FL02 PDF (212pp) - Page 86



Tale ofThree Fifties
By Dan Cleary
T
hese are three stories
surrounding the capture of my three
biggest fish I’ve
caught from the Belgian canals over the
years. I should probably start with
how and why I fish the Belgian canals
in the first instance. Some of you
might have read my articles to do
with my adventures on the Grand
Union Canal, which was many years
ago now right here in BC.
I have fished the GUC since I was a
teenager, catching my first carp when
I was around 16 off the surface with a
piece of Chum mixer, and years later I
went on to catch my largest UK canal
carp at 38lbs. I then started going off
on adventures chasing large
leviathans in some of the UK’s harder
waters and still do so today. I had read
many articles and chapters to do with
the Belgian canals over the years, and
in particular the Kempisch Kanaal, or
KK for short. It produced, back in the
day, Belgium’s national record at
34.6kgs (76lbs) in 1995 from KK7-8
stretch to Phillipe Cottenier, a fish
called ‘De Grote’ which is no longer
with us.
The fish to me were stunning, just
like a lot of our fish here in the UK.
The French fish in the main don’t
really do it for me, but everyone’s
taste is different of course. I had been
travelling abroad with work for many,
many years, but I just had never contemplating going fishing abroad,
what with all the hassle with licenses,
not speaking the language and so on.
Eventually I was invited by a couple
of friends to join them on a French
river adventure. They knew the commercial French waters were not for
me, but canals and rivers were right
up my street, and so I joined them for
my first trip abroad in 2006. This gave
me the courage to plan my first solo
trip to the Belgian canals the following year…
Tale of the First Fifty
In the autumn of 2007 I had planned
my first trip to the KK, it was October,
the trees were starting to turn, and
the roads were starting to get covered
in leaves. I headed to Dover, in my
monstrous sized American pickup (I
know this now!) after work on a Tuesday night, getting the midnight ferry
crossing. The trip didn’t start too well,
as I managed to get the wide truck
jammed against some side railings on
the ferry itself, but this was not going
to deter me; I was off fishing for five
days, chasing mythical monsters. At
around 4am local time, I arrived at KK,
right by the Mol power plant, which
sits on section 5-6, and that warmed
the canal at the time, keeping it warm
86 FREE LINE

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