My week in words and pictures of my trip to France hunting some BIG fish.
Friday August 27th.
So, my much awaited return trip to the lake i caught my biggest fish from in april has finally come around.
The time is 17:30 and i'm just entering the M6 at J10 - Walsall. My ferry isn't until 10 past midnight but with it being the bank holiday weekend, i've decided to give myself plenty of time incase of heavy traffic. I want to drive at a steady 65 all the way to be easy on the fuel, i'm in no real rush anyway.
The M6 has a 50mph speed limit due to roadworks, but these finish just after the M5 interchange at J8, so my journey can progress. Other than some more speed restrictions on the M1, the trip to Dover is quite easy going. There was some queing on the Q.E.2 bridge at Dartford, but i was soon through that.
I arrived in dover at 21:50. I've pulled into the big BP garage at the bottom of the hill so i can top the tank up and get some more beam benders for the headlights. The ones i already had were sitting on the kitchen table where i left them !!! The tank top up comes to £30.
Theres a cracking chippy in the town called 'Castle View' iirc. We always stop here when we come home from French fishing trips, so popped in for some roe and chips....yummy !
It's just after 23:00 so i make my way to the ferry terminal. Soon we're boarding and the SeaFrance 'Rodin' ferry departs ontime.
Saturday 28th August.
01:45 and we're in Calais port. 02:00 and i'm off the ferry and on my way.
As we usually take the ferry to Boulogne, i've decided to head that way down the A16 as it's a more familiar route to me, instead of taking the A26/A1 to Paris as the satnav is telling me.
05:45 and i'm on the outskirts of Paris. It's just starting to get light and the roads are damp from some light drizzle, making them quite slippery !
Paris motorway.....damp roads.....French motorists.....can you guess whats coming ?
1 car and a scooter have had a disagreement in the lane i'm in .
Nobody has slowed and everyone is passing them at 1000 mph ! I can see that both are ok and they both walk to safety out of the way, but with all the traffic speeding past, i can't change lanes to get passed for what seemed like forever ! Frightening !!!
Finally i pass and continue to my exit.
I'm now totally reliant on the satnav, "Turn Left" comes the command. So left i turn straight into oncoming traffic. I'm on the wrong side of the road ! I reverse quickly and get outta there a.s.a.p. How embaressed was i ? I'm must be tired and need to stop for a rest. so do so before i have an accident.
After a 30 min stop, i continue on with the last leg of the trip. The last 80 miles or so down the A5 to St. Denis near Sens.
I get to the lake gates at 08:00. and they're locked ! Now what do i do ?
I try phoning the owner back in the UK, but no answer !!! After about 10 minutes of walking up and down looking for signs of other anglers, 2 French guys, Sabastian and *&^%%* - whatever his name was come to the gate and let me in. One speaks good English the other, non. Sebastian tells me they were expecting me and that they were now going on their way. They'd had a 49lb 8oz carp during their stay but not much else. Hmm, not sounding very good.
I have the lake to myself all week and i've already decided to fish the same place as i did in april so got to work setting up the bivvy and getting the rods out.
An hour or 2 later and i'm all set up and ready to get (hopefully) catching.
Just caught the first fish so the pressure is off
It's a nice plump mirror carp and weighs 27lb 7oz. The rest of the day slips by without any signs of fish activity.
Sunday 29th August.
I woke at 06:30, the sun is shining but there are a few clouds. It's also quite breezy making casting the 120 yards to where i'm fishing quite tricky. 11:30 and a Tench of about 2lb takes my bait . I virtually drag the thing to the net. There is a lot of thick weed in the lake and i can't help thinking that this could cost me a lost fish or 2 if they swim into it.
One of my fishing buddies calls me on the phone to see how i'm doing. I tell him of my first carp and he wishes me luck for the rest of the week.
21:30 the alarm sounds and after a uneventful fight, the first 30lb fish of the trip graces the bottom of my landing net. I'm happy but covered in slime !
Monday 30th August.
03:25 i'm fast asleep when the bite alarm bursts into life and scares the s**t out of me ! 10 mins later, and 23lb 2oz of carp is looking up at me from the net. Quick pic and back it goes.
09:40 and the middle rod is away again. This time the fish goes 28lb 11oz. Again a quick photo and back it goes into the warm waters of the lake.
12:27 to 12:49 and i've put 2 more fish on the bank !
Another mirror carp of 22lb and a 26lb Sturgeon.
Time to put some bait out and 2 kg of boilies (carp bait to you non anglers) get scattered at 120 yards range.
I've lost the first fish of the week and it went straight in the weed !
Sitting there taking in the scenery and my eye gets drawn to movement in the bankside undergrowth. It's a snake ! Don't know what type it is, not an Adder or a Grass Snake, long, thin and black.
3:00 and i'm in again. Again the fish swims into the weed and is lost !!! Frustrating as hell.
16:45 and the alarms off again. This feels a big fish.
Just about 10 mins pass and it rolls in the margins and i see it for the first time. THIS IS A REALLY BIG FISH !
I get it in the landing net and onto the unhooking mat. 'YES' i say to myself. The scales show the weight of 60lb 1oz.
That's my second biggest carp ever !!!
This is a different fish from the one i caught in april, not as many scales as the other and slightly lighter in colour.
I ring my mates to tell them the news and the phone doesn't stop ringing all afternoon with calls of congratulations. I go take a shower and get some well earned food.
Tuesday 31st August.
I get woken by the binmen at 07:30 .
I'd managed to sleep all night without disturbance from the fish.
At 09:00, Sandra, an english lady who looks after the running of the lake while the owners are in the Uk comes round to see if all's ok and offers to bring me a baguette the following morning which i accept.
15 minutes after she leaves, i get another bite, "feels a good one" i think to myself, i start playing the fish when i get a run on another rod. Oh-joy !!! Now what do i do ?
Well the fish i was playing made the decision for me and ploughed into the weed ! So i put the rod down and set it so if the fish swims out the weed, it can take line freely.
I pick the second rod up and bend into what turns out to be a 31lb mirror carp. The first fish has since escaped the hook in the weedbed.
09:35 and i've just lost another. This isn't good and i'm not happy about it ! I check the hook and find the point is damaged. New rig is tied, baited and the whole lot deployed to the lake.
13:00 and theres another fish on the scales. This one registers 26lb 4oz.
The weather is getting increasingly hotter and uncomfortable. The wasps are starting to annoy me as they seem to be attracted by the smell of fish slime.
There's a family of Reed Warblers to my right and the parents are non-stop feeding the chicks. They make themselves known each time the adults bring food.
I start to nod off in the sun and then get the shock of my life ! 2 jet fighters come screaming overhead !
20:40 and the next fish takes the scales to 24lb 15oz. Thats now taken the total carp catch to 10 fish. I'm loving this.
I've decided to just fish 2 rods at night instead of 3. Saves the lines getting tangled in the dark.
22:20 and i'm playing the next carp. A few minutes pass and another 24lb 12oz mirror carp gets a picture taken.
Wednesday 1st September.
07:20 and i'm playing another lump. The fish is heading for the weeds and i can't stop it reaching it. A bit of sweat and tears and steady pressure bring the fish out and to the net it swims. 35lb 5oz it shows on the scales.
09:00 and yet another at 24lb 12oz gets weighed and photo'd.
I don't set myself targets, but a 40lb fish would finish my week of perfectly.
11:00 and it's all gone quiet. Time i put some more boilies out. The next 20 mins are spent putting 2.5kg of bait in and my arm is aching from doing so.
I've nodded off to sleep and get woken by the sound of a siren. It sounds like an air raid siren. Then a second siren sounds in the other direction !
Last time i heard this noise was from a tornado warning siren, so like a silly billy i turn and look for a twister !!! Either that or the Russians are kicking off . 1 minute later, all goes quiet and i go back to my 40 winks.
12:00 I pick up my lure rod and have a cast around for some pike. I do get one that weighs about 5lb. as i'm unhooking it, 1 of the carp rods is off again which turns out to be another Tench.
Time for lunch while the fish are snoozing.
16:55 the fish have woken up and eating my bait. Then one takes the one attached to a hook and graces the bank to the weight of 25lb 10oz.
It's been another hot day, the breeze has made it slightly more comfy though. Still no 40lb carp !
18:25 Hooked it, Played it, Lost it ! Was a decent size fish by the feel of the fight, but the hook pulled when it was about 30 yards from the bank. I never saw it.
22:50 My only Common carp of the week has just set the scales to 35lb 7oz. Excellent ! Time for bed.
Thursday 2nd September.
The morning passes without a bite. The sun is high without a cloud anywhere. I've moved my chair underneath a small willow tree to get some shade. Its just too hot to sit in the sun all day, it's painful aswell as i'm getting burnt even with sun block on.
14:00 Still caught nothing today, so i reel in and pop to the supermarket.
I fill the petrol tank up for the return trip which cost 50 Euro's.
16:10 The fish have woken up and i've just had another mirror carp at 32lb 6oz. This fish didn't like having its picture taken and just kept flapping when the shutter clicked ( i had to take photo's on timer being as i was on my own). Finally i got the prize shot and back it went.
I've not looked what time it is, just been watching and listening to the nature thats about. Its incredible what you can see if you just take the time to sit and watch. There are about a dozen or so swallows skimming the lake. Don't know if they are drinking or snatching insects off the surface. They have one hell of a trip back to Africa. There are 2 Kingfishers continually diving for the small fry in the margins. My favourite birds. The family of Reed Warblers are to my right going about their duties and the waters edge is full of frogs (the amphibian kind, not the locals !)
At night, the Tawny Owls hoot in the nearby woods and the rats scurry along the waters edge. Nature is great, and its better when you can watch it. We just don't make time to do so anymore.
Time for a BBQ. Got some steaks to demolish.
Friday 3rd september.
My final day and the sun is just starting to rise.
Its 06:30 and i've just returned a mirror carp of 35lb 9oz. Probably....no definately the hardest fighting carp i've had this week and thankfully the best behaved on the bank for photo's !
It's 08:45 and i've landed another fish of 32lb 15oz. Looks like the 30's are feeding strongly and i keep hoping that the 40lb er i want comes soon.
12:10 and the last carp of the week has registered 24lb 5oz.
The 40lb carp never showed up but hey, i ain't complaining !
The total for the week was 10 x 20's, 7 x 30's, 1 x 60 a 26lb Sturgeon and some bait stealing Tench !
Saturday 4th September.
I leave the lake as 3 english guys turn up for their week. I give them a report of my captures and wish them luck before setting off for Calais.
I hit Paris and my satnav sends me into 'Charles du Gaulle' airport (spelling?). I cuss it and then it finds me an exit putting me onto the A1 motorway. Not the way i wanted to go but it turns out better as it links me straight onto the A26 and straight into Calais. Saved me about 30 miles driving aswell.
My ferry is at 14:40 but i'm in the port at 12:20. The let me get on an earlier ferry without me paying extra (have paid in the past for earlier ferry) and i'm in Dover for 15:00.
Back up the M20, M25 - stopping for fuel at South Mimms services, M1 and M6 without any hassle and made it home at about 18:45.
Unloaded the car and sat down to steak Fajita's for tea.
Hope you enjoyed sharing my weeks fishing diary with me.
Just to say, fishing isn't always this good, i usually go weeks without a bite. Big carp are very difficult to catch, they don't grow big by being stupid (although the way they get caught sometimes does make me wonder ).
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Enjoy the pictures.