Winter is that time of year when each fish becomes special. Fishing is complicated and the harsh conditions often make things even harder, but it’s worth being out there, in the damp and cold waiting for a green, gold and cream colored monster to warm you like a midsummer’s day!

On the water everything sounds muted, Mother Nature seems to have fallen asleep and every sane person is keeping warm indoors, apart from one! A frosted bubble of concentration forms itself around you as you concentrate. The key to success, when fishing at this time of year, is concentration as bites can be sparse and even after 8 hours of eventless casting and reeling, you must be able react instantly to the faintest nibble!

When I find a promising spot or when I just get that feeling that there has to be a big fish hiding beneath the surface, I will cast, cast and cast again and if necessary, fish the same zone nonstop for several days. The longer I spend tracking a specific fish the stronger the connection grows between us. That fish, you imagine it, dream about it and until you hold it, can still escape and disappear forever.

During the search, the adrenaline mounts and the longer it takes the bigger the final rush! Each big fish gives me the same kick, the same buzzing sensation and the same pleasure to have lured a freshwater beast. I admit that I have become a “specimen hunter”, it’s not that a small fish aren’t fun to catch, but all the lore and magic that surround catching a specimen is just addictive!

A mental and physical preparation has as much importance in catching these monster fish as using the correct gear. I use the Gunki Bushi 220XH rod to fish with the 20cm Roller Gun softbait and the Shigeki 230 XXH rod when I use the 20cm G’Bump. I pair them with the new BCR 400 baitcasting reel, new for 2016, I have been testing it for over a year and it has never let me down. Stay tuned, in a few weeks you'll be able to read the review I have written on this reel in the "products" section.

Success when specimen hunting is never guarantied even with the best gear and years of experience and it is exactly what makes it so special.  In the next article, I will go over the gear and rigs I use, and give you a few tips that I hope, will help you catch the fish of your dreams.

Until then, tight lines and be prepared to get hooked on specimen fishing!