It's the beginning of May and Ron and I are off to test a 17 acre lake for Angling Lines situated 150 miles South of Paris.
The new owner of the lake, Guilliam, only took ownership of the venue in January this year. Since taking on the lake he has stocked the lake with around 120 carp consisting of mid-twenties to his prize carp of just over 60lb. There are a number of back up fish in the forties with a good number of thirties, all in all for a new lake this is a magnificent head of carp. The lake itself is set in the middle of rural France and is totally surrounded by woodland, fields, and reed-lined margins. It is a place of beauty!
We arrived at the lake on Thursday morning to find that the banks were flooded due to the recent excessive rain fall and the fact that the sluice gate had not been dropped, exasperated the situation. Out of 9 swims set around the lake we were limited to a couple of swims to fish that were dry and comfortable, all the others were under water and access was either through deep water or deep mud. There were 2 other anglers on the lake one being the owner and the other his friend. They had the use of a boat and occupied the far corner of the lake, bivvied up on a muddy grassed bank.
Now you might think that this is unusual and not acceptable , but we are testing the venue and not just fishing the lake for our own benefit, this is the reason that Angling Lines send out testers. Any problems need to be rectified and ironed out before the first Angling Lines customers arrive. Our first impressions were not looking good, French style toilet, a poor shower set up added to the poor banks and swims.
I set up in swim 1 and Ron in swim 2 both with shallow margin's gently leading down to around 8 foot at about 70 yards. Ron had open water for all his rods and I had open water and a dam margin with over hanging trees and a rocky margin to play with.
Our initial tactics were very similar, Ron found the old stream bed where he put down a mixture of Quest Chilli Chocolate, Special Crab and Magnum white and also cast a couple of popped up baits at distance.
I found a nice clean bottom 80 yards out and put out Quality Baits HG42 and Patshull Park Squid and Orange, and a similar baiting strategy to a point on the dam margin.
We were into our first evening meal at the venue when Ron saw the first action with a run off one of his magnum white pop ups, and landed a 26lb 6oz mirror which was in perfect fighting condition. We were off to a great start and we both thought that this was the beginning of a very successful session. Wrong!
Over the next couple of days a big shoal of carp gathered in the far corner of the lake in front of the 2 French anglers. We were unable to move from our swims due to the flood water so the fish remained well out of our reach.
We had to wait until Saturday morning for the next run which came to one of my rods which I had cast to within a yard of some over hanging trees off the dam margin. I was not sitting on top of my rods and the fish ran straight into the trees and escaped my capture.
3 days I had waited for that run, I was annoyed with myself and still remained without a fish. Ron was equally frustrated as he had not had a single bleep since that first fish, with fish showing 300 yards to his left he had not got a chance of reaching them.
In the Early hours of Sunday I picked up a 23lb 7oz mirror from my baited area on the dam, a Squid and orange snowman set up did the trick. We had some problems with my new camera but managed a couple of half decent pictures.
Out went the rods again and about an hour into daylight I had another run off my baited area on the dam margin, and landed a good hard fighting 26lb 10oz mirror.
This proved to be the last feed for 3 days. By lunchtime we were watching shoals of carp spawning in the dam margins and in the far reed-lined corner. Day and night until Tuesday evening, the fish spawned and spawned. There was no point in putting out anymore bait as it appeared that every fish in the lake was involved in a huge orgy.
By Tuesday evening the waters had settled and the spawning was over, we were due to leave the lake the next morning. Out went a few more baits for the night. It paid off as around 4am I had another run off the same baited area and picked up a 21lb 4oz mirror. Scared and bruised and obviously down in weight from the last 3 days, I took a quick picture and returned the carp back to the depths.
6 nights fishing for 4 carp between us, not the best result, but it has given us an insight into the potential of the lake. The fact that the fish went into a mega spawn gave Ron and myself the opportunity to see a large percentage of the carp in the lake as they splashed and barged through the margins and reeds.
We both saw some of the huge specimen carp that the lake holds. They swam within feet, even banging into our legs as we waded out into the shallows to view the show.
The lake surely holds the stock that the lake owner claims and with his future plans to boost the stocking to over 200 carp over the next 2 years, will make this a top big fish water.
Since taking on the water the owner has already made some vast improvements to the road and car park, along with building a cabin, shower and toilet block. His near future plans include improving all the swims to a top standard and making access to each swim by vehicle, viable. Future stocks of carp will all be around the 30lb mark and I am sure that due to the rich environment of the lake, most of the carp will be over 30lb in the next 18 months. Guilliam does not want to create a runs water but a water that produces good quality large carp.
This lake is not for the novice and will prove a challenge to some of the more experienced anglers. It's location and the chance of picking up some big specimens will keep anglers coming back to this venue year after year.
Our recommendations to Angling Lines are that they should consider taking on this lake once all the improvements are made. The owner himself is a top big carp angler on the French carp scene and wants to create one of the best big carp waters in his region. I am confident that he can do this and I am sure that this lake will be hitting the Angling press in the next couple of years.
To read more of Paul, Ron and Jim's field testing adventures click here.