In the early spring of last year Tom Oliver, Andy Loble and myself had a brilliant long weekend trip to France visiting a lake called Lac de Laneuville. We all managed bites, which given the freezing cold conditions, was a result! I managed 3 30lb’ers tipped by a stunning common of 36lb. At the end of march 2014 I was lucky enough to be heading back to the same venue with Tom and Andy again, but this time Gardner Tackle’s Alan Stagg would be joining us to do some filming and Andy’s mate Ben would also be coming along. With the vans filled to the brim with enough bait to sink the ferry, we were soon hitting the road and arrived at the lake in the late evening. The lake has some absolutely stunning big commons to over 55lb in, and it was these that all of us were hoping to stick a hook into during the week.
The light was fading fast, so we had a quick walk round the lake before drawing straws for the swims we would be fishing for the week. I opted for the swim which controlled the most open water and had plenty of fishing showing while we walked round, and also was conveniently placed near the lodge where we planned on having many BBQ’s!
The first night was spent just with single pop-ups on old rigs launched at fish that had shown, and I wasn’t that hopeful of getting a bite. I awoke at first light to fish showing all over the area, and I quickly reeled the rods in to have a thorough lead around in order to get ready for the week. Up to around 70 yards range the bottom was very solid clay, before it slowly sloped off into thicker silt against the far bank. I decided to fish on the edge of the clay, where I thought the cleaner bottom would lead to a better presentation. The next plan of action was to give them some bait! With the vast quantity of big fish in such a small lake, I thought that they would need to eat so I was going to give them plenty of bait. Into a large bucket went around 5kg of chopped and whole 18mm CC Moore Equinox, hemp, trout pellet and a good helping of maize. The final addition was some Antarctic Krill Meal and a good glug of the brilliant Feedstim XP, before I spodded it all out around the float.
The rods were the next thing that needed sorting. As the fish were very line shy the last time we had visited, my mainline was the incredible Pro XM which sinks like a stone, through to a length of CamFlex leadcore and a 3oz lead on a Covert Lead Clip. The rigs were the same on all the rods, my standard set up when fishing over a spodded area, with around 7” of 25lb Sink Skin attached to a size 6 Covert Wide Gape Talon Tip with a small Covert Rig Ring opposite the barb and a large Covert Shrink Tube kicker. The left hand rod went on a snowman rig, the middle on a maize stack and the right hander on a single bottom bait, to keep my options open for what was working on the day. With the rods out on the spots I spent the rest of the day sunbathing, before we all gathered round for a social and a BBQ in the evening by the lodge.
With the amount of lines in the water and the disturbance we had caused, it was understandable that nothing happened until the 3rd night of the trip. It was Staggy first into a fish, receiving a belting take on his middle rod. The fish put up an incredibly scrap under the rod tip but eventually it was slid into the waiting net. The immaculate common weighed in at 41lb, which was a new PB for Alan and what a fish to do it with! Over the next couple of nights Alan was in the action again, bagging a few more lovely commons to over 30lb. Tom also managed to get off the mark with one of the stockies weighing a little over 26lb.
It seemed that the majority of the fish were at the other end of the lake to me, but there was fish showing on or near my rods every night so I was sure that I should have been having bites. For this reason I decided on a tactical change so that if the fish were feeding with extreme caution on my spots I would have a better chance of catching them. The rigs were shortened right down to around 3” with the same hooking presentation but the hooklink made of 20lb Trickster. I then decided to use a 4oz inline lead just to give better hooking potential, and with these on the spot I was much more confident of a bite or 2.
I had also noticed a lot of activity in a small bay down to the left of my swim. It was extremely shallow and weedy, and for a long time I discounted it as small carp or roach, but the more I looked the more I realised it definitely was carp! I had a stalking rod complete with centre pin loaded in the quiver so I decided to give it a go on the 4th night after having baited the area but not fished it for a couple of nights. The rig was the same as on the main spot, and without too much fuss I had the rig on the spot hopeful of some action.
In the early hours of the morning it was the centre pin rod in the small bay that was screaming for attention! It put up in an incredible scrap in the shallow weedy water, but eventually Ben slipped the net under it for me. Tom and Alan were ripping into me saying it was only a small one, but once we lifted it onto the mat they were proven wrong, the scales swinging round to 36lb on the nose! It was slipped into a retainer sling in the margin to do some filming once it was light enough. I was buzzing to get off the mark, but it didn’t end there as before I had managed to sort the margin rod out, one of the rods on the main spot was away to a flier! This one felt big all the way in not doing much other than a few head shakes. Again, Ben was on hand with the net and this time it was a mirror weighing in at 35lb 14oz. It was slipped into the retainer next to the common, and was one happy angler after a bit of a struggle!
The change of tactics had paid off with a lovely couple of fish, but with a change in weather the fish seemed to vacate the area and Staggy managed to catch a few more at the other end of the lake. Tom also chipped in with an incredible 43lb mirror on the last night too, which capped off an excellent trip to this stunning lake!