THE BEST OF AFRICA
There must have been a point in time for each and everyone of us, devoted fishermen, when we would sit by the water and dream about all the possible destinations we could visit in the future, that would enrich our experiences and broaden our horizons. To us, carp lovers, fishing is not only catching fish, but also a deep connection to nature and to the people that have the same ambitions and desires as we do. In addition, these same ambitions and desires often lead to exciting and bonding conversations that make such dreams seem a bit more possible.
Two years ago I decided to act on my dreams and make them a reality. On one special night, me and Dragan were sitting by the water, waiting for a bite, and our conversation led to the Bin El Quidane lake. It had recently been taken over by a new manager, who put a lot of effort into the promotion of Carp fishing. Anyone can follow their Facebook page where they post pictures of their mighty carps on a daily basis. Due to that, the decision to go visit Bin El Quidane in 2017 was an easy one.
The whole execution of the trip was pretty easy, because they offer all the needed information on their website and there was little research I had to do on my own. Then, it took me approximately three months to find as much information about the lake as possible, which was difficult since there is not much known about it. As the leaving date approached, all I did was talk about Morocco and my excitement. A day before my departure I sat down with my family and helped my son draw a map with little bank spaces where he would mark an x for each day that I was away. Therefore, he would know exactly how many days there were until my return.
And so came May the 13th of 2017. I finally sat down into my car and drove to Salzburg where I met Dragan. We sat down, had a nice dinner and a few beers and discussed all the possible scenarios of our future days together. Afterwards, Dragan's wife took us to the airport in Munich, where we took off to Marrakech. We were both very anxious and excited to finally land. When we got off the plane we were taken to the hotel. After about three hours of sleep, our 12-day expedition began.
Bin El Ouidane is a small town in the Azilal province. The lake we visited was dammed in 1949, so they could build a hydroelectric power plant and provide the locals with the much needed electricity. It is surrounded by the Atlas Mountains, which make the location even more divine. However, the same mountain chain is also the source of various troubles that pester the town. During spring, the ice and snow begin to melt and that causes water to quickly rise. In the summer, the heat waves from the mountains create strong winds, which make it a bit harder to fish. The number of carps in the lake is more than satisfying, but unfortunately they are extremely scattered, which makes them harder to find.
Our guide, Salah, gave us some information on which types of carps we can expect to find. On every 20 common carp you can expect 1 mirror, my favourite big scaly ones are very rare. During my visit the size of the lake was about 3.500 Ha, which is small in comparison to the highest surface that can measure up to 7.000 Ha. The advantage of its smaller size was that we were able to see each individual island within it.
While we were there, the weather conditions were rough and our fishing was difficult. The water surface went down 2 m each day and there were strong winds from 10 AM to 8 PM, which made it impossible for us to use our boat. The fact is that conditions on such big lake doesn't change over the night, that's why you have to work even harder in finding the right position and presenting your bait.
[ KWINT'S AREA ]
As I have mentioned before, me and Dragan sat down with our guide, Salah, before heading out to the lake. He gave us valuable advice on which position on the lake would suit us most for what we wanted to do. We were very much set on the Kwint's Area part, but Salah had some doubts. He agreed that there are a lot of fish there, but insisted we would have issues with the strong winds. However, being stubborn, we had to learn that he was right the hard way. We had no time to lose, so we got on the boat and left immediately.
After 30 minutes we got to our chosen destination and I felt like I was in Heaven. I was surrounded by islands and bays, that seemed close enough for me to grab. In reality, they were all at least 2 km away. While I was still on the boat I managed to see the plateau, which begun at around 250 m from the shore and was around 150m wide.
I was a happy man because I manage to spot the plateau right away because I knew I don't have to lose much time with finding the "hot spot". After the first three hours on the water, which was surprisingly calm, I marked my three positions with H-buoys. The depths around the plateau were quite different and ranged from 15 m in front and 25+ m behind the plateau. I set my rods approximately 50 m apart and 250 m away from the coast. Two of my systems were at 10 m depths and one at 8 m.
I was only allowed to bring 23 kg baggage on the plane, which was really scarce. With everything else that is most needed in Africa, it was hard to take much boilies. Somehow I manage to squeeze 7 kg of Scorpion Chili series of course my favourite flavour Deadly Sting. It's a bait I take it with me on every lake I go.
Despite there being only a few reports on caught big scaly ones, this beauty surprised me on my fourth day. I have to admit that I started shivering when I got the first glance at this magnificent fish. With shaky hands I had to be extra careful not to make any mistakes. When I finally manage to land it, I was the happiest man alive. It was pure perfection.
It looks like I have find the hot spot, since the fish were biting constantly, despite that the water level was dropping constantly and the wind was picking up. Key moment was on a third day when I decided to swap all of my rods to a boilies, to be specific 2 rods with 2x20mm and 1 1x20mm. After a while it turned out that it was a great idea, even if I wasn't sure it will work, because fish is used to corn and particles.
While waiting for a bite, I was able to enjoy and adore my surroundings. All the red sand and the beauty of the rocks simply mesmerized me. With my camera in my hands, I took some great shots to have some memories and impressions to share. Nature really is something extraordinary.
Kwint's Area proved to be a great spot, but we both have our inner feeling we should go and try something different. Hotel Bay is almost in every report you can read if not the first choice for most of the carp anglers. The fact that the first change of location was free of charge definitely made our decision to move even easier. The fact that this part of the lake probably has the most fishing days and that food is constantly going inside, it was a common sense to try our luck on the other side of the lake. A day before moving, we notified Salah about our decision. Before we knew it out camp was ready and set to be moved. On the morning of our 9th day they picked us up and we set off. As we were waiting for Salah to pick us up, we knew that the ride is not going to be pleasant.1m high waves were easy said horror. After an hour and a half, completely wet and weak, we finally got to the position in front of the hotel.
[ BAITS ]
After only two days, I noticed that feeding the fish was a completely specific ritual on this lake. You would think setting the baits was all you had to do, but that would set you up for very few bites. My plan was to spread out the bait as wide as possible, sometimes almost reaching the next position, which was 50 m away. The individual baits only lured a few fish to the position where they would simply clean up the spot, give you one bite and swim away. It's a big question when it will come back because the fish is moving simple because the lake is too big. What I did was, when I had the bite, before any pictures, I immediately went on a boat put out my system and spread out fresh bait. The main ingredient of that bait mix was well-cooked corn. Come to think about it, I probably used somewhere from 2 kg to 3 kg of corn and two bars of boilies per system.
The more you fed, the better are your results seemed to be the proper way of thinking. Regarding the feeding boilies, I bought Atlas 2.0 20 mm, which you can get fresh on daily bases. Of course on the end of my hook, I used our Scorpion Chili series.
[ HOTEL BAY ]
Hotel Bay location proved to be completely different from Kwint's Area. We positioned ourselves in the middle of two bays probably 200m down the bay where water should be, which made the fishing even more interesting.
I put my rods in the right bay. I used the same tactics as I had used before at Kwint's Area. I set my systems at 8 m, 9 m and 10 m, which later proved to be irrelevant, since the fish was active on all three rods. However I changed my bait tactics on my lefthand rod which was on a 9m depth. I used the snowman presentation, which provided me with the fish of the campaign.
Right before the night set in as I was getting ready for fresh bait and preparing rod after rod for the night, I noticed a slow movement of my fishing line. I picked up my rod and immediately felt that this was a big fish. I got into the boat and set off after it. I can say with determination that this was the drill of my fishing career. I felt like my line is under a stone again, because I could hardly move it. After a decent 30 minutes I noticed an outline of a fish below the surface. That is when I realized this is probably going to be a fish of a lifetime. I have never come across such a feisty fish before. After another 15 minutes I finally caught the beauty into my net and the catch of the campaign was in my hands.
Changing our location proved to be a worthy decision. The number and weight of our catches rose rapidly, mostly in the early morning hours.
[ RIGS ]
Before I left for Morocco I spent countless hours thinking about which systems and baits to use to get as much out of the experience as possible. That proved to be a complete waste of time, since the locals and agent Sam Jefferys gave me the best advice: do not over complicate. The fish here are not familiar with rigs that's why exaggeration is just not necessary. Each fish I caught had a completely white mouth and zero scarring. It really was a sight to see. The only profound change I made with my rigs, was that I made them a bit longer than usual. There were plenty of big rocks on the bottom of the lake, which made it a bit dangerous for my hook link, so I made them at least 30 cm long. PB Products took care of the rest and proved to be very trustworthy in such circumstances.
[ SPONSORS ]
All of this would not have been possible without our sponsors. A big thank you goes to Mišel Zadravec Carp Baits, with whom I not only cooperate, but am great friends if not family. There is also PB Products, which made my fishing carefree with all the accessories, hooks, lines and much more. PB is in my rig box for quite a while now, after this trip I am sure it will stay there for good.
[ OUZOUD FALLS and FRENCH RESORT ]
Carp lovers give a lot of attention to the nature that surrounds us. What I had the pleasure to experience and see in Morocco was really breathtaking. After the possibility of visiting nearby waterfalls presented itself, we did not hesitate to say yes. We finished fishing a day early and left for the trip early in the morning. It was worthy of every cent. Right before leaving we also took a look at the French resort, being developed a bit further up from our bank. A man can hardly believe that something like this can exist in the middle of nowhere. Take a look at the pictures and enjoy the views...
[ CONCLUSION ]
Before I made the reservation and left Slovenia for Morocco I could hardly imagine how all of this would look. It might have been really hard and tiresome, since the heat and weather were quite cruel, but the reason for my visit made it all worthwhile. All the equipment we used, the people that helped us and the food were right on spot and I have no complaints at all. Our guide, Salah, became our close friend and took care of us every day, after every meal he brought to us, we had a nice chat about the situation on the lake. He helped us with everything and anything. The local food was just perfect for my taste, a little spicy, but delicious.
The people there are in general really friendly. All the equipment you get when you arrive on the lake and even If you forget to bring any of your equipment, they provide it for you. This whole experience enriched my life immensely and was something I will never forget. The things that we take for granted everyday seem light years away to people which live over there, but they do not worry about it and just live their life. I would like to thank everyone that supported me along the way, especially my beloved wife Adriana, who took care of our boy while I was away and who stood by my side when times got rough with some inspiring words to keep me going. Last, but not least, I would like to thank Dragan for being the best possible fishing companion for such a trip. He never hesitated to help and was always there for a talk or two what makes him great in my eyes. This was a great trip that brought us even closer than before and gave us motivation to plan something similar in the following year.
Tadej Koštomaj & Mišel Zadravec
Test Team Slovenia