A Group of friends and I decided to have a trip to France as part of my Stag do this year, and having been to Brittany Mills twice before I knew it was a lovely venue. With two lakes to choose from I opted for Mill Lake, as it offers more of a challenge with a variety of strains of carp to around 60lbs. After a speedy flight from Southampton to Nantes and a little over an hour’s transfer as part of the package, we arrived to be greeted with less than carpy weather.
Soon after arriving I took a turn for the worse and started feeling ill with severe stomach cramps and ‘the trots’. The first 24 hours were spent observing the water and not feeling at my best, only being able to drink water. However, after a bit of medication and some proper grub I was on the road to recovery. I had watched where the carp were showing and I decided to clip up all three rods tight to a far margin at around 80-85 yards range with them spread around three metres apart. The lakebed that they were showing over was extremely rocky and broken as it was tight to a 300 year old dam wall in around 3-4 feet of water. Initially I baited with 3kg of Mistral 4 season and Day Ticket from Leon Bartropp’s range of boilie’s in both 15 and 20mm. I then decided to rest the swim letting the carp feed without any Angling pressure.
The Rig I decided to use comprised a size 6 Covert Incizor, Covert Pop Up Hook Aligner, large Covert Rig Ring, bait floss, 15lb Brown Sink Skin as this is a little subtler than 25lb and I felt would take to the contours better yet still being plenty strong with the added abrasion resistance of the plastic outer coating. I added a large Target Rig Stop 2 inches down from the hook eye and moulded just enough Critical Mass Putty to produce a slow sinking 15mm Day Ticket pop up so that the D-Rig could flutter down slowly and rest onto the lakebed. The rig I incorporated a 5mm stripped section created by the Stripper Tool to aid in free movement and increasing hooking potential. The length of the rig was around 7-8 inches in length.
After resting the swim, I put out the rods to the chosen area after dinner and put in a little more bait. I started catching the following morning and kept the bait going in generally about four kilos each day. I was constantly readying rigs with clinically sharp Covert Incizors cut back with a hook file and then touched up with a Point Doctor. I kept the swim bait after each capture and literally kept it going in and as the weather improved through the week so did the fishing.
On the Thursday evening I was made to dress up as what can only be described as a badly dressed hooker, so the guys got there revenge on me for all the banter I’ve dished out over the years. I didn’t mind reeling in for one night as my football team Chelsea were playing in a big European game and I owed it to the guys to have a drink and a laugh. The owners Steve and Andrea kindly let us use there TV in the dining area plus they threw in some champers and nibbles. The night ended up being a most memorable one and most went to bed with a sore head.
Being uber keen I topped up the swim in the darkness despite feeling a little tired and jaded from the drinks consumed that night, ready for the morning and set my alarm and was back on it on first light.
My brother and fishing buddy Rick were having a tough time with only a fish a piece. After a bit of help and knowledge shared I got them both onto winning ways resulting in some memorable captures. An observation I made early in the week was how the lake was dominated by bait boats, so my baiting strategy replicated a tight baiting pattern, I found this to have more instant results, I decided at the start of the week I was going to employ a boilie only approach and not use a boat as I felt this would have been less rewarding. The boilie only approach clearly worked as I had only the intended species, not that this is an exact science, but in my experience beds of pellet encourage the catfish, bream etc.
The bites continued and I felt I had got the swim rocking and by the end of the week I managed 24 bites and landed 22 Carp to 40lb 0oz. I feel given the conditions if I had not worked the swim the way I did, been as fussy about hook sharpness, I would have had less than half of what I caught. I think the next nearest angler to me on the scoreboard was about 8 Carp although my brother did manage a mint 40lb 8oz common and our friend Big J had a Chunky 41lb 8oz mirror, and the other boys Sean, Rick, Melv, and Pith having some nice fish albeit not as many.