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South West Memories.
19 Jan 2018 at 2.21pm
In reply to Post #236
We drove back to the gite and twisted the arms of John and Debs to come for a beer (not really!). One beer became several and we walked back to the gite somewhat unsteadily. The clouds were locking up and it looked like rain but so what. We had no intention of being out in it! We spent the evening doing the usual; eating and drinking and playing Trivial Pursuit, girls v boys. These games became quite ferocious at times!
Time was running out and torrential rain fell overnight. At first we thought that it had not brought the level up but then we noticed that our marker was now a bit further away. An influx of cold water…how would that affect the fishing? Not much as it turned out. We were ultra keen now as we were running out of hours so despite a bit of a headache we got to the lake before dawn. The rods went out and almost immediately two of Tat's were away, another nice mirror and a low twenty. Crazy!
It went quiet for several hours after that so I took the opportunity to go out and dump the rest of our greatly reduced supply of bait around the area and at the same time pick up the marker. For one thing we had the casts spot on by now using far bank marks to aim at, and for another we didn't want to leave our 'litter' in the lake. At last I caught my first big mirror, a fish of 27lb 8oz. There were just a couple of hours of fishing time left to us before we headed back to meet John and Debbie for a last night party at the bar. When one of the buzzers went I struck into what felt like an old sack. It was just a solid weight with only the vaguest pulls at the rod tip. No lunges or head shakes, it just stayed put, not struggling or taking in line, but not coming in, either. Then, as if waking up to its situation, the fish began to move slowly and ponderously to my left on a very long line. I tried to pump it but it didn't want to know and just continued unhurriedly swimming parallel to the bank on the same heading. All I could do was follow along the bank keeping parallel with it. After ten minutes or so I was about 100 yards away from the rods and the fish was still swimming left all the time, getting no nearer the bank.
This was getting ridiculous so I piled on the pressure and the fish grudgingly came in a few yards, still trying to go left. In the end I decided just to hang on and hope that its obsession with taking this course would eventually bring it in to the margins, whereupon I could run up the bank towards it, gaining line as I went.
This slightly dodgy tactic worked and eventually the fish kited into the shallows. There was a big swirl on the surface as the fish almost grounded itself in the shallow margins but then with another surge of power it shot off again into deeper water. Now, I know what you must be thinking…foul-hooked, right? I was thinking the same but after a struggle lasting must have been near on half an hour I managed to sink the net under the fish hooked slap bang in the middle of the bottom lip. A mirror and a big one at that, all 28lb of it! Thank you, Lord!
19 Jan 2018 at 12.37pm
In reply to Post #235
And so we come to the Hutchinson moment (at last you are saying!)
Back at the lake I pumped up the Plastic Pig (which you'll have noticed doubled for an unhooking mat!) and rowed the customary bucketful of boilies out to the general area. That should keep them going. It was about noon. We weren’t expecting fish for at least the next couple of hours, but by now they must have been getting used to finding our baited patch and the first run of the day (mine) came out of the blue. The run was nothing too spectacular and within ten minutes or so I had the fish in close. I waded out with the net, expecting another nice double-figure common, and sure enough my first glimpse of the fish revealed that it was indeed a common.
"Small common," I shouted to Tat, who was following me down the bank with the net. Suddenly the rod was almost torn out of my hands as the fish took fright and for the next twenty-five minutes that fish never came near the net. I still hadn’t cottoned on to the idea that the fish was anything other than a mid-double common and I felt that it must be foul-hooked. The fight could only be described as titanic: I can’t recall a stronger fish in over fifty years of carp fishing. I began to worry that I might never see the fish. Finally I landed the carp but if I’d lost it, I swear I’d have reckoned to have lost a fifty, at least.
Suddenly it was all over. After about forty minutes the fish just stopped fighting and sank almost gratefully into the net. Sure, it was a common, but I’d never seen a common that long before. At a rough guess we estimated it was a yard or more in length. On the scales it weighed 27lb 8 oz and I was ecstatic, as at the time this was my PB common.
I thought it looked familiar…hang on a minute…isn't this the same fish that was on the front of the Catchum catalogue this year? I’m sure I wasn't the only angler in this country who hadn’t gazed with awe and wonder at that marvelous common Rod had caught, and perhaps like me they’d also read Rod’s account of his epic struggle with the beast in his book “Carp Now and Then”. I’d been captivated by that fish from the first time I’d seen the pictures, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to catch it myself. In fact, I doubt if I ever would have done were it not for the incredible coincidence of Debbie booking that particular gite. See what I mean about Lady Luck? The fabulous creature had gained three pounds since Rod had caught it and it was in the best possible condition. We did the photos and I kissed it full on the mouth before slipping it back, watching with awe as it sped off into the mysterious depths of its watery home. Was it wild? It was absolutely crackers!
Our luck didn’t finish there. We fished on through the remaining week, never fishing more than five hours in the afternoons, packing up at dusk to return to another of John’s feasts. We had loads more fish, mostly wildie-looking commons up to low twenties but I was also lucky to catch another lovely twenty common of 23lb 2oz while Tat had a near-leather mirror of 21lb and ounces.
19 Jan 2018 at 12.27pm
In reply to Post #234
Franck’s paddling became ever more frantic, as he thrashed the water to a foam. God, he was shipping some water. Icy dread and mad panic does that to you! Slowly he pulled closer and closer to safety, the boat getting lower and lower in the water with every paddle. We shouted to him to leap out as he was now in only about four feet of water and, relieved of his weight, the boat would not sink so fast and at least his gear would be safe. We had to laugh! It was hilarious to see Franck zooming across the lake as if the hounds of hell were on his heels. At last, half in and half out of the boat, he reached the shore. Tat and I were helpless, though I don’t think Franck saw too much to laugh at.
Needless to say, the move was a complete waste of time and later that day we all moved back to our usual spot. Sure enough, at about the usual time the fish arrived on the baits. We all had fish but this time they seemed to comprise only smaller carp, mirrors and commons up to about fifteen pounds. We weren’t complaining, though.
We pulled off the water for the weekend, leaving it to the hoards of other water users, though we popped back each evening to keep the swim topped up with bait. A bedraggled Franck cadged a lift from someone and dragged himself off home, vowing to return as soon as possible. Sadly we didn't see him again that trip, though I gave him a bell to see if he was OK and whether he was coming back. He said he was OK but was going to go and look at a car…maybe we'd see him later. Sadly we didn't meet up again until the following year.
Meanwhile the bars and restaurants kept our spirits high until the lake cleared of sailboards, swimmers, water polo matches, rowing boats, pedalos, dinghies and a few insane anglers who were prepared to tolerate all that lot. Meantime we enjoyed a bright sunny Saturday at the gite lazing about in the sun, drinking beers and a glass or two of wine. John did a barbie and Tat nearly wore some of it when she asked once too often, "Is it ready yet?" You cannot rush a craftsman…
The weather deteriorated on the Sunday which kept most of France off of Cannonball Lake, and by the time I arrived late in the evening to bait up, the lake was once again bathed in the peace and tranquillity that we’d become accustomed too. I couldn’t get over that fact that we had such a wonderful piece of Heaven all to ourselves.
Sunday’s dirty weather had cleared completely by the time we got back to the still-deserted lake on Monday. Once again it was set fair, temperatures hovering around the mid-twenties with just a hint of a southerly breeze but it was also very humid and close. Thunder to come? Maybe.
The shower was brief but furious and would you believe I had a run right in the middle of the heaviest rain. I wouldn't have minded the soaking had it been a nice twenty but it was actually the smallest fish of the trip.
The rain passed and the sun came out and in next to no time it was up in the high-twenties again. The sand and the land around us steamed gently in the heat and we got the Trangia out for a cuppa. God's in His heaven, all's right with the world. BTW, you can see by the rocks holding down the chairs and Tat's windblown hair that the breeze was now quite strong and was hacking right into our faces. Lovely!
19 Jan 2018 at 12.22pm
In reply to Post #233
Next fish was another of the long commons for Tat and then Franck woke up at last and got in on the act, with two fish on at once, both upper double figure commons. The way those fish scrapped had to be seen to be believed. I don’t think any of them took less than ten minutes to land and some took considerably longer, the long, lean fighting machines in particular. The fish were obviously going around mob-handed. Two, three or even four runs at once were not uncommon. I doubt if any of us will ever forget the incredible “over, under, knit one, purl one” snarl-up when the three of us all had fish that wanted to fight in the same bit of water. In the margins it was only a few inches deep so you had to go out several yards before you had enough depth to net them. You can imagine the chaos of three hooked carp swimming hither and thither while you desperately try to so out the one to scoop up without knocking off the hook any of the others.
Eventually the snarl was sorted out and we each found ourselves with a common apiece like peas in a pod weighing around the 18lb mark…And while all this was going on, one of the other rods went off. There was nothing we could do about it and eventually the run stopped. In the excitement of landing the three fish we all completely forgot about it. We had sorted our fish out, done the photos and put the fish back before both Tat and I both suddenly remembered the run on one of my remaining rods that had stuttered to a standstill while the fun was taking place. On scrambling over Tat in my rush to beat her to the rod, I noticed that the line was all out, down to the reel knot. We were lucky that the fish hadn’t pulled the rod in as well. I picked up the rod and wound down and was astonished to feel a satisfying thump from the other end. Bugger me if the fish wasn’t still on! Not surprisingly, after dragging the best part of three hundred yards of line around the pond, the fight was anything but dramatic - the poor creature must have been exhausted - but it was a lovely fish, another long common of 23lb 6oz. We were standing around, somewhat shell-shocked, when Franck had another flyer, this time battling for half an hour with a cracking looking mirror of 32lb 2oz. the biggest so far.
We didn't want to be greedy and anyway it was beer o'clock at the bar where we were to meet John and Debs prior to diner, so we packed the gear away in the car and drove down to the village, but before we left I went out in the boat with the bait bucket once again. Franck looked askance at us as we prepared to leave, and given the sport he’d enjoyed after dark the previous evening, I can understand his puzzlement that we were not going to fish the night. However, I can assure you that there was no reluctance on our part as we gladly pulled off the lake to join John and Debbie who were happily enjoying the pleasures of the bar, which included a very friendly dog.
The following morning Franck told us that once again there had been a lot of action on the baited area but for some reason he’d remained fishless throughout the night. However, he had also noticed plenty of carpy activity away down the lake, across on the other bank. That was interesting: perhaps that’s where they go when they’re not on the baits, eh? We decided to move down there to see if we couldn’t pick up the fish a bit earlier in the day, as by now it was obvious that they were moving up the lake as the day wore on, arriving at our baits by mid-afternoon. As Tat and I hadn’t even unpacked the car yet, we decided to drive round the lake to the opposite shore, returning for Franck and his gear when we had unloaded the car.
I dropped Tat and was about to go back for Franck when we noticed that he had already packed his gear and, impatient to get fishing, was paddling his little inflatable plastic boat across the lake. The boat looked to be dangerously low in the water, loaded down as it was with all his gear. “I don’t think he can swim, can he?” I asked Tat. “We’ll find out soon enough,” she said. “He’s sinking!” Sure enough, the inflatable was definitely settling lower in the water with each frantic beat of the oars. I hoped he was going to make it - I didn’t fancy going in for him. By the time he’d paddled about half way across it was clear that it was going to be a close run thing.
17 Jan 2018 at 4.16pm
In reply to Post #232
John excelled himself that night. He did his own, very special, very alcoholic, Boeuf Bourguignon, washed down with a couple of bottles of wonderful Bordeaux red so it was no surprise that we were late getting to the lake next morning...again! Franck had caught six carp during the night and lost one at the net. No whackers but all doubles up to nineteen - all commons too, which is unusual. I suppose he felt that we’d been silly to miss out on such hectic fishing, but even if we’d known in advance how good the fishing would be that night, we wouldn’t have missed that dinner for anything.
Tat was raring to go so while I inflated the dinghy, she put the rods together and baited up with hookbaits and stringers. Then I rowed the hookbaits out and scattered yet another bucket of mixed boiled baits over the general area around our marker, which was now a further fifteen or so yards further out after getting repositioned by a hooked carp. It was now around ninety to a hundred yards out in front of the point. Get your faces round that little lot, I told the carp. The weather continued to astound us, bright and sunny with temperatures up to twenty-eight degrees. Not a breath of wind disturbed the lake, yet of the carp there was no sign. All through the morning we waited and waited but by mid-afternoon we were getting worried. Had we driven them off with too much bait, perhaps by using high flavour levels? Maybe there were crayfish or bream on the baits. Why hadn’t there been any sign of fish?
We needn’t have worried: the fish moved onto the baits at about two o’clock with the first run coming at a few minutes past the hour. It was my turn for a run and I wasn’t about to take any chances of Tat getting there ahead of me this time. I was sitting over the rods when the buzzer screamed out. The strike met dogged resistance followed by a searing burst of speed. Small common, I said to myself. Not so small as it happens…. It was a common all right, but it weighed 21lb 2oz. We had just finished the photos when it was Tat’s turn - another common, slightly smaller at 20lb 4oz lb. This was more like it.
Yet another common, this one going 22lb 8 oz, came to my next run, sleek as a snake and as solid as a plank, like all the commons we'd caught so far.
Franck meanwhile had been more or less a spectator while all this action was taking place and soon he lugged his gear all the way around the lake to set up on the corner swim where he had first started, about 100m down the bank from us.
17 Jan 2018 at 4.11pm
In reply to Post #231
John and Debs arrived from their sight seeing/shopping trip at about four in afternoon bearing food and drink. We sat in the surprisingly warm October sunshine and contemplated the white-calm surface of the lake, unbroken by any sign of carp, large or small. bar-taut lines stretching out into the murky green depths. As usual Tat and I had tossed a coin for the first run, regardless of which rod the take was on. I won and was sitting in the carp rolling myself a fag when I heard yelling and screaming. My run! I scrambled out of the car in blind panic. A run...my run! I was too late. By the time I had untangled myself from the snare of the seat belt Herself was well and truly in.
“I know I took the usual wedding vows,” I grumbled. “But I don’t remember one that said you can take my runs.”
Stop moaning and get the net,” said Tat. “This is a good fish.”
Sure enough, from the way the rod was creaking and bending, there was something large and angry on the other end. I waded out into the shallow water to net the fish which was by now on a short line with a couple of turns of the shock leader on the reel. Eventually a gorgeous looking mirror slipped across the net cord and into the depths of the enfolding net, exhausted after such a mighty scrap. She was right, it was a hell of a good fish. 25lb 8oz, a gorgeous mirror carp.
We’d no sooner got the pictures of Tat’s fish finished when one of my buzzers gave a single bleep and I was on the rod in seconds. I struck then held on for dear life as an incredibly strong fish set off for who knows where. Every attempt to stop its first headlong rush dragged the rod down to the horizontal and the reel howled in protest. It was going like a bat out of hell. Tat thought I was messing about but I could assure her I wasn't. This creature was obviously a bit special and I was getting well and truly beaten up! In the shallow water near the edge, great swirls came up from the fish as it fought for freedom but it was to no avail and soon a lovely long common slipped into the waiting net. It weighed 24lb and I gave big thanks to Tat that her wise head had prevailed.
John and Debs were almost as pleased as we were but the afternoon was drawing on and John had dinner in the oven back at the gite. He left us to the last hour’s fishing, warning us, “Don’t be late!” as he drove off. Perish the thought. John’s suppers are legendary. To keep one waiting would be sacrilege. Like many chefs he can be a temperamental old sod. He worked for a year as the personal chef to a multi-millionaire, Mike Robertson. One night he was asked for something special as Mike was entertaining some influential businessmen down from London. John did a crown roast of lamb with all the trimmings. His boss and the guests went for a drink before dinner and got back and hour after John had told them the meat would be ready. They found the crown roast in the bin and a tin of baked beans and a tin opener on the dining room table!
I wanted to get plenty of bait into the swim ready for the next day, so before we left so I rowed out with a bucket full of bait to scatter over a wide area in the general vicinity of where we’d had the take. I didn’t know whether we had dropped on a feeding area by pot luck or were just picking up odd fish on their travels, but either way I felt sure that lots of good quality bait was the answer to stopping them in their tracks. Tat and I left as the light went. As we were pulling out of the lane I looked back to see that Franck was into another fish so we dashed back to do the photos. It was another good twenty. I was beginning to like Cannonball Lake.
17 Jan 2018 at 4.06pm
In reply to Post #230
Monday was a day for recovering but I’d arranged to meet Franck in the bar in the village Tuesday and was raring to go by then. However, by one in the afternoon there was no sign of him. We sat and waited…and waited. Franck being late was something we would have to get used to over the next couple of visits! It was a further hour later that a he arrived moaning that his lift had been late. Yea, OK, Franck!
We got top the lake about mid-afternoon. There was no-one left at the lake and we had it to ourselves. The level was well down, possibly by as much as a third. We pulled up by the sailing club and Franck set up his gear. He had only a longer type of chair and three or four blankets. No bivvy, no sleeping bag and certainly no bedchair. The lad we certainly keen. We decided to leave him to it and told him we would return next morning to start fishing in earnest but before leaving I pumped up or cheapo plastic toy dinghy and rowed out about 80 yards and put a marker on no spot in particular. It was clear from donking about with a lead that the lake bed was as flat as a pancake, predominantly sand and the depth was no more than five or six feet. It was one of those lakes where you make the swim with your bait rather than by casting to an significant feature…The were no significant features! I put about two kilos of frozen birdfood baits into a swim in front of the sailing club. This overhead shot gives you some idea of the lake when full.
We’d taken across about twenty kilos of frozen birdfood baits and ten kilos of dry mix, a base consisting of the two Enervites in equal proportions. These we had bricked giving us about four hundred baits to a six-egg mix, and then air dried for a couple of days before freezing. Given our success so far this year we had such faith in our flavour blend that we’d have been silly to use anything else. However, just as a back-up we took across half a dozen bulk packs of ready-mades which would be soaked in a blend of neat attractors to supply a strong initial flavour leak-off which I hoped would pull fish into the baited area.
In the margins, I noticed huge piles of dumped peanuts. I hoped there weren’t equally huge piles out there where I was going to bait up. Sometimes these huge bait carpets do more harm than good. In fact, I’m sure there has been too much emphasis on the need to bait up extensively with particles - mainly peanuts - on foreign waters. I know it works on heavily stocked waters where you need to keep what could be a huge head of fish in one area, but not all waters in France are heavily stocked. Back at the gite, John was doing his culinary bit preparing a seafood feast of oysters, langoustines and shrimps all washed down with a bottle or three of Muscadet.
We arrived at about eleven o’clock in the morning and Franck tapped his watch and shook his head in silent reproach; we tapped out heads and blamed John. There had been no action the previous night up until midnight when he had pulled in his rods, but during the night he had heard fish jumping over our baits. Bingo! Needless to say he had decided to move down to the arms leading to the barrage. While Tat set up our two rods each, I pumped up the joke of an inflatable and took out another two mixes.
The day was still and calm. We would have seen carp jumping a mile off, but the glassy-smooth surface was dimpled only by small stuff and the odd bream. Of the carp, there was no sign. By mid-afternoon I had made up my mind to move - not just swims, but possibly even to another lake. Cannonball was obviously doing a moody and I wanted to get my string pulled. Tat's greater wisdom prevailed, however, and I was gently persuaded to give it a few more days.
17 Jan 2018 at 4.00pm
In reply to Post #229
I told him where we were staying and that there was a lac de barrage nearby. He did not know the lake but apparently he had heard that it held carp. I told him about the carpers from the UK who were fishing by the barrage. A good sign, I thought, unless they liked wasting their time! I asked Franck if he fancied coming to join us and he said that if he could get a lift he'd love to. Of course, I had forgotten that he was still a young guy and while he was 18, and thus older than the minimum age your are allowed to drive in France, he did not yet have a car and relied on mates to drive him around. I gave him directions and he said he would meet us in the village. I told him to look out for our little R5, which would be parked close to the nearest bar!
Back at the gite John was busy in the kitchen, the aroma of bubbling fresh-ground coffee filling the house. We roused the ladies, ate breakfast, then drove into town to do the shopping for the week. On the way back we had lunch in the little cafe in the village, less than two hundred yards from the gite. The menu offered several cheap but appetising plats du jour but it was the free wine that decided the issue.
The locals seemed very friendly and the food, though simple, was fresh, well prepared and plentiful. Over the post-lunch coffees I tried to explain to the owner of the cafe that we fancied finding some decent fishing. I asked about the big lake up the road and met enthusiastic nods and gestures in response. Judging by the owner’s wide stretched arms, there were big fish in the lake. The locals assured me that the lake, which I had nicknamed Cannonball Lake held some nice carp but warned me that it was due to be drained in the autumn. Better get in there, then, I told myself.
(If you want to find this lake look up the French translation of the word cannonball
“Do you like pheasant?” the owner asked us. We nodded enthusiastically. "We’ll try to get you a brace for Sunday tea.” he promised. "Come back later. The shoot finishes at one o'clock and there should be some spare. See you at about two and we'll have a drink and you can pick up the birds then."
We spent Saturday doing nothing in particular, apart from looking forward to a pheasant supper. The weather continued fine with a really warm southerly breeze, a big water feeding wind if ever there was one. I was twitchy to start fishing but it was Sunday and the lake was packed. It would be purgatory trying to fish! So we went up to the bar and sat at one of the small tables outside drinking beer in the sunshine while waiting for our new-found friends to return with the promised pheasants. One o’clock came and went, as did two o’clock. By three, we were getting worried about our supper. This is the owner's missus with Tat, John and Debs looking hungry! There was no sign of any pheasants!
Debbie asked them if they’d shot any pheasants, and this somehow creased them up. The whole bar was laughing. We smiled uncertainly, as you do, and asked them what was so funny. Through their gentle smiles they explained that Debbie had asked them if they’d shot any peasants! Joke over, they invited us over to the boot of a battered old Citroen. The lid creaked up, rust flakes falling onto a heap of dead birds. We were allowed our pick. “Take half a dozen if you wish,” the hunters exclaimed, but we took just a couple of brace. The rest of the afternoon drifted by in yet another haze of beer and food laid on by the patron and his family and later back at the gite by John.
17 Jan 2018 at 3.57pm
In reply to Post #228
In fact finding somewhere to fish is not all that than a tall an order; there are so many lakes and rivers in northern France that you’d need two lifetimes to fish them all. The problem is, when you book a holiday near to a bit of blue you don't really know what the fishing might be like. You take pot luck sometimes and sometimes Lady Luck plays her part (and sometimes she kicks you up the arse!)
By 10.00 that night we were seated in the gite in front of a roaring wood fire with a warning glass of something smooth. Debs had excelled herself. This wasn’t a gite, it was a bleedin’ mansion, a huge, rambling affair with solid granite and stone walls and acres of garden. Inside we found oak-paneled walls, parquet floors and old fashioned but comfortable. The kitchen was the size of my front room and the en suite bedrooms glittered in a feast of gold plating, thick shaggy carpets and spotless mirrors. They even had four-poster beds.
We spent the first day doing the chores and finding the best eating and drinking holes. Well, you’ve got to get your priorities right, haven’t you? Eventually we stumbled across a little bar cum grocery store in a tiny hamlet close to the gite. Like many such villages the first impression you get from the locals is one of curious and rather unsettling aggression, but Debs and I started in with our ghastly French and soon the ice was broken. (I kept meaning to take a photo of the outside of the bar but forgot each time. Then when I did remember to take my camera it was closed!)
The first 24 hours rushed by in a haze of good company along with good food, good wine and good spirits. Though not by any means a fishing holiday, I was still eager to go and look at the big lake shown on the map, so at first light I dragged my headache out of bed and travelled the short journey a couple of kilometres up the road. First impressions were not all that encouraging. For one thing, the level was well down, perhaps by as much as a quarter, and the bare sand and mud did not look at all inviting. Of course, I thought to myself, if there are indeed carp in there, at least the reduced level would make finding them a touch easier.
Across on the far bank I spotted three bivvies and away down to the left, at the far end of the lake by the barrage, two more. I got the bins out and saw that they were definitely carp fishing, the car’s number plates revealing their British origin. I spent about an hour scanning the surface, but there was nothing showing. I couldn’t spot any drying sacks or slings hung up to dry, so perhaps the other carpers had caught nothing. As I sat in the car at the edge of the water, scanning the lake through the binoculars, I saw that the English anglers were baiting up from a small dinghy out into the middle of the lake. I couldn’t be bothered to drive all the way around to the other side of the lake to find out if they had caught. Maybe tomorrow…
Sunday dawned bright and very breezy. It I knew France the lake would be alive with picnickers, sail boarders, dog walkers, swimmers; all the pastimes guaranteed to muck up a good days fishing. By mid-morning the wind had freshened up to near gale force and in next to no time the water was alive with the predicted sailboards. I was rapidly going off this lake and if you recall our previous encounter with a moronic sailboarder you’ll understand why. I didn’t fancy a repeat performance, thank you very much. I drove slowly around the hard-packed, sandy banks of the lake searching for signs of a fish or two, but after a couple of hours of fruitless observation I drove back to the gite.
It was still early, the others wouldn’t even be out of bed yet: I decided to make the breakfast. Nothing like the smell of fresh-ground coffee bubbling on the stove to raise weary bones. I stopped off in the village on the way back to the gite to pick up the bread and the croissants. I dropped them off at the gite before walking down the road to the nearby phone box; it was time to keep a promise. I wedged myself into the hot sweaty phone box to let Franck know we were back in France.
17 Jan 2018 at 3.53pm
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
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!
17 Jan 2018 at 3.50pm
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.
16 Jan 2018 at 8.39pm
In reply to Post #225
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)!
16 Jan 2018 at 5.20pm
In reply to Post #220
More to come soon...
16 Jan 2018 at 12.13pm
In reply to Post #223
16 Jan 2018 at 11.50am
In reply to Post #222
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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