As the Easter holidays were coming up I was preparing for my trip to France for a week at St Leonards lakes. I visited the venue last year and had a great time including catching two forties, so I was keen to return at the same time this year.
After a six hour ferry journey to Caen’s, we drove another hour and a half to St Leonards Lake. We weren’t supposed to be there until Saturday, but Steve (the owner) said I could do the Friday night on the back lake as it was free. I set up in the afternoon in the reasonably mild rainy weather and cast my rods out for the night. In the morning I reeled my rods in and as I picked up my third rod, the line tightened and I was in (one of the weirdest takes I have ever had but glad to have a bonus carp). The scales read 19lb 6oz, so I took a few pictures and got her straight back.
I moved over to the big lake and went into a swim where the people before me had put quite a bit of bait in. I had 40kg of prepared maize and particles with me and I also mixed in about 7kg of halved, crushed and whole Cell boilies by Mainline. I put out two buckets most mornings, but as I knew there was a bit of bait left from the other people, I put out one bucket of bait for the night. I gave the swim a rest for an hour or two, so they could find the food and get a bit of confidence up. I got my rods out just before darkness and during the night I had lovely mirror weighing 23lb 9oz. That night the temperatures went down to lows of minus 6 and I woke up to a hard frost covering my rods, reels and bite alarms.
The following day was quiet and I spotted a few fishing on the surface. During the evening I walked around to the far margin where my hookbaits were positioned and spread another bucket load of feed over my spots using a Gardner Baiting spoon. I recast my rods a few feet from the far margin and at 3:00am my rod screamed off and when I got it in the net I saw it was a nice big common carp. I stuck it on to the scales and it read 30lb 6oz the biggest so far, so I took some pictures and slipped it back, before getting the rod back out. In the morning I recast my rods out with some fresh bait on and put a few more bucketfuls of bait on the spot. Throughout the day it was quiet but as the evening drew in I saw a few fish top around where I was fishing.
At half eleven at night my right hand rod screamed off, as I led the fish back I could feel it plodding and I knew it was a decent fish. Once it was safely in the net, I got it into the sling and the scales read 31lb 13oz, the biggest of the trip so far!
The following night the same rod screamed off and I was soon holding up a 29lb 8oz common carp for the camera. That morning at 8am my middle rod registered a slow take and I struck into what felt like a decent fish again. As I got it into the net I saw it was a stunning old warrior of a mirror carp. On the scales it went 29lb 2oz, it was a lovely mirror carp so I got her back as quick as I could so I didn’t damage her. I recast my rod out and at 9pm that evening I had a smaller common weighing 18lb 4oz.
Early Thursday morning I had two fish weighing 10lb and 22lb 2oz and at 8am that morning I also had a 25lb 9oz common carp. The fish had obviously found my baited patch, as has that evening I had another common weighing 21lb 15oz. During the night it was quiet and at 6am Friday morning I had a small 14lb common and a 17lb mirror carp. I knew I was in for a busy day, as an hour later I had one of the nicest fish of the session, a lovely 20lb 5oz silver common carp. The action didn’t stop here as a short while later I had another common weighing 23lb 12oz closely followed by a 23lb 10oz common at 10am! My last fish of the session fell in the early evening, another common weighing 24lb 15oz.
I kept my tactics simple and I used trusty Gardner end tackle that I knew would not let me down. My rigs consisted of a 30cm piece of Gardner Tungsten Tubing, a Gardner 2oz inline pear lead, size 8 swivel, Gardner Q Ring, 15 lb brown Sink Skin, a size 4 Covert Mugga hook, with a piece of XT Silicone Tubing over the hook to make a blow-back rig.
I am looking forward to going back there next year fishing again it was a great session and hope I will have a few more sessions like that in the UK.