This month started off being on work placement at Gardner Tackle. It seemed I had timed it just right as well as Lewis and Alan were going on a trip to Abbey Lakes in France to do some filming, and I got an invite too! We were leaving at 4:30am on Friday, hopeful of getting to the lakes before darkness and seeing some showing fish to set up on. After getting lost a few times we finally arrived at the lakes in the early afternoon. We spent an hour or so walking around to try and find any signs of carpy activity, but with most of the lakes only having defrosted in the morning after temperatures of -11 a few days before, it all looked a bit dead. In the end I chose peg 9 on Fox Lake which was on the back of the wind and gave access to a large area of open water. I had a quick lead around, but no spots seemed incredibly appealing so I decided to stick three zigs out for the first night and see if anything happened.

Essential chod rig components

With the rods out I set the bivvy up and soon had the Coleman going to warm me up as the wind was savagely cold. All too soon I had drifted off, sat on top of my bedchair, and woke up in the early hours to a fish crashing out 30-40 yards in front of me, and as I listened it happened again! My rods were fishing much further out at the moment, so I quickly reeled one in and replaced the zig with a short choddy and tied on a high attract CC Moore Optical Illusion pop-up and flicked it towards the range the fish were showing.

The first fish of the trip was this 41lb mirror from Fox LakeThe close in rod had savage liners all night, and the shows continued until just after first light. I really felt like I should have had a take so I reeled all the rods in and changed them to chods which I put at the same range the fish had been showing. About an hour later, we were all stood in my swim when I noticed the tip of the right hand rod slam down, the bobbin was at the top, but the alarm wasn’t making any noise! I picked it up, and the fish quickly kited left before going off on a long run. It put up a really good scrap for the camera, but soon was in the net. It looked a definite forty, and the scales swung round to 41lb, which was a new French pb for me so I was well happy.

I quickly got the rods back out, but the shows had stopped and I think the fish had spooked a lot of them with the way it had fought. I was going to stay put for the night in case they did turn up again, but the crayfish wanted to make sure I didn’t get another chance, as my baits were eaten off within minutes of casting out. This soon made my decision of moving to Heron first thing an easy choice.

My maize rig componentsAfter wandering around for a bit I chose to go in peg 11, which was on the back of the wind, and a patrol route for fish going into the open water from the famous peg 14. I found a clean silty area between weed beds at about 80 yards range, and chose to put my right hand rod on this with a two pieces of maize and a bit of glow in the dark corn on a size 6 Covert Incizor, which I then put five spods of corn and Live System crumb over the top. I then found another really hard area close in which I put two hinged stiff rigs with bright pop-ups and sprinkled some boilie over the top. The Pro Carp main line was slackened off as I had been told the fish in Heron were extremely line shy, and I was fairly confident. It was good to have a social with Alan and Lewis as we were now fishing close to each other, and we all seemed confident of a bite with the constant liners we were getting.

My first fish from Heron Lake was this dark mirror weighing 38lb 4ozAt about midnight, my right hand rod was beeping a lot, so I wandered out to investigate. As I got to the rod the bobbin smacked to the top! I lifted into the fish and it quickly dived into a weed bed, but with a bit of pressure it came out again. It put up an amazing scrap in the weedy swim, and with knocking knees I slid the net under it. It was an incredibly long and dark fish with a massive tail, and on the scales it went 38lb 4oz.

I got the rod back out and topped up with another few spods of corn and crumb and was confident of another bite. I was in again at about 2:30am, but this one was really badly weeded. After a lot of trying, nothing seemed to work so I left the rod on the rests and would go out in the boat at dawn. It was still solid at first light so me and Lewis drove round to get the boat, and after being out with Alan to de-weed a fish he had on (which turned out to be a sturgeon that came off) we went out to sort my fish. The line picked up between multiple weed beds, before a massive fish rose up from the depths and went off on a screaming run. It took about twenty minutes to get it in the net as I had never played a fish from a boat before and it was very strange, but good fun! In the net it looked massive, and on the scales it went 50lb 8oz, another new pb. I was completely made up, and my arms ached a lot of the photos of the two fish!

The rods didn’t go out very well on the last night due to the strong crosswind, but after the result last night I was more than happy. Alan woke me up in the early hours as he had a weeded fish, and after an epic battle in the boat he netted a new pb of 47lb 10oz! Shortly after Lewis let out a shout and it turned out he had caught a 55lber – three new pb’s in a trip!

My second French PB of the week weighing 50lb 8ozIt was an awesome trip, and a testament to the complex with the size and quality of the fish we caught, and a pb to each of the anglers! Hopefully I will have another trip out there soon as I enjoyed it so much. That’s the end of my fishing this month, but next month I should be able to get out a bit more, and hopefully bag a few.