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French Trip April 2017


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A report from my trip last week.

Disappointing start, we had expected 45 acres to ourselves (me and three mates). Turns out 4 anglers from the week before had chosen to stay on as it was due to be so quiet. This meant getting on the fish was difficult at the draw, especially for me; I had invited a very close friend with limited experience, his first trip to France, so I had to shout for two swims next to each other. We ended up off the back of the wind on the main bowl of water. The fish were clearly on the end of the wind so not perfect.

As we were setting up I saw a fish show long, about as far as I can cast with the set-up I was using in fact, maybe 130+. Obviously I did the right thing and dropped everything to get a single on its head. Bright white pop on a heli rig, wound it up, let it go, on the alarm, and I continued setting up. About an hour later I was balancing a hookbait in the margin when I heard a bleep. Looked up and the tip of the long rod is bouncing. I hit it and enjoyed a good fight from a lovely 34.08 mirror. First blood, maybe our swims aint that bad after all. Chucked the single back out but it's a quiet afternoon with not much seen.

There's no way I'm starting the session with my spots at as far as I can cast so I opt to bait a spot at a more comfortable range of about 90 yards. They're showing over the other side (well beyond my range tbf) and casting/baiting long for a week would kill me. 5kg on the area and sit back for a beer with my mate. The night passes by uneventfully and we see very little in front of us (i.e. nothing) but we know how quickly that can change in this water. The next day we continue to sit on the bait, top up the spot (not like it needed it) and enjoy another nice evening but no fish.

Next morning we've still seen nothing and you guys know what I'm like; I get very, very itchy feet. In come the rods and off for a wander with my pal. We mooch up to the shallow snaggy area at the top of the pit and search it for an hour. Nothing. Off to check the deeper water. As we walk out of the shallow section I see a carp top long out of the corner of my eye. I stop my mate and we watch for a minute. We see maybe 5 shows in quick succession. The sun is up and they're clearly on their way to the shallows, we just beat them to it. Not one to pass on an opportunity, I drag my mate back to the swims and we grab a couple of rods each.

Back in the area short of the shallows and we see a couple more. We launch 2 singles each into the area, pop the rods on the floor and sit next to them. Twenty minutes later and I'm telling my mate I can't believe we've not had a bite, we've seen plenty. Then the spool on my left rod shuts me up... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. My mate's not had a fish yet, in fact he's never had a French fish at all, so I tell him to hit it. I then have the pleasure of watching, filming, and photographing, one of my best mates enjoy one of the most awesome fights you could ever see. This fish proper beat him up from start to finish, a real big fish fight. In the net and my mates PB (24 lb) is nigh on doubled in an instant with a pukka 46.04 mirror. That actually turned out to be the biggest of our trip so although I'm a little disappointed to have given him the rod, it was worth it just to see him enjoying that big fish buzz.

We chuck the singles back out but it's clear the fish have moved further out, we suspect the beast of a fight the mirror gave us spooked them off a little. We take the opportunity to go and pack down our main swim and bring our gear round here. We set up and see a couple show during the afternoon. No further captures in the day but the following night and morning see us catch a handful of mirrors to 38.08 and commons to 33.04. We're really getting excited about or new swims when the weather suddenly takes a change for the worse. Much, much worse.

This cold north easterly pops up bringing ice cold, freezing temps. The fish push out of the shallower water in front of us and we spend all day looking at nothing. I know that's the end of our little shallow water escapade so we're packing up again ready for a move, my mate is now realising that the chilled out relaxed holiday he foresaw is doubtful to happen with me involved. We choose to fish in a couple of free swims down the other end.

Well, to cut a long story short, the next 3 days is spent searching for feeding fish. Everyone on the lake stopped catching except one (one of our group who really made the most of being on the fish with 15 carp to 50.14 lb with 8 X 40's, great angling!!!!). I fished 3 swims in that time, doing laps every day, my God we struggled. Strange conditions, freezing cold temps but with the brightest sunshine. We were all wearing full thermals due to the cold but our faces were burning. It was like arctic conditions, all our skin dried up, like fishing under a hole in the ozone layer. Nightmare.

3 days later and everyone is pretty miserable. The other four guys had gone home early due to the poor fishing but at least that frees up a few swims. I'm still bang on it, as always, and I'm 100% determined that I WILL catch another carp on this, the last day. I was doing a lap with my mate and we stop to speak/have a beer with our other mates. While we're chatting I see 4 carp top, funnily enough, in the swims we started the week in. Off we go for yet another move.

An hour or two later we're setting up and I see a couple of shows further to the right. The wind is finally switching to a straight easterly and has warmed a little. I'm wondering of they're on the move. I leave my mate and go wandering and see they are clearly moving, slowly, up to the shallower area. I run down to grab my mate but he's had enough, he's staying put, I've run him into the ground. Fair play I say as I grab a couple of rods and leg it to the shallower water.

The next few hours is spent with singles chucked at showing fish, it's not looking great, but it's not looking terrible either. By about 5 pm I think my chance has gone, they've stopped showing and I'm cursing myself for not capitalising when one of my rods absolutely melts off. I played that fish like it was the last I'd ever catch. So much effort had gone into that fish that I just needed to get it on the bank, which I duly did. At 37 lb it was no monster by French standards but my God was I please to see it.

I spent the last night in the same area but the temps were still cold at night. No more fish caught by anyone. To summarise it was a very frustrating week, 5 or 6 swim moves, God knows how many swims fished, trying every tactic under the sun, for a handful of fish. Did I love it? Of course I did. Can't wait for next time.

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