Richard Johnson, Product Manager at Prologic, is often travelling to China for work. He also manages to make room for some fishing. This time, he hooked the monster of his dreams. This is his story of how it all happened.
An opportunity arises
My work has changed and what use to be, an every 2-week ritual of 3 nights on the bank has disappeared with it. Mid 2018 I took on the role of product manager for the Prologic brand. Those that know me, will understand the passion and commitment I have put into this over the past 16 year as a Prologic sponsored angler. So now the table have turned there’s lots to do and never enough time to do it. But with that in mind I saw this as a challenge and could wait to get started. 2019 I had all but stopped fishing (except for the odd few days on my local lake near my) I pride myself into putting 100% into what I do and unfortunately for my fishing the future of Prologic was now in my hands and I wasn’t going to disappoint. So, I made the decision to concentrate on the task in hand and everything would fall into place as I established a new routine.
Spending time away from home slowly became the norm, attending shows all around the world with sales meetings and regally visiting our factory’s in China. I recalled having a conversation with a friend about a lake in China contacted to a tidal river system which would accommodate the western style of carp fishing I was use too. A year down the line, and here we are with new products being finalised and tested and nearly ready for production. I thought it would be great, after a 3-week stint on a business trip in China to do I bit of testing myself.
Time for testing
Arriving at the lake in the 30-degree heat of the day we went about setting up our bivvys to gain some shade from this blistering heat.I had acquired a pair of our C3C 12ft 3.25lb Carp rods from one of our factory’s along with our new Okuma T-rex big pit reels spooled with our new 20lb Density Carp mono line and our size 1 swivel hooks. I was now armed with the gear to catch a whale…right!
Finding a deep 8ft channel in between two 4ft sunken island would be my area to concentrate my attack, this would give me options to discover if the fish were more confident feeding in the shallows of the deeps. We went about air bombing and spombing a generous mix of fresh water snails, maize, pellets and boilies over the acquired area.
50lb Super Charged leader would be man enough for the task in hand connected via a size 8 swivel and Mimicry lead clip to 30lb Gladio hook link and size 1 swivel hook. 2 fresh water snails were then mounted using bait floss and wrapped in a 50mm ball of RG bait Artic Crab paste to help avoid any tangles on the 11-wrap cast.
With my 2 rods in position the wait began and as light started to fade the banks became alive, Mud crabs which had spent all day sheltering from the blistering heat. It was then I had realised as attractive a boilie could be, I wasn’t confident leaving them on un protected for any length of time with these chaps about. So, I quickly went about retrieving my left-hand rod which incidentally had already indicated a lot of attention and changed them both to the snails wrapped in paste. This would at least offer some added attraction, but the hard shells of the snails would be Crab resistant at least.
Shall we dance?
10 minutes later the first signs of fish were in the area as my hangers danced and the alarms bleeped. The hangers danced like a shoal of bream had moved in the suddenly the left-hand hanger hit the floor. Straight away I tightened the drag and struck! The rod arched over as a very powerful fish took off taking over 60m of line on its first run. It stopped and I had managed to turn it around. The fight had now changed into a slow plodding dance as I slowly gained line on this weight fish. Then in a blink of an eye the water exploded as this powerful fish took off once more. Little did I know to my right there was an underwater forest littered with large rocks and fence posts. I felt my hook link grating and grinding as I applied more pressure to try and steer it away. Unfortunately, this battle was lost as quickly as it had started. The hook link had been cut and gazed at it in disbelief at what had just happened.
3 takes later resulting in the same outcome, I searched within the depths of my tackle box luck for the solution. There it was .50 Spectrum Fluorocarbon! Well into the night I went about making the changes to my rigs and settled down to an uneventful night ahead.
As the sun rose, at 3.30 myself and my friend were altered to 2 blistering runs, as our bite alarms went into melt down, 30-40 mins later we were eventually rewarded with a brace of 130-40cm long hard fighting Chinese Black Carp. Happy as, we went about taking pictures, releasing and repositioning the rods and of course celebrating with a cool beer. As my friend return to the comforts of his bivvy to sleep and stayed awake watching and waiting. But it wasn’t until mid-day would we see any more action. With 2 small grass carp for me and another lovely Black Carp for my friend. I then went about introducing more bait via the airbomb/spomb. In fact, I think I got a bit carried away, with now over 20kg now out there. This was indeed a bankquet fit for a king. So, I sat back into darkness waiting and anticipating for the King to arrive.
I was altered as dawn broke on the finally morning that something was showing some interest, but with all my willingness I couldn’t provoke a take. Watching and waiting it was another 5 hours just after breakfast my alarm sounded and again the hanger hit the floor. Quickly I responded picking up the rod, tightening the drag and struck into a dead weight. At this point I side steeped at least 30m to my left determined to keep this mass away from the snags.
As I composed myself, I thought this does not feel like a Black carp. I question my friend as my rod arched all the way rod into full lock. Are they any stingray in here? I don’t think so he replied. At a very slow rated and the rod still at full compression unbelievably the drag they began to give line. I stared in disbelief as the creature made a mockery of the pressure, I was putting on to try and control it. After taking 30m of line off me it then turned 180 slowly came straight towards me, that’s it I thought I managed to turn it! For the next 20 minutes it continued to just cruse up and down in front of me. Neither of us gained or lost position, I had never been connected to something so large and powerful before. But things where about to take a turn for the worst!
30m to my right was the dreaded jungle snags which had already cost me 3 fish. The King new exactly were he has going and there’s was nothing I could do with the tackle I had to stop it. The rod butt sank deep into my groin as my arms and shoulders began to ache with this huge strain. I felt the line ping as something touched it and I immediately opened the bale arm of the reel. My friend looked at me in disbelief as I told him to try and stop one of the boats traveling through the middle section of the lake. After what seemed like an eternity a lovely chap came to our rescue. My friend briefly told him of our current situation and delightfully he offered to help. I climbed aboard and we slowly maneuverer towards the snags. With the line still peeling off the reel for the next 30minutes we went about prodding and pulling the line feel from the snagged area. Once free I as him the steer the boat slowly towards the middle of the lake. With the bale arm closed and my fingers nipping the line above the reel, I was aware of all the damage the line had sustained while being in the snags. At this point I could clearly see there was over 200m of line out of the reel, slowly we made our way towards the middle of the lake retrieving the shredded line back on the reel. At the time I thought to myself if we can just get above it, I know the line should not be damaged if we can just get closer.
The reel was almost back to full capacity and I hadn’t felt and damage through my fingers for the last 30m so I slowly applied more pressure. Always with the damaged line in the back of my head we continued to fight it out in open water, for the next hour what I gained back was quickly given back and a swift reminder of who is the king in here. We continued to tussle and then we finally saw the leader appear. Tail patterns now continued to show on the surface as my line whistled in the light refreshing wind, My arms and back continued to ache but I wasn’t done yet! Sweat was beading off my nose as the mid-day heat continued to beat this fair skinned Westerner up as well. Then suddenly it surfaced for the first time since I had hooked it. With a head like and Elephant and with a clash of its tail the drag on the reel went into melt down as dived back to the depths. I remember looking at my friend holding the 50” landing net and him chucking it to the floor saying, “well this is going to be useless”. I decided that we should slowly head back to shore and try and guide it into the specially made 1.70m retainer we had made. This was now turning into the fight of my life, fighting fatigue and exhaustion the factor 50 had all but disappeared to an oily puddle of sweat at my feet. Slowly we fought it out all the way back to shore were some locals had gathered showing interest of what was going on. Great that’s all I needed no pressure! Eventually this leviathan rolled on it side and as soon as I saw it take that first gasp of air I new we had it. We guided into the retainer and on closing the zips my main line broke in my hands. We rested the king for around 30 mins before we tried lifting it from its watery kingdom. This is when the reality kicked it in, I thought my friend was stood on the retainer, no it took 4 men to lift it from the water to the awaiting unhooking mat. At this point I must state there is a museum at this lake and the gentleman who runs it was present when we finally got the fish ashore. He told us they have a Chinese Black Carp was netted in the Museum it measured 164cm and weighed in at 75kg.
The same guy measured “The King” at 174cm in length and he estimated it to weigh in the region of 85kg. I then explained that I am more than happy at just catching and releasing and that our scales gave out at 70kg and I am happy with that! What an incredible adventure and more importantly a great testing expedition for new Prologic products, Tested to extremes!