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   Old Thread  #256 28 Jan 2018 at 4.12pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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And that was it for another trip. We were due to leave for the ferry by ten o’clock and had promised to call in and say goodbye at the bars and the creperie, but waking early I felt there was still time to catch one more carp. I grabbed the rods and a net and got down to the camp site swim as dawn was breaking. Naturally my friends the pike men arrived a bit later and I was glad of that as we had got on famously with them, to say nothing of one guy averting a possible bit of aggro. So far we’d yet to see them catch a pike or anything else for that matter but they seemed happy with their fishless state and I spent the last few hours in halting conversation.

And I did manage that one last carp. At 6.00 am. I had a half-way-upper which came to naught, and at 8.30 am. had a flyer that was my last take of the trip...another of the kindergarten carp but size didn’t matter; honour was satisfied.

Sadly we packed up and paid our dues for the camp site. The stay cost us around ninety pence each per day, and that included a beautiful site with all the amenities. Spotless showers, toilets, washing facilities etc and all the hot or cold water you need, plus a security guard and secure perimeter after dark. Less than a quid a day each.

We did the rounds and said our goodbyes. The saddest part was that we’d not be going back for a while as the vidange would remove the carp and thus the reason for going there. I think we might just have sewn the tiniest shred of doubt in a few local minds about the wisdom of the regular removal of all the big carp, but then again, they regard their waters in the same impersonal way that a farmer might look on his fields, as the place where the cash crop grows. In this case the cash crop was carp!

Our kind hosts in the creperie foisted a breakfast of savoury pancakes upon us before they would allow us to leave, and it was with a lot of sadness that we said farewell to the little village. If the six hour ferry crossing had seemed to take just half that coming over, it seemed to take twice as long going back. But even as we were sitting in the gloomy atmosphere of the ship’s lounge, plans were already afoot for a return visit. Bill had been so impressed by the friendliness of the locals and the whole ambience of the trip; the food, the wine, the people and of course the fish, that even his brush with the law hadn’t quashed his enthusiasm.

We couldn’t wait for the next French trip and Tat and I were all set for a holiday in October, to a gite on a lake, belonging to a wine-making Frenchman called Georges. New lakes, new challenges, new friends. Zombies to be avoided!





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   Old Thread  #255 28 Jan 2018 at 4.10pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #254
Pointing at me they said, "You will come with us" and pointing at Nige said, "Stay there!" This looked serious and these guys pack guns on their hips. I got in the back of their car and we drove through the lanes around the back of the lake arriving at the creperie car park. It appeared that Bill had run into a little bit of bother. What now? Apparently he’d been accused of fishing in the nature reserve but I knew he'd been well inside the notice that marked the limit of the reserve. We'd both fished this spot several time during the trip and had had plenty of visits from the old pike anglers. If we were truly fishing an out of bounds area I am damn sure they'd have told us.

Because by now the Gardes knew I spoke a bit of French and they now insisted that I accompany Bill to the police station. Here we sat and waited for two hours while they made phone calls trying to find out just how much to fine Bill. At one stage I thought I heard some suggestion from someone in an office behind a frosted glass screen to the effect that the speaker thought they were making far to much out of such a trivial offense and my hopes rose for a fair outcome. But I must have misheard for eventually they imposed a fine of 350 francs (about twenty quid back then before the €). How ridiculous! There was no way Bill was deliberately breaking the rules, if rule there was, which was very debatable. Bill tore his fishing permit to shreds and advised them what they could do with the bits! I can’t say I blame him.

That incident highlights the possible pitfalls of fishing abroad. If they want to do you for something they most certainly will, right or wrong though you may be. Talking later to the owners of the creperie, they suggested that we had actually become targets from very early on, not only for catching so many fish, but also for putting them back under the noses of some very jealous and frustrated anglers and locals. Apparently the Gardes had been confident of catching us fishing at night and their frustration at not doing so had probably welled over into this farce.

The jealousy of some of a few of the other French anglers and the gypsies had been obvious, and in such a tiny rural community it was obvious that the police would support local feelings. Which strikes me as strange, for we had been welcomed with open arms in the village and had got on really well with most of the anglers we’d met, especially the ancient pikers. We had all spent quite a bit of money in the village, at the campsite and in the bars and restaurants, yet the attitude of the police had been so confrontational. It left a bad taste in the mouth; not because of the size of the fine, but for the petty mindedness of the authorities who wouldn’t listen to anything we had to say.

By the time we got back to the shop where Nige was waiting in the van he was getting worried. He thought they’d incarcerated us both in the Bastille as we’d been away so long. Fishing was a waste of time now as the sun was beaming down from a cloudless sky and the carp had moved off up the lake again for more nookie. (If you ask for Nookie in France don’t get your hopes up to high if she says yes...It’s a brand of ice-cream!).

“Sod it!” said Bill. “Lets go and sink some. It’s the last day after all so let’s celebrate a damn good trip, despite the trials and tribulations of the past couple of days.”

So we ended the holiday with a nice little jaunt around the bars and restaurants, finishing in the early hours of the morning playing dirty pool for drinks against all comers, beating the pants off the local hustlers in the process. I wondered if we should have warned them that Nige plays pool to county standard. We called him Nige 'Chinzano Bianco' Britton as once he was on the table you couldn't get rid of him. (See Dave Lister - Red Dwarf).

The few drinks we won did a lot to restore the jollity and soon the unpleasantness of the afternoon was forgotten in a welter of beer, wine and of course dear old Armagnac. Oh yes...I did have a couple of Zombies, and now I understand how they’d got to Bill and Nige so badly. I was a bit the worse for wear that night!

I realise I have made quite a few references to our boozy habits and make no apology for the fact that socialising as as much a part of our trips as the fishing...what's the point of going on holiday if you can't enjoy yourself…And we certainly did that, big style!



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   Old Thread  #254 28 Jan 2018 at 4.06pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #253
Once I’d set up, I wandered down the path to where Nige was brewing up. As the kettle started its song, suddenly two of his rods went off almost simultaneously. I grabbed one and he took the other and both fish shot off at a terrific lick, luckily in different directions. After ten minutes both fish were still well out in the lake, pulling hard. Suddenly my fish was gone, a hook pull. This left the swim now clear for Nige to play his fish to the bank. Franck turned up for a brief visit in a rattle trap of a Renault 5 that he had bought the previous weekend. By the state of it he was lucky he'd even managed to get it home! Here's Nige in action, the inevitable fag in mouth, sacks in the margins with yet more captures, looking cool as a cucumber. If I needed only one image to covey a typical Nige moment this would be it!



A few minute later one of my rods screamed a take and a strong fish went off like a scalded cat and I’d no sooner got that one in the net, when another of my rods roared off. It was yet another low twenty! This is nice isn’t it, I said, as my third rod roared off. Smaller this time, just over fifteen pounds. I looked around as another buzzer sounded. It had to be one of Nige's as I was now playing a fish on the only rod if mine that was still fishing. This was crazy fishing. The swim looked like it had been hit by a tornado with rods and gear scattered everywhere. Neither of us had a rod in the water! Nige chucked a rod out that still had a bait on: it was snaffled up before he could put the indicator on. Then, unbelievably, the same thing happened to me. It was quite incredible fishing and without question our best French fishing to date. Sure, Steve, Nige and I had enjoyed some pretty hectic fishing on The Starship Enterprise trip but those fish had been a lot smaller. This was carping the like of which we had never experienced before. Here Franck nets one for Nige.



Over in Weedy Corner we noticed Bill was busy baiting up along the shallow bar using the boat. The fresh east wind that had sprung up mid morning ever since we'd arrived was now blowing across from Weedy Corner towards the car park bank where we were fishing. Who says carp don't like east winds…Poppycock!

But hang on…what's going on?…what was the boat doing drifting around in the middle of the lake...Nobody aboard either? Slowly the Plastic Pig drifted towards us across the lake, carried on the fresh breeze. Bill certainly wasn’t in it, but most of his tackle was. Thank God for that favourable breeze. If it had been going the other way, up the lake, it would have been hard work getting it back. As it was he had a long walk round to the car park to wait for the boat to drift into the bank.



Bill departed at the oars for his long row back to his swim while Nige and I continued to fish on through the morning until about midday when a small white and blue car pulled up. It was the Gardes again, the pair that Nige had encountered in the small hours. Having already checked Nige's carte de peche and found it to be in order, they then looked at mine very carefully. It too was OK. They pulled a face and rather grudgingly handed it back to me. They left soon afterwards. Me and Nige felt a beer coming on so we packed the van and set off around the lake to pick up Bill. On the way we called in at the shop for some supplies, and came out to find the Garde de Peche waiting by the van. Were they after us yet again. What’s going on?
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   Old Thread  #253 28 Jan 2018 at 4.02pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #252
The fishing was certainly hotting up now as our morning had produced over twenty runs between the three of us. We spent lunch time trying to assess just how much action we’d enjoyed. So far we reckoned we’d had over thirty twenties and around seventy doubles. I dread to think what we’d have had if the fish hadn’t been spawning, but the fishing was every bit as good as we’d hoped for before we set of, so there was no begrudging them their amorous activity. After lunch we carried on fishing and I joined Bill in Weedy Corner for the afternoon where we continued to catch a seemingly never-ending stream of very obliging carp.



That evening we convened in the creperie for a nose bag and a few ales and made our plans for the next day, which was to be our last. God, hadn't time flown by? I decided to join Nige over in the car park while Bill couldn't keep away from Weedy Corner. It’s the Savay man in him that calls him to fish these weedy hot spots. Once a pads man, always a pads man! Once again we really piled the bait in heavily that evening and Nige and I used up four buckets of groats, and six mixes of boilies while Bill introduced a large carpet of mass baits along the bar at the back of the pads in Weedy Corner. By now his particle mix of cooked hemp, buckwheat and maples mix was smelling really evil but it seemed that the worse it whiffed the better they liked it.

Nige wasn’t going to miss out on an early start so he left us to drive round to the car park where he had decided to kip the night. As he drove off I turned to Bill and asked, “Do you think we ought to go up to the pub then?”

“Well, you’re forced to aren’t you?” he replied.

I awoke to the shrilling of the alarm clock. Four-thirty in the morning and black as your hat. Do I really want to do this? I made a quick cuppa and kicked Bill out of bed, then set off for the hike round to join Nige. The farm dogs were giving it wellie as the dawn light pushed away the night and the crickets and frogs joined in the canine chorus with a vengeance. What a din! How did any of us ever manage to get any sleep at nights? Alcohol I guess!

It was really chilly in the cold dark but I arrived to find Nige already fishing. morning but by the time I got round to the car park swims I was boiling over. He'd been joined by a young French angler who had set up in the spot I had intended fishing. His gear was a mish-mash of unmatched poles, solid glass rods, creaking reels and wonky banksticks. No buzzers and a trout angler's flick-up net. This should be fun! Luckily he 'fished' only for a couple of hours (fishless) before he threw his assortment of gear into the back of the car and left, shaking hands before he left! I jumped right in behind him!

My markers, which I had re-positioned after the canoeists had moved them, were luckily still in place and Nige told me that fish had been showing over the baited patch right through the night, and that he'd had to sit on his hands to keep from casting out. It was as well that he didn’t for at one o’clock in the morning a van pulled into the car park. It was the Garde de Peche who were glad to see that Nige's rods were in the car.

I reasoned that with the activity through the dark hours that Nige had mentioned, it was a good bet that most of the groundbait had been cleared up, so I dug out the throwing stick and topped up the swim with about five hundred boilies. It was hard work and I was sweating cobs by the time I’d finished. If only the dinghy were here, I thought, that would have made life a lot easier. But we’d left the inflatable with Bill over in Weedy Corner. Here he is looking lost at sea in the Plastic Pig. He is baiting up the prominent bar that runs out into the lake from the right.



By the time I’d finished topping up the Car Park swim, it was getting close to seven o’clock. Time for the first run of the day. Yes! They were that predictable. But though we’d fished the car park swims quite a bit by now, it still wasn’t clear what it was about the area that made it so productive. Franck had said that the bottom was uniformly hard throughout this part of the lake, but none of us could find anything other than soft mud and silt, with odd strands of thin, scraggly weed. All we could think of was that we’d created a hot spot purely through the introduction of so much bait and that the carp were now paying regular visits to the larder for a bean feast.
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   Old Thread  #252 28 Jan 2018 at 3.58pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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Then my ancient pike angling pal came storming to my aid, piling verbally into the younger man with a torrent of abuse. I couldn’t catch what he was saying, but the gist of it was that I was fishing purely for pleasure, and if I wanted to return the carp that was my privilege and if he didn’t like that he could just shove it and piss off...Or words to that effect. Exit younger man, thoroughly well told! These are two the old fella kept from being bumped on the head.





Little did we know at the time but over on the far bank Nige had been having identical hassle with a group of three similarly disgruntled gypsies who got the hump because he was returning the fish. They decided to demand a carp with menaces! Now, Nige may make a stick insect look fat but he's a feisty little bugger and he gave them both barrels! We had not encountered this attitude before though it should be remembered that back then the widespread and now current "No Kill" policy was not even thought of. However, being asked so aggressively for a fish left a sour taste in the mouth. Eventually these guys got into their battered old Renault and drove off.

Nige came around round at midday to tell the story. He had two fish sacked up awaiting photos, but could we hurry as he didn’t trust the *******s not to have returned and raided his sacks while he was away. As it turned out, all was as he’d left it, but even as I was doing the pix, one of these aggressive guys came up and started in on the pair of us. We told them to do one and Nige's two fish, were returned to live out their lives as best they could until September when the vidange would sentence the carp to death anyway. He's Nige with a very spawny twenty with the aggressive guy muttering threats behind him.



And here's the other fish…




I guess by now you can judge for yourself the stamp of fish we were catching. About one in three was twenty pounds plus and they were all very young fish, maybe only six or seven years old. Imagine if they 'forgot' to empty the lake once or twice…Dream on, Kenny boy!

And what of Bill? After we got back from doing Nige’s pix, I reeled in and we both went down to join him in Weedy Corner. It was chaos; all three rods had fish on, and all three were snagged up. It was a job to know which one to pick up next! So we decided to lend a hand and pumped up the Plastic Pig to paddle out to the weeds and free the snagged fish. That was the plan anyway, but when Nige got out to the pads all bar one of the fish had got off and the one that was still attached was buried in the stems of the pads. Bill had had a hectic morning with eleven takes of which he’d managed to land seven, not a bad morning’s fishing for all of us! Here's three shots that show the swim and the action quite well. The bar runs out from the reeds you can see on the middle right of the photo. The pads don't look much but they were really thick, a real pain in the arse.





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   Old Thread  #251 28 Jan 2018 at 3.56pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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He staggered off, buried under an avalanche of fishing tackle and headaches. It sounded like quite a night to me. I wasn’t sure if I was glad or sad that I had missed it! I found out later that the drinks were called Zombies, which I seem to remember Billy Connolly in his drinking days describing as the most lethal drink he’d ever had. Which explained a lot! So if you want to avoid a mammoth hangover, don’t make the mistake of buying the patron a drink and never drink a Zombie!

By the time Nige finally surfaced into the heat of the day the fishing was all but over for the morning. Once again it had proved impossible to hold fish in an area once they were determined to move off. Fish spooking away with hookbaits and heavy baiting up over their heads seemed to affect them not one bit and they fed avidly in an area for as long as they felt like it, but once they decided it was time to go, that was it. Nothing would stop them. Really curious behaviour. We wondered if it wasn’t some sort of aberrant behaviour caused by the necessity to feed to replace lost energy after the rigours of spawning.

I was just wondering where to go for lunch and if the others would be up to a hefty meal and a litre of wine when Nige suddenly remembered through the haze that he’d booked us in for a meal up at the restaurant. I was raring to go, though the others were not at all keen. I dragged them along anyway and enjoyed the full-on steak-frites and a beer or three. Bill was up for the hair of the dog but Nige was done for finished and he retired to the shade of the camp site to sleep the afternoon away. By early evening he was up and fit for the fray again so we blitzed the three swims ready for an early start the next morning.



Determined to make up for a lost day’s fishing Bill and Nige decided to sleep by the water so as to be ready at first light, Bill in Weedy Corner, and Nige back in his favourite car park swim. I would take the middle area again in front of the camping, which meant I could kip in the comfort of my bivvy. Bill was by now fully recovered and ready for more, but Nige wasn’t risking further brain damage and left the two of us to it, so we wandered along the footpath in front of the camp site up to the creperie. We watched as the sun set in a blaze of spectacular colour and over a beer or several we set about putting the world to rights.

For once the promised early start was unaffected by any outside influences. My morning’s action started at 6.30 am and lasted through to about midday. All told I had eight mirrors on the bank to low twenties and again all the fish came to the right hand side of my marker, even though I’d spread the bait carpet much more widely around the area. It made me wonder if there wasn’t some sort of feature there to the right that attracted and held the fish, but later plumbing and swimming never revealed anything out of the ordinary. This is one of three low twenties I caught that morning.



The fish scrapped like crazy all the way to the net and the ancient pike men danced attendance with one old boy insisting on netting every fish for me and taking some pix too. He didn't do a bad job of it either.



Me and this particular fella had held several halting conversations during the course of the holiday, and his friendship was to stand me in good stead as the morning progressed. I’d had a couple of runs and the old fella had netted and photographed the fish for me. I returned one without problems but as I was about to return the second carp a lively discussion broke out between the old boy and a younger man who looked a bit of a gypsy who took exception to me putting the carp back. I recognised him as one of the hangers-on who’d been drifting around the car park swims in the company of the two jealous anglers we’d encountered earlier in the trip. He got pretty irate and became very threatening. It wasn't a big fish but I was buggered if he was going to get his hands on it. I didn’t need this sort of aggravation.
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   Old Thread  #250 28 Jan 2018 at 3.54pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #249
I was trembling with the cold of my first-light dip, but a run within seconds of casting out soon got the blood circulating vigorously. The run had come from the right hand rod cast well off the bait patch, and resulted in another nice low twenty, and the re-cast to the same spot was taken as soon as it hit the bottom, another twenty! Two twenties within quarter of an hour. I moved the other rod to the same general area that had produced the takes. It was odd that takes were coming to the right of the marker, but I figured that I had probably tended to scatter the groundbait that way in the darkness of the early morning, swimming bait-up!

To be honest, I wasn’t bothered where they took, as long as take they did! I was feeling very pleased with myself, a self-righteous reasoning telling me that I would rather be catching carp than sleeping off a wicked hangover.

Suddenly my action finished. It was as if someone had flicked a switch, yet I’d put loads of bait out to try and hold them down in the swim. Surely they hadn’t cleared it all up in less than two hours. I was considering a move to Weedy Corner, though it had been agreed that Bill would fish there that morning. I didn’t think he’d be doing much fishing after last night so and wandered down to the swim. My concern for Bill was academic anyway. There were two pike anglers fishing Weedy Corner.

Late morning and Bill came staggering along with his rods heading for Weedy Corner. I told him not to waste his time and he cursed the drink that had meant a late start and loosing the swim. “Sit down there, old son, and tell me the tale of last night,” I demanded.

Bill groaned at the memory, shook his head in 'never again' disbelief.

"We were up at the restaurant having a quiet drink when we made a fatal mistake."

I knew what was coming next.

“Don’t tell me that you bought the patron a drink!"

“Got it in one,” said Bill. “How did you guess?”

“Don’t ask!” I replied, remembering our similar mistake in September last year, when the Calvados had got the better of Tat and I after we’d made the same mistake. Buying the patron a drink seems to be looked upon as an open invitation for you and him to get smashed.

“That was the start of it all," continued Bill. "Next thing I knew he had this funny sweet liquor going into our lagers and we got a little pissed.”

“A little!” I exclaimed. “Have a word. You were rat-arsed!”

“Oh yes I know,” he replied. “But that came later. It wasn’t there that we got totalled. No, we wanted a nightcap and Nige fancied a game or two of pool so we called in at the other bar at the bottom of the hill. The owner was just closing up but he said he didn't mind serving us one or two. Well that guy did for us good and proper.”

“In what way?” I asked.

“Well,” Bill continued. “We were the only two in the bar. It was late, about 11.00 and the owner was very pleasant and a good pool player so we had a couple of beers. We just wanted to be sociable and though we were only a tiny bit pissed at the time, like a pair of prats we went and did it again!”

“Are you telling me you bought him one too!” I cried, appalled.

“I know, I know,” said Bill. “But that’s what we did all right, and then he reached up and got these big glasses down from the top shelf, dusted them off and started pouring all manner of poisonous-looking boozy things into them. I don’t know what went in so don’t ask, but one minute we were sitting there feeling pretty good about things, still more or less sober, the next we’re pissed as handcarts. I’ve never got so drunk so quickly in my life. Those drinks were absolutely lethal."

Bill shuddered at the memory. “Next thing I know Nige got up to go to the loo and discovered he’d lost the use of his legs! We picked him up and plonked him back on his stool while the barman made us yet another of those...things. We knew if we drank it we’d be out of it, but we didn’t want to insult the guy’s hospitality so we put that one away as well. If anything it was even worse than the first headbanger, but we struggled out of the door before he could do us any more damage and the rest you know.”

Bill groaned, holding his head in his hands as memory piled upon memory of things he’d rather have forgotten. “Oh yes. One more thing,” he said, hoisting his gear onto his back and heading for a swim further down the bank. “We told
him we had a mate back at the site, so we’ve arranged to take you in there before we go back home for an ale and a few games of pool with the local hustlers, so look forward to a very decent headache, you gibber!”
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   Old Thread  #249 28 Jan 2018 at 3.51pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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I woke early in the evening to find that the other two had gone AWOL. I guessed that the boozy buggers were up at the creperie, so I took my headache for a walk across the field to look for them. No, not in there. Maybe they were fishing. Out of politeness, I had a beer or two in the creperie, then strolled along the camp site bank and down to the barrage. Still no sign of them so I returned to the creperie to await their return. I had a couple of nightcaps while I waited. Well, you’re forced too!

The sun blazed it’s way down the evening sky. I kept expecting to hear the hiss as it seemed to enter the water on the far horizon. I had been meaning to try to capture that sunset on film since we’d arrived but for some reason or other I still hadn’t got around to it. Too many nightcaps? Perhaps. I went back to the bivvy…Still no sign of Bill and Nige. I stretched out on top of my bed chair and was quickly in the land of Nod, only to be woken by inane giggles and laughter. The lads had returned and they were legless!

Nige, The Pot Noodle Man, was all for digging out the stove for a quick Chicken and Mushroom (or some such repulsive mixture). “Wake up, Townley. Make Pot Noodles,” he yelled." You can sod off for a start,” I replied safe behind the door of the bivvy. Their antics and laughing continued for a while until Bill realised that Nige was too far gone to hold a sensible conversation. In fact he was talking to himself, as Nige had fallen asleep. I tried to stifle my laughter as Bill cursed and struggled with the incredible Puffing Billy of a death trap he calls his cooker. There were farts and groans and mutterings and at last, after a particularly savage jet of flame lit up the night, he gave it up as a bad job. Nige was fast asleep on the dampening grass and Bill, worried about the heavy dew that was forming, man-handled the torpid form into his bivvy and onto the bedchair.

As my two sozzled companions snored the night away, I lay awake planning my attack on the camp site bank swim that we'd marker'd a couple of evenings ago. Nige was planning a return to the car park swims assuming he was feeling well enough! He and Franck had done so well earlier in the trip and they looked to be the hottest swims on the lake, probably due to all the bait that we had put in since arriving.

There was no doubt that the fish were capable of clearing up a vast quantity of groundbait during the brief dark hours, and rather than bait up the camp site swim heavily the night before fishing, I figured it would be best to put the mass bait in at first light, ready for the carp’s arrival mob-handed on their way from the car park swims up to Weedy Corner. I lay there, not relishing the thought of either a row out with the Plastic Pig or alternatively a early morning swim with a ten-kilo bucket balanced on my chest.

Dawn arrived cold damp and drizzly with a heavy dew on the ground. Not the ideal morning for a swim. Then I realised that the Plastic Pig was locked in the back of the van, and the van was nowhere to be seen. God knows where it would be after last night’s revels… Bugger! That meant an first light swim for Ken.

So it was that five o’clock on a chilly spring morning found yours truly swimming frantically out in the general direction of the marker (which I couldn’t see as it was still dark) balancing upon my chest a heaving bucket slopping over with a heady mix of groundbait, particles and boilies. The water was warm enough, but it was dark and threatening and I wasn’t really happy until I was back on dry land again.

I went back to the bivvy some sixty yards away on the camp site and made a quick cuppa against the numbing chill, then dashed back to the swim with the gear to make sure non of the old boys with their ancient pike gear spread themselves out in the pre-baited swim. Of Bill and Nige there was no visible sign, though the groans coming from their bivvies indicated that they were still a long way from a state of bliss!
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   Old Thread  #248 28 Jan 2018 at 3.49pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #247
We got back to the lake at about eight o’clock in the evening. The camp site and recreation area was still busy and in the lakeside creperie a party of some kind was in full swing. Somehow or other we managed to get involved and ended up having a beer or two in very jovial company. The locals were extremely friendly and seemed determined to make sure we enjoyed ourselves. A long table held a sumptuous running buffet that seemed inexhaustible and our busy hands made light work of the feast. The convivial party looked set to go the full distance but if we wanted to fish for carp the next day, we needed to get away right now. With great strength of character we managed somehow to drag ourselves away and get back to the lake in time to put a marker on the rough area we had fished with the French lads last year. We felt sure we could pick up fish there, possibly bigger ones that might have been spooking away from the car park swims due the number of carp that had been caught there since we’d arrived.

Monday dawned crisp and clear yet again. This weather was amazing. I couldn’t believe how kind it was being to us. So far all we’d had in the way of rain had been the merest drizzle very early in the morning. At first light Bill, Nige and I stood on the deserted camp site bank gazing out on the unruffled surface of the silvery lake. It was going to be another scorcher. Bill and Nige left for Weedy Corner while I decided to fish Weedy Corner.

Every morning the dawn arrived in company with a crowd of little old French pike anglers, though our jealous friends from the first day were not among them. Once again these ancients were out in force along the camp site bank, which was the most accessible of the lake’s banks. From time to time one or two would wander up towards our swims, and after a bit of ice-breaking we all got on famously together. Far from appearing jealous of us, like others we had met, they were absolutely fascinated by our high-tech carp traps. The buzzers in particular had them totally intrigued and each time any of us got a run they’d be there in numbers crowding around the swim as the fight progressed. At first there was a slightly tense atmosphere when we put the fish back, but gradually we managed to get through to these old fellas that we fish only for the pleasure and that we’d get strung up in England if we went around killing carp!

Down in Weedy Corner I sat and shivered waiting for the sun to kiss the water. It was clear that the fish were not in the swim while the sun was off the lake, but as soon as the shadows shortened and the full heat of the sun warmed the shallow water off the distant bar, the swim came to life. I scanned the water close to the bar through my binoculars and thought I detected a golden shadow beneath the surface, but I couldn’t be certain. Then a shimmering dorsal fin broke the surface like a sail, catching the rays of the sun, sending me a glinting message across the water. The carp had arrived!

The first take came shortly after eight o’clock, a fish that came off in the pads and I realised that I would need to beef up the gear to improve my chances of extricating any hooked carp from the jungle, allowing me to pile on the pressure once the fish reached fringe of the lilies some fifty or sixty yards out. You see, it was no problem getting takes off the shallow bar, which was about 80-90 yards out but the problems started when they got to the pads that lay between the bank and the bar. There was no alternative but attempt to bully a hooked fish through the pads and hope for the best. The stronger tackle did the trick and I landed the next five takes on the trot, three high doubles and two low twenties to 22lb 8oz…Very satisfying!



If I was a very happy with my morning’s fishing, Nige and Bill were definitely not, as the blanked completely when on previous days this had been the most productive time of day. Was it possible that the fish had cleared up all that bait? It looked as if that might be the case. Even Weedy Corner died on me as the morning wore on and soon the fish could be spotted away up the lake, splashing frantically among the weedbeds of the nature reserve as they got down to another bout of pretty serious sex. We were forced to adjourn to the bar once again, and we slept off something of an excess through the boiling hot afternoon.
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   Old Thread  #247 28 Jan 2018 at 3.47pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #246
By first light we were back at Weedy Corner. In the early morning light we could just see Nige and Franck across in the car park swims. The sun was just touching the tips of the trees on their bank but the Weedy Corner was sheltered from it’s early light and we sat and shivered in the cool morning. The swim itself looked dead and it wasn’t until 8.00am when the sun began to brighten the water out beyond the lilies that I had the first take off the distant bar. All went well until it reached the pads, then it was a case of hold on and hope. I felt the stems buck and jag as the line tried to cut through them, while the pads twitched and shuddered as the fish fought for freedom down below in the tangle of stems.

I was lucky. That fish came through, but Bill’s first one didn’t, nor did my next take, or the next. It was clear that the pads were thicker than they looked. Then I had another fish that came through the jungle all right, but Bill lost another two, one on my rods after I’d had two takes at once. One thing was certain, the carp were feeding along the bar in a big way but getting them to the bank meant pulling them through the pads, a risky business. It was exciting, arm-wrenching fishing and I got lucky and managed to winkle out three nice doubles. However, I lost three and Bill’s run of ill luck continued; he had four takes but never got a fish to the net.

Nige meanwhile had enjoyed a hectic night in the car park swims and between them him and Franck had landed about twenty fish between them. However, the night was somewhat spoilt for Nige as four of Franck’s friends had arrived and set up as between Nige and Franck and then began casting directly at his marker! Too tired for aggravation Nige decided to leave them to it and leaving his best three fish sacked up drove around the lake to fetch me for a photo session.

By the time we got back they’d moved all his fish, scattered his gear over most of the swim and broken the head of his landing net. Nige was well annoyed by their attitude, and blamed Franck for not putting his mates right. It put a damper on what had otherwise been and exciting night’s fishing. I did a few pix of Nige's fish and then we drove back to Weedy Corner where Bill had caught a couple and lost one too. Here's a couple of Nige's fish.





Our earlier estimate of the possible patrol route appeared to be spot on as it seemed likely that the shoal of carp from which we caught fish in the car park swims at night and through the first part of the morning was the same shoal that eventually arrived in Weedy Corner by mid-morning. As one area went quiet the other one came alive. They must been moving en masse across the lake from the car park to the Weedy Corner. Indeed, some of the carp we caught on the bar behind the pads were crapping out bits of boilie and groats that we’d put around the markers in the car park swims. This seemed to show just how far and how quickly those fish were prepared to move about the lake looking for bait, the two swims being about 500 yards apart!

The next day was a Sunday; fishing would be a waste of time. Anyone who has fished in France will recognise the significance of that statement. Quite simply, the world and his wife, dog, kids etc turn out into the countryside every Sunday whenever the weather is favourable. The lakes are a solid mass of humanity on, in and even under the water and until the activity dies down late in the evening you would be well advised to enjoy the day doing anything but fish. We decided to take a drive in the country, look at some more lakes and enjoy a meal at the little restaurant at Redon that we’d visited the previous year.

The English speaking owner and chef once again laid on a feast fit for a king. I don’t know how they do it for the price, but I’m not complaining. Smoked trout, snails in garlic and then poached salmon followed by Roquefort cheese, a chocolate mouse, coffee, cognac, and then more cognac. On the way back to the lake we stopped to look at a couple of new lakes. There was no one fishing them but they looked like big-fish lakes, assuming they’d not been emptied recently. Local inquiries revealed that one had not been emptied since 1977. If there were carp in there they’d be worth catching. We were almost tempted to go back and get the gear, but recalling last years mad dash about the French countryside when we’d fished four waters in ten days, we decided not to make the same mistake again. Best to stick to the water you know until you’ve got the best from it rather than gad about the country in a mad pursuit of the unknown.
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   Old Thread  #246 28 Jan 2018 at 3.43pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #245
By the time we got back to the lake Bill was into a fish. It had taken bait cast close in under his rod tip while the two long range rods cast out to his marker had been ignored. Isn’t that always the way! The fish was just over twenty pounds, at last a big fish for Bill. Meanwhile Franck was chatting to some people in an official-looking van that had drawn up in the car park. They were employees of the Departement and had bad tidings, at least for Franck, and to a lesser extent for us if we were planning a return visit. The threatened vidange was now scheduled for the coming winter. The lake would be emptied and all the small carp would be sold, either for the table or to stock nearby lakes. Any unsold carp would be killed and taken away by the local farmers to be turned into fertiliser. What a bloody crime.

The news upset Franck, and I’m not surprised. Remember that these fish had only been in the lake since the last vidange in 1986 and now they weighed over thirty pounds. Given another two or three years of similar growth they’d go well over forty, I’m sure. We were all feeling a bit down in the mouth when the fish came back to revive us. I had another twenty: a long, pale leather of 22lb 12oz. Nige then had two in an hour, mirrors of 17lb and 18lb 4oz. Both were immaculate, looking as if they’d just been made. We were doing the pix of these gorgeous fish when a voice chipped in, “Don’t tell them they’re going to be dead in November,” said Bill.

By now a definite feeding pattern was beginning to emerge. It appeared that through the dark hours the fish fed their way down towards the car park swims along the west bank, also coming up towards our swims from the long arm leading down to the barrage. They would arrive in force on the markers at around seven o’clock and feed for two or three hours. The amount of bait they could get through in such a short time was staggering, and no matter how much bait we put in, there was no way we could hold them in the baited areas once they’d decided to move on. By now were each using ten kilos of mixed bait around our markers, that’s thirty kilos along a strip some hundred yards long. When the fish arrived I reckon they just put their heads down and hoovered up the lot. It was nothing to get three, four, even five runs at a time, so God knows how big the shoal was.

Our next logical step was to identify where they went after they left the car park swims. You’ll recall that Franck and Pierre-Yves had pioneered the shallower areas in front of the camp site bank when Carole and I had joined them there in September ‘90, so naturally I was keen to try one of these swims myself. Alternatively there was a weedy corner on the opposite side of the lake that also looked promising. I felt sure the fish were following a patrol route right across the longest bank of the lake from the car park up to the weed beds. From there I thought they were probably heading up into the bird sanctuary where they spent the rest of the day either in frantic spawning activity or in idle sun bathing, for the weather continued settled with daytime temperatures in the mid- to upper-twenties. This may help give you some idea of the swims:



That evening as dusk approached Bill and I wound in our rods (no night fishing remember), but Nige had decided to take a risk and together with Franck, they were going to fish the night in the two adjacent car park swims. As the light went they baited up with three buckets of groundbaits and boilies - about 30kg worth! Bill and I meanwhile planned to fish the next day in a couple of swims we had not fished before near Weedy Corner, so after putting a bit of bait into the general area we adjourned to the nearby creperie for a bite and a beer. This handy little hidey hole was a Godsend as it was situated just a few yards from the lakeside. You can just see Weedy Corner on the other side of the trees on the left of the photo.



We sat on the terrace as the last of the sun’s afterglow left the sky, overlooking the promising weedy corner, where the thick set of pads grew in sheltered protection from the prevailing winds. The swim had look of Savay Lake about it. A carp sanctuary if ever there was one. A long shallow bar stretched out into the lake from the reed beds about eighty yards out and around twenty yards past the pads. Surely the fish would find this weedy corner and that tempting bar very much to their liking. As we sat and sipped we heard several fish crash out along the edge of the rushes that bordered the swim. Otherwise it was very quiet and peaceful and we sat well into the dark, drinking cool beer and listening to the frogs croaking their mating calls into the still air.
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   Old Thread  #245 28 Jan 2018 at 3.37pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #244
The afternoon heat was building all the time and the sun beaming down on the bright gravel of the car park itself made your eyes hurt! Only Franck seemed immune whereas we Brits did what we could to avoid the heat. Here's Franck (yellow t-shirt and back to the camera) about to have a word with the guy clocking his rods (my rods are to the right of Franck's). You have to remember that in 1991 modern carp fishing was in its infancy in France and a matched set of rods sitting on front and back bars with buzzers adorning the front ones appeared very futuristic to the majority of the French public. You can almost feel the heat coming out of the photo in this pic.



As the heat intensified the spawning activity seemed to get even more intense and clearly fishing was going to be a waste of time for large parts of the day if they kept this up. The Pig was launched once again, and Bill rowed out to the markers with several slopping buckets of mixed groundbait, boilies and particles ready for an evening session when the cooling night airs might put a stop to the carp’s spawning frenzy. Then we abandoned the lake for the cool comfort of the bar. A few beers we were ready to take up arms again.



Back at the lake we found the swims full of French idiots on planks (sailboards) playing silly buggers. In addition a dozen canoeists were creating mayhem in our swims. It looked as though they’d been designing a slalom course with our markers as one was nowhere to be seen and the other three were way out of position and most certainly not on the baited areas. Fishing was out of the question until the activity died down and the canoes left our swims in peace. While they played silly buggers we tried out the bar on the road across the dam. They had a pool table and Nige's eyes lit up. He is a real pool hall hustler and when he is on song you can't get him off the table. Somehow or other fishing got forgotten for the rest of the evening.

All things considered, I didn’t feel too bad the next morning. Again the dawn was cold and damp, the wind still blowing in from the north. The barometer was high and steady, and though I’ve never liked high pressure in the UK there are times when the exact opposite seems to apply in France. I put the kettle on and had a cuppa and then we drove round to the car parks swims where Franck was already fishing. He just shook his head and blew out his lips in a Gallic shrug. I think he was getting used to our cavalier attitudes towards our fishing. He’d slept in the car park, listening to the fish crashing out in the darkness over our baited areas. Then, at first light he’d cast out and had no action at all. Odd.

I had the first fish while I was still baiting up the second rod. “Good fish,” I grunted as the rod went over. The fish did a fair impression of an Exocet missile and when it turned out to be a small but beautifully formed mirror of around twelve pounds I was amazed as it had put up such a scrap... Small but who cares…I was more than pleased.




The sun was now burning it’s way through the fog and it was getting very hot once again, but there were still carp in the swims. I had a very welcome twenty pound mirror which was followed by twenties for both Nige and Franck, two completely different fish. Franck's was a humpy-backed big scaled mirror while Nige's was almost a pure leather. This was just fantastic fishing. A runs water where the runs were largely twenties.



Once again sport slowed as the morning went on. Nige and I drove into the village for some French bread, cheese and milk and some false caviar. I love that stuff! It’s really lumpfish eggs, but as I’ve never had the real stuff, it’ll do for me until I know better. It is also a fantastically effective attractor and when mixed in with loose feed such as groats or crushed hempseed it really gives the bait carpet a boost. So much so that it is actually banned as a fishing bait in France. Me, I can't stop eating it so it seldom if ever gets as far as the groundbait bucket.

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   Old Thread  #244 28 Jan 2018 at 3.33pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #243
We were still busy with the cameras when Franck had yet another run. The fish must have been going around in one huge shoal for us to get such concentrated action. This fish was a long, lean leather of twenty-three pounds. It was clear that the fish were shoaled up in the general area fronting the car park swims so naturally Bill and Nige set up along the bank to Franck’s right. Given the obvious size of the shoal out in front of us we could expect takes to come at any time and throughout the rest of the morning we all enjoyed some hectic action. Often we had several takes within the space of a few minutes. Initially all the action came to Franck’s and my rods. Twice we both had fish on at the same time, but them they moved a little bit further down the bank towards the barrage where they came upon Nige’s baits. Bill, fishing below Nige nearer still to the barrage, remained strangely fishless.

I felt perhaps we were cutting him off from the fish but at last they arrived in his swim in numbers. Bill’s first fish went just over seventeen pounds, the next nineteen. Suddenly the action just stopped dead and way over on the far side of the lake a tell tale commotion told us that the carp had stated spawning again. What to do? Sit it out in the hope that they’d come back, or go and get some nice ice-cold beers down us? No brainer, really!

We sat in the bar’s and had a beer and a light meal. My lack of sleep was catching up with me, and I went back to the bivvy to catch up on some kip while the others went off with Franck to the far end of the lake in the no-fishing nature reserve to watch the carp spawning. The evening was spent pottering about in the inflatable. We all felt that we might have a better chance of keeping the fish in the baited area if we had a big carpet of groundbait in the swims in front of the car park, so several buckets full of groats, buckwheat, hemp and nuts, along with a scattering of boiled baits were deposited around the markers ready for the next morning.

Later that evening a dark blue van pulled into the camping's car park and three Garde-Peche strolled down to the water’s edge. They didn’t speak to us, nor did they check our licences, but it was obvious that they were sending some sort of silent message. They knew full well that we were carp fishing and much as I think we would have liked to fish through the night, it simply wasn’t worth the risk after such a blatant, if unspoken, warning.

The next morning dawned foggy, misty and damp with a light drizzly rain, but it remained warm and humid and, as on the previous day, everything looked and felt very carpy. We were awake before first light, totally refreshed after a restful sleep and were at the car park swims just after dawn. Franck had beaten us to the swims but in the fog was having trouble in finding the little patch of hard ground that had been producing takes all through his campaign on the water. Visibility was down to about fifty yards and he couldn’t see his marker.

Small carp were spawning in the rushes that fringed the bay to my left, but there was no sign of any bigger fish among them. I hoped that maybe they were too engrossed, feeding on the groundbait we’d introduced to the swims the previous evening. The drizzle relented around mid-morning and the sun poked through the overcast. By eleven o’clock the sky had cleared completely and the lake steamed gently as the heat burnt back the mist and fog, driving the dampness from the air.

As the light improved the markers became visible from the bank so we all re-cast our rods, topping up the bait carpet with home made boilies and a scattering of groats from the boat to supplement the heavy baiting we’d carried out the previous evening. After yesterday’s hectic action we were naturally expecting a repeat performance, but strangely, all the English anglers blanked as the morning belonged to Franck. France 4. England 0.


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   Old Thread  #243 28 Jan 2018 at 3.29pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #242
I got busy with the cameras, firing off several shots of Franck’s two fish that had been sacked up for some time now, and as the two earlier captures came out of the sacks they were replaced with the two we’d just caught. I hoped there was more to come. Quite a crowd had gathered to watch the weighing and photographing ritual. A couple of ancient, sun browned and wizened pike anglers strolled up the bank to join the throng, affecting an air of bored nonchalance. Their murmurings amused Franck. “They are jealous,” he said to me in English. “I have watched them trying to find out the secrets of modern carping from other carp anglers, but nobody will show them the techniques. They would kill all their fish, you see.”

The wind had dropped quite a bit while Franck and I had been playing the two most recent fish, but Franck pointed out that a few carp had started topping in the general area that I had cast to. I was still gazing through a viewfinder when I heard a run start on one of my rods. I put the camera down carefully (in truth, I dropped it), and ran up the bank to my swim, where the line on my middle rod was belting out. I picked up the rod and just hung on as a powerful fish put as many yards in between itself and me as it could.

Was that fish strong! Back and forth it powered on a very long line and after ten minutes I’d still made no impression on it. Then, gradually the fish yielded to the pressure and fifteen minutes later it was in the deep margins at my feet. Now the fight really started with a vengeance; astonishingly powerful surges up and down the margins; great thick oily swirls coming up from below to flatten the wind blown surface. This was a big fish. Slowly but surely the fish tired, and after a dour struggle lasting about twenty minutes Franck slipped the net under my prize, grinned up at me and said, “Fifteen kilos I’d guess.” Whereupon I did a silly dance, up and down on the spot. A thirty!

But the elation was short lived once I got the fish in the net and had a chance to look at it closely: it was certainly a big fish, but it wasn’t a thirty. I searched around for my scales only to realize that I’d left them over on the camp site. Franck had a set of scales that weighed in kilos and he made it fourteen kilos exactly. What the hell was that in pounds and ounces? I had to know. I borrowed one of Frank’s sacks (mine were back at the bivvy with the scales and the sling), sacked the fish and started to run up to the others for a set of English scales, then turned in my tracks to rush back to my shrilling buzzers as another fish took off with the bait. Another hectic struggle followed: “Do all these fish fight like this?” I asked Franck as he waited patiently with the net. He simply grinned and once again said, “Fifteen kilos!” I told him to stop doing that.

Another ferocious twenty minute scrap, another big twenty in the net. Not quite as big as the first, but it made up in looks what it lost in weight. It was an absolutely gorgeous fish! Leaving Franck to guard the fish still in the net I dashed up to where Nige and Bill were fishing to get their scales. “Any good?” I asked. “Nothing,” they replied. “Then get your arses down to the car park. They’re going potty down there!”

And with that I grabbed the Bills scale’s and Nige’s sling and hared off back to my swim…where my third run of the morning had just begun. Unfortunately it fell off half way in, which was OK, really as it gave me a chance to deal with the other two fish. Though I’d told Nige and Bill that I thought I may have a thirty sacked up, I knew in my heart that it wasn’t going to make it. Sure enough, by the time the lads arrived with their tackle I was just lowering the sling back to the deck. It was a near miss, four ounces short of the magic thirty pound mark. I checked it on Nige’s scales and they told the same story. The other, a very pretty mirror, went 25lb 11oz. I was a happy man, to say the least. Here's the bigger of the two.


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   Old Thread  #242 28 Jan 2018 at 3.06pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #241
Somewhat later than we’d originally planned, we set off for the lake, the van bumping and groaning its overloaded way down the potholed track, around to the far side of the lake where Franck was fishing his favourite swim in front of the car park. He gave us his usual quizzical look as if to say, “What kept you?” He’d obviously had some action already, judging by two carp sacks tied to a bankstick in the water in front of him. The fish were both twenties. A nice, heavily scaled 25lb mirror and a smaller near-leather of 22lb. The two twenties were backed up with two big doubles. The English were late on parade yet again. Still, better late than never. Here's Nige getting the news from Franck.



It was time to get some bait out there. Bill and Nige decided to set up in a quiet, rush-fringed bay about three hundred yards up the bank, while I chose to stay with Franck, fishing a nice grassy swim some fifty yards to his left where a shallow, rush- fringed bay swept down from a distant point jutting out into the lake.

We had decided to fish only with boiled baits to start with. If a carpet of groats and particles became necessary, we could always blow the boat up later on. (I say boat but it was more of a kids plaything. We called it the Plastic Pig.) I cast into about twelve feet of water, some eighty yards out. All three rods were baited with fishmeals and stringers, but the free offerings surrounding each hookbait were a mixture of fishmeals and ready mades in equal proportions. Because of our late start it was now really getting hot, well up in the high twenties, with a steady, fresh breeze from the north east pushing into the bay and across the car park swims. It looked very carpy.

Yet I couldn’t help wondering if we hadn’t arrived a bit late, and the activity in Franck’s swim did seem to slow, and then stop altogether as the sun climbed ever higher. A further hour with no fish seemed to confirm that we’d arrived too late. Certainly the car park swims now looked dead, I just hoped against hope that perhaps the others were on fish. That would be some consolation.

Franck and I stretched out in the mid-morning sun. As it climbed towards its zenith so the wind seemed to increase in strength and veer more easterly, blowing more or less straight into our faces. That might stir them up a bit, I thought to myself. Then, suddenly one of Franck’s rods was away. He struck hard and the rod took on an alarming curve as a fish took off at high speed. He was still bent hard into this fish when another of his buzzers sounded. “Oh, Ken, for you!” he exclaimed and needing no further invitation I snatched the quivering rod and leaned into the fish. As on our previous session together at Cannonball, another cat’s cradle situation soon developed as both the hooked fish seemed determined to tangle other lines, no matter how hard we tried to
keep them apart. More by good luck than good judgment we managed to keep them apart and eventually brought both fish to the waiting nets. Franck’s fish was a nice 23lb mirror, while the one that I had played out on Franck’s other rod weighed just under 26lb. A nice start.

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