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Recent trip to the Secret Garden.
29 Mar 2023 at 8.16pm
In reply to Post #44
Wow Wow what a session... On my bucket list now...
29 Dec 2022 at 11.23pm
In reply to Post #44
25 Dec 2022 at 1.35pm
In reply to Post #42
25 Dec 2022 at 1.30pm
In reply to Post #41
So to the fish...
Let these pix tell the story.
The first fish of the trip came on a single hookbait (no free offerings or pellets) dropped under a well known feature opposite the pontoon. At 44lb, it was a very pleasing way to open my account.
The following day I got serious and baited up some of my favourite spots using a throwing stick. I also baited by hand three margin spots that are often ignored by clients to the lake. Priming the margins with mainly pellets with a scattering of boilies is my go-to approach at the Secret, and it has stood me in good stead over the years.
The average weight of the fish is close to the 40lb mark and many clients report catches for their week averaging 40lb+. Indeed, in 2021 and 2022 our average was 43lb. This is pretty impressive, so it's as well to remember that these are big fish with big appetites, so it usually pays to put a fair bit of bait in. Having got the spots primed, we left them alone for a couple of days, topping up the bait morning and evenings. In the meantime we did a big shop in Limoges followed by a slap-up nosebag at a lovely restaurant near Sereilhac.
Now it was time to get down to do some serious fishing, if you can call six or seven hours a day serious! Baits were positioned by baitboat and I had a take within about 30 minutes of dropping the bait, a sleek scale-perfect common, nearly a meter long and weighing 43lb,
Once you have a fish at the Secret, you have to assume that a lot of your bait will have been eaten. It is advisable therefore to top up the bait carpets straight away. Just as it was coming in dark I had another, a big brute of a mirror of 54lb. Lovely! This was the first of five fifties!
I think you will have grasped the tackle and tactics I use at the Secret and I hope those of you who are lucky enough to have booked a holiday there find this of some help. Here are the rest of the relevant fish from the November 2022 trip.
Two more fifties.
There can't be many places where you can catch two fifty pound commons in a morning!
A long sleek common...43lb I think. (Not sure as the scales were not zeroed properly. It doesn't look 43lb in the pic but I have had it before, in2021, when it weighed 40lb 12oz.)
This little linear is a real bolter. It went 18lb in October 2021:
By November 2022 it had grown to 33lb!
A few scenics:
The Secret Garden has become one of the most sought-after venues in France. It has everything a family or a group could wish for. This is reflected in its availability. At present I think it is fully booked until the end of 2024 and the book for 2025 and 2026 has just been opened.
More info and details of how to reserve/book can be found here:
Book a.s.a.p as the weeks will fill up quickly.
Happy Christmas to all on here, and especially to owner Jean and to Paul and Carmen at Armfield Angling, the booking agents.
25 Dec 2022 at 1.26pm
In reply to Post #40
Luc sent some boilies and a selection of pots of hookbaits to the Secret Garden's owner. He lives in France not far from the lake, and the delivery was hassle-free. The bait was waiting for me in the lake's huge freezer, and several pots of pop-ups were sitting on the table in the conservatory; the whole place smelled of fish and freshly squeezed oranges!
Both were effective. The 10mm versions I used whole as part of a baitboat package comprising 50% 10mm Boilies and 50% cooked mini maize (Popcorn Maize). I used the 20mm versions as chops or crumbs, my thinking being that they fish would go for smaller ‘bits’ in the groundbait package. I used most of the boiled bait that Luc sent me in the first nine days, and thereafter I used the ‘house’ pellets (Sketterings) and boilies (Eddy Sterckx).
The most productive combo was Fruit Crush pop-ups over a compact yet dense carpet of Seafood Cocktail boilies dropped by bait boat. In addition I spread a sparse scattering of boilies on and around the main area of bait, my thinking being that the carp would start to go looking actively for the boilies over a wide area of lakebed. I hoped that the older, bigger carp would be fooled by this approach, yet maybe put off by a tightly packed bait carpet. In this I was proved right, as I managed to pick up one or two ‘rovers’, on the Seafood Pop ups. These were fished in isolation well away from the main bait carpet.
Here's an idea for you, esspecially in colder water. Before casting out dip the hookbait in neat Sanchi Soy sauce, then while still wet put it in a pot containing pre-digested fishmeal. This is a very effective way of drawing attention to the hookbait.
As always I use a paste wrap on the lead, this being made using 70% Haiths SuperRed and 30% CPSP90. This is bound using a blend of lakewater and Tamari. When moulded around the lead this creates a powerful source of attraction close to the hookbait.
Rigwise I used 14mm Pop-Ups on a 360 Degree rig – size 6 long shank barbless – and double 10mm Fruit Crush Pop-Ups on a standard knotless knot to a size 4 wide gape. I apologise for the state of the hooks. When packing up I simply cut off the hooklinks (still baited) and chuck them into the tackle box. They may lie there for a couple of weeks or more before I get around to tidying up my gear from the last trip. All I can say is that these sharpened hooks from JPrecision and Gardner (Muggas sharpened by Jason Hayward) are exceedingly effective.
Without going into too much detail, the rigs were dropped by baitboat on more or less the same features I have used since 2017, with slight variations on the exact spots. In total we landed 12 carp, 5 x 50s, 4 x 40s, 2 x 30s and a sole twenty, which was only ounces under the thirty poud mark. (The ghastly catfiish has been rehomed, thank God!)
I used 10kg of Seafood coaktail, 3kg of Red Angel (Sterckx) and about 20kg of the 'house' pellets (Sketterings)
We fished no more that seven hours a day with a three hour break for lunch. When in France, do as the French do; live to eat rather than eat to live!
Takes came mainly during the dimps. Could we have caught more if we had fished through the dark hours? Undoubtedly but we were back in the warmth of the house, sitting down to dinner by then.
25 Dec 2022 at 1.21pm
In reply to Post #39
We both love late autumn carp fishing. The fish seem to know winter is coming as their metabolism slows down. Food will be scarce and feeding periods limited, but the carp in The Secret Garden are big fish with big appetites so they have to feed, even when the water temperature hovers around freezing. However, with the winter doldrums yet to arrive in the late autumn they fed hard.
As most of you know, for many years I was closely associated with Nutrabaits, and had Bill still been at the helm I would undoubtedly have stayed with them and would be a Nutrabaits user to this day. However, I felt that Bill was Nutrabaits and it didn't feel right using his bait once he had left the company. He had been totally loyal to me for over thirty years so I felt a similar loyalty to him. Since then I have looked for a bait company that follows Bill's work concept of what makes a great carp bait.
If you've read any of my Blogs for Haith's Baits you will maybe have noted the name Feed Stimulants, a Dutch bait firm that mainly supplies those hard-to-find feeding triggers that fly under the radar of many carpers, and for three years now I have relied on Luc to help me create some hugely effective baits. However, the firm did not at that time offer an in-house boiled bait…it does now!
If a business is situated within the EU trading bloc it will be able to trade, hassle-free, with other member of the bloc, something that is now denied the UK thanks to Brexit. Thus it is easy for, say, a bait firm in Holland to send bait to a French address, cheaply and efficiently, while on the other side of the coin Brexit has made it considerably harder for UK-based bait companies to send bait to the EU. Some may consider this to be one of the benefits of Brexit. I don't!
I have enjoyed three trips to France using Feed Stimulants' boilies and in 2022 alone I have caught eight fifties and two dozen forties on them. These - two , a fifty five and a forty five - are the first of many. They won't be the last!
There are two boilies in the range at the moment, Insect Cream and Seafood cocktail. I have used both to great effect so why not have a browse?
13 Dec 2022 at 4.11pm
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since I posted the details of our 2019 trip and as it was without doubt our best session ever we couldn't wait to book for 2020. Sadly, we all know what came along that winter and thus our trip to the Garden was cancelled. Luckily Carmen Armfield of Armfield Angling, the booking agent, was kind enough to carry over our booking so in 2021 we went back for another attempt to trick those crafty carp. Once again the lake treated us very kindly. I cannot remember the weights of all the fish shown below, apart from the zip linear, which went 35lb on the nose. (I say I can't remember, but I do know one things for sure, the missus came out on top…AGAIN!)
Tat stitched me up yet again with the biggest of the trip at 59lb and ounces. (This fish has since come out at 61lb and ounces!
I'll come on to our latest trip to the Garden shortly. Stay tuned: if anything, it's even better than 2019 or 2021.
6 Dec 2022 at 11.52am
In reply to Post #37
Ooops. Lost touch with the footie boards.
5 Dec 2022 at 2.43pm
In reply to Post #36
You must mean Ralphy. Odegaard was probably like me, sat at home watching it
5 Dec 2022 at 12.33pm
In reply to Post #35
Thanks, Bob. I see your skipper played a blinder last night!
Stay tuned, folks. More to come!
4 Dec 2022 at 9.20pm
In reply to Post #34
You've not been about recently, it's good to hear from you.
4 Dec 2022 at 4.35pm
In reply to Post #28
EDIT Nov 2022: Links now risen from the dead!
24 Jun 2022 at 6.21pm
Don't want to hijack the thread any further, but has it been considered to have a Mod / Admin approval for new accounts? I don't see how it would be any more laborious than adding the Thumb for access to the Classified section, and it would definitely put a stop to these spam / bot posts.
24 Jun 2022 at 5.44pm
In reply to Post #31
Subtle as an air raid, Tamara! Now get the f..k off my thread!
16 Jun 2022 at 0.25am
Oh cool. How did you get to this place? I travel a lot, but because I fear flying, I often choose to travel by train. The measured tapping of the wheelset on the rails, the endless landscapes flickering outside the window, and the opportunity to look at the expanses of the country. Many more travelers like this type of transport for the opportunity to save on overnight stays. If you decide to plunge into such a travel atmosphere, you can plan your trip here
. There is no special screening and long queues, as at airports, so you can not be afraid to be late anywhere. What do you think of this travel idea?
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