During 2012 I was asked by a mate called Tristan, if I would I be up for a French trip in the autumn/early winter of 2013. There would be a group of ten of us so I said “yes”. The year flew by as I was concentrating fishing on Vinny.
About a month before we were all due to go to France the whole group met in a pub so we could meet one another, have a chat as I only knew Tristan. They all seemed a nice bunch! One bloke, called Ray, is a rod builder and I took the opportunity to ask his advice about a pair of old rods that I had. The varnish on it goes white and smoky in damp conditions. He told me what to do and I must say they have come up like new – thanks Ray.
The trip was booked for us to fish from Saturday the 5th October, returning on the following Saturday. We got Tristan’s van booked on the Eurotunnel, and decided that it would be a good idea if we travelled over on the Friday and found somewhere to sleep ‘till the following morning.
With the trip only a couple of weeks away I was getting excited having watched the DVD about the lake that showed some fantastic fish. The venue looked stunning and is quite a long lake of 23 acres. It had Islands, gravel bars, silt gullies – to be honest it looked more like an English water than a French venue…
I called Lewis at Gardner Tackle to get some bits for the trip – I wanted everything to be spot on. I needed some of the new Covert Hook Aligners in the nice C-Thru Brown colour. These fit snugly over the eye of the hook pattern that I was planning to use (Size 6 Covert Incizors) and by combining the Incizor and Hook Aligner with a sliding ring on the shank for the hair (which give the hook bait controlled movement) and to my mind created the perfect presentation tied up using 15lb Disruption skinned hooklink (brown to blend in with the lakes muddy bottom).
The skinned hooklink was going to be my main angle of attack, but I also decided that I was going to fish with a Hinged Stiff rig constructed using the size 5 Covert Chod hook tied to 20lb Trip Wire fished with a boom section made of the new Trick link in 20lb. It’s nice and supple and blends in really well with the lake bed. Whilst I was on a mission to get everything spot on I refilled all my reels with 16lb Mirage Fluoro main line – that way the mainline would be flush to the lake bed and out of harms way….
Whilst I was prepping I ordered my bait from Dynamite Baits as well, though I must admit I think I might have over done it when I received all the jars of mixed particle and hemp (both normal and with chilli!) plus they sent me a new boilie to test, to see how I get on with it while I was in France. It looked good, with a nice texture and it smells lovely all sorted. Time would tell though…
As planned, Tristan and I travelled over by Eurotunnel on the Friday, so we didn’t have any travelling on the Saturday. There was also another benefit to our plan, we would be able to chat with the group who were pulling off to gain some vital information about there week and to see which pegs were fishing well.
We got to the lake without any trouble, but we had to spend a few hours in the van because the gate was locked. Next time I think we will we will book a hotel nearby! Just as it was getting light a fella pulled into the road, wound his window down and said “You English fishing, follow me”. What a relief that was, as he opened the gate and let us in.
He showed us the lodge and shower block, which was all very clean. He then asked would we like a coffee? ‘Yes please’ we said, he seemed a really nice fella.
After a coffee we went for a walk round the venue and we both agreed what a stunning lake it was. The previous week’s group was packing away; it was a good idea to get there early and have a chat with them, as it happened they gave us loads of advice about the spots which had produced fish for them. They also said the biggest carp they had captured was a mid-fifty pound mirror, and mentioned that they thought the lake did not fish that well due to the weather.
During our journey to the lake from Calais there was heavy rain and on our first day it rained all day as well. I believe it switched the fish on as they started to fizz up and kept jumping out. The French man who managed the lake said it fishes well when it rains. This was great news for us, as the forecast looked wet for most of the week. I must admit I was dying to get a rod in the water but we had to wait for the rest of our group so we could do the draw for swims.
By the time the others turned up Tristan and I had a good idea where we wanted to fish. At the draw I came out first and picked the long chuck peg ‘number 26’. This was because I thought the carp might be pushed out into the middle as there were ten anglers in our group. Out long form ‘26’ was a gravel bar at a hundred and twenty yards that runs down the centre between two islands and this meant I would have a lot of water to fan my three rods out.
As planned, I tied on two rigs with critically balanced bottom baits using Disruption and Covert Incizors. I think the coating on the hook link material is first class; nice strong and robust. The third rod had the hinged stiff rig I’ve already described. This is the same rig I’ve been using on Vinnie. The Trick Link boom is definitely better than other monofilament boom sections as it blends in so well with most lake beds – plus it also kicks the hook bait away from the lead and is nice and supple which allows it to lay flat on the bottom.
I was going to use Covert Lead Clips which I use for most of my fishing; and as lead core is banned I made up three leaders, using 25Ib Gardner Mirage fluorocarbon. This was because I was fishing at range near gravel; I needed to make sure my end tackle was up to it. The bloke that was in this swim before me had been cut off a couple of times, so I knew that I needed to dump the lead within the first few shakes of a carps head.
First job was to get the marker out to get an idea of what was in front of me. I thumped it out and it went down with a donk so I popped the float up straight away. It was seven foot deep and I remembered thinking the previous fisherman said he had been fishing in five foot, right on top of the bar.
The weather forecast for this coming week was wet and getting a lot cooler, with light winds. This meant much better fishing conditions, so I dragged the float back until it just went to smooth, and letting the float up I found it was nine feet deep. I cast out more to the right, still at the same range, and found the gravel had gone from being about twenty yards wide to a foot wide! I lined it up with a tree on the far bank then cast out a little more to the right and then dragged it back – there was no gravel so I thought I would have two rods on this spot. The bottom bait left of the marker was positioned just on the gravel and the hinged rig on the silt. Onto this area I spodded out two jars of hemp, one jar of mixed particle and four kilos of Dynamite Tiger nut boilies in mixed sizes. For the third rod I put out a light scattering of a ‘Red Ammo’ (the new bait on trial from Dynamite baits).
Once I’d got all my rods clipped and marked up I went to see Tristan. The way we were spaced out I think every swim was good. We had a good social then I made my way back to my swim and got my rods out for the night – all sorted at last.
A little tip here – I dry some hemp in kitchen towel then I use the Gardner Micromesh PVA to make little bags of hemp seed, then when it melts there’s a little pile of hemp right by the hook bait.
It had been raining solid for twelve hours but at least now it was just drizzle – it didn’t matter though because I was still buzzing! I got my head down and about 3am the bobbin pulled up tight on my middle rod and I bent into my first Perrie carp. After not too much trouble I had a nice mid-twenty in my net nailed with a size six Covert Incizor embedded in its bottom lip.
I unhooked it in the net and let it go. I checked the point of the hook and give it a little tickle with the Gardner Point Doctor, re-baited and re-cast back on the spot – no trouble.
Tristan a couple of swims down, had it right off the first night I think he caught six carp up to sixty seven pounds! So well done, good angling. We didn’t get much sleep that first night.
When the next morning came, it was a lovely morning. The lake was flat calm and you could see fizzing in places and the odd carp stuck its head out. Over the course of the week my approach to the swim really started working, I kept the bait going into the same spots by the gravel bar and I had a total of fourteen carp, with a good mix of mirrors and commons up to forty eight pound plus a surprise orange koi carp, which was a mid twenty.
I had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed my time on a really nice venue with a good group of lads.