It was time for my annual pilgrimage to France, to try and have a relaxed ‘holiday’ whilst doing a spot of fishing – although the lure of catching a carp or two always seems to over ride my ability to be sociable!

The group I was angling with for the week left on the Friday morning to avoid the chaotic Bank Holiday scenes that were liable to hinder our journey; this meant that we could have a leisurely jaunt to the lake and be ready to setup in good time the following day. The travelling tactics were a blessing as we arrived ahead of schedule at the chiosen venue ‘Etang de Pierre’. This is a 25 acre lake sandwiched between wolf infested woods one side and the picturesque River Moselle on the other. To be honest it was a very surreal setting.

When we got there it was time for the exciting part – where we had a draw for swims. I carried on my fine form of drawing swims and was once again last out of the hat (making it two weeks in row!). However, I managed to secure a central swim which offered me access to a large gravel bar with a healthy amount of weed on in the centre of the lake. To be honest it was an obvious feature for the fish to hold up near.

In the days leading up to the trip I had prepared some hemp and French maize. I used this combination in conjunction with 15mm and 18mm CC Moore Pacific Tuna boilies and pre-prepared tigers in Talin sweetener.

The first morning really was a scorcher and as soon as the first rays of sun dappled the lakes still surface it was already unbearably toasty to say the least! I wanted to get some bait out on one spot (as close to the bar as possible) so I proceeded to spomb out 5kgs of boilie, hemp, maize and tigers.

I put all three rods out with a simple snowman rigs consisting 25lb Ultra Skin combined with size 4 Covert Dark Muggas – each rig lovingly baited with an 18mm glugged Tuna boilie joined to half a white pop-up on it. Then it was simply they case of sitting on my hands until the carp got in the mood to have a good feed.

Predictably the lake came alive as soon as the sun disappeared; it really was like switch had been turned and the fish started to roll over my baited area. After that it wasn’t long into the hours of darkness before my first bite came, a real teaser of a take that was one of those that was difficult to decipher if it was a liner or a crafty carp trying to shake out the hook! After ‘umming and ahhhing’ for a bit I decided to pick up the rod and I was into my first fish of the trip! Whatever the situation, it’s always a real buzz getting your first take on a new venue and knowing that there were some really big French hogs swimming about in this lake (to over 70lb) I understandably had a few butterflies whilst playing it. After a pretty dull scrap the first one was in the net and weighed 42lb; obviously it was an excellent start.

I was fishing at around 110 yards with all three rods on the one spot – with the three hook baits approximately three rod lengths apart, so knowing I had two more rods on the spot meant there was no need to recast the third again until it could be accurately done in the daylight. At first light I had a second take which was a lot more positive as I had a one toner squeaking away from the ATT box! This was another 40+ fish so it was an impressive average to start off with.

I repeated the baiting tactics but decided to leave out the hemp because I wasn’t convinced that any of it was reaching the bottom after observations in the margin of how quickly the swarms of small fish were hammering it. The new simple mix of boilies and maize was deposited on the spot again and like clockwork, as the sun bathed the lake all the fish activity once again went quiet and it was time to find some shady shelter for the day.

An unexpected surprise occurred during the afternoon when I one of the rods was away, playing the fish in the bright blue sky with sun beating down on me was a very sweaty task but the prize of a 38lb common was well worth it!

I had to make a slight adjustment to the rigs I was using because the hook holds on the three captures were quite delicate, this could have been due to the fish not moving and feeding hard in the high temperatures so I added a Gardner Hook Aligner to the lovely big Mugga to make the hook act even more aggressively and catch hold in the bottom lip slightly quicker.

Again within hours of the stars illuminating the sky the baited spot produced another fish; this time it was in the shape of a prehistoric looking beast with huge mirror scales on one side that spun the needle on my scales round to over 47lb. I’d never seen a carp with a scale pattern quite like it so I was very happy and being a unit was a bonus too! Predictably the first light bite occurred and a welcome 36lb common graced the folds of the net.

It was after this capture I knew I was doing the right thing because my friend (Gary the grasscarp) was doing the pics for me and noticed the mess that the fish had left all down my arm! I was covered in a pre-digested version of maize and Tuna boilies that confirmed that the spot was absolutely rocking.

This pattern of events really set the tone for whole week, as the warm weather continued. However, on the final night the blue wheel on the ATTs was illuminated one last time and my final gift from the lake was a brute of a common that weighed 48lb 12oz.

After working fairly hard all week in tricky conditions my final tally was 14 carp (7×30’s) (7×40’s) biggest mirror 47.4 and biggest common 48.12.

Blow Back Rig – size 4 Covert Dark Mugga, 25lb Ultra Skin Brown hooklink
Lead Clip System
3.5oz Distance Pear Lead
35lb Leadcore Leader
15lb GT-HD
Covert Hook Aligner

15mm Pacific Tuna
18mm Pacific Tuna
French Maize
Tigers in Talin
Hookbait – 18mm tuna tipped with fake maize