The opening of the fishing season in Varna. April 2014

On the morning of April 22nd, my family and I arrived in Varna, returning from a short “vacation” during the holiday period, as weekends are called in Bulgaria. The weather was wonderful. It wasn’t hot, around 20 degrees Celsius. The sea hadn’t warmed up yet, so even at the end of April, it’s usually not hot in Varna. “Comfortable e,” as the Bulgarians would say, pronouncing the last “e” as our “э”.


The peaches, cherries, and apricots had already bloomed and were gaining strength. The scent of blooming apple trees, combined with the warm rays of the sun and a cup of good coffee in the fresh air, set a optimistic spring mood and filled me with a sense of well-being.

There was one more day of vacation left, and the idea of opening the fishing season came to mind not exactly spontaneously, but quickly…

We only had one day available, so there was no point in traveling far. We had already prepared our fishing gear, bags, cases, and other equipment a couple of weeks ago during the general house cleaning, in the company of my brother-in-law.

We quickly searched online for nearby fishing spots or small lakes, known as “yazovirs” in this region. We found three places where fishing was allowed during this time of the year. Two of them were quite far away. However, the website of the suitable reservoir did not list any phone numbers for contact. Just in case, my brother-in-law sent an email with his contact information and a request for a callback. Unfortunately, no one called back.

Before noon, we managed to take care of an urgent matter that couldn’t be postponed. Then we quickly visited several shops, the market, and fishing stores. On the way, I called my friend regarding a fishing spot. He is a successful veterinarian and a keen angler. Despite his vacation being over and him not being able to join us, he later sent us a link to a website. Although he hadn’t personally been to this particular reservoir, his acquaintances spoke highly of it – Monastiri.

SiteHaving opened the webpage, and with no issues accessing the internet in Bulgaria, we quickly reviewed the information, identified the location on the map, and dialed the provided mobile phone number. Stanimir, the manager of that place, confirmed our fishing reservation but couldn’t guarantee accommodation options. However, that didn’t deter us.

Right after lunch, we loaded our gear, took three fishing rods each, placed a sleeping bag in the trunk, checked our fishing permits, and set off for our destination – the village of Monastiri.

The drive from Varna to Devnya flew by unnoticed as the highway allowed us to cruise at the permitted speed of 140 kilometers per hour. Exiting the highway, we passed through Devnya, an industrial town located 30 kilometers from Varna. We realized that we had forgotten to bring a flashlight. There were small “miner” flashlights available, but when it comes to camping conditions, a larger flashlight is essential.

We discovered a local shopping center in Devnya and found a hardware store where we picked up flashlights and some other necessary items. The saleswoman had a nice, genuine smile. She wasn’t rushing, as is often the case in small provincial shops. A conversation started, and another local customer approached. Of course, I let him make a small purchase without waiting in line.

08When the saleswoman calculated our total, it amounted to 36.80 levs. I had often been in China, where the number eight symbolizes wealth. I jokingly told the saleswoman that I didn’t want to pay exactly that amount and that I would rather take something else from her merchandise.

The saleswoman became curious and asked why. As the total ended in 8, I briefly explained my whim. Wealth is not given, it is earned.

I noticed a level, a metal pyramid on a sturdy string, priced at 1.80. We decided to take that item since we were starting construction in the summer and it would come in handy. The new total came to 38.60.

And as for the number six, or “shestitsa” in Bulgarian, which signifies luck for the Chinese, I am happy to share it with you, I said with a laugh, extending my hands forward with open palms. The saleswoman didn’t hesitate and immediately opened her palms towards me, saying that she was sharing her luck with me. We laughed together. In good spirits, we continued our journey to the village of Monastiri.

We asked the locals for directions to the lake as we were leaving Devnya and found out that we had just over seven kilometers left to go. The road was in poor condition. It took us a long time to reach our destination because the asphalt was broken in places and the noticeable mountainous serpentine road didn’t allow for high speeds. We weren’t in a hurry. Surrounded by forests, as we approached the village, we saw vast yellow fields planted with alfalfa.

Monastyri 01

Beautiful. We stopped, took a few landscape photos on our phones, and continued our journey. We calmly entered the village, looking for someone to ask for directions to the lake. Yes, this village was once thriving, but perhaps not anymore.

In the center, we encountered two boys around 12 years old and asked them for directions. They showed us the right turn and offered to accompany us. However, there was no space in our Chevrolet Captiva as the rear seats were folded down and loaded with our belongings, so we declined their offer. It was interesting to see that they weren’t afraid of strangers. Later on, we discovered that the doors in this village didn’t have locks, only symbolic closures. The population of the village was no more than 1,000 people. Children were transported to school by a bus to Provadia, the district center located not far away from Monastiri.

We spotted a small, ancient temple in the center of the village, presumably all that remained of Monastiri. I took a photo of it.

Monastiri 02


On the outskirts of the village, we saw an elderly man and decided to stop and ask him for directions. The lively old man told us that Stanimir is at the reservoir and Paul is there too, he added. We inquired about Paul and learned that he is an Englishman who retired, moved to Bulgaria, and now lives with his wife on the shores of the lake. We were amazed.

As we approached the lake, the road split into two. We chose the one that led to the left. Just 200 meters ahead, we arrived at a certain estate. It had a sturdy fence, gates, boats on the shore, and a large German Shepherd guarding its territory and barking loudly. It was closed. We stepped back towards our car to avoid upsetting the dog and decided to wait for a while. Soon, the owner, Paul, came out.

The appearance of the boathouse owner was somewhat cautious, like most Englishmen. For some reason, he was missing his two front teeth, reminiscent of Ovechkin. We had a conversation, and he explained that we should have taken the right turn to reach Stanimir’s place. We politely expressed our pleasure in meeting each other and said our goodbyes. As a former sailor, I expressed my assumption in the car, and as it turned out later, I was not mistaken.

Five minutes later, we arrived at Stanimir’s place. He turned out to be a lean and sturdy man in his early fifties, wearing glasses. A retired military officer, he was not originally from this village but had been living here for a long time. He was well-known to everyone, and he knew everyone as well. We introduced ourselves and got acquainted with him.

The time was approaching five in the evening. There was a decent breeze blowing.

There were several fishermen on the shore besides us. They were catching crucian carp and roach using thin fishing lines with floats. It was not easy to handle a float rod and a lightweight sinker in such wind. Soon they left, having caught about a dozen fish for their dinner, and we were left alone on the lake.

Monastyri 03

After inquiring about the lake’s features, depth, and fishing spots from Stanimir, we slowly started settling in the spot he showed us. As we were unpacking our gear, we realized that we had forgotten to bring a landing net for catching larger fish. What a mishap!

We initially set up one fishing rod each for carp, which are known to inhabit the lake. Stanimir advised us on the hook sizes to use. For bait, we used aromatic boilies, protein-based balls with a diameter of about 1 centimeter. We adjusted the reels and electronic bite alarms that signal when there is a bite. Then we proceeded to set up lighter and more mobile fishing rods. We decided to hold off on assembling the larger rods for catching catfish, which are also found in the lake, and instead observe the lake for a while.

We prepared our bait by making spring feeders – feeders in the shape of a spring with a lead base, into which we packed groundbait. About 15 centimeters above the spring, there was a leader with a size 10 hook. The tackle consisted of a thin but reliable braided line with a breaking strength of up to 18 kilograms. Just to be safe, I tied another leader with a hook above the spring. On the lower hook, I used a juicy earthworm, while on the upper hook, I placed sweet corn. We cast our lines into the water.

Stanimir mentioned that he had some errands to run in the village and would return around 8 o’clock. We had no problem keeping an eye on things in his absence.

After a timid nibble on my light tackle, I encountered a snag while reeling in the fish, and my rig got stuck in the reeds, which I didn’t notice at first. Rather than complicating things, I decided to set up a new rig with a single hook at the bottom – a simple and reliable setup. I carefully packed a couple of juicy worms into the feeder, and placed one worm on the hook. I spat on the bait three times for good luck and cast it out once again. The breeze didn’t seem to let up.


After about 10 minutes, as is often the case, the tip of my delicate fishing line bent in half. I grabbed the rod, made a swift strike, and felt a pleasant weight and resistance on the other end. With each tug from the fish, the reel emitted the beloved sound cherished by all anglers. The battle had begun. At first, the fish stubbornly stayed rooted to the bottom, refusing to budge an inch. There was a moment when I thought I might lose it again. But after some time, it slowly succumbed to my pressure and started moving. Judging by the feel, it was a minimum 5-kilogram carp. As we approached the shore, we caught a glimpse of its size and realized it was an impressive carp—a strong and sizable creature. The lack of a landing net made the task more challenging, so I had to bring it in directly onto the bank, luckily, a convenient spot was available.

Adrenaline surged through my veins. As the carp sensed the shore, it made an incredibly powerful surge, almost standing on its tail and unraveling about 20 meters of line from the reel. The fishing tackle held up!

Monastyri 04

After a couple of minutes, the fish grew tired and allowed itself to be pulled onto the shore.

My a triumphant shout over the lake heard Paul. He took a couple of pictures from afar, near his fence, for his blog, asking us to hold the caught fish higher. We invited him over, and he shouted that he would grab his electronic scale and come to us. While Paul was on his way, we took a couple of pictures with the trophy fish. Then, after laying it on the grass, we splashed some lake water on the fish, as we decided to release it.

Our carp turned out to be a record-breaking catch for this lake – 13 kg

In a good mood, with a bottle of whiskey, we spent a fantastic evening by the lake. We didn’t catch any more fish, but we didn’t mind. Stanimir let us stay in his cabin for the night, and he himself went back to the village around midnight.

The next morning, I woke up well-rested, and my brother-in-low started fishing with the first rays of the sun. I made a couple of symbolic casts later in the morning, but I had already had enough of the experience and impressions, so by lunchtime, we started preparing for the journey back.

As we passed through Devnya, I decided to stop by the little shop where we shared our success with the saleswoman. As I entered, raising my right hand in greeting, we clasped hands like old friends. Her name was Magdalena. Magda, as names are commonly shortened in Bulgaria.

“So, how was the fishing?” was her first question.

When I showed her the photo of the trophy catch on my smartphone, she gasped in surprise and laughed with her pleasant voice.

And you, do you believe in your lucky number six?


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