If people ask me if I have a target fish I would like to catch, I tell them I have a couple. Probably between 300 and 400, all mirror carp and I already have them on a photo but I didn’t catch them (all). When people hear this raise their eyebrows, thinking I’m crazy. That last thing is in some ways probably true, but that is another story… Of course, this story needs some explaining. The number of carp I was talking about is big, even so big, that I’m sure I can’t even catch them all.
I’m talking about the Dutch SKP (translated Mirror Carp Project). This is an initiative of carp anglers in collaboration with the national and local municipalities and fishing associations. Together they look at how they can increase the carp occupation in public waters in a responsible manner. This initiative releases only mirrors for a special reason. Mirror carp all have a unique scale pattern, which can be compared to a fingerprint. Even after 20 years, you can recognize a mirror carp due to his unique scale pattern.
To map the behavior of the carp, photos are taken of the left flank of the fish during the release. These photos are archived and when someone catches a mirror carp they can send a photo to the local fishing association. They then check whether the fish is in their database. If they cannot find it, they check whether surrounding fishing associations have released it.
They have been working on this project for over 20 years at my fishing association. I have been involved for 5 years. After all these years, we have built up a large database of all fish that have been released and when they have been caught. This has provided many interesting insights into how fish migrate and grow.
The target fish I wish to catch is the number of fish that have been released in recent years. I have seen, held, and photographed them all on release. Upon release, they were around 2 to 3 kilos and the largest that recently have been caught are around 14 kilos. It is therefore extra special for me when I catch one of these fish.
I like it quiet en peaceful when I’m fishing and in the summer it is very busy with other fishermen in local waters. That’s why I spend most of the time catching these mirror carp in the spring and autumn.
In the fall I like to set up a big feeding campaign, but in the spring I hardly feed. Just a simple wafter or snowman with a PVA stick or some pellets will do the trick every time for me.
Because the fish are still a lot between obstacles or under bridges in the spring, I prefer using my bait boat. This tactic keeps me flexible and I have the opportunity to easily relocate. With a bait boat, I can drop my bait on places where it’s not possible to cast, and in springtime that makes the difference for me.
This year I have already caught several fish that we have released in recent years. A special meeting after all those years. It’s nice to see how the fish grow and even restore from previous injuries. Due to the beautiful weather, it’s becoming really crowded at the bank. So for me, it’s enough. I will chase the mirrors again after the summer and I will look for quiet spots elsewhere in the Netherlands.
Raymond van Ommeren