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Austrian Asp Hunting with the HTO Rock Rover

Visiting family in Austria gave Jake Schogler an opportunity to tick off a bucket list fish, an asp, nothing could preparing him for what happened next.

Jake Schogler recently came back from a trip to Corinthia in Austria where he was visiting family. In between all the family stuff, Jake got up early in the mornings to see what kind of fishing the area had to offer, and he certainly wasn’t disappointed! Jake takes up the story.

We were staying near Lake Worthersee, which would be the scene for most of my fishing; however, we also hired a car, opening up an opportunity to go exploring for a day, and what a day that was!

I went to a tackle shop to get a license for an oxbow lake off the river Drau known as the Drauschleife, which contains numerous species including asp, pike, perch and zander. Now asp were always a bucket list fish for me, and I was desperate to catch one, any size would have done, but I had no idea what was about to happen.

As with other lakes I’d visited, Drauschleife was another crystal clear lake, and the weather was a blistering 30 degrees with not a cloud in the sky. As the fish sheltered under boats and docks, I frazzled in the burning sun. Even in the morning, it was roasting!

I started with a search for perch and using the HTO Rock Rover and a dropshot rig (Sabpolo hooks, HTO Nebula FC, HTO X8 Nebula PE 0.6 braid and a HTO Mini Stick) I quickly found them under the boats. It was great fun seeing them dashing out and nailing the lure. They were very fired up!

I moved along the shore searching the area, and as with all these lakes I could see the sunfish in the shallows, I couldn’t resist playing with them so on went a tiny jighead rig, using a HTO Maikuro 1.5g and a couple of Gulp Angle Worms, I soon had another sight fished bluegill.

I continued to make my way around the lake, gently cooking in the Austrian sun. I came to a small tributary and amused myself fishing here with a 00 sized spinner for little chub and small perch, again, they were all sight fished. Occasionally I saw an asp cruise past leaving me frantically scrambling to put on a lure more suited to them, but always by the time I had re-rigged, the fish had gone. It was my fault, I couldn’t resist fishing for every fish I could see, and I could see loads!

If I had been on a disciplined specimen hunt I would have been ready but I was like a kid in a candy store and distracted by the multitude of fish!

My amblings around the lake soon became a sweaty trudge as I melted in the sun, I spied a big bridge crossing the lake and took shelter under it. I spent far too long under the bridge but there were some big perch there too and I spent an infuriating couple of hours trying to catch them. They wouldn’t bite on slow techniques like dropshotting as the water was so hot and clear. The big perch would follow the lure right to the edge before spying me and disappearing back under the shade of the bridge. I tried many different presentations but they were very hard to fool!

I then decided to try a vibration bait, the Hart Metal Vib 45cm and 10grams. A couple of casts with this and I was walloped by a big fish. It stayed deep and lumbered about tearing off on short runs. I was praying it was a big zander but as I got it closer I could see it was a decent pike. Silly fish, I had no idea why it went for a 4.5cm lure. The HTO Rock Rover proved itself again though and it was great to get a decent-sized fish on it.

I carried on trying to persuade the infuriating perch but they were having none of it! By this stage, I had run out of water to drink and was a mile or so away from the car so I decide to break out from under the shade of the bridge for a last half-hearted attempt at the asp.

I tied on a Duel Super Shallow Minnow and leaving my net and all my tackle under the bridge walked up to the lake 30 yards to a gap in the trees. These were to be my last few casts as I was about cooked!

I cast the lure out into the lake as I had done a thousand times before, I had zero expectation. The lure landed with a plop and a couple of cranks saw it dive 6inches below the surface with a good wiggle. Suddenly a streak of grey-blue pushing a big bow wave tore towards my lure at a ridiculous speed and with a massive splash, smashed into the lure. The hit wrenched the rod over instantly and it tore off at somewhere close to the speed of sound! The 1500 sized reel started screaming as if in agony as the fish stripped meter after meter of braid at an alarming rate!

I had barely time to breathe as this happened and I exhaled an exultant scream of “It’s a monster, its an asp!!!” Now while my brain tried to deal with this information the fish was heading for the middle of the lake on an astoundingly fast and unstoppable run. Meters and meters ripped from the spool and I started to panic, not only had I hooked this bucket list fish but it was an absolute monster on 6lb line, a 1-7g rod and 1500 size reel. I was terrified I would lose the fish but was also stuck marvelling in slack-jawed awe as it continued to accelerate further and further away.

Very soon the horrifying sight of bare metal flashed at me from the last few meters of braid on the spool. I had the drag set as tight as I dared and the fish didn’t care! I felt sick, the fish was going to spool me! Desperate to stop this unstoppable force I grabbed at the spool only to find it roasting hot, it was actually steaming from the brakes being pushed to the limit.

With under 10 meters of braid left I gripped the spool and brought the rod low and to the side to try desperately to turn the fish. It worked! Rather than continue its mission across the lake the fish kited left and I was able to start to regain line.

I gradually worked the fish towards me and got it halfway back before it took off again, more panic ensued as I had to repeat the process and now I was starting to worry about the hook hold. The to-ing and fro-ing continued like some form of bizarre chuckle brother sketch, but after what seemed like aeons the fish was a few meters from the bank. The wonderful 1-7g HTO Rock Rover was winning this fight of fights!

Then the cold horror of realisation entered my very being, my net! This most crucial tool of ultralight fishing was 30 meters away under a bridge and impossible to get to. Without thinking I scrambled into the lake waist-deep in the warm water, I had to land this fish! The beast was tired but always kept itself at arms reach, its big eye staring at me as I gawped back at the preposterous hook hold. One single hook of a size 8 treble right on the top lip! Time stopped, mountains crumbled, the world burned. An entire existence passed before I fumbled a shaking hand under its gill and another round its tail.

I erupted from the lake like a kind of Mr Steptoe version of Botticelli’s Venus, clutching a monster asp across my chest and deliriously speaking in tongues, thanking any deity that was listening. I then set a new world record for “asp sprinting” and popped the fish into my net and back in the water where we both recovered! The fish was huge, between 15 and 20lb and 85-90 cm long, a dream come true and lying in my net!

I had no right to come to the land of my family and on my first try, land this incredible fish. The HTO Rock Rover 1-7g rod was exceptional, it gave me the finesse needed to cast such a light lure, but also the strength and control to land a dream fish. There cannot be many 4 piece ultra light travel rods that can do this, but I am beyond thankful it could!

About the author

Jake Schogler

Jake Schogler

Ever since Jake was a little boy, he has always had a fascination with fish and fishing. Read more...