July is our holiday month at work and I am forced to have a 3 week break during the worst fishing months of the year. At first I struggled with this rule, but after 5 years of being at the job I’ve got used to it and make the best of what is on offer! It’s good that I have another 12 days holiday in the year I can choose myself, so it’s not all bad.

It was my last day at work on the 6th July and on the 8th and 9th I went to Antwerp Metal Festival. I had a great time with a mate from work (a teacher) as I work in a school as a handy man. I’ve made a few friends along the way at school and Marc is a teacher who likes metal as I do, so it was a great weekend. On the 10th I was away on a 3 night trip to deep and dark Limburg in Belgium to a lake run by Theo. This lake is a new addition the bigger lake Theo runs and it has been stocked with a lot of stunning looking smaller fish (they will get bigger) plus a few originals that are still swimming around in this small but very nice looking lake. I already had an idea in my mind of where I wanted to setup. There are only 4 swims on the lake and I was keen to fish the snaggy area of the lake with two rods and one rod left of me to an out of bounds area (Theo told me to put a rod there).

It turned out to be a great trip as I landed thirteen fish and lost two, but all in all a great session and it was nice to catch after a hardcore spring fishing on the canal. Of the thirteen fish, twelve of them were stockies and all stunning looking fish too, so the future of the lake looks very bright. Tactics were Ronnie rigs and very simple blow back rigs with a wafter. The Ronnie was tied using a size 6 Covert Dark Continental Mugga, using the new C-Lok Flexi Ring Swivels, with a small amount of Critical Mass putty molded around the shrink tube. Recently I have been making my boom sections from a very stiff 0.70mm monofilament called Slinky, which I crimp due to its diameter. The blow back rigs were tied using my ever faithful 25lb Ultra Skin and a super sharp Covert Dark Mugga, which is my favorite hook pattern. On this session I started to dabble with a presentation that is a choddy style rig, which is called the Roddie rig. This involves the hook section of the Ronnie fished chod style. I had a fish on the rig as well, so it’s worth a try as the Ronnie is a very low pop up presentation and the hook holds are awesome with this rig when it is tied using a Covert Dark Mugga.

After returning home on the 13th I had a couple of days to get the gear ready as I was due to leave again on the 15th. I did the shopping, prepared some hemp with chilly, salt, black pepper, sweetcorn and other smelly Mainline liquids. On the morning of the 15th I was off to my friends Timo’s birthday party, who I was going to France with the next day. His Mrs came along with his friend Bjorn who has just started to carp fishing again after a few years away from it. Timo had a massive hangover and it was midday before we set off on the 4-5 hour drive to France. The venue in question was a French club/syndicate lake that I had fished before and is run by a friend of mine.

We got there around 5ish and I had a drive around and stopped off a few times to have a look in a few swims. Being summer it was quite busy and it seemed most of France was on holiday. We soon had three swims sorted that we were happy with. Timo and Bjorn started fishing straight away, but I decided to bait an area and leave the fish to feed without any pressure for the first night. I had five nights ahead of me and I thought four nights would be enough time to catch a few. I found a spot at a range of 17 to 18 wraps (61 and 65 meters) in the silt. I did find some harder gravel areas, but they were not within a comfortable casting distance, so I ended up fishing the silty area. Rig wise it was Ronnies on all 3 rods – two using pop-ups and one on a wafter just to see if it worked. It was very hot with 32° in the day and it was sticky at night, but we all caught our share of fish. The owner said that we should have made the trip in June instead of July, but I still had a great time landing five nice fish. I will definitely be going back as the stockies that went in last year are piling on the weight.

It was time to go home again on the 21st and I gave the owner some IB pop-ups as he loves them and he was like a kid in a sweet shop. On our way back I was already thinking of organizing another trip there this year (and who knows its maybe possible as my UK trip in Sept has been cancelled). I arrived back home late afternoon on the 21st and put on the hemp that had been soaking in the heat as I was off again to France, but this time with the Mrs. It was only the two of us, so we had made some plans to fish the lake and canal. The lake was on the estate of our holiday house/gite and I had this big lake all to myself and the canal only 600 meters from the estate.

The water level at the lake was very low and there was a lot of weed. I did not have a boat, so I had no chance of landing one of the lumps that were in this lake. I did see a few jump over the course of the week, but I generally just fished in the evenings as it was a holiday with the Mrs. We had a really great time and the fishing was a bonus. We saw some great countryside and nature. I had a few hours on the canal, but I did not put my heart and soul into it as it’s not always all about the fishing. We have already made some plans to do this again next year and rent a gite for a week near the river Moselle, but for now it’s back to the hardcore Albert canal.

Tight lines Tommy De Cleen