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   Old Thread  #222 16 Jan 2018 at 11.31am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #94
Even though the fish in Rashleigh are now different, would you say the swims you discuss would still be the best starting point on this lake?
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   Old Thread  #221 16 Jan 2018 at 9.53am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #101
Really enjoying reading all of this. I grew up doing a lot of time on the duck pond. Never had any of the really good ones but mates had really good ones like starburst, pet and big common to name a few. I haven't done any Carp angling for a long time but my 7 year old recently spotted all my old kit and has been keen as mustard to go so have ended up applying to join RAC. Never joined back in the day but do remember sneaking in to "treesmill" one day to have a look around and seeing you pop out of your bit you not looking too impressed!

Really looking forward to getting up to Rashliegh as, although the fish are now different than back along, it is somewhere I always wanted to fish. Really enjoying reading about places I can relate to.
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   Old Thread  #220 12 Jan 2018 at 3.28pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #219
This trio of carp was just the start and yet more long, grey, humpy-backed mirrors came along shared among the three of us. Often carp would pick up two or three hookbaits at the same time and we’d play cat’s cradle with the lines. And what of Tat? Poor lass. So far she’d not had a fish. I said, “Never mind, Lass. You can have the next run on my rods.”

But then the lull set in. We sat and waited...and waited. By now the morning coffee and the wine was getting to her and she legged it for the toilet block at the camp site. I suppose you can guess the rest. The run on her rods came just after she’d passed out of sight and by the time she got back the fish was in the net. Just over nineteen pounds...Bladders can be a bloody nuisance!

Our last day was coming to an end. We had to catch the afternoon ferry and just one fish for Tat would be the icing on the cake. But wasn’t to be: the fish moved off, then a windsurfer picked up all our lines and dragged the rods along the stoney shoreline. He was eventually brought to a grinding halt after a laughing Pierre-Yves struck him off his silly plank. I told you he was laid back, didn’t I? The antics of the windsurfer had me spitting blood, yet this oh-so-calm giant treated it all as some huge joke. Here's the **** on a plank just about to wipe us out!



And so ended another French carp fishing trip. We’d not been what anyone would call going for it, but we'd seen and caught some cracking fish and this was a lake we would definitely return to. None of the carp weighed under over fifteen pounds, which, after such a short growing period, shows the enormous potential of the lake.

It was a shame Tat hadn’t caught this trip, but all that was soon to be put right. We were coming back to France in less than a month in the company of our good friends John and Debbie Affleck and we’d booked a holiday cottage near to another unknown -to us - of a French lake. It was on Franck's to do list, another big blue bit on the map, which would prove to be rather interesting to say the least.

More top follow including a 'wildie' over a meter long!
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   Old Thread  #219 12 Jan 2018 at 3.25pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #218
He didn’t need to tell us that. It was certainly a big twenty, if not a thirty pound plus, fish. Franck’s sorrows did not have long to fester. As he was rebaiting another rod was away. Though the scrap was fierce, it was not in the same league as the earlier lost fish, and eventually Pierre-Yves sank the net under a lean grey leather of just on seventeen pounds. It was then that Franck just happened to mention that this was only one of three similar sized fish since first light. Pierre-Yves hadn’t been idle either with a nice brace of big doubles. This was what had we been missing!



I’d not realised how huge the water was the previous evening. Now in the blustery yet clear morning, under a canopy of fast moving, white fluffy clouds, the lake was revealed in all its glory. It was absolutely huge. Dancing on the fresh waves about ninety yards from the shoreline I could just make out the bright red markers that the lads had put out. They looked pathetically close in, given the size of the lake. But there were fish on the bait, lots of them. They were crashing out at regular intervals between the markers, stirred into feeding on the wind that was pushing hard into our faces. (The bright bit of bank across the lake is a car park and in less than nine months that area would see more carpy action than we could ever have dreamed of.)



With trembling hands we put the rods up, baited the hairs and sent the baits flying out to the right hand edge of the baited patch. But our tardy start was going to cost us dear. By the time our rods were out and fishing, the carp had either finished up all the groundbait, or had decided to move on as the wind swung around through 45 degrees. Damn that Calvados!

By mid-afternoon, it was clear that the carp were feeding in one huge shoal that had moved onto the baited patch at first light, fed until the bait was finished, and moved on. In the immensity of that lake, they could be anywhere, most likely as far away from us as it was possible to get. But it was a pleasant day, and Pierre-Yves opened a couple of bottles of wine to blow our cobwebs away. The freshening west wind helped, and by the onset of darkness we were ready for some more good food and wine back at the hotel.

We enjoy catching carp on our own terms, and if that means we loose out on a few fish, well so be it. Tat needed a decent rest, and a knife-edge, go-for-it carp trip isn’t exactly restful is it? So that evening, to the slightly bemused stares of the two French lads we once more decamped for warmth and comfort of the hotel. More langoustines, oysters, Muscadet and the patron’s wicked “special” Calvados. Carping isn’t everything.

We were very good that night and got to the lake at first light as promised. The wind had shifted back to the north west again and was really hacking onto our bank. It had a chilling cut to it so while Tat put rods out, I put up the bivvy to keep the worst of the wind, the rain and the storm-blown sand. It was much colder than the day before and the passing showers kept us cooped up for most of the first hour. Eventually the sun broke through the clouds but when the wind freshened even more it began to look really looked carpy.

Then three buzzers went off almost at once. The fish had arrived. Franck took a lovely pale mirror of eighteen pounds while Pierre-Yves and I both had upper doubles. Both the French lads were surprised at the size of the carp. Remember that the lake had been emptied only four years earlier and the existing carp removed and sold. The lake had then been restocked, but only with small carp of between one and two pounds in weight. Yet they’d grown to this size already. And there were more surprises still to come. Franck’s next fish was a staggeringly beautiful mirror of 27.08lb while my next fish went 15lb.




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   Old Thread  #218 12 Jan 2018 at 3.24pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #217
Now I’m a reasonably easy-going guy: I can take the odd set-back or two, but this was getting beyond a joke. So far we’d driven the best part of five hundred miles and fished for about twelve hours, and the trip was half over already. To be honest I was resigned to our fate but Franck wasn’t beaten yet. Out came the map again. He pointed to a big blue bit and said, this lake is not too far away and we’ve got a good chance of a few fish. He also told us that normally the lake is emptied every two years but for some reason or other it had been missed last time around. There are some nice doubles in there but it doesn’t get a lot of attention as the carp are mostly small; too small for the local carp anglers.

Well, it had to be worth a try I suppose and as we were running out of days we just had to bite the bullet and drive and eventually we ended up on a big, wild and windswept barrage that looked daunting in the extreme. Franck had warned us that there was no chance of fishing the nights as the lake was patrolled by the Garde de Peche who weren’t known for their understanding attitude towards rule breakers. This was obviously not going to be our lucky trip and Tat was looking a bit fed up. After all, this was as much a holiday as a fishing trip for her, and the long slog of the work-year and the extra pressure she was under had dragged her down a lot. To be honest a comfy bed, a shower and a decent night’s kip appealed to us both a dammed sight more than any carp at that moment. So while the two French lads set up their bivvies on the adjacent camp site, Tat and I took off in the direction of the nearest town in search of a small hotel and a decent meal. We found a nice one not too far away. It was called La Grenouillère and the bar looked most welcoming! Perfect!



Too perfect in fact with a restaurant specialising in seafood and a huge set menu for less than fifty francs. The patron also just happened to be the local connoisseur of the local spirit, Calvados, keen to impart his enthusiasm to all English whisky-drinking heathens. He found willing pupils in us. We enjoyed a long lazy supper of fresh local seafood accompanied by a couple of bottles of crisp dry white wine, then adjourned to the bar for a swift nightcap. The hectic day was catching up with us and a soft bed waited.



But if we’d hoped for an early night, we were to be disappointed, for we made the mistake of buying a round of drinks for the patron and his family. Apparently that is the signal for a proper session to get underway and Tat and I weren’t allowed to go to bed until we’d finished a bottle! We pleaded an early start, but to deaf ears. We were both barely sober and the proposed early start saw us arriving, bleary-eyed at the crack of ten-o-clock.

As we drove into the camp site, I could see that the two French lads' bivvies were not pitched and we could not see their car either. The lake looked carpy as hell with a fresh breeze blowing into the camp site bank and though the level appeared to be down a bit, it did not appear too drastic. Just then the breeze carried the faint trill of a bite alarm, mocking our laziness and liking for strong drink! As we cleared the trees we could see that down on a sandy beach revealed by the lower level Franck was playing a fish. His rod was bent around in an alarming curve that seemed to give the lie to his claim that it was a small-fish water. I know French carp of all sizes pull like carthorses, but this was no small fish. As it neared the net it gave a last-minute surge and was gone, leaving the briefest impression of a long grey flank. Franck threw down his rod and cursed vociferously, luckily for Tat's sensitive ears, in French.

“I’ve been playing that fish for half an hour,” he yelled, throwing his rod down and giving vent to a stream of violently expressive French. I don’t think Tat understood a word of it, but just in case he apologised.

“Sorry,” he muttered sheepishly, “but that was a very good fish.”
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   Old Thread  #217 12 Jan 2018 at 3.23pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #216
I wondered about the barrage Geoff Shaw had told us about for our trip in May. Even small fish would be better than nothing. Franck pulled a face, and shook his head. It was clear that he didn’t fancy that suggestion. The level was way down, he told us, with a lot of thick mud in the margins. Fishing would be messy and difficult and the rewards, though plentiful, would be small. Out came the map and we had a ponder. There is so much water in the region that it’s hard to know what to do next. We’d looked at another water not too far away, in May. Franck knew the lake but hadn’t fished it, though he’d been meaning to. Here was his chance! We decided to pack up, have lunch then have a look around.

The gear was reluctantly packed away and we carted it back across the fields. By the time I’d negotiated the electric fence (which gave me one hell of a charge), the mosses, the cow pats, the ditches and the barbed wire, and piled the mountain of gear into the back of the blisteringly hot car, I was sweating like a pig and thoroughly cheesed off. Tat wasn’t very happy about things either but then the Happy Postman suggested a few beers to cool off and we were off and running…literally! By the time Pierre-Yves and Franck joined us in the bar we were already going for it!



One beer led to another and a good time was had by all. Fishing got forgotten for the day. We camped in the official site that night just a few yards from a bar on the side of the lake. The food was cheap and wonderful, Pierre-Yves put away an indecent amount of beer and still stayed sober, and we slept the sleep of the just with the rods tucked away in the back of the car. I like little sessions that just come creeping up on you out of the blue. Even the hangover seems tolerable!

Another clear fresh morning. After a breakfast of croissants, coffee and paracetamols we’re off in convoy, heading north to the new lake. Hope is doing it’s best to spring eternal, but is loosing a battle with my pounding head. Yet as the car flashes along mile after mile of poplar-lined, arrow-straight roads I can’t help feeling the surge of nervous anticipation as we near our destination. Even the headache dims to a distant memory of what was once a life threatening seven or eight on the Richter scale. What awaits us just down the road where the lake lies tucked away behind the tiny village, with it’s medieval skyline of church and chateau? In the square the bars wink their neon signs at us, but we can resist their temptation for the time being. The lake beckons, all two hundred and fifty acres of it, and almost completely covered in lily-pads.

The lake was still brim full. That’s unusual, for by September most French lakes are low from farm abstraction and everyday domestic use. And there was something else that was strange about the water. There was no one fishing, sailing or canoeing on the lake. I felt a sudden foreboding. A prominent notice confirmed my worst fears. No boating, fishing or swimming it said, and a jumble of official looking French explained that the water was contaminated with some toxin or other. Plan C up the spout!

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   Old Thread  #216 12 Jan 2018 at 3.22pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #215
As if to complete the sense of elusive unreality, a buzzer sounded, soft and muted, echoing in the hazy mist off the lake. Down the bank Pierre-Yves was playing a fish while Franck danced impatient attendance with the net. I went down to take some pictures and by the time I’d walked the hundred yards or so to his swim, the fish was in the net. A nice long leather of about eighteen pounds. “That’s a good start” I thought to myself. I noticed the lack of urgency in getting the carp weighed and returned and wondered for one horrible moment if they were going to kill the fish. But no, it was just that typically French laid-back attitude.

Eventually Franck got around to wetting a sling and doing the honours, while Pierre-Yves simply carried on re-baiting and so on. The fish was returned without ceremony or even photo. It isn’t that Pierre-Yves is in any way blasé about his fish, it’s just that he rarely takes pictures of them, happy simply with the memory of the sport they’ve given him. The sun rose and the heat of the day took its toll on the feeding carp. In the full light of day we could see pads stretching as far as the eye could see. The racket of carp sucking at the pads slowed, then stopped altogether. Perhaps the fish that Pierre-Yves had caught indicated their willingness to feed more on the bottom than at the surface.

That proved to be the case; Franck and I both had fish by mid-morning, while the oh-so-cool Pierre-Yves had another big fish which was returned in the same off-hand manner that we were to come to know so well. He really is the most relaxed bloke I’ve ever come across. I’ve seen people fast asleep who are more uptight! I’d love to fish a pressured English season with the guy. If the blanks started to get to me I know he’d soon help me get things into perspective. As we talked about this and that in his halting English and my broken French, he told me that he was a postman for a living. Beats me how he ever finds the energy to get out of bed at the required early hour, let alone trudge the streets delivering the mail. It wasn’t until later that he told me that he does most of his work from a post office van and had so far taken three months paid holiday this year. I asked him if he could get me a job like that!

The day was turning into a scorcher and in the heat of the day Pierre-Yves was revealed as a man after our own hearts. He likes his beer! Funny, that: Tat and I were just thinking about lunch! We were about to wind in when I noticed two gendarmes down the bank and headed our way. No problem of course. Our tickets were in order and night fishing was allowed. But it’s always the same isn’t it? You always feel guilty when you see the Old Bill, even if you’ve done nothing wrong. These two fetched up at Franck’s bivvy. God, they did look menacing. For a start they look so impressive: as if they’ve just been poured into their uniforms and told not to get them dirty. The cap may look a bit silly, but the guns they wear on their hips certainly don’t. These guys meant business. First of all they wanted to know if we’d been night fishing. I was about to say that yes, of course we had, and why not? when Pierre-Yves stepped in with a denial.

“Good,” they said. “Night fishing isn’t allowed on here any more.”

Franck gulped but said nothing. He’d been fishing the nights right through the summer, confident that he was allowed to do so. Then the gendarmes explained that the mayor had given permission only for a one-off trip by a well known French journalist. Night fishing was definitely NOT allowed! To rub salt in the wound they told us we couldn’t camp on the water. They called it `camping sauvage’ savage camping? I think not! Still, they were the ones with the guns. The bivvies must come down. We can fish till a few minutes after eight that evening and then vacate the water: very official. The only camping was on the official site at the other end of the lake, about four miles from the nearest fish. I thought it was all going too smoothly!

We obviously couldn’t risk carrying on fishing and camping here now that the gendarmes knew we were in the area. We were at a loss as to what to do next. Franck said that many of the lakes he knew of were fishing poorly. We suggested going to Tremelin as we’d originally planned, but then Pierre-Yves, who lives not two miles from the water chipped in with the news that there was a sailing regatta there this weekend! Looks like Plan B was a no-no.
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   Old Thread  #215 12 Jan 2018 at 3.21pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #214
We made up the first dozen or so mixes at home and froze them prior to taking them over in a cool box. We also several pounds of dry mix and the necessary flavours should we need to make bait on the bank. I rang Franck just before we left and arranged to meet him on the barrage on the Monday evening. The early boat from Plymouth would give us plenty of time to get down to the lake before nightfall, or so we thought.

Gales in the Channel are no great respecters of carefully laid plans. The crossing was horrendous and I spent the trip calling for Hughie. Why do I get seasick on big boats? I had spent much of my life bouncing around on the ‘oggin on a poxy fishing boat and hardly ever got ill, yet the minute I step onto a bloody ferry, up comes dinner. Tat, as usual, took all that the Western Approaches had to offer without batting an eyelid, and spent the roughest part of the crossing with her nose buried either in a book or a glass of cognac, or both.

If the crossing was bad, then the delay at the customs was even more frustrating following a terrorist scare, so the gathering gloom of an early autumn evening saw our overloaded little jalopy pounding it’s willing heart out to get us to the lake before it became too dark. We made it with an hour to spare, but we were still half an hour late for our rendezvous with Franck and his friend. There was no sign of either of them. Perhaps they had got tired of waiting. I was a bit concerned, but I needn’t have worried. About half an hour later Franck drove up to the lake accompanied by a man-mountain who made Grizzly Adams look like a stick man. This was Pierre-Yves, all eight feet thirteen inches of him, blotting out the sun and grinning through a thick black beard. Giant Haystacks, eat yer heart out. I could see Tat giving him sideways looks and wondered what she was thinking. It didn’t do to ask!

The two French lads had already set up their bivvies at the far end of the lake, and prepared a swim, all carefully pre-baited for Tat and myself. Wasn’t that nice of ‘em; all we needed to do was cast out, put up the carp house and get stuck into the beers. The lake here was long and fairly narrow, perhaps some two hundred yards across. Away to our right the barrage that formed the lake rose towering into the darkening evening sky. Lily pads stretched from one bank to the other, with narrow clear channels and small cut-out spots where anglers had prepared a swim. I could see why Franck had suggested we come prepared with heavy line as clearly any carp we hooked would be buggers to extract from that jungle.



Soon the barbeque was glowing warmly and the ale was flowing. The evening was warm, perfectly still and I could hear plenty of carp 'clooping' at the undersides of the pads. In the field behind us cattle shuffled noisily in the quiet air, and from far off came the noise of the occasional heavy lorry as it rumbled through the night. A family of coypu made it’s way along the far margins, returning to its burrow for the night. And I thought the rats at Savay were big!

The gales of the Channel had been left far behind us and in the warm stillness of the twilight the stars gradually emerged and a big, full moon illumined the lake with it’s ghostly light. In a state of utter peace and contentment we feasted on barbequed steaks, burgers and sausages, washed down with rich red wine, the odd beer or two and a final cognac as a nightcap. Bliss!

The carp appeared to be totally preoccupied with their feast of snails - either that or they weren’t aware of the part they were expected to play in the proceedings: for the time being, who cared? The sunrise next morning was truly spectacular. The paint-brush of creation had prepared a canvas of colour over the lake, a hazy mingling of soft golden rays that lit the motionless, sparkling surface like a Turner seascape. I dashed off a few shots with the transparency camera knowing that no photograph could ever do justice to such a splendid dawn.


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   Old Thread  #214 12 Jan 2018 at 3.19pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #213
CARP AND CALVA: EARLY SEPTEMBER 1990

I came back from that pioneering trip in May with mixed feelings. Sure, we had caught carp fish from every water we had fished, but I couldn’t help feeling that we’d fished too many! Four waters in ten days, seven hundred miles solely in Brittany?! We had not exactly given the lakes and rivers we had fished much of a chance, had we? Yet with no first-hand knowledge or information to guide us, we managed to persuade ourselves that we had done as well as could be expected. It would be different next year, we said. We’d pick a water and stick to it, hopefully having found out a great deal more about fishing in France than the second-hand gossip that had guided us through our first trip.

My incessant chatter about how wonderful our first trip had been was now getting to Tat, and when she found herself with some leave due, I was on the phone in no time, and soon a short five-day trip was upon us. In retrospect our first trip had really been a bit of an anti-climax and though we’d returned, putting a brave face on it in front of our mates, in truth we all knew that we had done a lot of things wrong. Something of a bull in a china shop attitude had prevailed. If there was a lesson to be learned it was surely that we should concentrate on known waters, rather than blasting off into the blue to God knows where. Sure, we’d caught fish, but with a bit more thought and planning wouldn’t we have been more successful?

The trials and tribulations of fishing abroad are fairly obvious and need no stressing, but if you can learn by your mistakes, then no experience can be called wasted. One of the first lessons that anyone should learn, especially on their first or second trips to France, is to pick a water with a reputation for holding the size of fish you are interested in. If you are simply after singles and doubles, fish any bit of blue you can find. Carp are everywhere in France, in the rivers, in the lakes. A pin in a map will suffice. However, if it is bigger fish you are after then head for the better known waters with an established reputation and keep your ears peeled. You cannot get too much info!

With this in mind, Tat and I planned to fish Tremelin. We’d already heard from Franck that the lake was less now hectic than it had been in May and the park rangers seemed to have become more accommodating. And it was after all, a known big-fish water that had produced some glorious fish during the summer months. It’s not up to Cassien standards of course, but a few of the big thirties had been caught, along with a forty-pound mirror and stacks of twenty-pound fish and big doubles to make up the numbers. That would do nicely.

I wanted a few fish for Tat in particular. It had been a long, hard year for her, what with one thing and another. She holds down a job that carries a great deal of responsibility and recent changes in personnel and working practices had meant long hours and some pretty trying and stressful times. Her fishing had suffered as a result.

Since we’d got back in May I’d been writing regularly to the young Breton, Franck Martin who’d been so kind and helpful to us earlier in the year. Though at the time he was a comparative newcomer to modern carping, he was learning the ropes very quickly. The area around his home is rich in lakes and rivers, and the temptation to flit from water to water, never getting to know any particular lake well enough to get the best from it was an obvious one. Sensibly he was learning to walk before trying to run.

Franck had fished Tremelin a fair bit, accompanied by a friend from Iffendic who was learning the ropes and between them they had notched up some very impressive numbers. However, one very special lake they’d discovered not far from Chateaubriand had been very kind to the pair and a phone call just before we were due to leave for Tremelin soon had us in a maze of indecision. Franck was eager for us to come over and join him on this new lake. What to do? It was no contest really; you go with the local knowledge. What swung it was the fact that night fishing was now allowed on Franck’s water following an arrangement with the local mayor.

The two French carp anglers had caught loads of fish, including mirrors to 33lbs and commons to 26lbs with an impressive average weight of eighteen pounds. The plan to fish Tremelin went sailing out of the window. In the meantime we got the gear ready and made up a few mixes of the fishmeal mix that we’d been on all year. Basically this was a basic red fishmeal base with dried seaweed and a five grams of green lipped mussel extract and flavoured with strawberry and an essential oil. This was the same mix we'd used in the UK and it had done OK so we felt no need to change it for France.
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   Old Thread  #213 11 Jan 2018 at 4.49pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #212
To complete the sorry story, yet more boat anglers appeared out of the mist to drop anchor right in front of us. It was the last straw. We didn’t know it then, but we do now. Weekends, particularly Sundays and public bank holidays are bad news in France. The whole nation goes fishing. And yes, you guessed it: it was a bank holiday and the French anglers were out in force.

The gods had conspired against us to make sure that we wouldn’t get any more chances. The night fishing was out of the question and with this lot creating mayhem in our swims, to all intents and purposes the trip was well over. We were booked on the ferry the following day. The three of us went up to the town for a beer that evening. We had a meal and several beers and I watched as some French guys took on Nige and Steve at table football, you know the one, with all the little model players mounted on twist bars. Be warned! The French take this game very seriously so don’t bet against them. I’m not really a betting man, but I won a few beers on the French lads that evening.

I awoke the next morning to find that so scrote had stolen all my bankside gear. Luckily I’d taken the rods and reels in and put them in the back of the bivvy. That's the final straw…it was all over, time to go home.

So, what had we gained from our first French trip? Well for one thing, I couldn’t wait to come back again. I’d had such a good time that it didn’t matter that the fish we’d caught were small, and for a first visit we could hardly call it a flop, could we? True, we hadn’t caught the big fish we’d hoped for, but on the other hand, we had visited four different waters and caught fish to double figures from each of them. Many people go to France and never even get a run. We’d eaten food fit for the gods and drunk more than enough to drown them. Would we go back? Too right we would. But not on a French bank holiday!

I think it might be fair to suggest that this account of our first trip to France might be fairly typical of many back then, nowadays it's all there on a plate for novice traveling carpers. In hindsight - a wonderful thing - our expectations were set too high and our experience level too low, and as a result we did it all wrong, dashing around from pillar to post, fishing too many waters and not getting to know any of them. But it had been a learning experience and the mistakes we made this time, we hopefully would not make again. Tat and I were going over in the autumn to fish with Franck Martin who had a couple of lakes he wanted to show us.


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   Old Thread  #212 11 Jan 2018 at 4.42pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #211
I needed no more asking as the photos were very impressive, many being over thirty pounds with several that were well over forty, possibly even more. Sadly he was a bit miffed with Dutch and German anglers breaking the rules by night fishing. In the past the gendarmes had cast a benevolent eye upon the odd infringement of the rules, but when a group of carp anglers had got into a fight with the gendarmes and the French anglers they’d decided to clamp down hard on night fishing.

Steve and Nige turned up and we convened an Official Committee Meeting in the bar. I had by now moved my gear and, as it turned out, Steve was all packed ready to join me on the opposite bank where we could fish to the marker buoys. That left Nige in splendid isolation fishing the point swim, but I think he was secretly pleased that he would have the well-known hot spot to himself.

By that evening Steve and I had set up in adjacent swims within easy casting range of the two buoys. The night was uninterrupted by any fishy activity, unless you count the dammed bream. As instructed we rebaited the rods at about 3.00 am, cast them into the gully and followed the splashes of the leads with a couple of dozen pouches of nuts out of the ‘pult. All was ready. The trap was baited, and if all went to plan, we were in with the best chance of a French monster since we’d arrived.

The weather was a repeat of the previous morning. Damp and very still. They should start showing any moment now. The run came at about 5.45 am: a real belter. And I lost it. Arrrgh! An unknown snag frayed the line within a few short seconds of my making contact with the fish, leaving me with no more than an fleeting impression of an immensely powerful lump on the other end. I took loosing that fish quite well all things considered, and the rod only flew fifty yards or so.

From the moment I lost that fish, I just knew that I wasn’t going to catch at Jugon. I was just fated, that’s all. It wasn’t to be. End of story. Full stop. I recast to a small fish that showed off to my right, well up the bank: perhaps Steve was still in with a chance. Let’s hope so. I was only just going through the motions but I hoped Steve or Nige, who was certainly on a roll, might be lucky. They weren’t and the rest of the morning passed in an uneventful doze and the day passed interminably. I was at a low ebb, finished with fishing and wishing I was home.

I went into town on my own that evening and had a glass of beer. It wasn’t happening, a waste of time. Low spirits all round. I got back to the swim about ten o’clock. I couldn’t be bothered fishing through the night, and after all, we’d had a more than guarded warning about the garde de peche. It wasn’t worth the risk, and anyway, I simply couldn’t be bothered to cast out, if you can understand that. I laid the rods out on the rests and climbed into the bag. I slept like a log.



I was awoken before dawn the next morning by one hell opf a commotion coming from further up the bank to my right. I got out of my sleeping bag, threw back the door and peered out. The sight that greeted me held me speechless for a few seconds. There were French anglers driving their cars along the edge of the lake, headlights blazing, horns blaring. They stopped right in front of Steve’s swim and started bashing in rod rests with three pound lump hammers. Out over the gully a couple of big metal rowing boats trolled deadbaits and spinners backwards and forwards over our baited areas. What a lash-up. There was no way we were going to get another chance in the channel today.



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   Old Thread  #211 11 Jan 2018 at 4.38pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #210
He explained that there was a regular feeding pattern to the big carp in the lake. Each morning, between five and nine o’clock, the big carp patrol the camp site bank between fifteen and thirty yards out, he told me, pointing across the lake to two very prominent marker buoys used by the sailing club. That’s where the old river bed runs and they also mark a deep part of the channel. He told me to try and get the baits in position by four in the morning at the very latest and then whatever you do keep the noise down. Apparently they bigger fish in the lake were very aware of anglers and the more noise they made the more likely the carp were to clear off.

It was clear what this guy was telling me. No strolling around on the bank, no kettle on, no shouting and yelling or larking about. He even advised me to put my bivvy up way back from the water’s edge, above a path that he pointed out, running through the woods bordering the lake. There was a genuineness about him that told me that he knew what he was talking about, so after he’d gone, wishing me I wandered down the bank to talk to the others. We decided to move to the swims John the next day as night was already falling.

That night we all got mullered by the dreaded p-c though they did relent for a while and Steve had a nice mirror of around 14 lb. Not really what we were after though. What else happened that night? Oh yes. There was Nige’s little adventure...

Nige sleep-walks. Not a joke, I can assure you. It can be pretty serious, and he’s got himself into all sorts of trouble on account of what others may consider a trifle. That night, halfway through a nice peaceful snooze he decided to take a stroll - or should that read, a hop for he was still in his sleeping bag - into the lake. Then, still sound asleep but by now minus his sleeping bag and thoroughly soaked through, he returned to his bedchair and carried on dreaming. He woke up, who knows how much later, shaking with the cold and with his sleeping bag doing a passable imitation of a small boat drifting off down the lake. There was nothing for it but to go in again to rescue it.

By comparison my night’s fishing was totally uneventful. First light revealed a white calm surface with a hint of mist lying on the water. Over on the far side, close to one of the marker buoys, a huge fish crashed out twice, right in the spot John had shown me. Then another fish showed about two hundred yards further along the bank. Our British mate was right, there seemed to be fish showing in the deep channel close to the far bank. As we watched, a fish jumped in the far channel by the buoys. The lads on the far side seemed to be fast asleep and all this activity didn’t to stir them up at all and we were keen to move. Nige on the other hand said he was staying put on the strength of the three fish that the point had produced so far. Steve too was still uncertain. I wanted to move; I’d seen the buggers jumping.

It was now drizzling steadily and the lake appeared grey and cold. Suddenly a fish crashed out over my baits. It wasn’t one of the true giants that the lake is known for, but was good enough for me. I guessed it at mid- to upper-twenties. Half an hour passed without any further signs of carpy life. Suddenly the tip of the middle rod, cast way out into the middle as far as it would go, and baited with a single soaked peanut, shook violently and the line pulled out of the clip, but no run followed and I knew that, quick as I had been onto the rod, there would be no answering tug from the other end when I struck. I was right of course. I guess I must have forgotten to pack my slice of luck for this trip. Time I moved.

I went into Jugon for supplies and a beer or two. The village itself is very pretty, especially in the square where most of the better bars and restaurants are situated. On the other hand the place is a tourist trap. Everything seems to cost twice what it should, and they see you coming from a long way The people are nice enough though. I got chatting with the proprietor of one of the bars, a big chap with an impressive beard. He told me that the owner of the bar up the road loved carp fishing, and he had caught most of the bigger fish in the lake, photos of which were displayed on the wall of the bar.
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   Old Thread  #210 11 Jan 2018 at 4.36pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #209
It had started to rain quite heavily so I draped the bivvy over the brolly and pushed a couple of pegs in to keep it from flapping too much. I love the sound of rain on the bivvy. It is so soporific. My eyes fell shut with a resounding clang and next thing I knew it was daylight. The swims were a hive of activity as Steve and Nige fell too with a vengeance, bait flying everywhere; rods swooshing and throwing sticks clonking as baits went flying across the gap to splash, tight under the cliff face. Nige had been plagued with false bleeps all night and we wondered if our Richworth ready mades were too soft to stand up to what we put down at first to bream. Later that morning we discovered the true culprits.

A large area of disturbed water in the margins off to our left caught out attention. It stretched for at least a dozen yards and extended out from the bank about five or six yards. Possibly small roach and other fry spawning. I went up to have a look. It wasn't small roach and other fry, it was the dreaded poisson-chat! the slimy horrible little buggers. There were thousands of them and they were spawning, thrashing the water to a foam. In case you have not become acquainted with these ghastly imports. They are actually American Bullhead catfish, famed in the deep south as the prime ingredient of Catfish Pie (but nothing to do with jambalaya). Like all cats they are the most voracious eaters and can clear a big bed of bait in seconds flat!



We spent the lunchtime in a nice restaurant in the town square followed by a few beers in the bar next door. To be honest the sight of those poisson-chat had knocked some of the optimism out of us. They can do that, you know.

Nevertheless as we set in for the dark hours hope sprang eternal! Indeed, at last the little nuisances long enough to allow a nice common of seventeen pounds to get a look in. At last Nige had landed a decent fish, and from what was generally accepted as a comparatively hard water. Maybe the big fellas would soon be putting in an appearance.



I wasn’t happy on the point. I thought there were too many rods cast across the gap to the cliff face and in the shallow water that meant the chances of spooking a big fish were quite high. I decided to move about half a mile up the bank towards the dam, to a swim where a large bay opened up to my left, with a thick marginal weed bed running along the front of the swim. I baited heavily with cooked peanuts and fished nuts balanced with foam. The hookbaits were dipped in neat Strawberry flavour to - hopefully - give them an edge over the free baits in the carpet.

I sat in the sunshine, watching a party of anglers as they arrived on the camp site on the opposite bank. It was clear that some, if not all of them were carp anglers, and it was also clear that they knew exactly what they were doing. No sooner had they arrived than a couple of them ran down to the water’s edge and dropped a few bits of gear in the swims that they wanted. I cursed out loud for they’d picked the very spot I was considering moving to if the fish didn’t oblige where I was. I resigned myself to staying put, whatever happened and put the kettle on for a cup of tea.

The steam had just started pouring from the spout when a battered white Renault 5 with French plates drew up behind my swim. I gave the driver my as usual incomprehensible, bonjour and he said, 'aw right, mate? Caught ‘em all? What was a Brit doing driving a French registered car? It turned out that he lived nearby and better still had caught some bloody great carp. He showed me the photos of some of his whackers from the lake, told me I was in the wrong place and said watch out for the rangers. He pointed out a few areas that he felt might hold a few fish and told me that he preferred that other side of the lake below the camping in a deep channel that ran close to the bank where the old river bed lay…where all the Dutch guys were!
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   Old Thread  #209 11 Jan 2018 at 4.32pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #208
Now what? We had one last lake to try. The lower of the two lakes at Jugon les Lacs was another couple of hours further up the road so we gritted our teeth and set of. By eight o’clock we had arrived at the lake. The lake had appeared in the press when a famous French carp guy mentioned it in Le Pecheur magazine. As result it was now the preserve of Dutch and German anglers. If they want to fish it then there must be good carp in there. In fact as we drove onto the huge campsite alongside the lake we could see a bivvy and a battery of eight rods at the water's edge. I went down for a chat…not much of one as it turned out. The anglers in the bivvy were Dutch and very uncommunicative and it was clear I would get no info from them. Miserable b……s!

We needed to buy day tickets to fish the lakes (no nights) and I got these at the camping reception. I asked about the fishing and it turned out that one of the Dutch guys down by the lake had caught a 49lb mirror from the lake a couple of days earlier. No wonder they didn't want to talk to me!

I had a rough idea in my mind of the layout of the lake, and I had seen photos of some carp against a background of a very prominent cliff towering over a section of the eastern bank. You couldn’t miss such a feature and as we drove around the western side of the lake, sure enough, there it was across on the far bank. There was a nice shallow point running out from our bank that seemed to point straight at the dominating cliff. It seemed an obvious place to start fishing so we put up the bivvies, cast the rods out, and then set about getting some food cooked and wine bottles opened.

I think we all felt a bit shell-shocked after the long, hassle-ridden day, but a crate of beer was unearthed from the back of the van and that helped lift our spirits, that and the report of the 49lb mirror. It helps just knowing that the fish of your dreams are actually in the lake so at least that gave us hope. So far we had been chasing our tails on the back of rumour and tittle-tattle, and while it is all very well fishing unknown quantities we were running out of days and desperately wanted something a bit bigger.

Darkness falls late in summertime in northern France. Even at 11.00pm we could still see to fish. We agreed that it would be silly for us to get a tug for night fishing on the very first night we were there, but in the end decided to risk it. We had almost come to the end of the holiday after all. We all turned in at about midnight. Tired though I was, I stretched out on the top of the bedchair in the warm night air, enjoying a last beer and fag before climbing into my sleeping bag. The surface of lake was white calm, the air still and breathless. If a carp had jumped we’d have seen or heard it a mile off but apart from the ubiquitous frogs and crickets no carpy sound disturbed the stillness.

My eyes were drooping with fatigue and I was sliding gently into sleep when I heard a buzzer. Nige was in! I heard him splashing through the marshy ground in front of his rods, the buzzer ceased its muted yell and the clutch uttered one very short, almost apologetic grunt. Not much of a fight so far. I climbed into my boots and joined Nige with the net. The carp, if carp it was, didn’t seem to do anything. It was just a dead weight at the end of the line, no tugging back or searing runs. When the poor beast was finally brought into the margins we could see why. It was a carp all right, a common of about ten pounds, but it was riddled with fin-rot and looked a very sorry sight indeed. We unhooked it in the water and watched it’s pathetic attempts to swim away with its sad remnants of tail, dorsal and belly fins rotted almost completely away. Poor Nige. I don’t think he was too pleased with this mank looking carp…but a carp's a carp and at least we had opened our account, and on the first night too.

Nige re-cast while I put the kettle on to make the tea. In the pitch darkness we sat, warming our hands on the hot mugs, listening to the sound of the crickets and the frogs at their nightly chorus. Somewhere out in the darkness, over by the foot of the cliff a carp leapt. It sounded like a very good fish. Suddenly Nige was all action as he grabbed the stick and sent more freebies out into the darkness in the general direction of the splash.

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   Old Thread  #208 9 Jan 2018 at 3.35pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #207
I was sitting on the bedchair, looking at the rod tips, when suddenly the whole-set up began to bang and shake. For a few seconds I didn’t twig that I’d had a take - of sorts. Then the left-hand rod tip pulled round violently. I leapt to the rod, striking hard…at thin air. Very curious.

The rest of the morning passed by slowly and gently. We were booked for Sunday lunch at the restaurant Nige knew and were due there at one o’clock. But we certainly couldn’t put in an appearance at any restaurant looking like this. Shaded by the overhanging trees and in the cover of the van we had a wash, a shave and a change of clothes and eventually emerged looking reasonably presentable. We packed the rods and the rest of the gear away and set off for the restaurant.

Over lunch we pondered over our plans for the remaining four days. We all wanted a big fish, of course. After all, isn’t that what people go carp fishing in France for? The problem was, where to go? We were perhaps within about six or seven hours driving of Salagou, the well-known water way down to the west of Montpellier and the reports I’d had of this water made it a tempting choice, but we all felt that by the time we got down there and were fishing efficiently, it would be time to come home again. There were s few stand by alternatives in Brittany and it was these that we decided to investigate.

This was our first choice, a huge barrage lake just to the north of Nantes. It was rumoured to hold carp and we thought it might be worth a try. Sadly all we got out of the visit was a glorious sunset!



After a blank 24 hours we moved again, this time to a lake that was becoming more well known in the UK, Lac de Tremelin a comparatively small water of about 100 acres. I had mentioned the lake to Franck, who had warned us that the lake was a leisure center that would inevitably be very busy and crowded. He also mentioned that night fishing and camping by the lakeside would pose a few problems. He wasn’t far wrong.

First impressions of the lake were not good. It looked as if all of France and his wife was either on, in, under or by the lake. It was chaos, with pedalos, rowing boats, sailboards, swimmers and water polo matches everywhere we looked. We hated it at first sight but we figured that, having come this far, we should at least give the lake a fair chance. We had a walk around and after a long afternoon’s recce found a couple of likely looking points on the far bank. Here we would be able to intercept fish cruising in or out of a couple of bays that cut into the shoreline on either side of the point. Unfortunately getting to the swims entailed a forced march carrying all the gear, and as we were knackered anyway from the driving (not to mention the Sunday lunch), we looked around in the hope that we could find a rowing boat that we could hire for an hour in order to get the gear across in one hit, without the route march.

It turned out to be a fruitless task, but after an hour or so I came across a guy who seemed willing to hire us his own boat for a couple of hours. He wasn’t cheap but I parted with the six quid he demanded and we began to load up the boat under the curious, and watchful eyes of a group of uniformed, official-looking Frenchmen who appeared to be taking more than a passing interest in us. Finally, when the boat was down to it’s gunwales with the weight of the tackle, authority reared its ugly head and we were told in no uncertain manner that we were not allowed to camp anywhere other than on the official camp site. Certainly not by the side of the lake, even if we weren’t fishing. We did one night on the campsite and at first light we left! Beautiful lake though it may be but it wasn't our cup of tea at all.


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