised for Michel and not really suited to many of his waters. Why fish all day for pike, risking a blank, when you can use smaller lures, catching perch and zander with the pike coming along anyway? Lots of the water I saw would be unsuitable for casting, the shipping on the Maas makes anchoring or drifting a suicidal choice, trolling is the only option.

There is a thriving lure scene in Holland, (as well as Germany and Belgium,) far bigger than I had imagined, fired by the fact that zander taste nice and live-baiting has been banned. Although the German anglers are vilified by most locals, their fishing skills are held in some regard, it takes some ability to catch fish where the fish population is suppressed by persistent harvest. The Maas is not fished much from boats because it is a tricky water, big and dangerous. Bank fishing for zander or eels with a single dead bait rod is fairly common and there is some match fishing. There are some odd and inconsistent rules concerning fishing as there are everywhere. Trout water fishing is undeveloped, most of the Rainbow waters are very small (less than 2 acres) but even these turn up some big pike, invariably removed, often stuffed! Because trout water pike are short for their weight most anglers are not too interested in catching them, a long river or drain pike is far more highly prized than a short heavy, artificially-fed fish. It's not a bad philosophy really. There is a generally-held view that our obsession with specimen fishing and weight is a bit odd, and that we are missing out on a lot of fun. When I see the miserable faces on photographs of so many British anglers holding their big fish I cannot help feeling that they might have a point.

The vast network of canals and drains all contain pike and perch with zander in the deeper and more coloured ones. The canals are not what we normally imagine as canals, they are often as wide as the Severn and dredged to six metres deep to provide access for the big ships.

The drains are usually one to three metres deep and non-powered boat access is allowed. The flat banks means that bank fishing these waters is a pleasure although marginal weed growth gets in the way. Most of the pike in these small drains are small but a metre plus fish can come from anywhere. Chub are confined to a few faster flowing rivers in the south but sometimes they catch an ide, which looks something like a big roach with a chub-sized mouth, from the photos that I've seen.

We tend to look across the Atlantic for our lure inspiration, it's all written in English after all. We would be wiser to look at the Dutch and continental scene more closely, they are catching the same species as us, and lots of them. There are important differences though, the vast amount of unpressurised water, ready access to boats, no trolling restrictions and often deep river or canal water.

Locating fish, especially the perch and zander, seems a case of motoring around and try different spots. Zander favour areas of deep or coloured water, and will happily move into shallower water when the colouer increases.

That sums up my impressions of what I learned in my few days in Holland. If I've misunderstood anything I'm sure Michel will explain it better.

There is a language barrier but younger Dutch people are usually proficient in English, many Dutch words are very similar to the English equivalent and picking up some vocabulary wouldn't be difficult. There are a lot of good books published in Dutch as well as the excellent De Roofvis magazine (Roofvis = predatory fish). It might pay to learn Dutch properly and open up a new world of lure fishing, I'll be giving it a try (I've made a start with: groot snoek = big pike).

Holland is a nice, civilised country, the food is good and not expensive. Flying was a doddle, Easyjet are the butt of many jokes but for well-organised, efficient and economical transport they take some beating. The staff were friendly and the planes were new and clean, and they have a flexible attitude to awkward luggage. My fishing licences cost about £15 but Michel said he'd never been checked.

And that brings me to the end of this piece with a most appropriate mention of Michel. To go abroad and put yourself entirely in a stranger's hands means taking a bit of a chance - half a day in a boat can be more than enough with some people - but we got on really well and the time flew by without any sign of conflict. So Michel - generous host, fine angler, true sportsman, determined guide, ace photographer, fast interpreter, good cook, and most importantly of all my great friend, thank you for a holiday I will never forget.

And now Michel's view.

Making new friends.

It is a year ago since I first contacted Dave. I thought I had some suggestions for his website and some pictures too. I emailed Dave and soon there was the reply. Since then we kept in touch every now and then to discuss everything that goes with our wonderful hobby. Or shall I say illness……..?

I soon noticed that there where quite a few things that we agreed on but on the other hand we both practiced two very different types of lure fishing. We both had strong feelings about pike handling and catch and release. I do a lot of trolling on rivers using multi species lures and Dave does a lot of casting big lures on still waters. Dave was mainly interested in pikes. Every now and then we kept firing questions to learn as much as possible from each others tackle and tactics. And I think I can say that we are both interested in all kinds of fishing, as long as it is predator fishing. Soon Dave invited me over but it was easier for me to invite Dave so after some reconsidering Dave agreed and booked a flight. At that moment we both had no idea what all this was leading to.

I can tell you that I had quite some sleepless nights a few days before Dave arrived. First of all I was going to meet a man I had never met. One of my best friends asked me this question: ‘What if he is all dressed in leather like one of the legendary Village People?’ That was the moment I almost cancelled the trip. Dave called me on the phone a couple of days earlier and that had given me a better feeling but I still wasn’t confident on how everything would work out. Second of all there was the fishing. Last September was an extraordinary good month but now that the weather was getting less stable and that the temperature was dropping I feared that the fishing was going to slow down dramatically. That proved to be true later on.

I was waiting at Amsterdam Airport for Dave’s plane to land (in a normal way…..). I was a little nervous at that moment and then I saw that the plane had arrived. I was expecting Dave to be one of the last passengers because bringing a two meters long suitcase could take a little longer to sort out. Then came Dave. I was relieved to see he was not wearing any leather clothing! In the car we talked fishing all the time and after a few beers at home we could start to sort out all the tackle needed for tomorrow’s fishing day. We agreed a slow start as we both had a busy period at work. We also decided that fun was more important than catching.

When Dave first showed me his rod (!?), I was astonished by its power. I didn’t know then he had another even more powerful rod in his rod case. First thing I thought is that I had invited a pool player instead of an angler! But after seeing his tackle box I realised these rods were needed for casting these big lures he had collected over the years. I wasn’t used to these sizes of lures at all. And I thought that SuperShadRaps were big……I must confess that I have started to collect bigger lures too now and off course stronger tackle to go with that.

The pike that changed it all

Our first day was quite relaxed although I felt the heavy pressure to let Dave catch as much as possible. Dave was excited to be on a big river like the Maas with its big ships and sometimes heavy current. The weather was nice but the fishing was slow. Too slow if you ask me and I began to worry. We had some perch but on the swims that produced lots of fish over the last month we had no single take. We tried everything but with little success.

Then out of nothing something happened that changed everything. Dave’s rod in the rod rest was bent round in a curve you can hardly imagine. The line around the rod tip was a tricky detail that Dave soon worked away. Seeing the fish first time must have made Dave weak in the legs. A quiet, skilled and relaxed angler suddenly turned into a nervous young boy catching his first pike. It is good to see that there are still anglers with passion when catching a fish. And a fish it was. We all know the words ‘it made me shiver’ but this was definitely THE moment and THE fish to make you shiver. Big is an understatement, huge is the one word. I guess the pictures speak for themselves. I have never ever seen a pike like this and I sometimes wonder if I will ever catch a pike like this myself.

We unhooked her, made plenty pictures and enjoyed the short moment she was with us. As she swam away I felt a weight falling from my shoulders. We celebrated this moment for a while and we went back into the boat. I felt like in a trance and I think Dave must have felt the same. We trolled our way back to the slipway and discussed everything that had lead us to this fish. Of course there is a little luck involved, but It still feels well earned fish. At home we drank a few beers to celebrate this wonderful moment and went to bed a little later than normal. The next day there was still the same feeling and as we were fishing from the bank, my mind was still with yesterday’s. It didn’t matter anymore that the fishing was really slow. We saw a few pike following and missing our lures but we only landed one small one.

Now that all the unmeant pressure was gone we could really start to enjoy the rest of the week. Sometimes we are so focussed on catching that we almost forget what fishing is all about. The beautiful environment, the wonderful nature with all its flora and fauna and not to forget just being out there with friends. The weather was not what we wanted it to be so the decision to go shopping was soon made. That is shopping in tackle shops off course….

Close to where I live there are some well-stocked tackle shops that I wanted to show to Dave. Inside Dave was impressed by all the different kinds, sizes etc of tackle and lures that they sell here. Soon a lot lures and stuff disappeared in Dave’s shopping basket. I guess we are all the same, we can’t get enough of it.

And suddenly the week was almost over. We had only one day to go and we had our mind set on catching a few zander on lures. We fished a stretch of water where we could easily expect all three species. We had to cover a lot of water so again trolling was the best option. Soon we had a pike and some perch, but the afternoon was a little slow. Dave’s wish to catch a Dutch zander on a lure came true. We decided to fish until it got a little darker. We went back to a stretch of water we fished in the morning and soon discovered that the pike and the perch were feeding heavily. Almost on every cast a take and we ended the day with 7 pike, 21 perch and 2 zander. No record fish this time but we didn’t mind. Our last fishing day together came to an end. And so did the holiday.

On the way to the airport we both agreed that this would certainly not be the last visit. The next meeting might well be in England, sooner or later. We said goodbye at the airport and we both went home. On my way back my mind was with everything we had gone through over the last week. There was the big pike again and the moments of joy. The horrible weather and the slow fishing. Dave’s giant lures and powerful rods. The tackle shops we visited and the beers we drank together. The discussions we had on lure fishing and the evenings we talked fishing all the time. And then suddenly I realised something. I realised that I had said goodbye to someone special. Someone that you call a friend.

So Dave my friend, I hope that we can go fishing together again, somewhere, someplace.


For the sake of accuracy I should point out that some time after the holiday Michel emailed that my pike had been 117cm long, not 115 as I remembered. Something must have got lost in the translation!