We arrived in Montreal after finishing our meetings late Friday afternoon and transformed ourselves from city suited businessmen to fully garbed fishermen within five minutes in the men's toilets in the airport. We were ready to tackle the mighty St Lawrence river carp.
Joe Babbitt met us at the luggage carousel and soon we were in his four wheel drive GMC open truck making our way to Waddington. Whilst we sat in the front our suits in the open back sure got a good airing.
After an easy 80 minute drive on clear roads, spent swapping fishing tales and hearing from Joe about the week by week and month by month carp catches that, in Britain would be pure carp fishing fantasy, we crossed the border into the US and made a pit stop at Wal-Mart to purchase beer, tortillas, biscuits and 5 day fishing licenses. At 20 dollars a license this was not going to be expensive outlay for what was in store.
Joe had us fishing within an hour of our arrival at the site. Rigged up with 3.5 test curve rods, 15 lb main line, 50lb mono shock leaders and 3-4 oz leads attached by Korda line clips our fruit flavoured boilies were soon on beds of 201bs of cooked corn - baited up by Joe from his power boat, 60 yards out from the bank. Within five minutes we were into fish and from that point it was non stop action all evening. It would be impossible to describe each fish individually. The takes were awesome with alarms screaming incessantly as carp after carp fell for our baits. Initially it was low twenties but soon the bigger fish started to show. Between 6pm and 10 pm on the Friday evening we caught 25 carp, fifteen 20 pounders and 10 carp over 30 pounds. The thirties, all commons, went:- 32lb4oz, 31lb6oz, 34lb7oz, 37lb.3oz, 33lb, 36lb, 37lb4oz, 37lb.5oz and to cap it all the last fish of the evening went 39lb7oz.
After an amazing first evening, we stopped at 10 pm to go to bed, very happy but tired. We got to the trailer in a state of disbelief that our previous personal best had been well beaten not once, but time and time again. We were convinced that the fishing we had just experienced could not be bettered. How wrong we were.
Saturday arrived with warm sunshine and bleary eyes. At 8am in the morning Joe took us for a quick trip down the road to the local diner down the road for cholesterol city with maple syrup.
By 10 am we were back on the river. Joe had baited up once again with copious amounts of corn and boilies and we were ready for action. However, we could never have anticipated the amazing events which were to unfold during the day.
With 6 rods between Joe, Chris and I, plus Michael, Joe’s 10 year old helper, we were straight away into a shoal of very large fish. It was exhausting work but great non stop action for the next 6 hours. Fish losses were inevitable despite using 35lb Kryston braid hook lengths and Size 1 or 2 Drennan Continental boilie hooks. The huge boulders, weed and the zebra mussels with their razor-sharp shells made things tough going at times. After lunch, however, the St Lawrence lived up to its reputation for amazing and awesome fishing. Even Joe, a seasoned St Lawrence riverman, was surprised at the events of the next few hours.
First of all Chris made contact with a lump at 2.30 p.m. It was clearly a big fish. At 2.32 John found himself attached to a biggy and had to get into Joe's boat to get beyond the weed bed in front oh him. Then 10 yr. old Michael took a take on John's second rod at 2.35 p.m. with all three now into very big fish.
Some twenty minutes later all three fish were on the bank and the Avon scales we had with us proved inadequate for all three fish.
Michael ran up to the tackle shed and returned with 60 lb Ruben Heaton Scales. We knew that we had bit the jackpot but what was the prize? The outcome of this amazing twenty minutes was a 44.lb 4oz carp for Chris, a 42lb 8oz fish for John and a 39lb 12oz fish for an exhausted Michael. Even whilst these fish were being weighed and photographed, Joe and Chris banked further fish of 37lb 8oz and 34lb 6oz. We could not resist the temptation to have a multiple fish photo. What a quintuplet of fish.
By the end of the day we landed a total of forty-six carp with only two below twenty pounds and the majority over thirty.
At 7pm we packed up too exhausted to continue. We slowly made our way back to the lodge to celebrate with beers and tortillas. We were in bed by 9pm, physically worn out, with aching arms and backs, and soon were asleep. With 10 hours of undisturbed sleep behind him, John woke up at 6.45 a.m. on Sunday and cooked a full breakfast. An hour later we walked the short walk down to the swims from the trailer. We noticed that the wind had changed to a strong cold northerly and quite frankly we were not very optimistic about our chances.
We were right. Until the sun broke through at 11 a.m. it was slow, with four fish between us up to 251bs. Suddenly, at 1 45pm, everything changed as the fish once again found the extensive beds of corn pre-baited earlier. When Joe returned with our lunch, John was playing another big fish. Once again we had to take to the boat to land the fish. As the fish rolled into the net Joe exclaimed. "This must be a fifty" The frame of the fish was huge. However, when on the bank it was obvious that it was a very long but not very deep fish. The scales, however, still recorded yet another fish over forty pounds this one going 42lbs 5ozs. Other fish caught that day went 39lb.6oz, 38lb.4oz, 35lbs, 33lbs.5oz, 31lbs.5oz, 29lbs, 26lbs.3ozs, 27lb.4ozs, 26lb.4oz, 21lbs, 18 lbs, 17 lbs
In all, we caught over a ton of fish during the weekend. Quite simply the fishing at Waddington is truly amazing. The hospitality of Joe and his never ending efforts to ensure the very best fishing experience for his clients is second to none. The St Lawrence Experience is something no carp angler should miss.
The accommodation is in three comfortable trailer homes with water and electricity, right on the banks of the St Lawrence. Good quality fishing tackle can be hired from Joe and bait can be ordered in advance. During the winter months Joe is planning to build spacious log cabin accommodation as well. Bivvy packages are also available at a slightly lower price.
For more information and a brochure on the St. Lawrence Experience contact Andy Shattock, the UK agent on 01376 573443 or click here!
Chris Smith and John Dennis