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Yearly Archives:2014

The quest for Ardennes doubles

Since 2004 I have been frequently fishing the rivers Ourthe and Ambleve within the Belgian Ardennes. Especially the last few years I have made some serious hours to achieve my goal of catching a respectable barbel. By respectable I mean a fish above 70 cm and 9lb. A one way trip to the Ardennes is a 250 Km drive for me. Despite the long distance I try to visit these rivers on a monthly frequency. For some reason these rivers keep drawing my attention so I take the long drive for granted. Together with a number of fishing mates I have scouted and fished miles of river to find good swims. The majority of the fish are in the range 4 – 6lb, with now and then an exception up until 8lb, but we never encountered anything bigger nor did we hear of bigger catches by others.

The Belgian Ardennes is an area with still a lot of undiscovered terrain for me and the long distance makes it hard to make fast progress. Together with my friend Leon Haenen I invested a lot of hours in the Ardennes over the last couple of years. At times when catching fish was poor we stopped fishing and decided that it was better to invest our time in finding new swims. Usually without any result. But there was one swim that Leon had great confidence in and he wouldn’t stop bringing it up to my attention. He was absolutely confident that if there would be bigger barbel to catch in the Ardennes, this had to be the spot. I couldn’t argue and supported his vision. Unfortunately is it impossible to fish this swim during winter time. Therefore we decided to return later in the year.
July 2014
Finally the conditions are in place. At 07.00 p.m. I find myself at the Ourthe together with Leon. As almost always the rig I use today is a Korum running rig with a 12lb Korum hooklink and a size 10 hook. The water level is higher than normal and the water had turned brown so a 90 gr combo feeder filled with a sticky mix of 4,6 and 8 mm garlic pellets should do the trick. On the hair I mount a double 12 mm pellet. This setup is fished with an 1.75lb Expert rod after I catapulted the swim seriously with Sonubaits hemp and pellets.
From the first moment the feeder hits the bottom things start to go crazy. This day starts incredible. After two minutes I hook a fish that crushes my PB of 69 cm and 7.14lb. After measuring the fish the scale stopped at 72 cm and 9lb exactly. It was an incredibly hard fight in a  serious swim with a fish that tested the Xpert rod to the max. I’m absolutely over the moon deciding this fight in to my benefit.
Leon exceeds my achievement by landing a triple PB with each of them monsters for this river. With 75 cm 9.0lb, 77 cm 9.2lb and 76 cm 9.5lb he has the day of his live. Breaking your PB three times on one day is something to dream of. Together we enjoy these magnificent powerful stream machines! At the end of the day the scale stops at 14 barbel on the mat. Before we start the long journey home new plans are made…………the quest for a double of 80 cm.