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   Old Thread  #374 20 Jan 2019 at 1.30pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #373
Now bug-free Dave had returned to the fray and had set up on a tiny island with just inches to spare on either side. He caught two nice twenties in quick succession. The fish were obviously on the move with the change in the weather, for both Paul and Dave were rewarded for their dogged persistence with a double figure carp apiece. Thruster took a leaf out of the West Country lads' book and moved again, back into the swim he'd started in. This, for two reasons: 1) he missed the social aspect that came with fishing with me and Bill, and 2) to be nearer to the car park when it came time to pull off. Good thinking, in my book!

In the gloom of the gathering drizzle, Bill, Mike and Thruster posed for a pic. It was coming towards the end of the trip and that certain sadness I always seem to experience during the last forty eight hours or so of a trip was creeping over us all. Would you buy a bag of boilies from this lot?!

On our final afternoon a lorry from a fish farm arrived. No less than 2,000 small carp, mostly commons, went into the lake. At the time we thought that in time and given proper lake management we expected these stockies to grow to huge sizes and make Rainbow one of the most sought after tickets in France, though we thought that was probably a year or two off yet. (2019 comment: am I Mystic Meg or what!). Here's a 1995 pic of Pascal as he empties a dustbin load of one kilo carp into his lake. Just think, one of these babies may well weigh over seventy pounds today!

By the Monday we' had enough. The change in the weather had not had the hoped-for beneficial effect on the Rainbow carp at least, not on the ones in front of me and Bill, and the trip seemed to be grinding to an unproductive halt with increasing inevitability. Bill and I pulled off a day early ahead of the long drive home.

Liam treated us to a very nice meal in the restaurant in Hostens that night. We had a few beers and the odd wine or two and discovered that Liam's next project was to be a trip to film Nile perch. Andy said that he'd heard that the jackals were pretty fierce where they were going and he didn't fancy it one bit, so he was planning on returning to the BBC to film Jackanory or some such nonsense. It was good to have his jocular presence with us during the trip. A very nice guy and a good cameraman to boot. Here I sit in the mouth of Bill's bivvy while Andy films the rods. Very artistic!

Sue waxed lyrical about this and that, including the fact that my voice-overs had turned out nice again. Liam mellowed out more and more as the night went on (cough), and with the film more or less finished, he could unwind and relax, which he did big style.

Back to the chalet we strolled in the clear night air. The weather was changing yet again. Outside the chalet, the tall angular shape of the discarded horse-box awaited its call to arms. The return journey was a few hours away. I could hear the Range Rover groaning at the prospect.

Bill and I were returning by a different route, crossing Roscoff - Plymouth so Tat could collect me more easily. Even though it rained almost all the way up to the port we did the journey, including meal breaks, in about eleven hours. It's a bloody long way to Roscoff from Rainbow and that's a fact! At least going back this way we wouldn't have to wonder about Liam and his ponderous cargo. No more, "Excuse me! Have you seen a horse-box?"

The ferry crossing from Roscoff was a doddle, thanks to a day cabin which allowed Bill to get a bit of kip before the drive back to Sheffield. I'd arranged for Tat to meet the boat at Plymouth and, in bright sunshine, we emptied my gear onto the pavement outside the ferry terminal. I still had a couple of beers left so I toasted Bill's health as he drove off. It had been a real pleasure to share such a challenging trip with the guy.

The fates had not been kind to us and to be honest we had no idea how to fish Rainbow properly; stuff like fishing around the points or over the bars using rod rests, playing fish from the boat, things that are taken for granted at the lake these days. I had thoroughly enjoyed my week at Rainbow Lake and would love to go back there.

(In fact Tat and I went back in March 2006. The trip encompassed the dates both of my birthday and our wedding anniversary and perhaps we didn't take it as seriously as expected. Hey-ho. Never mind, eh? I'll come back to that trip soon but don't hold your breath; it's nothing to get excited about!)

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   Old Thread  #373 20 Jan 2019 at 1.17pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #372
I slept like a log that night but not long after turning in Bill lost yet another fish pulling out of what had felt like a pretty impressive carp (aren't they all when you loose them?). Then, as if to mock us still further, at first light I lost yet another fish to a margin snag after something picked up one of my inside rods and made it to the unknown snag in the blink of an eye. No amount of pulling or tugging was going to get this fish out so I put the rod back onto the rests to go and get the boat to see if I could free the fish. I had not gone a yard when suddenly the line on the snagged rod fell slack. I picked up the rod again, only to reel in the discarded tackle as if it had never been touched; no sign of fish or snag. Curious!

I went out in the boat to top up my bait carpet, Liam tagging along for the ride and to do some filming. You can see the car park in the distance with swim 1 visible over Liam's left shoulder.

At last, to raise our spirits just a smidgen, Bill landed a carp. It weighed about 14lb, not what you go to the south of France for but very welcome nonetheless. At least it showed that Bill and I were still correct in our firm belief that we were doing things right. After all, we’d now had eleven takes, resulting in two carp and two sturgeon. All we needed was a lump each, and we’d be able to call the trip a qualified success. Here's Bill playing the scamp after the take on one of his two distance rods. Try doing that today…He must have bitten on the lucky biscuit that day! (Apologies for the poor photo.) You can see that Bill is looking to his left where spreading ripples indicate that that a fish had just jumped down towards the corner. Fish had been showing there all week but we couldn't buy a pick up there!"

Liam seemed pretty happy. The daily scripts and the filming was working out well, thanks in no small part to Mike, Dave and Paul’s carp and not forgetting the sturgeon. He almost had his film in the can by now but there were still one or two shots left to do, including some pretty funny nonsense concerning Thruster, Bill, a pair of scissors and a Kevin Maddocks’ haircut. (Once again, you'll have to watch the film to get that!)

The weather changed on the seventh morning, cold and damp with a light drizzle which quickly turned to a heavy downpour. The Dutch lads left for home, a 1300 kilometer drive which I didn’t envy them. Some Dutch lads were due to arrive the following day so we were running out of chances for a result. Following Thruster’s departure for pastures new, Bill and I now had the bay entirely to ourselves but if we thought that this would make a difference, we were sadly mistaken, for our last night was a blank one. Mind you, the sunrise and sunset seen from our swims were often spectacularly beautiful.

Meanwhile, Thruster found himself in blissful isolation once more. No sooner had me moved in to the Black Beach than Mike and Paul moved out. They fancied the look of a large island overlooking the distant club house. It was to no avail and after a blank night they moved yet again, this time to a tiny island just behind the series of gullies which mark the boundary of the Caravan Bay.
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   Old Thread  #372 20 Jan 2019 at 11.56am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #371
The supermarket was selling fresh oysters. At the time I couldn't get enough oysters; quite simply, I adored them. Sadly in 2003 I developed a severe allergy to them and the resulting food poisoning was so bad it put me in hospital. The doc told me that my next oyster would be my last…it would kill me. No more oysters for me, then!

However, back to 1995 and Bill was curious about oysters as he had never tried them.

“What do they taste like, then?” he asked as we were driving back to the lake.

“Brilliant!” I assured him. “Try one.”

I opened one and offered it to Bill. I watched as he slid the juicy morsel into his mouth. I hadn’t told him that the best way to eat oysters is raw, still alive, straight from the shell! The big fella’s throat worked to keep his rising gorge down. I thought he was going to drive off the road and pile us into a tree.

“For crying out loud,” he shouted. “How can you eat that? It’s bloody awful.”

“All the more for me then” I said.

I ate the lot on the way back to Hostens and left the empty shells outside the chalet where Liam, Sue and Andy were staying. Apparently, I had missed one and as it began to fester in the heat, the smell permeated the house with nauseating effect. The film makers were not amused. What a waste of a good oyster!

We called in to see mick and the Dutch guys. They were suffering once again. After two blank nights following the carp’s departure from the area, they were back once more to hook pulls and lost fish. I have no idea what they were doing wrong but it must have been very frustrating. I can’t help thinking that they were getting sturgeon trouble, but they assured us it was carp that were causing the problems.

It was late afternoon and, having completed the day’s script and recording the voice-overs, we’d got the baits out early to our liking. More for something to do than a planned change of tactics, I’d decided to switch to a prototype Tutti flavoured Big Fish Mix boilie I’d brought along. These were fished over a bed of trout pellets, a complete change from what I’d been putting in to date. Now, a couple of hours later, in the cooling evening, sitting back in the low chair outside the bivvy some four or five yards away from the rods, I glanced down towards them. The middle indicator was bar taut, against the butt section of the rod. I’d had a take! Why hadn’t I heard the buzzer? Because the bloody things were turned off, that’s why, pillock!

(I always turn my buzzers off when I’m adjusting my line after casting out (or rowing the baits out in this case. I can’t stand all the bleeping and so on that accompanies most carp anglers when they are adjusting their lines, it’s so unnecessary. Of course once in a blue moon, you forget to turn them back on again!)

I picked up the rod and wound down, hoping to feel the responding thump of a good fish from the other end. Glancing at the reel it was clear that the fish had gone some distance, straight into the nearest snag. Cursing myself for a fool, I jumped into the boat and pulled myself across the 120 yards of intervening water to where the line disappeared straight down from my arched rod tip to the snag below. I could make no impression on either the fish or the snag. Luckily, the Quicksilver was now on the reel so I could exert a lot more pressure. I grabbed the line in my hands and heaved, cutting my fingers in the process. Suddenly, the line jerked clear and I took up the rod again, prepared to resume the fight, but the line led straight to another snag. Once again I got over the top of the snag and pulled. Whereupon the snag released my gear intact and certainly not encumbered by any carp!

Once again me and Bill enjoyed the warm evening with a beer or two before turning in.

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   Old Thread  #371 20 Jan 2019 at 11.12am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #370
Mike told us that he felt that the fish were not in his and Paul’s area in the sort of numbers they’d experienced earlier. They were seeing less action over the baits with fewer fish crashing out and little or no fizzing. Mike had kept his baiting to a minimum so as to increase the chances of the hook bait being picked up but it was clear that the change in the weather was pushing the fish out of their baited swims.

But there was still time for Paul to get in on the act. Just when he had thought he’d missed his chance, as it began to get light at five o’clock in the morning, he caught a long, lean mirror of just over 251b. Paul had switched one rod to a new spot in the margins where he’d watched fish rolling as they cleaned up small carpets of bait, which he’d been trickling into the swim for a couple of days. Naturally, Mike’s fish had all fallen to his own air-dried Essential Products baits but Paul kept the Nutrabaits’ flag flying, catching his fish on the (then) new Tutti-Frutti shelfies.

Day four arrived and in swim 1 Thruster was feeling the wanderlust. The under water terrain in front of his swim seemed to be an inpenetrable jungle of snags, the only clear area being at very long range near to another bird hide. Thruster had found this area on his initial scouting foray with the boat and sounder and had marked it down as a likely looking area, using the boat to position all three rods near the shooting hide. Likely or not, so far he had not had so much as a single pick up.

Nor, for that matter, had Mischa one of the Dutch guys who had moved out of his starting position as he felt there were too many lines in the water. He was probably right. Sadly for him his new spots had so far been unproductive. I can only assume that the fish were coming into the bay from our left and we were perhaps cutting Thruster and Mischa off in some way. Seems hard to believe but I’m sure that was what was happening.

Thruster was also now being hampered by not having ready access to a boat. Liam had commandeered the only spare one to use for filming, leaving poor old Thruster out in the cold. Pissed off at not being able to fish his preferred area, in the end, he had grabbed Mr. Director’s boat while he wasn’t looking, loaded up his substantial pile of tackle, food, beer and wine and set off in the general direction of the Black Beach.

Liam spotted him when he was halfway across the bay and he was incensed at the prospect of losing his transport.
“What are you doing with that boat?” he yelled.

“Hang gliding!” said Thruster, continuing on his majestic, arse-back’rds way. Liam fumed and threw things, but there was no stopping Thruster as he thundered across the bay, hidden in his own welter of spray kicked up by his unorthodox rowing style. As he turned the corner and passed out of sight, another boat hove into view, cutting across the bay, heading for the car park. This one was also being rowed in a peculiar fashion, push me, pull-you, one side at a time. If you ever see the film you’ll see what I mean. It must have been Silly Rowing Day at Rainbow Lake.

We heard later that Thruster eventually finished up on Black Beach, just in time to join Mike and Paul in their search for a new area to fish. They’d had their first blank night and, for the first time, their baited patches had remained untouched throughout the night. In the three days remaining, Mike and Paul would move four times, a tribute to their dedication and perseverance.

Meanwhile, after getting settled, along with Thruster now set up on the Black Beach, Paul and Mike were getting hungry. Time for a visit to Hostens to lay in some grub. How do you ask for one of those long loaves of bread in French? Paul asked. You say, “un bonk s’il vous plait,", Mike told him, making an excuse and beating a hasty retreat, leaving Paul alone in the bread shop with just the voluptuous lass behind the counter for company.
Pointing innocently, Paul came out with the phrase in perfectly accented French but was confused when the gorgeous girl behind the counter smiled, drew the shutters, put up the closed sign on the door and advanced with a predatory smile on her his dreams!

Purchases completed, Paul and Mike headed back for the lake, passing on the way, Bill and I heading for the bar. This was purely for professional reasons you understand, for Liam wanted to film the village and the bar, preferably with volunteers drinking a beer or two outside in the bright sunshine. Reluctantly, we allowed our arms to be twisted. The days were getting hotter again after a brief period of overcast and drizzle; now the temperatures were in the mid-seventies, just the weather for sitting outside under the café's awning, drinking ice cool beer.
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   Old Thread  #370 20 Jan 2019 at 10.52am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #369
The strike was met by a solid resistance and almost immediately the long pointed snout of a sturgeon shot skywards as the grey, arrow-shaped creature cleared the water. The rest of the short-lived fight was equally spectacular, with frequent broaches interspersed with darting, short and savage runs. The fish had picked up a margin bait and it put fifty or sixty yards between itself and the bank on its first run. It was (briefly), one of the more memorable fights I have enjoyed in my time. I say briefly because whatever it was, the bloody thing fell off! I said a very rude word. Things were not going well for me this trip!

Then, as if to reinforce my ineptness, Bill actually went and caught one of the blighters! Not content with seeing me lose what would have been our first sturgeon, he then proceeded to latch into a strong, if unspectacular fish that came grudgingly to the net with few, if any, histrionics. The sturgeon fell to one of Bill’s long range rods, a fish weighing just under 261b. The fish’s tail was broken almost at a right angle, which probably accounted for the unspectacular fight.

I had been experiencing lift and bleeps all morning and we both suspected there were sturgeon about and sure enough mid-morning I had another. Again, the take came from the inside rod and once more I was treated to an aerobatic display which would put a lively sea trout to shame. The fish slugged it out on a relatively short line but, compared to Bill’s dour scrap, this one was all action. Bill and Thruster joined me and Bill dipped the net under the still protesting beast. Together we heaved the long, sinewy creature ashore, placing it gently down on the mat. Into the sling, up she goes…just under twenty pounds…Not bad!

This pic shows the position of the sturgeon's mouth and it is clearly obvious why we were getting so many bleeps and false takes.

Two sturgeon in four hours made a nice picture and I know both Bill and I were very pleased with our respective captures. I had taken to calling them ‘Prestons’, a pun on the name of Preston Sturgess, an American film director and screen writer. Preston Sturgess…Preston Sturgeon…Presonts. Geddit?!

Liam was particularly caustic at this, saying that he’d never heard of him. For a film maker himself, Liam is obviously very poorly informed about the history of the medium in which he has chosen to make his living. Born in 1898, Preston Sturgess won two Oscars, for The Great McGinty’ and ‘Christmas in July’, as well as directing such classics as ‘Sullivan’s Travels’ and the brilliant, ‘The Lady Eve’. By a strange coincidence, Sturgess retired to the Bordeaux area of France in 1950, where he died, nine years later, aged 61. That's Liam told, then!

Soon, the pulls and tugs we d experienced throughout the day ceased entirely and the fish could be seen moving out of the bay en masse. The last we saw of them they were off jumping and bow waving off to our left. It looked as if they were on their way round to see what Mike and Paul had to offer! Lucky them.

News from around the lake began to filter in as I sat in my bivvy ready to write the new day's script. The Dutch lads still hadn't put a fish on the bank, though not for the want of takes. All fours had had runs during the night but had either failed to connect (probably sturgeon) or lost fish to the snags. The paying party had rung to say they wren't oming after all, and off the Sensas Team there was no sign. However, Mike had cracked it again ( knew he would), this time with a big round fish of 31lb 8oz. It was his only take of the night and it came at ten o’clock the previous evening. Once again, the big carp had tripped up on the same spot where Mike had caught his previous fish; he might just as well have left his other two rods at home.
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   Old Thread  #369 18 Jan 2019 at 3.03pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #368
Bill, Thruster and I spent the early part of the night setting the world to rights over a beer and a bottle of wine or two. Bill was still a bit despondent about losing a very strong carp earlier that evening but Thruster soon cheered us both up. Christ he was a big guy! In fact the pair of them would not have been out of place in a tag team in the wrestling ring!

Thruster the Forester was becoming a real boon to the trip. A hard nut with a heart of gold, he had us in stitches with tales of his exploits at home (judged, I have to regret, too outrageous for the sensitive stomachs of my gentle readers). How his missus puts up with him is astonishing. Kindred spirits seem drawn together and we spent several highly amusing, not to say, hysterical evenings talking the dark hours away.

I turned in about one in the morning but I couldn’t sleep. Out in the darkness, fish crashed out over our baited areas with monotonous regularity. Eventually, so convinced was I that I was going to get a run that I sat by my rods until the dawn, drinking gallons of coffee to keep me awake. Bill’s swim too seemed to be full of fish crashing out by his markers. I felt certain that one of us was going to get a take, yet nothing happened through the night and as the dawn light began to chase the mist off the water, I returned to my bed somewhat chastened and rather downhearted. What did we have to do to get a take? In the end I realised that it simply wasn’t to be and after a quick breakfast and a cup of tea I dragged my weary bones back to the warmth and comfort of the big bivvy.

I dozed on and off as the sun rose behind the pine forest that surrounds Rainbow Lake, scattered images of what might have been flitting across my mind’s eye. I had decided not to re-bait with first light, choosing instead to leave the overnight baits where they were, just in case any carp remained in the baited area though, admittedly, the crashing out had stopped. However, you couldn’t be sure they’d all cleared off. Perhaps now, with washed out baits and less groundbait in the swim the chances of a take were improved. Who knows? It was worth a try.

I’d just dropped off again when the buzzer screamed out, indicating a fantastically fast run. I struggled to the rods, trying to shake off the thrice cursed sleeping bag as I went and arrived at the still protesting buzzer in a tangled mess. The line was absolutely pouring off the spool of the reel on the middle rod. Picking it up I struck hard…at absolutely nothing! What the...?

I’d no sooner got over my astonishment than the left hand rod was away to a similar flyer, but the resulting strike was met by the same total lack of resistance. There could only be one answer; the sturgeon had arrived. For the remainder of that morning both Bill and I were plagued by a series of strange takes; little lifts, pulls and tugs, the odd bleep or series of bleeps, but neither of us actually managed to hook into one of the takes, if takes was what they were.

It was very frustrating to say nothing of hard work, what with the constant re-baiting and so on. It was clear that the lake’s shoal of sturgeon moved around mob handed and they had arrived in force in our bay, where they were eating us out of hearth and home. Back and forth we scurried in the boat, taking top up supplies of bait and particles across to our distant markers where the sturgeon were obviously making hay. By why weren’t we getting fish?

It wasn’t until we voiced our frustrations to Liam that it became a little clearer. Liam has had a few encounters with sturgeon in his time, in fact, he holds some kind of world record for Beluga sturgeon. He told us that sturgeon feed by extending their lips onto the bait, picking it up, crushing and biting into it at the same time. All their chewing is done at the front of the mouth, unlike a carp, which has to pass food items to the throat teeth before it can chew them up.

We now figured that the sturgeon we were encountering were picking up the boilie hook baits, holding them in their lips and moving off with the bait. The hook was still outside the mouth so that when we struck, we simply pulled the hair through the bait, leaving the sturgeon with a bite to eat and us with sweet Fanny Adams! Plan B was called for. What was Plan B? Simple. Very short hairs on an extended shank hook a bit like the so-called Looney Rig. This had the effect of presenting the bait below the bend of the hook. Did it work? In short, yes it did!

It was eight o’clock next morning when I had a flying run. The night had been fairly quiet but it was clear that the sturgeon were still around as they had been showing themselves on the surface from time to time throughout the night, though they were obviously not feeding. Probably full up, judging by the amount of bait we reckoned they’d cleared up. Then, as the light strengthened, they got their heads down again. The run came to one of the margin rods, placed on a narrow ledge in about eight or nine feet of water, surrounded by depths of twelve to fourteen feet. I think the run was all the more impressive simply because it came from so close in. The spool seemed to be emptying at an alarming rate and when I picked up the rod, the reel was buzzing like a kicked-over hornet’s nest.
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   Old Thread  #368 18 Jan 2019 at 2.52pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #367
Some twenty yards in from the burnt tree and to its left, I’d found a very interesting feature on the sounder. It appeared to be a dead tree or similar snag, but groping round with a grapnel had produced nothing tangible. An echo sounder can lie by showing weed and tree branches as fish, but it doesn’t usually deceive by showing snags that aren’t there so what was it? I put the sounder onto zoom and finally found what appeared to be a soft underwater hillock with a coating of soft silt and a few straggles of weed on its top. The snag was about ten feet further out from this hillock and it was clear that this area would certainly be very attractive to carp if I could get them feeding in there. I decided to move two rods onto this feature, stop putting in particle and fish a light carpet of boilies only on this new mark.

And it had worked. Though small, at least it had been a carp, our first take at
extreme range and proof that we were at least getting something right. Then, as the evening drew on and Bill, Thruster and I were sharing a meal and a beer in my swim when Bill’s middle rod, fishing a gully in some eight feet of water some 130m from the bank, was away to an absolute flyer. Bill tiptoed down the path with all the grace of a delicate gazelle (oh, really?) and struck the bucking rod that was already threatening to jump off the rests. The tip was dragged down almost to the horizontal, as a very strong fish set off on a run that stripped sixty yards of line from the reel. It was an amazing run the fish staying deem and making savage line-stripping runs.

Gradually, the fish slowed and Bill began to work it back towards us. As he did so, the left hand rod, now fishing an area of shallower water in front of the point was also away, the tip section pulling right round, almost to its fighting curve on the rests, before a startled Thruster could respond to Bills shout to grab it! I don’t know if it was this extra complication that caused Bill to lose concentration just for a split second, or whether the fish he had one would have found the snag anyway, but that is what it did; one second, going hell for leather, the next second, solid.

(It has sine been discovered that the area in front of what was then swim 3 is snag city, which is the reason neither swims three or four are fished these days.)

Bill tried to pull the snagged fish clear for about thirty seconds, but it was to no avail, so we jumped into the boat and pulled our way across to the snag, hoping and praying that the fish was still on. But when we arrived directly over the snag, the hook pulled free with almost no effort at all and the fish was gone. Bill was devastated, for the fish had clearly been something very special. What was strange, was that we had passed over that snag with the sounder several times but nothing had shown up.

As if that disappointment was not enough, the second take that Bill had on his left hand rod had come adrift in yet another snag, leaving a shattered Thruster to reel in the intact end tackle, the bait still on. Two runs in as many minutes, both obviously from carp and both now lost to snags. It was becoming clear that, as with the Dutch lads, we too were fishing an area that was full of snags.

At times like this, when an angler has lost not one, but possibly two very big fish the needs to be left alone. No amount of commiseration can make up for the disappointment of losing fish. I pulled the cap from a bottle of beer, handed it over and left Bill to his inner cursing. Luck was certainly not going his way on this trip. Four takes and all four had found one of the innumerable snags in the bay in front of him.

Bill quickly sorted himself out, put fresh baits on new hook links and while I held the rods as Bill rowed his hookbaits and fresh bait carpets to his two markers, Thruster got busy with the corkscrew. Chores over, we sat in my swim as the light went, gazing in awe at a spectacular sunset, which kissed the tree tops to our left. It was warm and a gentle breeze had picked up from the south west, which was now blowing straight into our bay.

We’d been told that the fish didn’t move with the wind other than to move from one gully to another, one island to another. That said, we felt that maybe there were a few fish prepared to move on the freshening breeze and hope sprang eternal once again. Bill forgot his earlier disappointment as the three of us made a big hole in a case of beer and a bottle or five of red wine’ I’d bought the booze just that morning and the idea was to take it easy over the five remaining days. Hey ho! The best laid plans!

Out in the darkness, fish were crashing out with almost monotonous regularity over the baits; it was just a matter of time before we got among the big 'uns. In the margins in front of my swim, a dart shaped projectile left the water, silhouetted in the full moon’s glaring light. It looked as if the sturgeon had moved in. Wouldn’t mind one of them, I thought to myself.
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   Old Thread  #367 18 Jan 2019 at 2.48pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #366
By now it was gone midday and the sun had climbed to its zenith. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and there was plenty of heat in the sun, even though it was still only mid-March; T shirt weather. Glass of beer weather!
Thus inspired, I sat in the bivvy and wrote the draft of the day’s script, covering bait and tackle. Did you know that many famous film directors wrote and rewrote scripts on set? Today, Rainbow Lake, tomorrow, Hollywood? I think not!

Day 2 arrived with news of another big fish for Mike at 401b 4oz. The bugger! I knew you he’d empty the lake.

Meanwhile, the Dutch lads were suffering woefully. The swim they’d chosen presented a lot of problems and they had been losing fish to the snags almost since the day they’d arrived. The main problem they’d encountered were the snag trees across the far margin to which they were fishing. Dropping short to avoid the snags meant no more takes! What do you do, fish the tree line and loose fish or drop short and get no bites? Very frustrating. (They were fishing what is known as swim 18 today and the snags in that swim are well known and avoided by the regulars. At the time there we no regulars to put them right.)

Luckily for the most part they were getting the end gear back as invariably the fish were lost when the hooks pulled out. One of the Dutch lads had lost a huge fish that shed the hook and left him to reel in half a tree. And what a tree it was! It looked like the Christmas tree from Trafalgar Square had been dumped in the lake. It was massive. How he got it in to the bank I'll never know. Now, to add to their woes, it was clear that all this activity - hauling in snags, loosing takes - had pushed the fish out of the area. What to do? No good sitting in the swim all day simply to loose fish. Move on, maybe? In the end, they decided to sit it out in the hope that the fish would move back into a swim, which was clearly much to the carps’ liking. A change of rigs and hooks was probably called for but at least they were on fish, which is more that you can say for Bill, Thruster and me.

Over in the north east bay, Mike was busy with the film crew again. His big fish had taken at about 1.30 in the morning and followed a couple of hours of constant action, with fish crashing out over the baited areas. In fact, the 40 was Mike’s second fish of the night, as a small carp of about 81b had tripped up on his presentation as the light went. Once again, a popped up fruit flavoured boilie over a big bed of particles had done the damage.

Mike had been baiting a narrow channel in seven feet of water for two days and he’d seen the area cleared of bait during the first night, so it was a racing cert that he’d be on for a fish come the second. And that wasn’t all the action on the second night either, for Dave too had caught again, this time a big ex-Brieve mirror, which took the bait at about four in the morning and gave him fifteen minutes of hectic and nerve stretching excitement. Like all Dave’s fish, this one too fell to a popped up Cream Cajouser readymade. I think it is great what Dave says on the video that accompanies the shots of the fish going back. “I’m glad to say that even after forty years of fishing, after I got it in the net, I was shaking!”

Not content with his three carp so far, Dave now did what I consider to be a very magnanimous thing, for he pulled out of his swim to allow Bill to fish a long rod down towards the area where Dave had been getting most of his action. He was clearly still suffering from the effects of the flu, or whatever it was he’d caught, and he was going to have a night off. Meanwhile, Liam and Andy the cameraman filmed everything that moved (and loads of things that didn’t move, for that matter) and I sat in the big bivvy and wrote the scripts that are on the finished film.

For the three of us fishing the bay in front of the clubhouse the going had been slow verging on the non-existent. Just the one lost fish hooked in the margins. However, at last we were beginning to get a bit of action. On the morning of Day 2, another pick up for Bill, along the same margins had also found the same snag and that fish too had come off. Then, at about ten in the morning, when we’d thought that it was all over for the day, I caught a small carp of about eight pounds from a new area I’d found with the sounder.

Liam piled the video crew into one of the Rainbow Lake boats, which we nicknamed The African Queen due to its rather antique looking canopy, and then the Swamp Donkey powered the film makers across the lake, using a spluttering outboard engine that handily leaked fuel in a delicate trail across the three swims which Bill, Thruster and I were fishing. Any good that?
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   Old Thread  #366 18 Jan 2019 at 2.34pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #365
Baits out, burgers frying in the pan and a cold beer at the ready we awaited the fading light with a keen anticipation. The darkness fell like a shroud, in what seemed like seconds flat and the tiredness and excited exhaustion of the previous forty eight hours caught up on me. I climbed into my brand new, never-been-used-before sleeping bag at about ten o’clock and I‘d like to tell you that I fell fast asleep. Not yet I didn’t. I should have tested the bag before leaving home, for it was clear that the zip was knackered and it resisted all attempts to get it to stay done up. I struggled and cursed and threw the stupid bag across the bivvy, but to no avail. In the end, I had to settle for spreading it out like a blanket. Luckily, I had brought my a one piece thermal suit in case of extreme cold or emergencies, very welcome it was too.

Eventually I dropped off into an uneasy sleep at about one in the morning, not before I’d checked on John and Bill. They appeared to be sleeping soundly, which made me all the angrier at the frustrating sleeping bag. I awoke, fishless, with the dawn and wandered down to Bill’s swim to see if he’d had anything during the night, but his dry landing net and the sounds of a deep and untroubled sleep coming from his bivvy told its own story.

I was standing there when I heard a distant screaming run from the corner where Dave was fishing. It went on and on for what seemed like an age. Come on, Dave! Eventually it stopped and, crouching down to peer through the undergrowth, I could just make out Dave striking a rod. Leaving Bill to his slumbers, I wandered up the bank to see if I could help. As it turned out, my assistance was very welcome for Dave looked to be in some considerable pain but he stuck to his task with what was clearly a good fish and, after a very dour and exhausting fight, I slipped the net under a lovely thick mirror, which looked to be about 251b, which had picked up Dave’s Cream Cajouser shelfie.

I sacked the fish, while Dave explained that he’d been suffering for the past twenty four hours with a crippling headache, sore throat and streaming eyes and had hardly got a wink of sleep all night. He reckoned he’d just nodded off when the buzzer had announced the run. He certainly looked bad enough, so I left him to catch up on his sleep and wandered back to my own swim. Bill was stirring. “Any good, mate?” I asked him, though I could guess what the answer would be.

“Nah”, he told me, “though I lost a good fish right here in the margins.”

Bill pointed to a spot just a couple of yards from the bank where he’d put his margin rod the night before.

“It went like a bat out of hell up the edge before it found a snag”, he said.

I commiserated and put a sympathetic kettle on to boil. Thruster came thundering through the undergrowth like a bulldozer. Christ, he is a big lad! Nothing! we chorused, before he could ask. “Same here”, he replied.

So it looked as if it was all down to Dave to save our bacon and, even as we sat drinking the first cup of tea of the day, the sound of Dave’s buzzer broke the still air once again. This time, Dave needed no help to land a very lively mirror of about 18 or 191b, which was put straight back without being weighed. The fish was captured on film by the video crew who’d arrived earlier and were busy shooting a general shot of the lake when Dave’s buzzer sounded. The resulting scramble to get down to his swim and start filming the fight was comical to watch, Liam charging ahead, empty-handed, while Andy the cameraman and Sue the sound engineer struggled across the broken terrain in his wake, carrying boxes and cameras, tripods and microphones and all the other paraphernalia that seems to be required when making a video.

And what of the others? Well, the Dutch lads had suffered all night with the dreaded sturgeon; one of the other guests had caught a small carp; a couple of visiting English journalists had blanked and the two paying guests had also failed. That just left Mike and Paul. Liam was getting worried. He needn’t have! Mike had caught, and what a catch, a lovely mirror of just over 371b, while Paul had missed out on a fish that had fallen off half way in. The pair had baited up several areas along gullies and on plateaux where they could see their bait carpet. Fishing like this it was easy to see which areas had been visited, for the lake bed had been polished clear of silt and the bait was gone on the two spots that had produced runs during the night.
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   Old Thread  #365 18 Jan 2019 at 2.15pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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This a general view across to the channels in front of swims 2 and 3.

Splitting up the photo I can show you the rough areas we fished. The blue dots are the areas when I placed my three rods. They are between 120 and 130m out.

The red dots are where Bill placed the baits. His longest rod is about 150m from the bank while the nearest one was only about 50m and was placed in what appeared to be a rather snaggy area over which a lot of fish seemed to be present if the sounder was to be believed.

In addition Dave suggested we all fished at least one rod close in. It was between eight to twelve feet in front of us, sloping down rapidly to a wildly fluctuating lakebed. It would be easy to bait the margins rods with a steady flow of particle, putting it in little-and-often, along with a handful of boiled baits to add further to the bait carpet’s attraction qualities.

The particle we always use in France is a mixture of three different ingredients; flaked maize, groats and a micro seed blend. These are mixed in equal parts and about eight kilos of dry blend makes up a twelve kilo wet mix, enough to fill a ten kilo bait bucket once water has been added and the particles have swollen. The beauty of this mix is that it needs no boiling. Simply cover the seeds with water and add flavour or liquid food additives as required. Leave for 24 hours and it’s ready for use. The groats and the flaked maize in particular swell up and absorb water and the additives very effectively. In fact, the mixture almost trebles its weight after the day in soak.

Naturally enough, the boilies Bill and I were using were the new Nutrabaits shelfies. Bill had also brought bait along for Paul Dicks, Thruster and the Dutch guys. We chose to start off on the Cream Cajouser and the Pineapple and Banana, while Paul went on the Tuttis and Thruster on the Strawberry Cream and Bergamot Oil. We also intended to make up a ten kilo bucket of fresh particle each day. Luckily Bill's motor was large enough to allow us to cram about 200kg of mixed bait in among the rest of the gear!

Liam came round in the afternoon to do some recording once we’d set up and got the rods and the baiting up sorted out. This took the form of a sort of video diary, which he hoped would chart our progress (or lack of it) during the trip. Bottle of beer and wine glass in hand, Bill and I did our bit and, as Liam left for the comforts of the chalet down the road in Hostens, which would be the video crew’s home for the week, we prepared for the first night on a new French water. Thrilling stuff, eh?

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   Old Thread  #364 17 Jan 2019 at 3.49pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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To be honest we were winging it; neither of us had a clue where to start because there were so many features in front of both of us that it was hard to know where to start. It was clear that the small humps and tiny islands were connected by a series of bars that ran across us from right to left and they seemed to continue down into the far channel, which is where Dave was fishing.

Nowadays these bars and channels are characteristics of the majority of the swims on Rainbow. there are few flat areas of lakebed so the choices of where to fish in each swim is now generally acknowledged. However, at the time of our visits the swims 5-12 and 12-18 did not exist and there was certainly no road access to them even if you wanted to fish off piste as it were.

We were also intending to fish a pair of rods in the margins. Putting all our eggs in the distance basket was not a good plan and as Dave Watson had said we could use a couple of extra rods if we wanted to, we didn’t need any further encouragement. Bill’s margin looked very tasty, with overhanging trees and deep water right in close. Mine was somewhat less inspiring and it wasn’t until I’d had another little explore with the boat and the sounder that I found the host of interesting (and very confusing!) features in an around the channels.

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   Old Thread  #363 17 Jan 2019 at 3.24pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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The channels leading into the bay from both the right and left hand ends could be covered from the main bank if necessary (from swim 5 on the left and swim 1 on the right these days), while two distinct and very fishy looking points leading out into the bay at its extremities were unfishable, due to the presence of a couple of shooting hides, though they could be fished by either Bill or myself if we fancied rowing the bait out a long, long way. All in all, it was a tasty area to fish.

But first it was time for a beer. After all, you cannot start a French trip without celebrating your arrival and toasting your (hoped for) success, so I drove into Hostens for a crate of Kronenbourg from the local shop. It was a glorious day, warm with a mild breeze; a perfect day for a beer outside a beckoning café and I was tempted, but I didn’t fall... Like hell! Honestly Ken, you’ve got the breaking strain of a Kit-Kat.

I sat in the sun while the cafe awning flapped in the fresh puff of wind. The beer was ice cold and the barman chatty enough. Too chatty, I wondered? He was very interested in the new project being run just down the road and wanted to hear all about the carp fishing and so on. I had a feeling I’d be seeing more of the bar as the trip went on.

I drove back to the lake to find Bill already set up so I quickly set up in my chosen swim along from Bill. I’d brought the big canvas pump up Bivvy, which is so comfy it is like home from home. Inside I set up my small table, typewriter and small chair. It was like a green-shrouded office. I'd had brought a ream of paper on which to write the scripts which I had been asked to produce on a daily basis, depending on the demands of the filming and what needed to be covered each day. It was quite cosy!

Bill and I had already drafted a rough guide to what needed to be covered, for we didn’t just want to make a fishing video of baits and rigs and leave it at that. No, we wanted to make it as instructional as possible, passing on the benefit of our own experiences in France over the years. I like to think we’ve succeeded, but only time will tell. With the bivvy now set up on a small mound overlooking the lake, I set up the rods to cover as much of the bay in front of me as possible, without impinging on Thruster, who was to my right and who also fancied fishing at range towards the entrance to the bay away to my right. We had a little chat about it and I agreed with everything he said - like you would – he’s built like a brick **** house!

Bill and I had another row around with the sounder and found an average of about twelve foot at range and also under our feet in the margins. The steepness of the shelves was amazing. Tight under the burnt tree, I found about two feet of water yet less than a few yards away it was twelve feet deep. and just a bit further again it was down to a depth of eighteen, nineteen even twenty feet. So within no more than three yards of the bank the margins dropped from a couple of feet to twenty feet! No way freebies were going to stay in the margins over there! This is a wide angle view of the whole bay with the modern day swim 5 on the extreme middle left of the pic.

The over hanging tree in the middle right in this pic was a spot I fancied for one rod, but again the slope was steep in the extreme. Using the sounder I traced the path of the bar that ran from the left hand side of the island and here I found more reasonable depths between three to six feet along the top of the connecting bar that ran from island to island. Bill and I chose to concentrate on and beyond this bar that ran right across the bay between our two swims. We would put a rod each on the top of the bar in about five feet of water and one each behind it in anything from six to sixteen feet in depth. Bill decided to fish tight to and in front of the far island and also to an area of snags to the left. He baited all three rods with particle and a kilo of boilies over the top.

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   Old Thread  #362 17 Jan 2019 at 2.59pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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PM for you Rumple!
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   Old Thread  #361 17 Jan 2019 at 5.30am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
Cracking thread Ken - slowly working my way through it.

Regarding the SW scene. I have a few mates living down that neck of the woods and i have ventured around the Exeter Canal and also Upper and Lower Tamar (beautiful lakes and the canal having massive potential for all species)

Did you spend much time on these waters, I know Pete Gregory had a 40+ out of the Exeter Canal way back and also the Upper Tamar held a few doubt some of this may well be contained in this thread and i'll come to it along the way.

So much untapped potential in the SW waters (think it was called Peninsula Fisheries).....shame that the lakes are adjoined or near to Tarka and his mates...

Be lucky..
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   Old Thread  #360 13 Jan 2019 at 3.01pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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Before we started fishing we had a look in the club house where Pascal the owner of the lake showed us around. I found the bar particularly interesting especially when he opened a bottle of champagne. The showers and toilets were pristine and in the bar there were several table comfy chars in which to relax while sipping a beer or two. It looked like bliss as far as I was concerned!

From outside in the car park came a wheezing and a hissing as Liam's Range Rover, now relieved of its horsebox pulled up. I think the journey down had taken it out of the vehicle, which was steaming gently in the April sunshine. Water dribbled from the front of the car and there was a distinct smell of hot metal and boiling water. It would be glad of a rest!

Andy and Liam set to with a vengeance, gear of all kinds started to spill from the back of the car; tripods, cameras, battery packs. Blimey! Liam wasn't doing things by half. Pascal looked on in puzzled amusement!

Liam wanted to do some scene-setting shots of the lake so I was called into action as a model. My early bald spot put in its first appearance. It wasn't until Liam was doing the editing that he pointed it out to me. How kind of him. Until then I had no idea it was there. In my late forties, I had to accept that age was creeping up on me!

Mike and Paul's plan for their swim was to fish at varying depths, baiting several areas of clear gravel in between weed beds that could be inspected at regular intervals to see if the bait had been eaten. Bill and I were somewhat restricted in our choice of swims, due to the constraints that filming and writing scripts would impose upon us. We both fancied the long bay down from where Mike and Paul were to fish, where a nice wide sandy area looked big enough to house us both. This would have been, I guess, what is now swim 12. However, the filming and recording the sound track demands easy access to the participants and Liam wanted at least a couple of us to be within easy access of the Range Rover.

The bay in front of the clubhouse looked tasty and Dave had been fishing the area with some success. He was in a corner swim - swim 4 is not fished these days - and he offered to move out of his swim to let Bill in. However, I think he rather fancied a swim mid way along the bank between the corner and swim 1. I think this would be swim 3 today but if that is the case then it is now usually left vacant so as not to interfere with anglers in swims 2 or 5. Besides, Dave was clearly on carp and we needed fish for the film. So what with one thing and another Bill ended up in 3 while I went into swim2. Thruster pitched up in swim 1. This shows the bay and the position of the four swims we were going to fish.

They like you to pair up at Rainbow or at least fish adjacent closely neighbouring swims as they reckon most of the playing of fish is done from a boat so someone needs to stay in the swim in case another rod goes off. The ones we would fish were ideally suited. The Dutch lads were in what are now 18 & 19 with Mike and Paul in 11, a swim they called the Black Beach after the dark almost black sand therein. Before Bill and I went off to at last set up and start fishing I did a group shot of the assorted players. Here l-r are: Dave, Pascal, Liam doing his 'I'm the director' bit, yours truly, Andy the cameraman and Bill.

While Bill went off for a walk round, I dug out the sounder, jumped into the boats and had a quick row around the bay in front of the area in front of our swims. It was so full of features I had no idea where to start. The area in front of our swims appeared to be tailor-made for the sort of long-range fishing I enjoy most. About 130 yards away, a small island poked its head above the surface. It was decorated by a solitary tree, a pine, its trunk burnt and twisted, leaning out over the water at a steep and crazy angle. You know what it’s like when you see something like that, don’t you? Regardless of what the underwater terrain is like, you automatically think to yourself, that looks tasty. Silly really, but I bet more than a few of you have felt the same at times. It’s like a sign saying, ‘fish here’! Incidentally, one of the shooting hides can just about be seen in the extreme middle left of this photo. This is now swim 5 and is one of the most productive swims on modern Rainbow lake.

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