The Experience of BIn El Ouiden – Morocco
The thought of fishing out in Morocco was something that had not crossed my mind, I was seeing on Facebook on a regular basis pictures appearing of people making the trip and the pictures of the fish and the backdrop was something unreal, but with so much water still to explore across Europe it was one destination that for now would stay at the back of my mind.
That was until good friend Lee Petit brought it up in conversation during 2017 that he had booked a group booking and was I interested in joining them in February 2019 if I could find someone to make up a pair. I had fished out in France a couple of years previously with Lee and sat next to a lad called Elliott Reading, an accomplished angler in himself and the time I had spent with him I had thoroughly enjoyed his company and he was hands on out after helping me get my car started after a flat battery in the middle of nowhere and with Morocco not being your typical French commercial water with all facilities at hand, he was the partner in crime I needed.
I dropped a message to Elliott and was pleased when he came back and said let’s do it and with the trip now some 18 months away it was put in the diary and for now forgotten about. I had popped up to see Lee at his fishery at Westmoore Farm in Lincolnshire a couple of months later and it was then he said he now had two spaces available for a trip in February 2018 after a couple of lads had dropped out and did I fancy it, well a quick message to Elliott and a yes from him and the reality of Bin El Ouiden was now only months away.
The months soon passed and with being an accountant the month of January is my busiest time of the year with the Self Assessment tax return deadline and that month always goes in a blink of a eye and February was now upon us and my fishing head was back on and time to prepare.
At the end of January I had managed to get down to one of the carp shows in Essex and knowing Lee Petit was their on a stand promoting his fishery I was able to catch up with him and get a better understanding of what I needed, both tackle wise and in general. A visit to the PB Products stand and a catch up with Jonathon Greenall I opted for the control line in 24 lb as opposed to going for braid which would have been my first option with the rocky terrain, but Lee had pointed out to avoid braid, with the amount of fine clay particles floating in the lake and the local net fisherman leaving nets and ropes in the lake, the use of braid may have spooked any fish as the particles built up over the session.
To support the line further I then went for a good snag leader in the form of the ‘Shield’ along with my favourite size 4 Curved KD hook to be fished Ronnie rig style and the ever reliable jungle hook in size 2 to present snowman rigs.
With the end tackle sorted it just left me now to sort a bait out I’d be happy with, when your fishing a 15,000 acre lake attraction was now my main focus and first choice was the Mainline Baits high impact ‘high leakage pineapple’ in 20mm as free offerings, along with the high impact ‘essential IB’ 18mm pop ups, which I then soaked for a couple of weeks prior to the trip in Mystic spice for added attraction.
Other then speaking with Ian Carter at Carters Leads and getting some 8oz and12oz leads ordered I was now ready and with my two large 23kg bags now packed I went out with the family on the Sunday lunchtime for my last English meal and to spend some quality time with them before it was time to head down the M1 to Gatwick and meet up with the party.
As with any trip away with friends the excitement and stories were in full flow and after a couple of beers we headed to our rooms ready for the early start. With the alarm now ringing at 5am the day had finally arrived and the usual carnage of trying to organise a party of blokes to get a plane began. The first problem we had was when the airport bus arrived outside the hotel to take us to our terminal and having large bags and the bus already packed, we were only able to get a few of us on there at a time, to the point by the time Lee arrived at the airport and was checking in his luggage, the gate had now closed and the system shut down on him leaving him and his son Jack left behind with three of us making a mad dash to the gate, despite every sign we passed saying ‘gate now closed’.
By the time I reached the gate out of breath having done a early morning Marathon, Elliott was saying to the girl behind the desk here he is and was promptly followed by her saying I’ll let you two on and that is it, with paperwork sorted a very out of breath Dave then emerged behind us and thankfully she also let him on and as the three of us entered the plane, now fifteen minutes delayed the clapping and cheering started from those lads already seated, next stop Marrakesh.
A quick flight soon had us standing at baggage collection and as my two bags rolled around the carousel that relief of them safely arriving relaxed matters, although with Elliott checking in late for the gate the next drama was that his rods had been taken off the plane back at Gatwick and after a slight delay they were traced and agreed to be sent out on the next flight, which Lee and Jack would be on and could then bring to us.
The drive through Marrakesh was an experience in itself with every car and scooter for themselves, but after a few hair raising moments we were soon on the rocky roads heading towards the Atlas Mountains.
One thing I forgot to mention was that two weeks prior to our trip Morocco experienced its first snow for 20 odd years and as we got nearer and nearer to the mountains the bright afternoon sun was lighting up the mountain peaks which in some places had 4-5 meters of snow on them, the snow itself presenting the problem of it melting off the mountains into the streams and then into the river that fed the lake bringing with it rising water levels and an abundance of cold water.
What seemed liked an endless journey after going round corners and higher up into the mountains we finally caught our first glimpse of the great Bin El Ouidan, all 15,000 acres of it and it was a sight to behold. That moment you glance over the water and realise the sheer expanse of water brought a lump to my throat, I’d never fished anything of this size and that in itself was going to be an experience and a challenge.
That first night we stayed at the hotel where the fishing is run from and my first taste of Moroccon food soon had me reaching for some biscuits, I ordered a salad to play safe and can safely say didn’t recognise one item of salad as we know it in England, so settled on eating some spaghetti balonase, despite not liking it back in England, it was at least some food inside of me.
The next morning with Lee and Jack now safely arrived we were together as a group and the choice of swims was now the priority of the day. I had spoken to a couple of lads the night before who had caught carp over the past couple of days, so I had an idea where the fish were held up, funnily enough the opposite side to where the river entered the lake bringing with it the cold water.
With these swims already taken for the next couple of days, we decided on a swim opposite them, named spot de grant, I say opposite about a mile and half opposite them to be precise, so in theory no where near the fish, but we had agreed we would start here and then move over to where the fish were being caught from the lads vacated the lake.
The two days in that swim was a big learning curve, seeing depths down to 30 meters as we went over the old riverbed in the boat to fishing at 400 yards on a 8 metre plateau where it dropped off at the sides to 30 meters was certainly something I’d never experienced before, but despite no signs of any fish we made the most of it and enjoyed our time over on that far bank and as mentioned before with Elliott being a hands on type of guy, endless supply of sausage and bacon cobs followed and we enjoyed the evenings around a camp fire.
I was just out in the boat collecting all the marker floats when the main boat was heading towards us to pick us up and take us over to the opposite side, with the gear all packed down we loaded the boat and in no time was now sitting looking out at the water in front of us in the new swim, named as Mikes Corner. The fish had been coming mainly from the left hand side of the swim and Elliott went this side and me to the right and with the sun now high and the days hot and with the cold water coming into the lake it was the case of trying to establish what depths the fish were feeding at. With no obvious features on the sonar and just a gradually declining lake bottom, I opted to fish the three rods at 6, 7 and 8 meters with the plan to bring them in closer and shallower as the week went on if nothing was happening.
That first night passed without any action to either of us, but the next day saw Elliott land his first fish an upper 30 common and he had achieved his dream of landing a North African bar of gold from Bin El Oidan. Spirits were high as fish could be seen showing out in front of us. Again Elliott was the next away again and this time a 40lb bar of gold put a huge smile in his face, I was starting to feel the pressure slightly as the fish were just not coming any further right, but I shouldn’t have worried as the middle rod let out a bleep followed by a one toner and my first experience of being hooked into a Moroccan carp followed.
Like any first fish from a new lake, every ping of the line as the ‘shield’ leader was doing the job against abundance of rocks that were scattered along the lake bed had my heart stopping, but after a spirited fight I slipped the net under a low 20lb mirror and having those photographs taken in the early morning sun put a huge smile on my face.
With the rod now repositioned back on the spot, it was time to sit back and take it all in, I sat back with a cup of Yorkshire’s finest tea and lit a cigarette and before I knew it the right hand rod pulled tight and I was back in the waders and out into the lake, Elliott was behind me now recording the whole event live for Facebook and it those videos you look back on and remember the moment like yesterday, the fish kited left towards Elliott’s rods, but with some careful persuasion I turned it and got into the net first time and there lay a low 30lb bar of gold to put the icing on the cake of a great adventure.
Although there was still two nights to go, our camp was buzzing, but with one more run to my right hand rod, the line must have got caught underneath a rock and was acting like a pulley system and eventually the line parted after the leader and that was the last of the action we received as the shoal of fish moved out the area.
The last couple of days passed far too quickly then we would have liked, but with no shower for the past eight days it was nice to get back to the hotel and get cleaned and freshened up and ready for the trip back home. The airport fiasco coming out, thankfully was a lot easier going home, although with having temperatures in the high 20’s/low 30’s the past week the thought of returning back to the UK with temperatures of -4 and heavy snow certainly brought you back to reality when you stepped off the plane at Gatwick.
Although the swims on Bin El Oiudan were probably about a mile apart from each other, I didn’t actually see anyone all week other than Elliott, but the group chats on messenger and the travelling together and the laughs shared made a fantastic group and the memories of Morocco 2018 will stay with me forever, not long now until Morocco 2019!!