November, 2006
Total Carp

February, 2002
  Watertown Daily Times

  September, 2001

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Total Carp - Feb. 2002

Foreign Focus

Jason Cann takes a look at North America’s mighty St Lawrence river and the virgin carp it has to offer the holidaying angler.

Mid-August 2001

I was sat head high in Norfolk reeds that were laced with particularly nasty stinging nettles, legs cramping up, with the idea of placing a hook bait on a nice gravel run waiting for a prime barbell t come along. Before I knew it, one of three big chub darted out of a snag and beat the barbell to the bait. I had to strike and couldn’t stay crouched for any longer. The lactic acid (which is basically a cramp) was getting too much so I straightened one leg out, unaware that the other had gone to sleep, and fell very ungainly into the mud. The rod went in the water up to the butt and the big barbell shot off at a rate of knots! “Bugger this,” I said to myself. The fishing had been bad of late and it had just got worse. Before I had a complete sense of humor loss, the phone rang.

It was my mate John. I was just about to tell my tale of woe when he said without warming: “Do you fancy coming to America for a spot of fishing?” It took me all of maybe three seconds to decide when a definite “yes” was shouted down the phone. Plans were made and lunch was booked to sort out this trip.

I had not seen John for a while and didn’t realize what he and his work colleagues had been up to. It turns out that they have a very hot list of exciting fishing locations at their disposal and are running professional guided trips all over the world (I had not noticed this. Doh!)

The list was endless. Carp and catfish in America, Wahoo in Australia, Chinook salmon in Canada, game fishing for marlin in the West Indies and a whole lot more. I was staggered! My mate proposed a three or four day trip to promote the St. Lawrence River.

We were to be guests of his good friends, and now mine, Jerry and Marcy Laramay and their son and daughter. They are the USA connection and they own and run American Carp Adventures and a motel that is only casting distance from the main channel.


I had to do three things. Firstly, I had to pick someone to go with me. Secondly, catch a few fish and thirdly, take a few nice photos. Only two questions came to mind that I had to ask the guys. When were we going and who was guiding us? ASAP was the first answer and the second, as it turns out, Jerry is a qualified US coastguard/river guide with over 20 years of experience on the St. Lawrence. He’s also a top man in the US prison service so, believe me, you feel quite safe with him!

The Trip

When traveling and fishing abroad, you must go with good company, preferably some people you really get on with. Now, this is a must if I drive and fish in Europe, let alone go to the other side of the world, so I had three or four people who fit the bill. But who could make the dates? Well, as it happened, my old mate Frank Warwick could make it although, on the day we got back from the US, he had to fly out to France to film for the latest Gardner Carpwise video. It’s a hard life!


We arrived in the middle of the night, well and truly cream crackered, and we had not slept a wink on the plane. When we collected the luggage we didn’t even know which state we were in until Frank started to talk to this huge bloke who looked like he would eat Mike Tyson for breakfast. He turned out to be Jerry, our host.


A short trip from Montreal and over the Canadian border into the US saw our excited selves put into the Lakeview Motel on the banks of the mighty St. Lawrence.


I stepped out of the car and could smell the unmistakable scent of flowing water but it wasn’t until the day came that we fully appreciated the scale of this huge river.

The Fishing

In all, we did not get as much fishing in as we would have liked. But once we had been there for 24 hours, I got a feel for the place and got into a flow.

The size of the St. Lawrence can seem very daunting but Frank and I were not really worried. You just find the fish, let them have some bait and sit back and wait.

The first day, or afternoon I should point out (jetlag problems), was spent just surveying this magnificent waterway in a boat. The scenery is awesome but at the time, the only thing that I was interested in was the display on the screen of the depth finder we had on our boat.

I was amazed at how deep it was and how the depths really fluctuated. One minute you would be in ten feet of water and the next eighty. Jerry told us that the fish were holding deep water at the moment. I couldn’t understand this as there were hundreds of really good looking bays that all had between 10 and 15 feet of water in them. They should have been creamed full with fish and, considering it was September and the temperature was in the 90’s, there were none to be seen!

I couldn’t get my head around this but Jerry knew exactly where they were and took us to three of his favorite spots. One was even in the main shipping lane and when I say shipping, I mean big ships that you would normally see at a huge port.

These were monster tankers and freight ships 400 feet long, bound for various destinations around the globe and they just glide through your swims very serenely. It’s not like a canal boat going through. Just think of the Titanic making its way through your swim a dozen times a day! The strange thing about this is that when they go by, the water rises considerably. It can go from a few inches in the margins to a few feet in seconds before returning to its original depth!

The First Run

I wanted to see all the known hotspots before we started fishing. We didn’t have time to go searching about to try and find new swims (I will when I go back in the spring) so we stopped near a huge hydro electric power station that looked just right.
We chucked out and soon first blood fell to Jerry and Paul. Whilst they were battling with St. Lawrence carp, Frank was intrigued by something he saw that really got the adrenaline pumping. He said he had seen something about 200 yards out jump clean out of the water and was about five feet long. A missile was how Frank described it and Jerry reckoned that it could have been a big pike or a sturgeon. Something to go for later me thinks!

Myself and Frank had fish (Frank first) to low doubles and we well and truly agreed with Jerry that there were no fish in the shallows after studying them for ages without any sign of feeding! This was down to the water being 8 degrees above normal and the fish had decided that the comfort zone was further out in the deeper water. Jerry had already sussed this out and told us to fish in 35 feet of water. To prove his point, he even put us in the boat, showing us hoards of fish comfortably hanging in 35 feet of water. The beauty of a depth finder!

Frank, Jerry and Paul all hooked and landed fish at this depth but they had noticed that a few yards out in front, there were huge amounts of weed and a very rocky ledge. This proved to be very difficult when bringing the fish in, especially with the flow, so I decided to give them some stick (the others opted for a more gently approach) to get them through the snags. How wrong was I!

The first fish I hooked just hit the rod with amazing force and stripped 30 yards of line in no time at all. “Right,” I though, “you’ve had it.” Then the line parted as I gave it a little bit too much on the old stick front!
We had to do some brainstorming to overcome this and in the end, we decided to dish rods high up with loose clutches, playing them with the tip pointed skywards to draw them over the marginal shelf. This worked a treat with most fish out of twelve banked. By this point, it was about time for us to have some tea so we went back to the motel, buzzing and eager for the next day.


We very quickly found that our bright hook baits didn’t work as effectively as we had hoped. In fact, if the bait was not yellow, it was not worth fishing at all. This was consistent throughout the whole trip. Luckily, Frank had brought a good amount of his ‘specials’ (yellow hook baits made to a secret formula) plus I had a shed load of 20mm yellow pineapple ready-mades. We used these fairly exclusively along with maize and the fish didn’t seem to have a problem with them. Also, the channel catfish seemed to home in on the baits almost instantly and using the yellow baits was the only way of interesting the carp. Red, brown, orange, you name it, the catfish would love them and the carp would hate them!
Apart from boilies on the hook, we used maize. I had two fish on it but, bizarrely, Frank had none even when every one else was catching fairly well on it.

The best result by far was on the second day when I had come up with and idea the night before to bait up heavily in the swims. The baiting up mix consisted of a load of cooked maize as well as some of Jerry’s trout pellets. I had five big buckets mixed up into a massive, and I mean massive, method ball that weighed about 20 kilos. This was fed to a marker in about 35 feet of water (the fish’s comfort zone) and, due to the weight and consistency of the mix it dropped straight to the bottom and was mixed up so it didn’t break up too quickly in the current.

The fish went mad for it and at one point, I didn’t get a rod in the water for a good time because I was too busy feeding and netting fish for everyone else. I did have my slice of the action but, as they say, it never rains but it pours! My baits were a good 100 yards apart and just as I decided to take a refreshing slurp of coke, both rods ripped off simultaneously. I had to strike both rods before they were dragged in never to be seen again!

We all had very good bags of fish and some big ones did some out. The best fish fell to John and Nick who both had a forty just days before.
I can’t wait to get back in the spring and, if you’re wondering, the long flight is worth it. I must say a big thank you to Jerry and his family, Ultimate Angling Holidays and 1000 Island tourist Board for all their help.


See you all again in the spring.









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