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   Old Thread  #228 17 Jan 2018 at 3.53pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #220
THE CANNONBALL RALLY: OCTOBER 1990.



You are probably wondering why I have kicked off the next section with a photo of Rod? Well, it is relevant, I assure you, so please bear with me and all will be revealed directly.

There’s no question that the intervention of Lady Luck can play a highly significant part in the complex game that is carp fishing. As the autumn months approached, she was about to deal us some pretty good cards as we planned our third trip of the year to France, though as the plans were laid and the holiday booked, we had no idea that la Grande Dame of carp fishing was getting ready to intervene on our behalf.

For a start, our plans had taken a bit of a set back when we had to re-arrange the dates from the late August until the back end of autumn. You see, for the past couple of years we had booked a proper holiday in the height of the French summer in the company of my old skipper and mate John and his wife, Debbie. We have been friends for longer than I can remember and our holidays together are treasured events, keenly anticipated, then over too soon. We look forward to our trips, not so much for the fishing as for John’s superb cooking; he is a Cordon Bleu chef! Good food, plenty of beer, wine, bubbles and cognac and, best of all, good company, those were our priorities, and if there was a carp lake nearby, so much the better.

Tat and I had been looking forward to the holiday for some time, but then on a drizzly, horrible day in June, when I was gazing forward dreamily into the future, anticipating the good times that awaited us in just two months time, the phone rang and shattered my dream. It was Debbie and she had sad news. “Sorry to mess you about,” she began, “but I’ve been transferred to another prison (don't jump to conclusions…she runs a busy library at one of the UK's largest prisons) and I won’t be able to get away until October at the earliest. I know it’s a bugger, but there’s nothing I can do about it. If you want to cancel or go over on your own this year, we’ll quite understand.”

What a bind. But a French holiday without the great company of our friends even if it was in late October, just wouldn’t be the same. It is what it is and at least the gite would be cheaper. We’d just have to grin and bear it and take pot luck with the weather and the thrice-accursed English Channel. The Western Approaches in autumnal gales are no place for the weak-stomached. Big boats and I definitely do not go together.

So the holiday was re-booked for late October and, true to form, the day of our crossing dawned overcast, with low cloud scudding along on a brisk gale-force sou’westerly. A thousand curses on the weather gods and their wicked sense of humour. I’d spent the previous night unable to sleep, listening to the wind rattling the windows of our bedroom, my stomach full of butterflies, apprehensive about the imminent sea crossing. On the way up to Plymouth and in the hours prior to sailing I spent my time dosing myself with Marzine - God knows why; they never work. I was feeling sick before the harbour gang even let go of the ropes.

Just clear of Plymouth breakwater, with six hours of hell ahead of me before the boat reached the calm of Roscoff found me bent over the rail, calling for Hughie at the top of my voice and once again feeling very sorry for myself. It was a grey and dirty October day and crossing the Channel in a force eight gale, cursing stupid Debbie and her stupid job, I heaved my breakfast at the horizon with surprising gusto. Meanwhile in the warmth of the bar, the others sipped their brandies and poured over the map planning the route to the gite some three hours away from Roscoff. Up on deck, I was ready to die.

Meanwhile Lady Luck sat poised to enter the fray. In the past, we’ve always left the booking of the French holiday cottage (known as a gite) to Debs. She knows how important the fishing is to us but she cannot always swing it that we get a gite close to a big bit of blue. Mind you, Debs has an uncanny knack of picking the good ones and in fact she told us that the one she'd booked was not far from a 350-acre lake in northern France. “Pack your rods,” she said. “I’ve found a big blue bit for you just up the road from the gite.” Good girl!



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   Old Thread  #227 17 Jan 2018 at 3.50pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #226
Tony Wenkle...There's a blast from the past. Sadly any chance I had of being published has disappeared methinks.
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   Old Thread  #226 16 Jan 2018 at 8.39pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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Thanks Ken..... I know I have said this before... you really need to write that book! Tony Wenkle would love it! ( That might just go over the heads of our younger members on here)!
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   Old Thread  #225 16 Jan 2018 at 5.20pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #220
More to come soon...
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   Old Thread  #224 16 Jan 2018 at 12.13pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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Thanks Ken
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   Old Thread  #223 16 Jan 2018 at 11.50am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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Sadly I am no longer a member of Roche AC and have not fished WR for about three years, so my knowledge of the venue is far from current. That said, I should imagine the fish still get caught from the usual spots and wouldn't mind betting that few members fish the unusual ones!

Glad you are enjoying my posts.
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   Old Thread  #222 16 Jan 2018 at 11.31am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #94
Even though the fish in Rashleigh are now different, would you say the swims you discuss would still be the best starting point on this lake?
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   Old Thread  #221 16 Jan 2018 at 9.53am Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #101
Really enjoying reading all of this. I grew up doing a lot of time on the duck pond. Never had any of the really good ones but mates had really good ones like starburst, pet and big common to name a few. I haven't done any Carp angling for a long time but my 7 year old recently spotted all my old kit and has been keen as mustard to go so have ended up applying to join RAC. Never joined back in the day but do remember sneaking in to "treesmill" one day to have a look around and seeing you pop out of your bit you not looking too impressed!

Really looking forward to getting up to Rashliegh as, although the fish are now different than back along, it is somewhere I always wanted to fish. Really enjoying reading about places I can relate to.
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   Old Thread  #220 12 Jan 2018 at 3.28pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #219
This trio of carp was just the start and yet more long, grey, humpy-backed mirrors came along shared among the three of us. Often carp would pick up two or three hookbaits at the same time and we’d play cat’s cradle with the lines. And what of Tat? Poor lass. So far she’d not had a fish. I said, “Never mind, Lass. You can have the next run on my rods.”

But then the lull set in. We sat and waited...and waited. By now the morning coffee and the wine was getting to her and she legged it for the toilet block at the camp site. I suppose you can guess the rest. The run on her rods came just after she’d passed out of sight and by the time she got back the fish was in the net. Just over nineteen pounds...Bladders can be a bloody nuisance!

Our last day was coming to an end. We had to catch the afternoon ferry and just one fish for Tat would be the icing on the cake. But wasn’t to be: the fish moved off, then a windsurfer picked up all our lines and dragged the rods along the stoney shoreline. He was eventually brought to a grinding halt after a laughing Pierre-Yves struck him off his silly plank. I told you he was laid back, didn’t I? The antics of the windsurfer had me spitting blood, yet this oh-so-calm giant treated it all as some huge joke. Here's the **** on a plank just about to wipe us out!



And so ended another French carp fishing trip. We’d not been what anyone would call going for it, but we'd seen and caught some cracking fish and this was a lake we would definitely return to. None of the carp weighed under over fifteen pounds, which, after such a short growing period, shows the enormous potential of the lake.

It was a shame Tat hadn’t caught this trip, but all that was soon to be put right. We were coming back to France in less than a month in the company of our good friends John and Debbie Affleck and we’d booked a holiday cottage near to another unknown -to us - of a French lake. It was on Franck's to do list, another big blue bit on the map, which would prove to be rather interesting to say the least.

More top follow including a 'wildie' over a meter long!
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   Old Thread  #219 12 Jan 2018 at 3.25pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #218
He didn’t need to tell us that. It was certainly a big twenty, if not a thirty pound plus, fish. Franck’s sorrows did not have long to fester. As he was rebaiting another rod was away. Though the scrap was fierce, it was not in the same league as the earlier lost fish, and eventually Pierre-Yves sank the net under a lean grey leather of just on seventeen pounds. It was then that Franck just happened to mention that this was only one of three similar sized fish since first light. Pierre-Yves hadn’t been idle either with a nice brace of big doubles. This was what had we been missing!



I’d not realised how huge the water was the previous evening. Now in the blustery yet clear morning, under a canopy of fast moving, white fluffy clouds, the lake was revealed in all its glory. It was absolutely huge. Dancing on the fresh waves about ninety yards from the shoreline I could just make out the bright red markers that the lads had put out. They looked pathetically close in, given the size of the lake. But there were fish on the bait, lots of them. They were crashing out at regular intervals between the markers, stirred into feeding on the wind that was pushing hard into our faces. (The bright bit of bank across the lake is a car park and in less than nine months that area would see more carpy action than we could ever have dreamed of.)



With trembling hands we put the rods up, baited the hairs and sent the baits flying out to the right hand edge of the baited patch. But our tardy start was going to cost us dear. By the time our rods were out and fishing, the carp had either finished up all the groundbait, or had decided to move on as the wind swung around through 45 degrees. Damn that Calvados!

By mid-afternoon, it was clear that the carp were feeding in one huge shoal that had moved onto the baited patch at first light, fed until the bait was finished, and moved on. In the immensity of that lake, they could be anywhere, most likely as far away from us as it was possible to get. But it was a pleasant day, and Pierre-Yves opened a couple of bottles of wine to blow our cobwebs away. The freshening west wind helped, and by the onset of darkness we were ready for some more good food and wine back at the hotel.

We enjoy catching carp on our own terms, and if that means we loose out on a few fish, well so be it. Tat needed a decent rest, and a knife-edge, go-for-it carp trip isn’t exactly restful is it? So that evening, to the slightly bemused stares of the two French lads we once more decamped for warmth and comfort of the hotel. More langoustines, oysters, Muscadet and the patron’s wicked “special” Calvados. Carping isn’t everything.

We were very good that night and got to the lake at first light as promised. The wind had shifted back to the north west again and was really hacking onto our bank. It had a chilling cut to it so while Tat put rods out, I put up the bivvy to keep the worst of the wind, the rain and the storm-blown sand. It was much colder than the day before and the passing showers kept us cooped up for most of the first hour. Eventually the sun broke through the clouds but when the wind freshened even more it began to look really looked carpy.

Then three buzzers went off almost at once. The fish had arrived. Franck took a lovely pale mirror of eighteen pounds while Pierre-Yves and I both had upper doubles. Both the French lads were surprised at the size of the carp. Remember that the lake had been emptied only four years earlier and the existing carp removed and sold. The lake had then been restocked, but only with small carp of between one and two pounds in weight. Yet they’d grown to this size already. And there were more surprises still to come. Franck’s next fish was a staggeringly beautiful mirror of 27.08lb while my next fish went 15lb.




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   Old Thread  #218 12 Jan 2018 at 3.24pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #217
Now I’m a reasonably easy-going guy: I can take the odd set-back or two, but this was getting beyond a joke. So far we’d driven the best part of five hundred miles and fished for about twelve hours, and the trip was half over already. To be honest I was resigned to our fate but Franck wasn’t beaten yet. Out came the map again. He pointed to a big blue bit and said, this lake is not too far away and we’ve got a good chance of a few fish. He also told us that normally the lake is emptied every two years but for some reason or other it had been missed last time around. There are some nice doubles in there but it doesn’t get a lot of attention as the carp are mostly small; too small for the local carp anglers.

Well, it had to be worth a try I suppose and as we were running out of days we just had to bite the bullet and drive and eventually we ended up on a big, wild and windswept barrage that looked daunting in the extreme. Franck had warned us that there was no chance of fishing the nights as the lake was patrolled by the Garde de Peche who weren’t known for their understanding attitude towards rule breakers. This was obviously not going to be our lucky trip and Tat was looking a bit fed up. After all, this was as much a holiday as a fishing trip for her, and the long slog of the work-year and the extra pressure she was under had dragged her down a lot. To be honest a comfy bed, a shower and a decent night’s kip appealed to us both a dammed sight more than any carp at that moment. So while the two French lads set up their bivvies on the adjacent camp site, Tat and I took off in the direction of the nearest town in search of a small hotel and a decent meal. We found a nice one not too far away. It was called La Grenouillère and the bar looked most welcoming! Perfect!



Too perfect in fact with a restaurant specialising in seafood and a huge set menu for less than fifty francs. The patron also just happened to be the local connoisseur of the local spirit, Calvados, keen to impart his enthusiasm to all English whisky-drinking heathens. He found willing pupils in us. We enjoyed a long lazy supper of fresh local seafood accompanied by a couple of bottles of crisp dry white wine, then adjourned to the bar for a swift nightcap. The hectic day was catching up with us and a soft bed waited.



But if we’d hoped for an early night, we were to be disappointed, for we made the mistake of buying a round of drinks for the patron and his family. Apparently that is the signal for a proper session to get underway and Tat and I weren’t allowed to go to bed until we’d finished a bottle! We pleaded an early start, but to deaf ears. We were both barely sober and the proposed early start saw us arriving, bleary-eyed at the crack of ten-o-clock.

As we drove into the camp site, I could see that the two French lads' bivvies were not pitched and we could not see their car either. The lake looked carpy as hell with a fresh breeze blowing into the camp site bank and though the level appeared to be down a bit, it did not appear too drastic. Just then the breeze carried the faint trill of a bite alarm, mocking our laziness and liking for strong drink! As we cleared the trees we could see that down on a sandy beach revealed by the lower level Franck was playing a fish. His rod was bent around in an alarming curve that seemed to give the lie to his claim that it was a small-fish water. I know French carp of all sizes pull like carthorses, but this was no small fish. As it neared the net it gave a last-minute surge and was gone, leaving the briefest impression of a long grey flank. Franck threw down his rod and cursed vociferously, luckily for Tat's sensitive ears, in French.

“I’ve been playing that fish for half an hour,” he yelled, throwing his rod down and giving vent to a stream of violently expressive French. I don’t think Tat understood a word of it, but just in case he apologised.

“Sorry,” he muttered sheepishly, “but that was a very good fish.”
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   Old Thread  #217 12 Jan 2018 at 3.23pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #216
I wondered about the barrage Geoff Shaw had told us about for our trip in May. Even small fish would be better than nothing. Franck pulled a face, and shook his head. It was clear that he didn’t fancy that suggestion. The level was way down, he told us, with a lot of thick mud in the margins. Fishing would be messy and difficult and the rewards, though plentiful, would be small. Out came the map and we had a ponder. There is so much water in the region that it’s hard to know what to do next. We’d looked at another water not too far away, in May. Franck knew the lake but hadn’t fished it, though he’d been meaning to. Here was his chance! We decided to pack up, have lunch then have a look around.

The gear was reluctantly packed away and we carted it back across the fields. By the time I’d negotiated the electric fence (which gave me one hell of a charge), the mosses, the cow pats, the ditches and the barbed wire, and piled the mountain of gear into the back of the blisteringly hot car, I was sweating like a pig and thoroughly cheesed off. Tat wasn’t very happy about things either but then the Happy Postman suggested a few beers to cool off and we were off and running…literally! By the time Pierre-Yves and Franck joined us in the bar we were already going for it!



One beer led to another and a good time was had by all. Fishing got forgotten for the day. We camped in the official site that night just a few yards from a bar on the side of the lake. The food was cheap and wonderful, Pierre-Yves put away an indecent amount of beer and still stayed sober, and we slept the sleep of the just with the rods tucked away in the back of the car. I like little sessions that just come creeping up on you out of the blue. Even the hangover seems tolerable!

Another clear fresh morning. After a breakfast of croissants, coffee and paracetamols we’re off in convoy, heading north to the new lake. Hope is doing it’s best to spring eternal, but is loosing a battle with my pounding head. Yet as the car flashes along mile after mile of poplar-lined, arrow-straight roads I can’t help feeling the surge of nervous anticipation as we near our destination. Even the headache dims to a distant memory of what was once a life threatening seven or eight on the Richter scale. What awaits us just down the road where the lake lies tucked away behind the tiny village, with it’s medieval skyline of church and chateau? In the square the bars wink their neon signs at us, but we can resist their temptation for the time being. The lake beckons, all two hundred and fifty acres of it, and almost completely covered in lily-pads.

The lake was still brim full. That’s unusual, for by September most French lakes are low from farm abstraction and everyday domestic use. And there was something else that was strange about the water. There was no one fishing, sailing or canoeing on the lake. I felt a sudden foreboding. A prominent notice confirmed my worst fears. No boating, fishing or swimming it said, and a jumble of official looking French explained that the water was contaminated with some toxin or other. Plan C up the spout!

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   Old Thread  #216 12 Jan 2018 at 3.22pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #215
As if to complete the sense of elusive unreality, a buzzer sounded, soft and muted, echoing in the hazy mist off the lake. Down the bank Pierre-Yves was playing a fish while Franck danced impatient attendance with the net. I went down to take some pictures and by the time I’d walked the hundred yards or so to his swim, the fish was in the net. A nice long leather of about eighteen pounds. “That’s a good start” I thought to myself. I noticed the lack of urgency in getting the carp weighed and returned and wondered for one horrible moment if they were going to kill the fish. But no, it was just that typically French laid-back attitude.

Eventually Franck got around to wetting a sling and doing the honours, while Pierre-Yves simply carried on re-baiting and so on. The fish was returned without ceremony or even photo. It isn’t that Pierre-Yves is in any way blasé about his fish, it’s just that he rarely takes pictures of them, happy simply with the memory of the sport they’ve given him. The sun rose and the heat of the day took its toll on the feeding carp. In the full light of day we could see pads stretching as far as the eye could see. The racket of carp sucking at the pads slowed, then stopped altogether. Perhaps the fish that Pierre-Yves had caught indicated their willingness to feed more on the bottom than at the surface.

That proved to be the case; Franck and I both had fish by mid-morning, while the oh-so-cool Pierre-Yves had another big fish which was returned in the same off-hand manner that we were to come to know so well. He really is the most relaxed bloke I’ve ever come across. I’ve seen people fast asleep who are more uptight! I’d love to fish a pressured English season with the guy. If the blanks started to get to me I know he’d soon help me get things into perspective. As we talked about this and that in his halting English and my broken French, he told me that he was a postman for a living. Beats me how he ever finds the energy to get out of bed at the required early hour, let alone trudge the streets delivering the mail. It wasn’t until later that he told me that he does most of his work from a post office van and had so far taken three months paid holiday this year. I asked him if he could get me a job like that!

The day was turning into a scorcher and in the heat of the day Pierre-Yves was revealed as a man after our own hearts. He likes his beer! Funny, that: Tat and I were just thinking about lunch! We were about to wind in when I noticed two gendarmes down the bank and headed our way. No problem of course. Our tickets were in order and night fishing was allowed. But it’s always the same isn’t it? You always feel guilty when you see the Old Bill, even if you’ve done nothing wrong. These two fetched up at Franck’s bivvy. God, they did look menacing. For a start they look so impressive: as if they’ve just been poured into their uniforms and told not to get them dirty. The cap may look a bit silly, but the guns they wear on their hips certainly don’t. These guys meant business. First of all they wanted to know if we’d been night fishing. I was about to say that yes, of course we had, and why not? when Pierre-Yves stepped in with a denial.

“Good,” they said. “Night fishing isn’t allowed on here any more.”

Franck gulped but said nothing. He’d been fishing the nights right through the summer, confident that he was allowed to do so. Then the gendarmes explained that the mayor had given permission only for a one-off trip by a well known French journalist. Night fishing was definitely NOT allowed! To rub salt in the wound they told us we couldn’t camp on the water. They called it `camping sauvage’ savage camping? I think not! Still, they were the ones with the guns. The bivvies must come down. We can fish till a few minutes after eight that evening and then vacate the water: very official. The only camping was on the official site at the other end of the lake, about four miles from the nearest fish. I thought it was all going too smoothly!

We obviously couldn’t risk carrying on fishing and camping here now that the gendarmes knew we were in the area. We were at a loss as to what to do next. Franck said that many of the lakes he knew of were fishing poorly. We suggested going to Tremelin as we’d originally planned, but then Pierre-Yves, who lives not two miles from the water chipped in with the news that there was a sailing regatta there this weekend! Looks like Plan B was a no-no.
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   Old Thread  #215 12 Jan 2018 at 3.21pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #214
We made up the first dozen or so mixes at home and froze them prior to taking them over in a cool box. We also several pounds of dry mix and the necessary flavours should we need to make bait on the bank. I rang Franck just before we left and arranged to meet him on the barrage on the Monday evening. The early boat from Plymouth would give us plenty of time to get down to the lake before nightfall, or so we thought.

Gales in the Channel are no great respecters of carefully laid plans. The crossing was horrendous and I spent the trip calling for Hughie. Why do I get seasick on big boats? I had spent much of my life bouncing around on the ‘oggin on a poxy fishing boat and hardly ever got ill, yet the minute I step onto a bloody ferry, up comes dinner. Tat, as usual, took all that the Western Approaches had to offer without batting an eyelid, and spent the roughest part of the crossing with her nose buried either in a book or a glass of cognac, or both.

If the crossing was bad, then the delay at the customs was even more frustrating following a terrorist scare, so the gathering gloom of an early autumn evening saw our overloaded little jalopy pounding it’s willing heart out to get us to the lake before it became too dark. We made it with an hour to spare, but we were still half an hour late for our rendezvous with Franck and his friend. There was no sign of either of them. Perhaps they had got tired of waiting. I was a bit concerned, but I needn’t have worried. About half an hour later Franck drove up to the lake accompanied by a man-mountain who made Grizzly Adams look like a stick man. This was Pierre-Yves, all eight feet thirteen inches of him, blotting out the sun and grinning through a thick black beard. Giant Haystacks, eat yer heart out. I could see Tat giving him sideways looks and wondered what she was thinking. It didn’t do to ask!

The two French lads had already set up their bivvies at the far end of the lake, and prepared a swim, all carefully pre-baited for Tat and myself. Wasn’t that nice of ‘em; all we needed to do was cast out, put up the carp house and get stuck into the beers. The lake here was long and fairly narrow, perhaps some two hundred yards across. Away to our right the barrage that formed the lake rose towering into the darkening evening sky. Lily pads stretched from one bank to the other, with narrow clear channels and small cut-out spots where anglers had prepared a swim. I could see why Franck had suggested we come prepared with heavy line as clearly any carp we hooked would be buggers to extract from that jungle.



Soon the barbeque was glowing warmly and the ale was flowing. The evening was warm, perfectly still and I could hear plenty of carp 'clooping' at the undersides of the pads. In the field behind us cattle shuffled noisily in the quiet air, and from far off came the noise of the occasional heavy lorry as it rumbled through the night. A family of coypu made it’s way along the far margins, returning to its burrow for the night. And I thought the rats at Savay were big!

The gales of the Channel had been left far behind us and in the warm stillness of the twilight the stars gradually emerged and a big, full moon illumined the lake with it’s ghostly light. In a state of utter peace and contentment we feasted on barbequed steaks, burgers and sausages, washed down with rich red wine, the odd beer or two and a final cognac as a nightcap. Bliss!

The carp appeared to be totally preoccupied with their feast of snails - either that or they weren’t aware of the part they were expected to play in the proceedings: for the time being, who cared? The sunrise next morning was truly spectacular. The paint-brush of creation had prepared a canvas of colour over the lake, a hazy mingling of soft golden rays that lit the motionless, sparkling surface like a Turner seascape. I dashed off a few shots with the transparency camera knowing that no photograph could ever do justice to such a splendid dawn.


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   Old Thread  #214 12 Jan 2018 at 3.19pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #213
CARP AND CALVA: EARLY SEPTEMBER 1990

I came back from that pioneering trip in May with mixed feelings. Sure, we had caught carp fish from every water we had fished, but I couldn’t help feeling that we’d fished too many! Four waters in ten days, seven hundred miles solely in Brittany?! We had not exactly given the lakes and rivers we had fished much of a chance, had we? Yet with no first-hand knowledge or information to guide us, we managed to persuade ourselves that we had done as well as could be expected. It would be different next year, we said. We’d pick a water and stick to it, hopefully having found out a great deal more about fishing in France than the second-hand gossip that had guided us through our first trip.

My incessant chatter about how wonderful our first trip had been was now getting to Tat, and when she found herself with some leave due, I was on the phone in no time, and soon a short five-day trip was upon us. In retrospect our first trip had really been a bit of an anti-climax and though we’d returned, putting a brave face on it in front of our mates, in truth we all knew that we had done a lot of things wrong. Something of a bull in a china shop attitude had prevailed. If there was a lesson to be learned it was surely that we should concentrate on known waters, rather than blasting off into the blue to God knows where. Sure, we’d caught fish, but with a bit more thought and planning wouldn’t we have been more successful?

The trials and tribulations of fishing abroad are fairly obvious and need no stressing, but if you can learn by your mistakes, then no experience can be called wasted. One of the first lessons that anyone should learn, especially on their first or second trips to France, is to pick a water with a reputation for holding the size of fish you are interested in. If you are simply after singles and doubles, fish any bit of blue you can find. Carp are everywhere in France, in the rivers, in the lakes. A pin in a map will suffice. However, if it is bigger fish you are after then head for the better known waters with an established reputation and keep your ears peeled. You cannot get too much info!

With this in mind, Tat and I planned to fish Tremelin. We’d already heard from Franck that the lake was less now hectic than it had been in May and the park rangers seemed to have become more accommodating. And it was after all, a known big-fish water that had produced some glorious fish during the summer months. It’s not up to Cassien standards of course, but a few of the big thirties had been caught, along with a forty-pound mirror and stacks of twenty-pound fish and big doubles to make up the numbers. That would do nicely.

I wanted a few fish for Tat in particular. It had been a long, hard year for her, what with one thing and another. She holds down a job that carries a great deal of responsibility and recent changes in personnel and working practices had meant long hours and some pretty trying and stressful times. Her fishing had suffered as a result.

Since we’d got back in May I’d been writing regularly to the young Breton, Franck Martin who’d been so kind and helpful to us earlier in the year. Though at the time he was a comparative newcomer to modern carping, he was learning the ropes very quickly. The area around his home is rich in lakes and rivers, and the temptation to flit from water to water, never getting to know any particular lake well enough to get the best from it was an obvious one. Sensibly he was learning to walk before trying to run.

Franck had fished Tremelin a fair bit, accompanied by a friend from Iffendic who was learning the ropes and between them they had notched up some very impressive numbers. However, one very special lake they’d discovered not far from Chateaubriand had been very kind to the pair and a phone call just before we were due to leave for Tremelin soon had us in a maze of indecision. Franck was eager for us to come over and join him on this new lake. What to do? It was no contest really; you go with the local knowledge. What swung it was the fact that night fishing was now allowed on Franck’s water following an arrangement with the local mayor.

The two French carp anglers had caught loads of fish, including mirrors to 33lbs and commons to 26lbs with an impressive average weight of eighteen pounds. The plan to fish Tremelin went sailing out of the window. In the meantime we got the gear ready and made up a few mixes of the fishmeal mix that we’d been on all year. Basically this was a basic red fishmeal base with dried seaweed and a five grams of green lipped mussel extract and flavoured with strawberry and an essential oil. This was the same mix we'd used in the UK and it had done OK so we felt no need to change it for France.
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