Driving down for my solo trip at Le Monument, it felt nothing like Spring with the car temperature showing a measly 5 degrees. Still, I was looking forward to the trip as I had heard very good things about Le Monument so I was eager to see whether I could fool a couple of the big fish in the lake.
On arriving at the Lake I was met by owner Mark who showed me around the venue which is almost two lakes divided by a long central island. He recommended a swim called The Orchard which was on the left hand side of the lake, but as the wind - a bitterly cold easterly - was driving into this corner, I decided on a swim at the other end of the bank. The main catching area was at the end of the island by a bridge which, when crossed, enabled tight baiting to both the hot-spot and the island margins. I set up and by around 7.30 was fishing three rods to both island margins and the bridge spot.
Unusually, I had a fish the first night, a 23lb common which came at 4.30 when the temperature was around -4! Despite catching this fish, I felt that I was falling short of positioning my baits correctly and moved everything up to the next swim ( I was the only one on the lake for the week so had the choice of swims). After a while, I still felt I was not in the best spot so moved again to...The Orchard! Always listen to the advice of the owner, they know their lake and they’re usually on the ball with where the fish will be at any particular time.
Being left-handed I was able to set-up without being in the face of the wind and once all baits were out I felt a lot more settled. Nothing happened during the day but I was away again at 6.30 in the evening. This immediately felt a better fish and a 33lb mirror was soon safely in the net.
I felt I had now achieved my goal and would have been quite happy if no more fish had come to my rods, but the following day was quite hectic with four runs resulting in four more mirrors, including three 30’s, the biggest of which was 35lb. The productive early evening feeding spell accounting for three of these fish.The next day saw two fish being banked, both mirrors of 24 and 25lb respectively, the second one coming again at around 6.30 in the evening. The following morning saw another run from the bridge rod and as soon as I made contact a big fish swirled on the surface under the trees. Once in the net, this fish looked to be big, and so it turned out registering 46lb and a PB for me. I was extremely pleased with this fish and as I was having to use the self-timer on the previous fish, I wanted to make sure I had decent photos of this one so I called Mark who had no hesitation in coming down and taking some excellent shots.
I decided to fish the small match/stock lake for a few hours on a couple of afternoons, mainly to escape the wind and feel some sun for a short time! This little lake is stocked with smaller carp and also catfish and a couple of sturgeon and I quite fancied hooking into one of these. I did hook what I think was a catfish but unfortunately lost the fish on a snag, but at least I had warmed up!
As I had to return a day early due to work commitments, I was leaving on the Friday but two more fish of 25 and 28 ½ lb on my last evening ensured I was to leave content, especially as the conditions had been gradually deteriorating during the last couple of days with the biting east wind growing in strength and both snow and sleet falling consistently.
Most of the fish I caught had come to a balanced bottom bait which were barrel-shaped baits from the Bait and Feed Company and one in which I have every confidence. By cutting the barrel in half and mounting half a pop-up to half a bottom bait and trimming either if necessary, it was possible to critically balance the baits to land softly on the silt and not become too buried.Overall I had had twelve runs of which eleven fish had been landed; the last morning saw me lose what looked to be a mid-twenty at the net.
I did also catch on pop-ups tipped with luminous corn, but I find these baits are only effective for a short time before they become too obvious to the fish; however a balanced bait is one that they find hard to get rid of and the fact that several of the fish were leaving remains of the bait in the net when landed showed that they were certainly feeding well on it. I also noticed that baits had to be very close to either the island margins or right under the trees and a bait too far away would not get picked up.
The facilities are all very good and the shower was excellent and a great way to un-freeze cold hands after a night of minus temperatures!Although I was sometimes leaving baits out for over half a day, if they were in the right spot I always felt confident of a take at some point and most of the time, this was proved to be the case. I didn’t use that much bait as the water temperature was very cold so fished for one run at a time, spreading around 20 baits with some pellets/hemp around the spot after each fish. I was casting around 70/75 yards to the bridge hot-spot and was managing to get baits very close to the trees, but when they are in full bloom I imagine it would become quite a tricky cast to get accurate so the use of a bait-boat to position baits tight to the spots would probably be of benefit.
I will definitely be back at Le Monument as it is obviously a well-run water with enough big fish to make it worthwhile and the right number to make it challenging without being overly hard.
Many thanks to owner Mark and to Angela for her much-anticipated breakfast baguette; as Schwarzenegger said, ‘i’ll be back’!
by Terry Cheesman
For more information, articles and feedback from Monument follow the link - Carp Fishing in France