Jump to content
Carp Anglers Group Forums

A Week In France


Recommended Posts

I’m not one for getting stressed, I’ve always been a fairly stress free person happy to take life and people as they come. I’m not highly strung or demanding (though my wife may disagree!) I like things done right and I’m a stickler for planning.

Therefore it came as some surprise that I found myself getting annoyed with the children and short with my wife. Given the fact that I have a target driven job, as I have done for the last 12 years of my working life I could only put my recent angst down to the fact that the 16 hour working days and the constant travel, meetings and presentations were having an adverse affect on me.

I must admit to getting an ‘itch’ as spring unveils its glorious colours and despite my voracious reading and watching of all things carp, this itch gets much stronger as the days get longer and nature begins to take a grasp of winters’ tail, and surges forward with greenery, growth and life! I’d only been fishing once since Christmas, in Tatton Park with my Pike-mad mates for a few hours, and in a lake that holds only 20 or so carp, I didn’t have high hopes.

As I arrived home from a full week away travelling in the South West in the middle of May, my wife said to me ‘you need to go fishing don’t you?’ to which I replied ‘yes’ she said ‘why don’t you book yourself somewhere?’ I didn’t need telling twice! I spoke to Bridget at Angling Lines to find out what was available early June and found out that a late cancellation at a lake called Genets left the entire lake without a booking for week commencing June 4th. I paid in full and planned to drive taking the Plymouth route to Caen there and then.

Now I’m not one for stocked waters, for the past ten years my limited fishing time has been spent on large European and American/Canadian Rivers, I love the untapped wilderness with no other carp fishermen in sight and abhor the overcrowded ‘stella style’ lakes in the UK. Despite my misgivings fishing on a paylake in France, beggars can’t be choosers so I followed the crowd, bought lots of lake type end tackle and swallowed my pride!

Having informed my wife of the dates I’d booked she told me that the children were on half term that week, but that it wasn’t a problem and that if the lake was available I should go and fish. You don’t get many women being that supportive of a husband that needs some time out, especially considering we have two young puppies and two children under the age of five, I appreciate I’m blessed with an understanding wife!

Once ‘permissions’ were in place I began planning the trip, the bed chair and chair needed upgrading so treated myself to the new Nash Indulgence Air Lite Wide Boy SS (look it up, it’s the equivalent of a 4 poster bed for carp fishermen!) and Nash Sub-Low Chair. Everything else was up to the job but the small matter of deciding on my bait, needed attention.

Having read all feedback on Genets for the past 10 years, and being sponsored by CCmoore with the going bait being the Odyssey XXX, I planned my baiting strategy. The XXX has been a popular bait due to the fact it has elevated levels of GLM (Green Lipped Mussel) these are naturally intensively farmed in New Zealand and Australia and have become a fantastic addition to boilies for the past 7 years. The XXX contains 10% GLM, never one to go with the crowd I decided to buy 25lb’s of MB Baits ‘Snail and Shell’ boilies, these include levels of 28% GLM so I figured they would give the same, or increased attraction levels, in a different bait. My love of natural baits for carp also saw me buy a further 25lb’s of Aqua Dynamix ‘Monster Worm’ boilies in 2 different sizes 20 and 14 mil. To complete the natural approach I bought 1kg (2.2lb’s) of freshwater snails and a couple of litres of bloodworm extract. These would be used in stick mixes, knowing the lake was shallow (5ft maximum) and relatively silty, being surrounded by trees, I felt a stick presentation over a relatively short hooklink and light lead would give me maximum presentation. The base of my stick mix would comprise Odyssey XXX ground bait.

So, with the Friday looming ever closer I cheekily decided to set a lunch appointment with a client of mine in Devon, this would allows for a relatively trouble free drive to the South West taking around 4 hours, lunch, then a good 6 hours to travel the final 80miles to Plymouth before the ferry set sail at 10pm and arrive at 7pm in France.

Having said my goodbyes to the kids and wife and packed the BMW to the rafters, I set off for my lunchtime client appointment in a pub near Torbay. Having finished lunch and with a good 6 hours to kill, I found a lovely country pub and ordered steak and chips and a couple of pints, I eventually made it to Plymouth at around 4pm, and with 4 hours remaining I enjoyed another couple of Jars and walked along the pier chatting to bass fishermen. I could find nothing else to do so decided to check in early, wait in the queue and read carpworld to while away the time. Having given my passport and ticket to border control, the young girl said ‘you’re travelling to Caen tonight sir, unfortunately we go to Roscoff, if you want to go to Caen, you should be in Portsmouth, not Plymouth’ I replied ‘chyeah’ with a smile on my face, to which she responded, ‘no seriously sir, you should be at Portsmouth, not Plymouth’ Now I’m a stickler for detail, but for some bizarre reason I had it in my mind that I’d get an appointment in Devon and travel from Plymouth, I didn’t even check the ticket, so, suitably embarrassed I enquired how long to Portsmouth, and was told, you don’t have time to make your booking. Luckily it was the same ferry company and she could change my outward journey without further payment, but this now meant I had a 4 hour journey to my destination rather than a 2 hour journey. Oh well ‘c’est la vie’ it was, what it was so I grabbed a bite to eat, a couple of pints and booked a child sized cabin for the trip.

Arriving in Roscoff at 6:30am I stuck the nearest big town – Ernee – in the sat nav and successfully found the N12 route that would take me the majority of the way there. Having had fleeting thoughts on the ferry that my long awaited trip away was cursed, this was quickly backed up by an audible ‘ding’ from the car, the warning message said ‘Engine Management, speed severely restricted’ so the 80mph cruise control was now restricted to 60mph. There was a snowball’s chance in hell I was going to stop at a Peugeot garage to explain the problem with my German car, so accepted my fate and trucked on at 60mph regardless.

The owners rules stipulate that arrivals cannot be before 1pm to give a chance for the last party to leave, and the owners to tidy up before the next arrival. Heather knew I was the only person booked that week, and she knew of my ‘issues’ in getting there so said to turn up when I turn up, which happened to be 10am!

Luckily the last party left early to make the 5 hour drive to Calais, and having stopped in the small town of Ernee to buy some fruit and some fantastically cheap Beaujolais from a local vineyard, her and the owner Larry welcomed me with open arms.

I’d now been on the road for 28 hours, with quickly defrosting frozen bait I dashed to the onsite freezer and had a chat with the owners, Heather and Larry, and Heathers brother in law Steve. I was shown around the lake and given a guided tour round the pegs. I learnt that the previous weeks’ party of 3 had hit a lake record of 63 fish to 50lb+. They’d used bait boats (which I’m not a fan of, if you can’t cast to it, you don’t deserve to catch!) and Mainline Cell boilies for all their captures.

After a 20 minute tour I then spent a further hour walking round to determine which swim I’d set my traps from. Finally deciding on peg 8 – which gave me a lot of the water to aim at – Larry got his min-tractor and trailer and we dutifully loaded all my kit on to, and set a course for my chosen peg. Now, the region hadn’t had a drop of rain for the past 3 months, the spawn was well and truly done with, and the water temperature had balanced at 22 degrees C (74 degrees) for a number of weeks, in fact the air temperature hit 28 degrees Celsius (86 degrees) that day.

Having got the marker rod out and thrashed the water to foam, I found a gravel bar that ran from a group of trees to the far corner oaks

I found a really interesting spot with the marker, in an otherwise barren landscape of silt there was a tabletop sized rocky patch; I could get the float to rise before and after the spot, but not on it. I changed the marker float colours from yellow, to red to black to determine whether it was just my vision, the spot was at around 140 yards distant and I even changed to a stem lead thinking the wide bore bead was getting gummed up with detritus. After nearly an hour of trying, and having probably chased the carp to the far end of the lake, I christened the spot ‘The Black Hole’ and gave up.

I’d clipped the marker rod up and found a spot on the horizon to cast at, then walked out my rod to the same distance and clipped it up. I may not be able to determine the depth but I could certainly present a hookbait on it. I repeated the procedure with another two rods, tied my hooklinks up and left the rods ready to go whilst I got base camp sorted.

Finally done by 5pm I rigged up my float stalking rod and headed over for a shower, a beer and a pasta dinner; feeding a couple of pounds of maize and hemp in the margins at the stream end of the lake on my way round. Fed and showered I tiptoed back to the stream end of the lake to be greeted by huge muddy whorls and intense fizzing. I’d placed the unhooking mat next to the reeds so sat on this, added 2 grains of sweetcorn to a size 6 and flicked it out no more than 5ft from the reeds. The float took a battering with at least 2 large carp knocking the line as they grubbed up to their gills for the hemp and maize.

At this point my heart was racing and I had a huge smile on my face, thinking this was the first of another 6 days, how good was this!! As the evening turned in to dusk, and having had two strikeable opportunities (both missed!) I had to get back round to camp and get the rods positioned whilst there was still enough daylight. With the rods already clipped up, I found all 3 spots and scattered a couple of kilo’s of bait around the areas with a throwing stick before retiring to the bedchair for some much welcome rest.

I was awoken at 3am by torrential rain hammering down on the bivvy and just about had time to realise what all the noise was about before drifting back in to dreamland. At 6am I roused, realised the hammering on my bivvy hadn’t subsided any, so decided to get up and check the rods out. Having pulled in all 3 rods and headed back to the dining area to brush my teeth and eat breakfast I headed back around in torrential rain to the bivvy only to find a huge puddle in the middle of the ground sheet and a wet soggy bag of clothes. Praying for better weather I left the rods out of the water and headed to a gazebo erected between swims 3 and 4 to call the wife and check my mail. By the time lunch rolled around I was still getting battered at the same velocity since 3am that morning and it showed no chance of letting up. There was little else to do other than sit under the gazebo, crack open a good bottle of red and watch the weather satellite map on the phone!

The rain gradually eased by 5pm and having spent time making rigs I wandered back to assess the mess of my camp. I got another 3 fresh baits on, complete with stick mix and rig foam and launched them back to the earlier spots. The water temperature had plummeted from 22 degrees to 17 degrees in the space of less than 24 hours and it appeared to have put the fish off feeding. I baited a few marginal spots and checked them later on to find it remained untouched.

Having spoken regularly and at length with Larry, I decided to up sticks on Tuesday morning and concentrate on the middle of the lake which allowed me to access their regular patrol routes along the very far bank. Larry mentioned the fish were particularly line-shy and would ‘do one’ up the other end of the lake if they twigged the line. I was using anchor tubing with flying back leads and regular back leads in conjunction with Tiger Fluoro mainline fished slack, in an attempt to keep everything pinned to the bottom, with the lake being so shallow it was always going to be a challenge to keep the line away from the fish though. Larry had also started fishing the other end of the lake whilst he had time, and in an attempt to keep the fish moving round the lake and not holing up where there were no lines.

As Monday rolled in to Tuesday and Wednesday I had pretty much thrown the kitchen sink at them! I fished short and long rigs using blowback, long hair, KD, balanced, zig and pop up rigs, I’d gone heavy and light from 5oz to ½ oz leads, I’d cast on to the far bank, walked around the lake, attached my rig and PVA bag and dropped in to the far margins, and had done a couple of hours in pretty much every swim (and even some areas where there wasn’t a swim!) with a couple of the rods, always watching the water for signs of life. I'd tried tightening up all lines across to the far margin and watched intently for 4 hours in the hope of moving carp betraying themselves and to discover if they were actively moving around. I’d got through both the Snail and Shell and the Monster Worm boilies; crushed in bags, lightly scattered and heavily used in a variety of places. I’d tried my usually faithful Northern Special pop ups, both zigged and as part of a balanced set up, I’d tried maize straight from the bucket and from the Baitstop in various guises, and my stick mixes ranged from the full 7” of the hooklink to 20mil boilie size and still I couldn’t tempt them!

Rummaging through the bait I’d brought with me in the freezer, I found a small packet of 30 glugged Mainline Cell boilies which the lads from London had torn the place apart on the previous week, so pulled these out to try as the last trick up my sleeve.I had a number of daily conversations with Larry who was at a loss to point out anything I was doing wrongly, he looked through the history books and found another week where no fish were caught, that again was in conjunction with a single angler fishing the full 5 acres, so Larry, bless him, fished a few hours more each day in an attempt to get them moving again. I must admit I even took the marker rod around the lake one afternoon and cast around sporadically hoping this might spook them in to the part of the lake I was fishing!

It got to Wednesday night and I’d still managed to resist the temptation of throwing my scruples away and loaning the lakes baitboat for the last couple of days in order to present a bait in an unlikely place, and had my usual 11pm chat with Larry as he pulled his rods in for the night. Tonight however he brought one of his rods with him. We’d seen the same fish bosh out 3 times that evening in the very far corner of the bay close to the reeds, he said ‘get your other Delkim out Marcus, you’re fishing 4 rods tonight’. Not one to argue I attached it to a bankstickin the next swim and Larry launched the rod in fairly close proximity to where we’d seen the fish and it was left alone for the night.

Thursday morning with 48 hours remaining at 6:15 the delkim on the Larry’s rod gave a couple of indications, with the rig being in the far corner and fished slack, it was never going to be a screaming run, so I slipped my Crocs on, unzipped the Armo and ran over to the next peg. I could see the line heading left so disengaged the bait runner and lifted in to the fish. It stayed at 130 yards plus for a few minutes as I began to recover line and within 5 minutes had it wallowing next to the bank. I slipped the net under her, the barbless hook at fallen out, so a quick application of Klinik and on to the tripod showing 21lb 12oz

I had my camera and tripod pre-set and marked and took a couple of self-timed pictures which came out well, the fish was netted, weighed and returned inside 60 seconds and I let out a long sigh of relief – I HADN’T BLANKED! – leaving the same Cell hookbait on I re-cast to the same area and also reeled in my far right rod, refreshed the hookbait, walked down to the next swim and launched it 150 yards or so to the Old Oak Tree on ‘The Black Hole’ spot. I walked my rod back to the pod with the bail arm off, tightened up, slackened off and turned the Delk back on.

I got my chair out. Got the stove going for a brew and smiled again, the second smile since my first evenings stalking. I sat back with a brew and enjoyed the early morning mist and lack of rain, hoping the fish were finally on the feed again after a long lay-off, when the right hand rod I’d just re-cast pulled round in an arc, quick as a flash I was on to it and pulled in to what felt like a nice fish. It travelled back the 150 yards relatively quickly, and then went ballistic under the rod tip for 5 minutes. I finally got the net under him and repeated the earlier procedure with the Reubens showing 22lb dead. Wow, 2 fish in 75 minutes, surely my week was going to turn round now....

.....sadly that wasn’t the case, despite returning Larrys rod and putting my own on those spots, that was the second and last carp to grace my net during the week. On the last night I challenged Larry to a roach fishing match (I used 12lb Kontour line to a size 14 hook with a single grain of sweetcorn!) on the middle swim between our two set ups. With the light fading at just after 11pm we finally wound in with the final tally being 7 to me and 6 to Larry. I needed to be off the lake on the road by 8:30 for a midday ferry back to Portsmouth (this time!) so got my head down and packed up quickly on Saturday morning leaving Heather and Larry to prepare for 4 guests later that day.

On reflection I really enjoyed my week, Heather cooked some fantastic meals and nothing was too much trouble. I spent some time with Larry and found him very knowledgeable and a truly likeable chap. He runs a very well managed water and his knowledge of the lake and of carp fishing is second to none, I would truly recommend Genets to anyone thinking of getting away from it to the middle of nowhere! I had problem with rats chewing my air dry bags – even though it was 6ft off the ground in a tree and full of boilies – and mice visited my bivvy each night to take advantage of any morsels I’d dropped, including a pack of original K-1 pineapple ice cream boilies that were 4 years old! Rodents are always around fishermen though due to the very nature of the hobby. I watched 3 kingfishers all week regularly arrowing across the lake, they are certainly the most successful anglers there by far. I watched grass snakes winding there way over the lake in the morning to find the sun and bask and hunt mice and small frogs in the bamboo, and I befriended a little mouse I called Brian who would sneak in to my maggot tub during the day, bold as you like, to feast on sweetcorn hookbaits!

Whilst this wasn’t really preparation for the upcoming CAWC in September it certainly re-vitalised my soul, and I felt I fished well most of the week but was just unlucky given the conditions I was presented with. I’ve included some pictures below of the lake so you get a feel for it, hope you enjoyed the tellin’

Link to comment
Share on other sites

sounds like you threw the kitchen sink at them there mate. nice one for plugging away and getting a couple.

reminded me of an old estate lake i used to fish that was only 3 feet deep. they are so tricky sometimes in those kind of lakes. i found the darkest nights were always the best. several times i witnessed carp not even touching the line but just swimming up to it then bolting. so frustrating! liking the marker float technique of spooking them from other area's! when all else aint going right i am going to try that.

look forward to seeing you in september.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...