With me I took Pete Tew, owner of Carp Unlimited who had helped me considerably during the winter with putting together the tackle requirements and bait for the season, Ian Witwell, from Eastbourne, Jamie Goouge a 17 year old carp crazy kid who had scrimped and saved for 6 months to afford the trip, and my son Nick. We knew we would have a fair bit of grafting to do as the weather had restricted work on site for some months. Our purpose was to clear the site after all the work that had gone on over the winter during which time the first log cabin had been built. Also with us was Will Church and Mike Back, our video team there to record the fishing and the facilities for a new promotional video/ CD, which will be attached to our 2000/20001 brochure.

Some 5 days before leaving the U.K., having just mown the lawns in warm balmy weather, I received a call from Joe, my American partner informing me that they had just had four feet of snow in 48 hours. Great start!!!! Panic stations set in with me imagining the worst. Ever tried fishing for carp through ice holes?? However, over the next few days the weather had changed quickly and on landing at Montreal we found ourselves sweltering on 21 degrees despite it being 7.30 p.m. in the evening. An hour and a half's drive later we were on site, weary after our journey but keen to get on with the tasks required so that we could get down to some serious fishing.

After a solid nights shuteye we woke to find that the weather had changed for the worse once again and a harsh north easterly wind was whipping in across the St. Lawrence. A day for working rather than fishing. We got our heads down and spent the majority of the day sorting out the tackle store and unpacking a huge crate of new tackle and bait that we had shipped out from the UK two weeks previously. 24 specially built 12 foot 3.5 test curve rods, reels, new landing nets, tripod set-ups, fox alarms, JRC unhooking mats, weigh slings, Fox bivvies, bedchairs and other equipment was made up into 12 complete sets. The tackle shop was stocked with some 500 3-4 oz weights, a good range of hooks, Kryston Quicksiver, 25lb braids for hook lengths and packs and packs of Armour tubing to fend off the effect of the zebra mussels that pervade the St Lawrence. Some 800-900 kilos of Carp Unlimited ready made boilies were stored ready for supply to anglers fishing with us. We also started boiling up the maize and storing this in huge bins ready for piling into the swims in front of the site to get the shoals of fish munching.

Despite the bitterly cold weather two of the lads, James, (later to be known as Golden Bks) and Nick, could not resist the temptation to get fishing and took one of the power boats out, baiting up with about 50lbs of maize and 20 kilos of boilies. Perseverance was the name of the game. It was more like cod fishing off the North Norfolk coast than carp fishing. Waves were crashing on to the shore and the wind chill factor must have felt like -5-6 degrees yet they stuck it out for about 4 hours and James was rewarded with a fish of 17lbs, small by St Lawrence standards, but considering the temperature and the fact that it had been impossible to bait up the swims prior to our arrival he was happy and it did prove that the fish were out there in front of the site.

The following day's weather continued in the same vein. Even the massive St Lawrence Seaway cargo vessels seemed to be finding it hard going. Huge grey American skies dominated the landscape with winds to match but despite this, the fish started to show. 17 year old Jamie took fish of 25lb, 34lb, 23.5lb and 24lb and Nick managed one of 36lbs. The rest of us sensible oldies chose to spend the day between the log cabin with it's roaring log burner and 900 channels of American satellite TV and the local diner with its American sized proportions of cholesterol packed food. The video crew did however get dragged out into the elements whenever the "haulin" call went up.

As the first week progressed, the amount of work being completed in a day slowly diminished as more and more of us succumbed to the temptation to get fishing. Maize and boilies were being piled into the swims every day and we soon found that the fish were really getting their heads down between 2 a.m and 2 pm each day. Two marker floats were placed some 120 yards apart and 80 - 100 yards from the shore. The area in front of the maker floats was baited heavily each day with cooked maize and boilies. Each day we baited a little closer to the shore. The North Easterly had stirred up the margins and the water was heavily coloured. Getting your bait wafting around in the turbulent coloured water seemed to do the trick However, this brought the fish in much closer and eventually we were catching on short casts of no more than 30-40 yards during the mornings but needing to get farther out to keep catching later in the day. Successful tactics seemed to be two 18 ml scopex or honey yucatan boilies topped off with a 18 ml pop-up. Also popped up maize with about 6-8 grains on a hair worked well Heavy tackle is the name of the game on the St Lawrence with boulders the size of cars waiting to snag you up and zebra mussels that will cut through your line like butter if you make the mistake of believing that you don't need a leader. The North easterly persisted for about 8 days, keeping temperatures very low but we put up three bivvies which gave us protection from the conditions. G.B. (Golden bks) was now fishing the nights as well. We would be woken from our cozy sacks at the most ungodly hours with "Can you come and photograph this 36 lber". Eventually, one by one we gave in and towards the end of the first week most nights would find at least three of us facing the elements.

By now we were averaging about 30 fish per day between 3-4 of us, a good proportion of these fish were thirty pounds plus. Ian Whitwell had the best single days catch of the two weeks with 27 fish to 33lbs in one day. By the beginning of the second week the weather had improved considerably with much warmer temperatures but continuous rain. Day 9 finally saw the rain ease and blue skies appear and GB struck again with the first 40 of the fortnight. The grin got wider and we couldn't shut him up for hours. At one point he was close to joining the fish - but it was a beautiful carp. The very essence of St Lawrence Carp.

As the sun came out everyone got down to the serious fishing. We were joined for the 2nd week by Mary Crouch from Wantage in Oxfordshire who had chosen to bivvy up for two weeks and Adrian Phillips from Brentwood in Essex, a non fishing personage who just came out for a bit of a break and went home having caught a 20lb fish. No one could get the indomitable Mary away from the river bank and she and Jamie struck up a partnership which saw the pair of them take the river apart in the second week. When we left on the 29th Mary had had over 100 fish with her biggest being 40lb 2oz. And she still had a week to go.

Jamie ended up with 77 fish with two forties in his haul. Everyone who fished broke their personal best common except yours truly, who has still to catch that magical 40lb fish, my best being 39lb 12 oz from a previous trip. Despite the fact that I spent the majority of the fortnight getting the place ready for the season I still managed 31 fish to 37lb 3 ozs.

The video boys were kept busy throughout and have come home with over 18 hours of tape, including some great underwater shots of fish being played. Not bad considering that the water was probably only a degree or two above freezing. When we left the site was looking great. The new cabin is superb with two double bedrooms each with ensuite bathrooms. The camper trailers have all been refurbished and have wooden balconies overlooking the river. A new jetty has been built allowing easy access for the boats.

When we had finished our exertions for the day we would sit on the balconies drinking our Buds, eating our buffalo steaks and chicken cooked on the barbecues and reflecting on this amazing place where fishing fantasy becomes reality. Where else in the world can you have such fishing within two minutes walk of your luxury accommodation. Where, in the warmer weather in the summer, you will be lucky if you can get both baits in the water at the same time. For the first 8 days of our holiday we faced conditions which, in Britain, would invariably keep the most committed of carp anglers firmly indoors - yet we caught. We caught fish of our dreams and everyone has vowed to be back again soon for further action with the mighty St Lawrence Carp.

For further details and for availability of dates for this year contact:
Andy Shattock, The St Lawrence Experience: 01376 573443. Website www.stlawrencecarp.com