The Biggest Carp In Austria | Kristof Cuderman
The first time I heard about FZZ in Austria was in 2008. It is located close to the town of Jöss, which is approximately 30km from Graz city. The name of the fishing club that manages the lake, and four other lakes – Aldrian, Oswald, Jösser See 1 and 2 – has the same name as the lake – FZZ. Each lake has its own characteristics, number of fish, size, and difficulty of fishing. I am sure any fisherman can find something for his taste there. You can find all the information at the club’s website: www.fzz.at
The president of the club is Wolfgang Suppan, who works closely with a dedicated team to maintain the beautiful surroundings of the lake, and takes care of safety and comfort of all anglers visiting the amazing waters. I can’t forget to mention what a great job they are doing with managing the precious stock of these lakes.
Lake FZZ is 8 hectares, and split into 10 fishing positions. A week’s fishing costs €190, and it’s €75 for a weekend package (Friday-Sunday). You have to make a reservation in advance and pay a deposit. The bookings are usually taken a year and a half in advance; right now, they have already started taking reservations for 2019, so you must be quick in order to get a good position at the time you want to go.
The gravel pit is 7m deep, with the average depth being around 4m. The lake’s bottom is very diverse, and represents a challenge for even the most experienced anglers. Although the lake is small, it has a reputation for being extremely challenging, and is not appropriate for complete beginners or inexperienced anglers. The massive carp which inhabit the lake are very cautious. Some fishermen have experienced a whole week without even having a single take. There is an unwritten rule that the fishing at FZZ is good if you catch a fish per day, and the average weight of the carp is 19kg.
This shows that the fishing club is taking great care of the lake. One of the people who has contributed greatly to the well-being of the lake is my friend Bernard Kelemen (Ben). He knows all the fish and has caught most of them many times. He also works as a fishing ranger there. If you happen to meet him at the lake, he will always be happy to help and give some advice.
The lake is best known for the biggest carp in there, named Erna, which is also Austria’s record carp. She reached her top weight in October 2014 when she weighed 41.5kg. Along with her, there are four 30kg+ carp swimming in the lake, and many over 20kg.
Despite its size, the water is very diverse, as in only a few metres scan there can be a huge difference in depth. Just as with the depth, the structure of the lake’s bottom is very varied. There are shallows created by rocks, along with big stones and fine sand. The complete opposite to hard raised areas are the spots covered in up to half a metre of mud. There are several weed species blooming in the lake, which appear on areas shallower than 3m. In the summer, the weed covers some areas of the lake all the way up to the surface. The beautiful surroundings look even more spectacular due to the water lilies growing by the shore in several areas. The water is very high quality because the lake gets a constant flow of fresh cold groundwater. Mussels cause a lot of problems for the anglers. There are plenty of them in the lake, which increases the chance of your line being cut.
As with any other lake, choosing the right spot is essential. At FZZ, this needs special attention due to the diverse terrain. When I am fishing there, I set my bait at depths from 2.2m down to 5.5m; this varies depending on the overall water level – the depths mentioned are measured when the water level is at its lowest. However, I don’t think depth plays the biggest role. The structure of the bottom where I drop my bait is much more important. The general rule of thumb is to find a hard bottom or the transition from hard to soft. Through the years of fishing the lake, I have noticed that most anglers only search for a hard bottom and put their baits there. I mostly stick to that rule, but I have managed to trick the carp several times by surprising them on areas of softer bottom.
To me, soft bottom is an area that is covered in approximately 5-10cm of silt. I have noticed that there are days when carp only take the bait on the soft areas. They search for their natural food there, so the chances of catching one are very high if bait is put on that spot. In my opinion, the best tactic is to set each bait on a different type of bottom, and test to see where the carp are feeding. From my experience, one thing I can tell you for certain is to stay away from areas covered in 15cm or more of silt.
Appropriate gear is a must due to varying lakebed and weed. I use Exocet 0.40mm line, and for the last 15m I use Illusion Trans Khaki Fluorocarbon 0.50mm. I use the fluorocarbon because of the large number of mussels, rocks and stones in the lake, and I am less likely to get my line cut on the obstacles. Also, it’s super-important not to apply any pressure on the line from the shore.
Once we get a take, we have to get into a boat and go to the carp. We can only start playing the fish once we are above the carp. If we were to put pressure on the line from the shore, it would probably break immediately after coming in contact with mussels or sharp rocks. For the rig, I use Coretex Matt 35lb and Arma Point SSSP Size 4 hooks.
I visited the lake for the first time in June 2011. It represented a huge challenge for me, as I had heard and read about the difficulty of fishing there. I love the challenge of new lakes because they each need a different approach. The biggest reason why I went there was my goal to catch Erna, which weighed 30kg+ at the time, and back then, I had never caught a carp over that weight.
I was exploring with my boat, trying to find appropriate spots to place my baits, and I was completely shocked. The lake’s bottom was so diverse, and I needed to spend endless hours placing the baits correctly. It might seem unbelievable to some, but sometimes, on some lakes, just 50cm difference can make or break the chance of success. I have experienced it a few times myself.
One example was in 2013, when one of the small areas that I saved into my GPS was consistently producing two to three takes per day. On the fifth day of fishing, I was a bit imprecise when placing the bait, and I dropped it approximately 1m to the left. I only realised this when I went to check what was going on with that rod, as I hadn’t had a take in over a day and a half. I corrected my mistake and placed the bait where it should have been in the first place. In the following days, the rod placed there started to have constant takes again. Similar situations happened on several occasions, which makes me pay extra attention to every detail now.
It was love at first sight with the FZZ lake when I first arrived in 2011. I can honestly say that the lake is just to my taste, and it offers everything that I love about fishing. I never imagined I would manage to catch my target fish on my first session. I caught Erna on the fifth day of fishing. After a few minutes of the fight, it became clear that the carp on the other end of the line was massive. I played her for more than half an hour, and managed to slip the net under Erna. She weighed 30.6kg, and I was ecstatic. I had improved my record at the time, and it was my first carp over 30kg. It was beyond my imagination to think that I would get the chance to hold such an amazing carp in my hands three more times in the future, and improve my PB each time.
In 2012, I did a 9-day fishing session, which is one that my friend Srečko and I will remember forever. We both improved our personal bests, and between us we caught 24 carp over 20kg. It all just went so smoothly. On the third day, early in the evening, I managed to land Erna, weighing a record-breaking 34kg. It was her biggest weight so far, and a record for the lake at the time.
A little over a year later, I met my old friend again. I managed to trick her on the eighth day of fishing, one day before going home. It only took me a few minutes to realise that the carp on the other end of the line was Erna, as the fight was the same as the first two times. Erna usually swims slowly during the fight, and sticks completely to the bottom, and I could feel a huge weight on the rod. Every time I caught her, the fight took me between 20 and 30 minutes. Seeing the shadow of the fish below my boat, I knew it was her. This time the scales showed a little under 36kg. It was potentially a new Austrian record, so I called Wolfgang, president of the fishing club, and two other anglers to witness the weighing. Precise weighing showed 35.9kg, so I managed to improve the Austrian record by 300g. This time Erna was caught on Dynamite’s Crave 20mm boilie in combination with a Crave 15mm Fluro pop-up.
In 2014, Erna was caught at a record weight of 41.5kg. I only get to go to the lake once a year, so I always make the most of it. Usually we have a 9-day fishing session, but this time we made the reservation for 13 days. I really wanted to catch Erna at 40kg+, and in 2016, the chances were perfect.
The fishing started very well because I managed to catch eight fish during the first 3 days, the two biggest being 24.8kg and 24.2kg carp. I had a good feeling and I thought things were going well. On the fourth day, I was fighting a carp, and after 5 minutes I thought that it might be Erna. It took me 20 minutes more to see my old friend – it was her! I managed to get her into the landing net on my second try, and I was so relieved.
This fish really grew close to my heart through the years, so I just sat in my boat for a while, observing her. I was almost certain that the scale would show very close to 40kg, or even more! That was the magic number for me. My father helped me pick up Erna from the water, and I was really nervous to weigh her. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite 40kg; the exact weight was 39.8kg. We used two different scales and both showed the same. I was extremely happy nevertheless.
It might sound strange, but the feeling of catching the same carp again is like meeting a good old friend after a few years. I was happy to see the fish do well, be healthy and OK. If the fish grows, that’s an additional sign that it feels good in its environment.
This time I caught Erna using the new boilies from Dynamite – Complex-T 20mm. The interesting thing is that each time I caught Erna I used different boilies, but one thing all four boilies have in common is that they are all fishmeal with a deep flavour profile. I caught her on three different small spots. The second and fourth time, it was the exact same location. The depth there was 3.8m, a completely hard bottom that was covered with a 5cm mixture of fine sand and mud. The spot measured approximately 1.5 x 1m in size.
Lake FZZ is a place very dear to my heart. I love going back every year, and I just can’t live without the pleasure of catching the magnificent carp in the lake again and again. The lake and the carp have given me so many great memories and lessons. I would like to thank the fishing club of FZZ and president Wolfgang for creating such an amazing lake.
The fishing club is a great example of how to successfully manage a lake. The number of carp in the lake is just right to keep them all healthy and growing. You don’t get a lot of takes when fishing there, that’s for sure, but this only seems to intrigue the anglers even more. It is a great challenge for even the most experienced anglers. Members of the fishing club are always super-nice and helpful. Good company, beautiful surroundings, and massive carp are every fisherman’s dream. I highly recommend that you visit Lake FZZ, or one of the other four lakes that the club manages. cw