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   Old Thread  #332 28 Nov 2018 at 3.24pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #331
So there we were on Pete's lake, catching only smalls and being deafened by the frogs and threatened by the snakes! We were only a few hours away from Arnout's lake so we had pulled off Pete's lake and driven south for what seemed like hours until we reached the outskirts of a town. Crossing a slow-flowing river, we set off through fields of nodding sunflowers, along a winding back road until we came to the lake itself.



First impressions? Heaven! Nestling in a quiet valley the lake sits in peaceful solitude among fields of maize and corn. The village appears unchanged since before the revolution and the lake, about twenty five acres of it, nestles among its surrounding poplar trees and gentle slopes like a jewel in Paradise’s crown.



I’d love to be able to tell you that we caught stacks of fish, but as you may have read in the earlier posts that would be a lie. But it was enough simply to be on the lake. I learned later it was known by the Brits who fished it regularly as the Boffin's Lake, more normally just Boffin's. The local anglers were friendly and more welcoming than any we’d previously met - and that’s saying something - and though Colin blanked and I caught only one fish, albeit a magnificent linear mirror, it didn’t seem to matter one jot. Nige, as usual picked the only swim on the entire lake that contained any carp and did well, as usual. His top fish was a mirror of just over thirty pounds. Jammy git! That trip really fired up the blood and I kept going on about it to Tat throughout the following months. "About time you got your arse in gear and took me down there, then," she demanded. I needed no further asking as I had been gagging to get back there. So it was that Carole and I made plans to fish Boffin's in September 1995.

The lake lies less than a hundred miles from the Spanish border so we took a couple of days on the road to get down there. The weather all the way down was changeable so we stayed for a night at the small hotel by the river we had fished previously where Tat had caught her PB.



Not at all disheartened by the weather, Carole and I did the sight-seeing bit, eating and drinking well as we made our way slowly south through the hills and forests of central France. The rain caught up with us at Uzerche so we again stopped at a small hotel just outside the town on the banks of the R.Vezere, which was running high, fast and coloured. However, it looked a very good prospect for some river carping so the area was filed away with a view to a future visit. From the hotel I rang the bar overlooking Boffin's: “What’s the weather doing where you are? I asked.

“Il y’a un petite soleil timide,” replied Giles, the owner.

“A shy little sun?” I thought to myself. “What on earth’s he talking about?”

Next morning, the `shy sun` had reached Uzerche and a glimpse at the weather forecast for the next few days in the newspaper told us it was set fair for the next week or so. A few hours later, by way of a meandering series of D-roads heading steadily south west, we arrived at the bar. The sun was blazing down and the shy little sun was now as bold as brass. We had a beer and Giles brought us up to date about what had been happening on the lake. From the bar we looked down on the full panorama of the lake, glinting in the sunlight in the valley below. After the summer heat the level was slightly down from our visit in June, but Giles told us that it would soon be back to normal as the recent heavy rain had filled the streams that fed the lake, which were running high and fast. A rainbow kissed the far bank by the road. Was this a sign that we should fish there? Nah! I wanted to fish the swim where Dave and Nige had done so well.


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   Old Thread  #331 28 Nov 2018 at 3.22pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #330
BOFFIN'S POOL: SEPT ‘95.

If you have followed this tale so far, especially the more recent posts detailing the start of our French journeys, you will note that for a little old Cornish buoyo, used to catching doubles and the odd low twenty - if you were lucky - my early trips to France had been very successful by my comparatively low standards. True, College held a single biggie of just over thirty (which I caught in 1983!), and there was a few twenties to go at, but to catch mid to upper twenties, a scattering of thirties and even a low forty was something very special for a Cornish carper.

So let's have a brief recap of 1994, a year that will always be infamous in my memory. France had been pretty kind to me and Tat since our first visit in 1988, but that all changed with 1994. That year carved an indelible black mark on our previously successful sorties to France. To say that it was not our best year’s fishing, both at home and abroad, is putting it mildly. I suppose you could sum up how bad it was by the fact that up until the early autumn of 1994 we had caught between us just nineteen carp in the UK and in France. Undaunted and in the hope that French carping would come to our rescue, in September of ’94 we set off once again in search of golden carp in France…Well, that was the plan at any rate.

It was a nightmare of a trip! We had twenty-five days holiday saved up and we spent nineteen of them driving over 2,000 miles in the pouring rain, along the motorways, N-routes and back roads of France in a vain attempt to find either a river that wasn’t flooded, a lake that wasn’t being emptied and a sun that wasn’t constantly obscured by cloud. The former two we never found; the later we found only when we went out on deck as the ferry left France, six days ahead of our planned departure date. We were shattered, worn out and defeated by the remorseless downpours, a leaking tent, a car accident, a spell in hospital for me, and not a single carp to our credit. To rub it in, the sun shone down blissfully for the entire six hour ferry crossing, adding a rather pathetic brownish glow to our normal pallor. When we went into the pub that evening they said, “You’ve got nice tans. The weather must have been lovely.” I felt like screaming. That was 1994. Goodbye and good riddance!

The following year I went back to France with Colin and Nige, a trip described in the immediately preceding posts. We’d been told about a lake in the Vendee by my friend Pete McDermott had heard about. We met up with Pete and his pal Mikhail in mid-June and struggled to catch four decent fish between us. The lake Pete put us on was as wild and dramatic as anything you’d find in a South American jungle with mossies the size of small helicopters, wasps, hornets and snakes. It was more like an SAS survival course. In the end it became too much for all of us and when the snakes started coming into our bivvies we just knew it was time we looked elsewhere.

At the 1994 Pyramid Bait and Tackle Carp Exhibition held at Hooten in Holland I was told the name of a lake that supposedly held some good fish. Arnout, the guy who put me on to the lake told me that he had not fished it himself as it didn’t hold big enough fish for him! “There are no fish over twenty kilos,” he told me. “No good for Dutch carp anglers. There are plenty of twenties and thirties, though.”

“Do none of the of the Dutch carp men fish it, then?" I asked.

“I doubt it,” he replied. “They are after bigger stuff than twenties and thirties. It's the lake Hutchy and Annie have been fishing the past couple of years.”

I'd been searching for this venue for the past couple of years. Had I now dropped onto it like a lucky bugger? Puzzled by this somewhat dismissive attitude I filed the name of the lake away in my mind for a possible visit next time we were in the area.

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   Old Thread  #330 26 Nov 2018 at 2.48pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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   Old Thread  #329 24 Nov 2018 at 12.08pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
More stuff coming up.

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   Old Thread  #327 28 Oct 2018 at 2.55pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #326
(As it turned out Tat and I enjoyed several; trips back to the lake and for several years I ran a French/English syndicate on the lake. The membership included both Dave Ball and Rod, Mally, Speedy Bill and the Thames river carpers, Big Bill, Bri Skoyles and a few other Yorkies plus a few well trusted Cornios. We enjoyed some of the best fishing imaginable, but all good things come to an end. A team of French fish thieves were about to plunder the lake's stock of carp to line the pockets of an unscrupulous bar steward. The syndicate was disbanded in 1999. The lake has now been taken over by a new owner and once again fishing is available. Sadly the stock is not what it once was but we have hopes that it may one day return to its former glory. I doubt if Tat and I will return but Nige and his better half still visit the lake from time to time.)

Coming up the tale of Tat's first visit to the lake, several PBs, lots more great food, wonderful company and incredible fishing.
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   Old Thread  #326 28 Oct 2018 at 2.54pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #325
"Sadly for me and Colin it looks as if the carp have had enough of the commotion on the bank and in the weed and have legged it. Not seen sight nor sound of one for the best part of twenty-four hours now. This is the swim that was alight at the weekend, yet it seems devoid and empty now. Perhaps there were too many fish caught in a relatively small area of what is a fairly big lake. Perhaps they've gone off to sulk somewhere. Certainly there's nothing here but water and weed. Hey-ho…it's very frustrating. I don't think Colin's up for a move as it would be his seventh in six days but I might shift if nothing happens tonight. But it's a fabulous day and if you forget the fishing, then everything's perfect bliss. As Colin said, if you are going to blank, you couldn't ask for a much nicer place to do so.

"Nige is in for a bit of a shock in a minute. He's got to go up to the café to pay his bar bill. He's looking a bit shaky but then, I don't suppose I'm looking too perky. It's now coming up to a quarter to ten, Monday morning, and hope is doing its best to spring eternal but it's having a bloody hard job! The well of optimism is running dry on this bank. Nige is obviously firing on all six, but over here...? Hey-ho, can't be helped. Speak to you later in the day. Bye for now."

"It's now Monday night about eleven, and it's going to be our last. I'm living in hope more than expectation. I don't think we're going to score now. There's an east wind blowing away from us and if the fish hadn't spooked from our area after the weekend, I'm sure the strength of the breeze will push them away. A good angler, keen and at the start of his trip, would move with the breeze but I'm knackered and looking forward to a good night's sleep. It's been thirty-five, thirty-six degrees today. Roasting hot, far too hot for carp fishing.

"We decided over dinner to call it a day and head back to the barrage where Pete's still fishing; spend the last night with him. So this is our last night here. This has been without doubt the best trip I've been on with the lads. Yeah, the best ever. I've had three runs, landed one eight pounder at the barrage and a gorgeous linear down here that looked almost like a College fish. Beautiful. But that big linear seems a long time ago now and with twelve hours still to go maybe, just maybe, something special will come along tonight but I'm not holding my breath! Night, night, darling. Love you!"

"Hey, ho! Tuesday morning and another blank night. I think I expected it but it is still a mystery how the swim completely switched off. We are doing exactly the same as Nige - he's caught another two twenties by the way - and yet we are sitting here with our fingers up our noses. It's not as if we are miles apart, really we are fishing more or less the same part of the lake.

"Colin is being very philosophical at blanking but the news from home has kept him smiling through the blank hours. 'Sh*t happens,' is what he said to me this morning. Nige's got nothing to be disappointed about and that's for sure. I think he's had four or five lovely twenties and a magnificent thirty pound mirror plus quite a few doubles as well. I knew when he blanked up at the barrage he'd get his own back!

"So were going to pop in to see Pete on the way home. I rang his house last night, not expecting to hear from him, more to check that he was still fishing, but he's back home, having pulled off after a five day blank. In hindsight this was a good move on our part

"There it is, this edition of French Message comes to an end. A bit of a disappointing end but there you go. I can't wait to get home now. So, I'll see you soon, Tat, and I hope we'll both see this little bit of Paradise in the not to distant future. I can't wait to bring you out here to enjoy what is without doubt the best lake I have ever fished in France, nay, possibly in my fishing lifetime. I'm sure there are other challenges awaiting us somewhere along the line, and we can look forward fishing them, but I shan't be looking any further afield than this little bit of heaven, that's for sure.



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   Old Thread  #325 28 Oct 2018 at 2.48pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #324
"Back again with a big grin all over my face, not because I have had another carp but simple because this has been a magical day. It's Sunday night now, Tat and I have just spent one of the best days I've ever had here in France, In pure angling terms we've had better (laughing and a bit slurry!) but today has bee splendid. Me, Nige and Colin went up to the village at lunchtime for a meal. We had a good drink and plenty of superb grub, then came back to find that Jose, Jean-Louis and all the rest of them had got the picnic going and the wine flowing. J-L was in fine form with the bottle.



They invited us to join them…no, they insisted that we join them. So we sat around most of the afternoon sipping beer and wine and eating foie gras and Chorizo, camembert and rochefort cheese, smoked salmon and langoustines. God, it was horrible, but we just felt we had to be social! Here are l-r Jean-Louis, Nige, Francois, kids, Jose and Colin, while in the background the Little Man opens yet another bottle and for the rest of the day we just sat and drank and talked the afternoon away.



"We had the most wonderful evening, sharing the Entente Cordiale. There was Grandma and mum, nephews, nieces, sons and daughters and all the French carp anglers and us all sitting around and enjoying this wonderful, laid back way of (French) life. It was just absolutely splendid.

"It got dark and at about ten o'clock the French guys said 'au revoir', piled all the gear into the cars and drove (yes!!!) off into the sunset. What a fantastic crowd they were. Me and Colin moved the rods a bit to the right so we were now fishing the French guy's water and by the evening we were ready to start fishing. I am now overlooking the part of the lake that has produced ten fish including one for me, so far this weekend. Will we catch? Who knows. I could do with a good kip to be honest after this afternoon! Think I'll get the rods out and put my head down…No, hang on…Oh yeah! I nearly forget the best part of the whole trip.

"While we were in the restaurant, Colin phoned home and got some very good news. It seems he is going to be a dad again! So we had to have a good drink for that. Everybody is so happy for him, all the women clucking around him, beaming like mother hens and they don't even know him! The poor chap is just about awash in wine and cognac, all the blokes shaking his hand and the women fussing over him. Oh, it's just a great time, that's all. You've got to come here, Tat. We have got to get here together. It is truly Paradise. I'd adore it if you could come here for a week or so. OK, it's a hell; of a drive but what is waiting at the end of the road is worth all the hassle of getting here. It's a little bit of heaven just waiting for you to visit and catch a carp or two. You'd love it, kiddie. Just adore it! "Right. This time I really am going to get some zeds. Sleep well, darling. I'm missing you but I'll be home soon."

"Well here I am again and it's morning after yet another blank night. I slept like a log and I have woken up without a headache, which is astonishing really all things considered. The French guys told me that you don't get hangover if you drink that gut rot rose. Maybe worth considering…Not!

"So now it's Monday morning, eight o'clock and the sun's beaming down yet again. Not surprisingly, we've had naff all over this side during the night, and considering the state we were in that's probably a very good thing!

"Apparently at some stage during the night Nige had a fish that weeded him up. He came over for the boat and Colin went back to help him try to land it but they lost it in the weed. It's as well Colin was there for Nige was rat arsed and had no idea what he was up to, nor where he was going. Colin helped him bait up again. It seems that Nige was in the bar till the small hours, getting legless with Jean-Louis and Jose and Giles, the owner. He's a bit unsure what happened during the night anyway but in true Nigel form he managed to get the rods out despite being wrecked.

"Well the sun is well up and we are going to go into the village in a minute for supplies. I expect we'll have to have a beer while we are there too! What a pain! Just looking across to the Point and I can see than Nige is into a fish. He's sitting on a lot of good fish, is Nige, and to prove it, hangover or not, has just landed a superb 26lb common. Again it found the weed and so we both wound in and went round to help him. By the time we had walked all the way round there he'd managed to land it. What a fish!


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   Old Thread  #324 28 Oct 2018 at 2.38pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #323
"Good morning French France! Here we are on a bright and sunny Sunday morning and if I am sounding a bit croaky it must be the wine. I've cracked it and so has Nige. I've had a beautiful linear of just over twenty-seven pounds and Nige has had a 30lb 6oz mirror, a 19lb mirror and a 15lb common.





Just down the bank from me, Jean-Louis and the other French guys have had another four carp, including another twenty. Here J-L and Jose do the pix for the guy they just call The Little Man!



And this is J-L with a twenty pound common.



Here's the Little Man with a nice mirror.



"This became something of a regular occurrence that weekend; people gathered around while they take pix of one another's fish, kids and all! Brilliant.



And Little Man again with his son.



"Colin's not had so much as a bleep but Nige is yet again becoming the kiddie on this trip. Why do we keep bringing him? He invariably tucks up everyone else on the trip...Still, he is brilliant company and that's the important bit...Oh yes. He can get hold of the transport too! Still, van and fantastic company or not, I think I'll break his neck if he carries on like this. He could catch carp in a water butt!

(This pic shows the house on the hill that was a familiar landmark in Rod's photos, one of which he used on the bobbins of mono he used to sell. This saddoe carried one of the labels showing this farmhouse around in his wallet in the hope that one day he'd trip over Rod's little paradise. Well, it paid off!)



He also had this beauty that night. Golden balls has our Nige!



"So anyway, we are just getting spruced up a bit, a shower and a shave, and looking forward to going up the road into the village for a meal. It's Sunday and we have reserved a table and the menus looks pretty decent for 120FF. I expect we'll have a beer or two and glass of wine, maybe. I'm sure I don't need to tell you, Tat, that one of the highlights of any trip is a Sunday lunchtime nosebag."
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   Old Thread  #323 28 Oct 2018 at 2.27pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #321
"Well that's the first night gone and I have blanked. I slept like a log but when I got up for a pee I heard a couple of boshes. As you can probably hear, the birds are giving it the good 'un. And blessed relief, at the moment there are no feckin' frogs! (I would later come to regret this comment.) The sun is coming up over the hillside church and the bells have just started to toll. There's hardly any traffic noise and the only sounds are from the ubiquitous dogs that seem to plague every lake in France. But they cannot take the magic away. What a place. Mind you, I don't know if I'd be this euphoric if it was pissing down!

"So that's that. We've got five more days fishing left to us and we've just got to make the most of it. Did I mention that the lake is a totally private club water run by the local commune and with an application panel that would make strong men quake! Apparently we seemed to have the right requirements for membership, possibly because Nige fixed the alternator on one of their cars, or maybe Rod or Dave had put in a good word for us. It's hellish expensive though…It cost the princely sum of twenty francs a day to fish here. That's about one pound fifty!

"Oh yesssss! Brilliant! I've just seen a great big carp crash out over my baits out by the island, and now I've just had a bleep. What more could you ask for? I'd better investigate. Bye for the moment, speak to you soon.

"Right, things have moved on some way since I last talked to you, Tat, and that bleep last night was the only inquiry I had. Don't know if Colin's had anything or Nige. No idea where we are in space and time. I think it's Saturday but I cannot be certain.

"There has been a bit of hoo-ha today. Yesterday Colin came up the bank to me. He doesn't speak French and it seemed there was a problem with the locals. A very pleasant French guy had turned up at his swim and told him that he, Colin, was fishing in his (the French guy's) swim and would he please move? Colin was a bit gobsmacked. Can you see that happening on an English lake? 'Of course I'll move for you, old chap. A pleasure. Please, think nothing of it and may all your carp be bigger than mine!' I think not!'

"Apparently the French guy and his friends fished the area we were in every weekend and they'd been baiting it up steadily for a month or more. Now you can imagine what reaction he'd have got in the UK. Bog off, mate! That would have been the strength of it. However, this fella was very nice about it all and considering we were guests on their lake we deemed it a wise move if Colin did as he asked. After all, he could move back into the swim on Sunday night after they'd packed up. In the end I helped Colin to move right around the bank next to Nige. That was all fine and dandy but the French guy and his mates then went on to catch five carp, including a couple of twenties in their first night - as described in a minute.

"So now, as I say, it's Saturday night and if Colin is hurting, he's not showing it at all, especially as far from blanking Nige had three fish during the night, a fifteen, an eleven and a ten-and-a-half. Hmmm! Smalls again! Colin had nothing, I had nothing so, as you can see, it looks as if this could be a bit of a grueller this lake. Not easy by any means. Certainly it doesn't look as if heavy baiting is the order of the day, but if you want to talk about Paradise then this is it and sod the fishing! So here we are, just coming up to ten-thirty, Saturday night. The sun is just about to go down behind the far hills. The setting sun is turning the sky to the west a bright red, hopefully foretelling a good day tomorrow.



"Nige is over on the far side with Colin. They are having their usual meal of those sumptuous Pot Noodles. Must have guts lined with concrete to eat that rubbish! I'm on my own over here but two of the French guys, Jean-Louis and Jose, have kept me company for most of the afternoon and evening. I think we've gathered in a whole heap of brownie points for moving Colin out of 'their' swim. May stand us in good stead. (It most certainly did, if not in terms of fish, certainly in terms of inebriation and le bon vie!')
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   Old Thread  #322 28 Oct 2018 at 2.18pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #321
"Whose idea were snakes anyway? I mean, what are they for? No wonder the origin of temptation was in the form of a snake. Evil looking things. "Snake in the grass" was one of Bill's favourite phrases. Never did find out what he was on about. We'll see what tonight brings. I think if we don't catch something hefty tonight we are going to shift. No idea where? I quite fancy trying a river for the first time. I know that the Charente holds decent carp and I have been tipped off that the stretch through Cognac is worth a look. That will please me greatly as you know how I love a drop of Cognac! Speak to you in the morning, kiddie. Bye, sweetheart!"

"It's morning and a lot's happened since I last spoke to you. Yesterday was a day of moving. We've packed it in at the barrage where we were fishing with Pete and Mik. Although Colin had two more carp and a bream, Nige and I blanked. Nige was in tears doing the photos of Colin's fish. Could have been hay fever, I suppose.



"So it was decided to move on. We never saw anything worth staying for, though I'm sure there are some real lumps in here. The trouble is, the restrictions imposed by the limited night fishing zones, together with the poor access means that you can physically only fish, I'd estimate, a ting proportion of the lake. So, unless you've got unlimited time to build up the swim, you catch what's in front of you and if that's small fish, so be
it.

"The fish have little need to wander far and wide to find food, the natural food potential of this lake is astonishing. In one night I netted out twenty crayfish the size of small lobsters. They were very nice cooked up with a glass of white and some French bread. There are empty mussel shells and the water is thick with daphnia. There's absolutely no doubt that the lake is capable of producing a real monster, but I don't think we've got the time to sit it out for maybe one run between us on this visit. I'm sure there are big fish in the barrage but we didn't see anything like it, so we decided to try the lake I'd been told about in the winter.

"So, with my heart very firmly in my boots in apprehension if I'd got it wrong, we came on further south to that lake I told you about, Tat, the one that Arnout had told me about at the Pyramid Exhibition in February. This was apparently 'Rod's commons lake' as he put it.

(Rod and Annie had been all over the press of late with some glorious photos of some very impressive commons. I guess the world and its wife was trying to find the lake, and if Arnout was correct, that's just what I'd done.)

"Arnout told me that he hadn't fished it because, and I quote, 'The fish are too small for me; no twenty kilos or bigger'. Sad, eh? Still, according to the info I've picked up on my travels since then, the lake could be worth a look, but it might all be rubbish. It could be another five hours on the road for nothing. We'll have to see. Speak soon. Bye for now."

"Well after another arduous trip we have finally arrived at the lake. We got a bit confused as there are two lakes in this valley. One didn't look as if it had ever been fished. It was an impressive size but bare as a badger's arse. It looked very new and it didn't fill us with any enthusiasm. So we moved on to take a look at another lake that we spotted from the road.



"And yes. we dropped right on it! Dave Ball and, would you believe it, Rod himself were on here when we arrived. I guess Arnout's tip was spot on! Dave is here with his missus and we stumbled over them as we started to walk around the other lake. We came around a corner and there was a bivvy and a set of rods. It was Dave and his missus and they were not pleased to see us, to put it mildly. Dave swore and kicked a nearby tree! "Not you, Townley! Of all the people to get sussed by it had to be you." I know how he felt having been rumbled on a water like this. I remember when Les came back after stumbling across my beloved Pads Lake in northern France. When he rang me and told me I wanted to kill him. I think that's how Dave and his missus feel about us!
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   Old Thread  #321 28 Oct 2018 at 2.15pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
In reply to Post #320
These fish are absolutely pristine, I doubt if they've ever been caught before in their lives. They've got mouths that are unmarked, with the full curtain membrane just inside the mouth, a sure sign of virgin fish. Immaculate, like they've just been made.

So that's the story right up to date. Goodnight, sweetheart. See you in the morning (singing…very badly)."

The tape resumes to the sound of a gazillion frogs doing their thing. What an awful racket. It is truly the most grating and annoying noise and it never stops!

"Can you hear that lot! They are driving me insane. It's impossible to sleep and even if I had a run I doubt I'd hear it. Anyway, there's not much to tell you…it's the morning after the night before and it's been a blank for all of us. Still, it's a lovely morning and I am sitting here with a cup of tea gazing at the lake and hoping to see signs of carp. The sun has just started to kiss the bivvy driving away the overnight dampness and condensation. There's a beautiful bird of prey of some kind circling overhead. I expect he's look for frogs: there's enough of the feckin' things, it'll get fed up eating them. I think it's a red kite. Beautiful!

"It really is a picture this lake, especially when the sun's shining like this. I don't want to go through another experience like last year, Tat. Later I'm going to the village to get some bread and some of that lovely creamy butter, a wedge of Camembert and a bottle of cholesterol-laden full cream French milk, and I'm going to have myself my first proper French breakfast in the sun. Speak to you soon. Bye!"

"I'm back…Not much to report. In the end the village shop was closed so we went into the town for a beer and a meal. A bloke in the bar asked if we were fishing - how could he tell…perhaps it was the smell - and when we said yes and told him whereabouts he told us that it was well known for its pike and zander. Our faces fell and he asked, "what's wrong?

"We're fishing for carp," we said.

"Ah! That's could be a problem, then," he replied. "The lake was emptied last year and the big carp were removed. They then stocked with small carp of about three to four kilos."

Large festering ball cocks!

"So we've spent about four hours away from the lake. The guys are a bit despondent as they seem to think we're only on small fish. It's a bit awkward for me, as I have this sneaking feeling that they are right but we haven't really given it anything like a fair trial yet and there's Pete to consider. It would not be a nice thing to do just to bugger off, saying, Cheerio Pete! after he'd gone to so much trouble to put us on the lake and tried so hard to get us some decent pitches.

"Thing is, we are catching what's here and what's here are small and if we believe the guy in the bar then that's all we are likely to catch. I suppose a move would make sense, but to where? The rest of the lake is so wild and the banks are so steep it would be impossible to fish most of the perimeter. Mind you, the bloke in the bar by the lake, where those photos of the big commons are up on the wall, still reckons that they didn't net out all the big carp and that they lake definitely holds fish to over 20kg. What to do? The few fish that we have caught have all be singles apart from Colin's eleven pounder, and it has to be said, they are immaculate.



"So, the story at the moment is that we are going to give it one more night. We have moved Nige along the bank into deeper water; the shallows where he'd been fishing were clearly not going to produce fish. Colin and I have stayed put. The tiddler snatching competition held this afternoon resulted in a resounding win for matchman Colin. Loads of skimmers and the odd roach; no poisson-chat, thank goodness.

"The snakes are a bit more active this evening after the warm sunshine of today. While we were moving Nige a monstrous great one slithered across in front of me. Far too big to be an adder, it must have been a grass snake.
Either way, I stopped dead and Colin turned white. Nige, who hates snakes, nearly jumped out of his skin!
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   Old Thread  #320 28 Oct 2018 at 2.11pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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"I decided it was time to renew my acquaintance with the bar. I couldn't resist its neon call from across the river so I jumped into the boat and scooted across to the other side. It was coming on dark and I'd just finished the first beer when the patron came out and told me that Nige and Colin were fishing in a no night fishing area! Oh no! Nige would be steaming after all the hassle.

"I looked across towards their swims and, even in the twilight, they looked pretty obvious. No thoughts of concealment of course, they thought they were in a legally authorised area. What do I do? I thought to myself. If I don't tell them and they get a tug they'll be a bit pissed off, but if I put them in the picture, they'll be even more so. I had another beer or two while I pondered this weighty problem and, in the end, I decided to row back straightaway - well, after one last beer or two - and warn them. As I'd feared, they were not best pleased.

"By the next morning, after a blank night Nige and Colin were on the move. They'd not fished the night but had heard nothing jumping and were not happy where they were. Looking about from the boat they'd found a nice spot on the café bank, fairly clean, good access by van and with legal nights. My single night in the bay had been totally uneventful and I'd heard nowt either, so I decided to move across the lake with them.

"Unfortunately Pete's influence with the Powers That Be had no effect, which is how we come to be where we are. We've been fishing these swims for less than 24 hours now and had a couple of fish, so I think the move seems to have paid off. Pete and Mik have stayed put on the opposite bank but they've not had anything so far, nor, as far as I know, nor has Nige.

"This really is a very pretty lake, heavily wooded and almost totally wild. I've seen plenty of snakes but I think they're grass snakes I hope. There are buzzards and red kites overhead and an osprey put in a fleeting visit at first light this morning. As least, I think it was an osprey. It swooped down and ate a fish and that's what ospreys do, isn't it? The frogs are a nightmare after dark. You just cannot hear yourself think, and as for sleeping, well I've not done much of that. You have to wait for dawn, which comes at about 5.00 a.m. before the racket starts to die down a bit, then you can maybe get a bit of shut-eye, but it never really stops. Even in broad daylight they don't shut up!

"I've just been out in the boat this morning while the others were still asleep and I've been messing around with the sounder and found two or three really nice features at longish range.



So I've put one rod on an area right across on the other side of the lake, some 150 yards away in l4ft of water where there's a very interesting looking bar or plateau. No need of a marker as there are two pike poles on it. Bloody nuisance, but saves me using a marker. Diagonally inside from that, back towards me some 30 yards, I've got 28ft of water where I'm assuming the track of the old river bed runs, and that is, I hope, the one that's going to produce one of those monster commons like those in the photos in the bar.

"There's something about 28 feet of water: I don't know what it is, but I always feel confident in deeper water over here and once I've found 28 feet my confidence doubles. Illogical I'm sure, but that advice came from God … that's Hutchy by the way, so who am I to question it. Inside about another 30 yards from the river bed, there's another peculiar mark on the sounder on which I've put a small marker. That one's at about 80 yards from the bank, so I'm fishing in a diagonal line from 80 yards out to my right, to 130 yards off to the left. And it's worked! O.K., only small, but a carp's a carp.

"Colin, to my left, is fishing into the bay area with a few trees in the lake in front of him, which may make landing fish a bit of a dodgy proposition. He's baiting up in a similar pattern to me and he too has had success. Nige is off to the right and he's in an all-or-nothing swim, if you ask me. It's shallow and very weedy and looks as if it should hold fish but I don't think it does, but time will tell. So far Nige has not had anything, but knowing Nige, that mean's he'll be in at the finish with a bloody hatful. (Little did I know just how prophetic that throwaway line would turn out to be.)

"So there we are. Two nights fished. A move after the first night. Rebaited the new swims. Rewarded with two carp between us, admittedly only small but hope springs eternal.


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   Old Thread  #319 28 Oct 2018 at 2.07pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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Bait was the usual assortment of groats, crushed hemp, flaked maize and a few trout pellets; anything that took a minimum of preparation. This we supplemented with about 50 kilos of assorted Nutrabaits ready mades, which I had air dried for a month to try to harden them up against the possible attacks by crayfish and poisson-chats. The van groaned under the weight of all the gear and the bait but when we bunged a two hundredweight fibre glass boat on the roof it really kicked up a fuss. How we managed to cram all the odds and sods we needed for a trip into that tired old workhorse I'll never know but somehow we managed it.



The lake we were going to fish was 600-acre Lac du Barrage in the Vendee. We'd been told about the lake by my mate, Pete, who we've met before in this thread. Pete lived in France and, he was going to join us for a few days, along with his French mate Mikhail (Mik). Pete told us that the lake was not being fished a great deal but it had the potential to do some very big fish, so we took his word for it, said, thanks, Pete, and went for it. Nige did the driving, as usual, and we traveled overnight from Plymouth to Roscoff, arriving at about 7.00 a.m. the next morning, after a very smooth crossing with plenty to eat and even more to drink.

In the winter I had been given a nudge about a lake where Rod was currently fishing. For the past couple of years he and Annie had been popping up from time to time in the press and in his catalogue with some drop-dead gorgeous commons. Meanwhile us ordinary folk were desperately trying to find the venue he was fishing. Rod had released a mono and on the label was a photo of the man himself with a lovely big common, which had also appeared in one of the catalogues along with pix of several other large commons. In the background of the photo you could see a house on a hill and sad man that I was, I kept a copy of the label in my wallet against the day when, chance in a million, I landed up on a lake with just such a house on a hill. How sad is that! If our first lake was no good, we planned to go searching for this other lake as a fall back option.

The tape starts…

"Well, here we are, Tat! It's one o'clock in the morning. I think it's Tuesday but then again it might be Wednesday. I've only been here for the blink of an eye and already France has cast her spell on me and I've completely lost track of time. How wonderful? We spend too many hours watching the hands of the clock go round and no doubt we'll still be watching them when we drop off this mortal coil. What a waste! There, that's the philosophy out of the way. Now to get on with this tape.

"More important than philosophy is the fact that I've just landed the first carp of the trip. It's no size but it's a start. Anyway, that's the first fish of the trip. I took it up to show Colin who'd bivvied up about thirty yards down the bank from me. Pushing through the undergrowth and vegetation my steps must have sounded like some monstrous creature of the night approaching his tent. I think I scared the life out of him.

"I've just listened to that bit again. Can you hear those bleeding frogs in the background? God knows how we get any sleep with that lot on the go. It's a full moon tonight, a real harvest moon and it is so bright I can actually see my nearest marker and it's eighty or ninety yards away. I reckon I could read my book by its light as well. No wonder the frogs are giving it so much wellie.

"We've seen quite a bit of movement over the baits and away down the lake to my right, but for the most part it seems to be from small fish. It's a gorgeous lake but the noise…! I don't know if the frogs are going to come out on this tape. I'll just turn the volume up a bit and poke it out the door a minute."

(There follows a deafening racket as about ten million little green blighters set about their nightly courtship rituals.)

"How about that…It is a mind-numbing noise that rules out all thoughts of sleep. I don't know if that comes out. I hope it does. OK, I'll say goodnight now and in the morning I'll go over what's happened so far in more detail. Goodnight, kiddie."
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   Old Thread  #318 28 Oct 2018 at 2.01pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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Sorry it's been such a long time since I added to this thread. What with one thing or another things have been pretty ****ty since the last time. A couple of health scares, some financial worries and of course, getting old! Result? Could not be arsed to continue. But I have got my sh*t together for the time being so here goes with some more of my ancient history, starting with the time we stumbled over a lake that was well on the secret list. It would have remained so to this day had it not been decimated by a team of sh*t bags stealing carp on an almost industrial basis in order to stock a previously devoid (of carp) private lake. The 'Team' as they liked to call themselves plundered lakes and river all over the south of France but eventually they and the owner of the lake into which they were putting these fish were outed and publicly named and shamed. They say that sh*t sticks…well sadly in this case it didn't and today he goes on his merry way without any apparent stain on his character.

The lake has since been restocked but the magnificent carp that once put smiles on the face of one of the greats of modern carp fishing (Rod) are now living in the aforementioned private lake that costs a bomb to fish nowadays. However, the little bit of Paradise that we stumbled upon still does the occasional biggie and its magic is not reduced by the fact that the angler is now fishing for smaller fish. The lake owner has changed and the place has been renovated to a good standard and it now welcomes campers of all kinds to its site. My mate Nige, who figures large in these tales, has been back and, like he does, caught a whacker so maybe the phoenix has risen from the ashes. PM me and I'll give you a link.

Anyway, that is ancient history and most folk say to forget it, move on, water under the bridge. Me, I'll never forget or forgive and if you read on you may see why.

St Louis Blues - May 1995.

Some of you guys might remember a few of my old Carpworld articles wherein I transcribed my audio diaries addressed to the missus, nickname, Tat. They took the forum of a more-or-less verbatim transcription of micro-cassettes that described the day to day goings on of me and whoever happened to be with me on trips to France. These were pretty popular at the time so I thought it might be an idea to reprieve one of them as part of this thread.



You may have read the posts describing the 'Nightmare' trip and will have noticed that that it was not blessed with an abundance of good humour. Sure, we caught some nice fish but the weather almost drove me to suicide and, at times, I felt that my company was at times as welcome as a fart in a phone box and I know that I tried the patience of my fellow anglers to its limit. It says much for their patience and forbearance that they didn't just drive off and leave me!

By complete contrast, this story tells a very different tale, one of the best fishing trips to France ever, even though I caught only a few singles and one lovely linear. So, though the fishing was crap, the craic was fantastic. It takes a lot more than a few slimy old carp to make a trip.

Once again, I was joined by my mate Nige Britton and again we were indebted to Nige's boss for the use of the company van, an ageing Maestro diesel with a couple of hundred thousand miles on the clock. Those of you who were around at the time will know that the Maestro was a Devil's brew of a vehicle, one of Leyland's worst, made at a time when the factory was on strike more often than it was working and you were lucky if anything made therein made it to its first birthday. Clearly Nige's tender ministrations with a spanner had meant that this particular vehicle mostly ran like clockwork. Here Speedy empties the old beast on a campsite somewhere in France.



Joining us for his first French carp fishing holiday was young Colin Stephens, a very likable ex-Army Signaler and general nice guy. Being the newcomer, Colin got the unenviable third seat option in the van - that being a Low chair wedged among the mountain of gear - a position he bore with great fortitude, uncomplaining and undemanding. I could not have said the same had our positions been reversed. The fact that such a seating arrangement was highly dangerous and would actually have voided the van's insurance mattered not one jot to Nige! After all, where else was the guy supposed to sit.
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   Old Thread  #317 5 Apr 2018 at 3.28pm Login so you can post / reply  Register so you can join in!
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On the ferry home there was talk of a pike trip, maybe a bass fishing trip. Me? I wasn’t interested. I’ll stick to carp fishing for now. There were places to go and people to see, and I had heard this whisper about a lake in the Vendee where you couldn’t fail to catch thirty pound commons! I bloody wish!

I would return to this lake the following year with Bill Cottam. We were plagued by muskrats diving on the baits. Bill even reeled on in whereupon it tried to take lumps out of him. We blanked but Bill claims to this day that he saw the biggest carp in his life while drifting about above the emerging pads. "It dwarfed the boat," said Bill. Another monster for another day.



Before I leave this particular memory, let me tell you the strange story of the funny dream about a throwing stick.

Throughout the trip Nige and I had been using the heavy metal Cobra throwing stick to get our baits out at range. Bill looked intrigued, not having seen that uniquely shaped Cobra before. I offered him a go with mine. He put a handful of boilies in his pocket and one by one tried to fire them out into the lake. Each one landed with a great big splash right at his feet. "They take some getting used to," I told him. "Take it back to your swim with you and have a practice. In fact you can keep it as I've got another at home." Bill thanked me and trudged back along the towpath to his bivvy.

The next morning I was standing looking at the canal while drinking a cuppa. A canal boat passed and bobbing in its wake I saw a small black object about four inches long floating upright along the canal. It looked remarkably like the plastic-covered handle of a Cobra throwing stick, more or less awash with water, floating upright gently down the canal. I walked up to Bill's bivvy. "Alright, mate?" I asked. "How you getting on with the Cobra?"

"Pretty good, thanks," Bill replied.

"That's good," I said, "Coz I had a funny dream last night. I dreamed that I saw the end of a Cobra throwing stick bobbing about in the canal…I'd hate to think you'd chucked it in!"

Bill grinned sheepishly. "Stupid ****ing thing," he said!

Bye for now!
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