A few weeks ago I was asked to go on a little filming adventure to cover two venues, one in Italy and the other in Bosnia. With only a few weeks notice I had to move some work commitments around to make it possible but obviously I made it happen and before I knew it I was loading up the car for a 10 day adventure into unknown territory. The drive to Italy was awesome, I think we managed to do it in just over 10 hours with a few stops along the way but driving through the snow topped Swiss alps and across the mountain lakes was a spectacle I certainly wont be forgetting any time soon. We arrived at the first venue a little before 10pm, the plan was to sleep in the on site cabin for the night and set up come first light when we had a chance to look at the swims. We made our introductions with the bailiff and made light work of passing out on the bed chairs for the night.
The morning came and with it brought a very thick layer of fog, so thick in fact that visibility was about 4 meters which made the swim choice almost impossible as you could barely see your own feet let alone any of the features out in the lake! We waited a few hours sitting on our hands for the other side of the lake to slowly emerge from the mist. We did not expect to see whole trees rising from the depths as the fog cleared and in hindsight it was a great move as the snaggy margins and sunken trees revealed themselves.
We wasted no time in getting setup once we had eyes on the lake and decided to double up in the middle of the section of lake we had in swim 18. I had opted for the left side of the lake and Darren went for the right which gave him access to the channel that led through to another section of the lake. We both decided to keep things simple with a boilie only approach as there was a lot of small fish and small carp present. Darren had gone for double 18mm Boilies on a simple Hair rig and I had opted for Balanced 20mm bottom baits fished blowback style.
After a few hours out in the boat we had 6 rods on the spots with around 1kg of boilies over each rod. I was using Scopex squid and TG Active and Darren was using Tigernut boilies. The morning came and went and after a few bacon rolls I decided to have a little afternoon snooze before it got dark.
About 10 minutes after my little nap the first rod was away! I lifted into the fish and as I was fishing with braid I could tell immediately this was a small fish, I actually thought I'd hooked a bream! anyways after reeling the little one in from 250 yards out it turned out to be a small crucian hybrid looking thing of around 4-5lb. The rod went straight back out on the spot as the sun set and the temperature dropped to just above freezing we retreated to the bivvy's.
That night saw myself and Darren land another 3 small commons up to mid doubles between us and after some monumental late night boat work all the rods were put back out until the morning.
The following morning I lost a fish from the same spot I'd had the runs from the previous night but I could tell it was another small one so I wasn't too bothered about it. A short while later the owner had come around to take us on a tour of the lakes he had on site. Some broken english explanations of the venue and a very bumpy car journey later we were keen to get the rods back out so headed back to the swim and made light work of boating all 6 rods to the spots. Just as the sun went down I had another small mirror on my left hand rod which went straight back without pics and a few hours later followed it up with an 18lb common.
Darren lost one just before midnight that night but again he was sure it was a small fish. We were starting to get a little bit concerned about the size of the fish at this point and although we knew there were some stunning big fish in the venue we were wondering if any of them were going to make an appearance. We got in the bags feeling a little deflated that night and when first light came and I lost another small fish it was evident that we were both thinking the same thing...Time to go!
Darren went up to the hut for a shower early that morning after we had spoken about possibly pulling off a day early, we were going to make the decision when he got back. Darren had been gone for about 5 minutes when I started to pack my gear away making the decision early haha! when he returned he took one step into the swim and I said 'DARREN I'M ALREADY PACKING UP!' being the mind reader that I am Darren was very pleased about this and 45minutes later we were packed up and ready to roll!!
We were both very excited to get to Bosnia as we knew there was a much better average size at Zabar lake and with another 8 hour drive to Croatia ahead of us we said our goodbyes and made the journey across Slovenia and into Croatia where we had planned to spend the night before heading into Bosnia in the morning.
That night we stayed at a lovely little apartment where we ate like kings and quizzed Darren's Croatian Team member on spots and Tactics.
The plan was to drive to the border in the morning where we would load the gear into a van before heading across and making the short 20minute drive to the lake. All plans made we retired to our quarters and I made friends with the resident cat! :)
Cat removed, goodnights sleep had and on to the lake!!
We were up at 6:30 for a quick coffee the following morning before a mandatory stop at the local bakery where I picked up a load of pastries and a few sandwiches for the day ahead. We flew through the border and was at the lake for around 9am. We met with the owner in the club house where we had traditional Bosnian coffee! Darren was horrified at this brew when it arrived as it had half the kitchen floating in the top! hahaha! not ones to be rude we made light work of the delicious beverages and jumped in the cars to head to the swims.
The drive around the venue was impressive with log cabins in almost every swim, the trees stood bare and motionless against the miserable grey sky but there was a new found excitement building as we pulled up in our swim ready for our very comfortable stay in the log cabin.
We were positioned at the far end of the lake with a fair amount of water to go at and we quickly made our decisions on where to fish. Darren again had opted for the right hand side of the swim fishing out to open water and the far margin and I was happy fishing to the top corner where there were lots of snaggy margins and overhanging bushes.
Going with the same boilie approach as before on all 3 rods I also decided to introduce some Key Cray pellets as loose feed on a few of the spots to see if I could draw a quick bite.
I didn't have to wait too long for the action to arrive and around 8pm I had my first take on the left hand rod! A monumental scrap later and a lot of hairy moments in the mix I slipped the net under a 36lb common!
About an hour after we slipped her back my middle rod was away this time and I came flying out of the cabin like a man possessed almost killing myself on the slippery tiles. Unfortunately this one wasn't meant to be and after lifting into the fish we parted ways. Sulking and now wet and cold I got the rod back out on the spot and retired back to the cabin for the night.
The night passed without any more action and we woke up to yet another freezing fog affair. We made breakfast set about re-doing all the rods and I once again made friends with the local cat! Well I am the cat whisperer ;p
Going into that night I decided to pull my right hand rod into mid water and I fired out about 2kg of coconut creme boilies around the area. This was obviously a great move as around 10:30pm that rod went into meltdown and once again I was connected to a very angry carp. I could tell this was a bigger fish as it was holding deep and not giving me an inch, I even suggested to Darren at one point it could be a catfish but after another great battle it popped its head up and some big shoulders slid into the folds of my net, result!
On the scales she went 46lb and a very happy Bellhouse once again soaking wet and freezing cast the rod back out to the spot and retired for the night back to the cabin.
We didn't land any more fish that night but Darren lost one around midnight after being snagged on the far margin.
Morning arrived and the weather looked to be getting worse with visibility again down to about 20feet and temperatures just above freezing, I was more than happy with the two fish I had landed considering the conditions. It was Darrens turn to put a few on the bank this time and the next few nights saw him land a couple of lovely mirrors from the far margin.
Time was running out and with a last minute 24hour extension to try and get the drone in the air it was again a change of tactics that brought about an almost instant bite for me. Mid afternoon the day before we were due to leave I decided to soak a whole bucket of pellet in the scopex squid bait soak and a juicy pva bag dripping with the scopex was put back out on the far margin. Less than 10 minutes in the water and it was away! I could tell instantly it wasn't a monster but I was happy to put another one on the bank all the same. It was a great end to our road trip and one I will definitely never forget.
Until next time....The search continues!