Fishing the tiny River Medlock and beyond

Fishing the tiny River Medlock and beyond

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Carp fishing and vodka in Moldova

Last week I ventured to Chisinau, one of Europe's least visited capital cities. England were in town for the World cup qualifying match against Moldova, a game that should get us off to a winning start on the road to the finals in Brazil. After a monster journey across Europe involving three flights I arrived at midnight on Thursday before the game the next day. Having booked a long weekend I had a spare day on the Saturday as the other lads were moving on to Roumania leaving me with some time on my hands. I had the foresight to pack a small bag of tackle and a telescopic rod just in case there was anywhere worth exploring. Searching google earth on the ipad revealed a few lakes within half an hour walk of the hotel, all I had to do was pick the one that looked easiest to access and keep my fingers crossed there were a few fish in it.
First though was a little matter of the match and up and out early on match day to walk into the City centre to meet the lads. The walk was a long one as I ventured into a couple of tiny bars to get a cheap beer, The cheapest pint coming in at a princely 42p. The lads tend to frown on my dinge bar expeditions so best to get it out of the way. Having picked up the match tickets and met up with the boys at midday we embarked on a leisurely journey to the stadium via numerous restaurants and bars. With a 9.45pm kick off we had a full day ahead. We even managed a power nap in the sun, which has become something of a ritual at away games.

We weren't the only ones having a leisurely stroll through Chisinau either. Bumped into Roy taking a walk mid afternoon near the team hotel, no doubt thinking through his team tactics quietly away from the camp, that is until he met us!

The game itself went to plan with a 5-0 victory. Roy must have drawn from our offers of advice in the afternoon obviously, and after a couple of beers it was gone 2.30am. Wanting to get a days fishing in tomorrow it was time to grab a couple of 50p Mcdonalds burgers and hit the road to the hotel.
Up for breakfast early and a quick last check of google maps to check the directions to the lake, I packed a small backpack and nipped to the shop next to the hotel for a tin of corn. It would have been rude not to have grabbed a cold 30p beer out of the fridge to keep me cool on the walk to the water. The road to the lake took me away from the City to the very edges of the suburbs. The gardens on the gradually deteriorating lane all had fruit and vegetables growing in them, people are self sufficient in this the poorest country in Europe. As I walked further and further I knew this lake could be a sewer pool for all I knew. Imagine my elation when I caught my first glimpse of what turned out to be a lovely lake filled with carp.

I managed to find a quiet corner and set up my travel rod with a very basic waggler set up, all the time watching large fish rolling all over the lake. If I hooked one of the bigger ones I wasn't sure my flimsy tackle would hold up. An hour passed and not a bite, then suddenly after a move into some more open water, the float slipped beneath the surface. After a gutsy but brief scrap I had a small carp on the bank, my first carp of the year as it happens, and I had come a long way to catch it.

I felt confident more would follow, and as the float glided away for a second time I was interrupted by the bailiff. I hadn't considered there would be a bailiff, and certainly not considered the language barrier that ensued. The extent of my Moldovan was to wave a 50 lei note at him, he was having none of it. So much for my bribery tactics. I agreed to walk round the lake with him to meet the owner. The reason for the security became a little more apparent on meeting the owner, who spoke broken English. He duly accepted my money as long as I didn't take any fish from the lake. They eat carp as a staple part of their diet in this country. I began fishing again in an area designated by the owner but I knew the fish were on the other side near the reeds and after an hour or so I decided to walk round and push my luck with him. I figured he realised I was here for pleasure and wouldn't be filling my Manchester City backpack with his slimy mirror carp. As I walked round, from the picnic tables came a shout. The bailiff was sat at the table and I thought I was going to get another piece of his mind, but quite the contrary. His wife spoke broken English and invited me over for a glass of home made wine. Result I thought! Not only did she pour me a glass of wine of very sociable proportions, she cut the large almond cake on the table and asked me to join them for lunch. This was my sort of fishing. She was excited to be trying out her English language with the real article, I sense they get very few English visitors to this outpost on the edge of town.

As the wine ran out I sensed my chance to get back to the fishing, but it was not to be. Out came a bottle of vodka. Now for anybody that has visited Eastern Europe you would know that to turn down an offer of a drink of vodka is frowned upon in these parts. Several shots later I began to make my excuses as I had a full evening to get through, to which I was promptly invited for dinner at the summer house by the lake. I politely declined based on the fact that I was the most sober, and dinner was to be two large mirror carp that had been flapping around in a plastic bag under the table, the rules of fishing are a little different in Chisinau.
I did manage to get a little more fishing in but decided time had run away with me and I needed to get some proper food. In the evening I visited a lovely restaurant on the edge of the city and decided against all my prior reservations, as this was a regional delicacy I did try grilled carp with roasted vegetables, and it was lovely. In true Manchester style I kept thinking though I could have had the same for free...never mind, my meal and several beers only came to £4 anyway. You tend to forget the prices at home when you are in these countries and I refused to get a taxi back to the hotel for £3 as the trolleybus was 5p!
So one fish to show for a full day out, but a day that was most unexpected. 
Sunday brought the marathom journey home but there was one bright point. I had seven hours to kill in Munich and left the airport to visit the world's oldest brewery in Freising a short bus ride away. The town was full of small streams and rivers and there were some nice rainbow trout and huge carp basking in the afternoon sun . It would have been a huge bonus had the security at Chisinau airport not taken exception to my fishing rod in my hand luggage and made me put my bag in the aircraft's hold all the way home. Some you win , some you lose, but just watching these graceful creatures was enough to round off an exceptional long weekend.