In July this summer I went fishing in France, I had planned to fish a partiular club/syndicate lake in the Nancy area that I knew holds a few very good; big commons and some very nice back up fish. I booked the week via the owner, who I knew from a session I had done there a few years ago in the winter but on that occasion, because of snow fall, we had to cut that session short so a rematch was needed!

I got to know about this lake through a French carp angler, who I got to know via Facebook. I’ve fouond that having a big network of friends help a lot on your quest to find special places like this venueas I try to avoid the commercial fisheries dotted around France.

What we did not know at the time was that the club had stocked the lake 2 years in a row with small fish (the future big girls) – but me and my mate Timo Verlee ended up having a good weeks angling that had started of on a low note for me, losing a few fish!

First I sufffered a couple of cut off’s as the lake is a gravel pit and the clean gravel spots are full of very sharp zebra mussels. I started off using slack lines and flying back-leads but the line got caught between the bigger chunks of gravel and subsequently got cut off a few times. Sometimes you learn the hard way – and this was one of those occassions when the innitial approach simply was not the right way…

The mainline on the reels was the Pro ‘Light blend’ in 15lb (0.35mm). As leaders where not allowed I fished it straight through, using some 2 feet of tubing. Obvioulsy thi swas soon amended to with no more slack lines and I dispensed with the flying back leads fishing a tight line to that spot to keep eth line higher away form eth sharp stuff.

I also moved along a swim, just to the next door to get a better line angle and shorter cast to the spot and opted to fish in the silt in front of the big gravel bar and immediately started to pick up fish; but these were the small ones, double figure mirrors. Nice fish but they weren’t exactly what you go to France to catch, are it?

Nevertheless, I had a great week with a an old mate who I had fished in France with a few times in the past and was long over do so we’d set the plans whilst we were at the carp show in Zwolle. So the company was great and we had a good laugh and a few beers on the way. This is what angling in France is all about…

On the Wenesday I had another small mirror, followed by another take on that special rig that has been very kind to me this year (that Oz Holnes rig). This fish felt different and I told my mate ‘this could be the one’…

Yes! It was my biggest of the trip, a mirror that weighed in at over 33lb. That Ozzie rig is a very special rig and I have caught some good fish on it this year. It’s tied multi-rig style, but with very stiff 25lb Trip Wire (the chod section). This section is connected/tied to a length of Ultra Skin or a stiffer material via an Albright knot after stripping back some of the coating: one centimeter is more than enough!! The knot is used to mould some putty on to keep that pop up on the deck.

Bait wise I took a mixture of Mainline’s famous Cell boilies along with the new Essential Cell, all in a mixture in 3 sizes, 18, 16 and 14mm. I still roll my own bait at home using the base mix plus the liquid. I’ve been doing this for years and it gives me a lot of convidence in the bait that I’m using. I also feel that the satisfaction after catching is greater as I have made/rolled them myself rather than just coming out of a packet.

For his trip I also had a mix of particles, hemp, maize and some tigers that I mixed with some ‘Cloud9’ ground bait to give extra attraction on the spot and help cloud the water.

Hookbaits were my own special home made dumbells. They balance out perfectly on a blow back rig with a small ‘topper’ to balance it to perfection. The pop ups I used where again Essential Cell, eith Diamond White and Cell baits.

Tackle wise as I told above, Pro light blend line, Ultra Skin 25lb, Sly Skin 25lb and trip wire for my hooklinks, combined with size 5 Covert Chod hooks and Mugga hooks size 6 and some other covert bits. All stuff that I have a lot of convidence in using!!

On Thursday the weather changed for the better with some rain and more wind. It had been on the warm side dyring the first fewdays; not ‘hot hot’, but warm enough so the small carp where very active. After the change in conditions I had a few more small fish and a dark s grey mirror of just over twenty pounds. These were all nice fish, but again not what you go to France for. But we know the lake holds some realy big carp that I really would like the catch and hold up for the camera for you guys to see – so we’ll keep visiting the venue now and again…

On the last night I did the same as I had been doing all week and that was to spod out about 15 to 20 spods in the area of the gravel bar with a few landing shorter aswell, and also spodded out 5 spombs of the small stuff.

I decided to tie up my all time favorite rig, being the classic blow back rig. I fished it with a critically balanced snow man hook bait on 2 of the rods, and on the 3rd rod I used a wafter.

You know you’re rigs are right when you have 6 takes, landing all 6 of them! That size 6 Covert Continental Mugga hook is a winner every time I use them and I never leave home without a few packets!

In the end I had a right result that last night, landing 4 low twentys and a couple of very low doubles. 14 fish in total. I’d caught a few fish and enjoyed a great week in good company at a fantastic looking lake. You see it’s not always lumps in France, but I enjoyed every minute of my trip!!! My mate had a few carp as well, weighing in up to just shy of thirty pounds.

Tight lines,

Tommy De Cleen