So, somebody made the suggestion of trying French Carp fishing. Where do we go? Which lake’s best? What time of year is best? What’s the best way to travel – fly or drive? What fishing tackle do we need? All questions very relevant to a French fishing virgin…!
We came to the conclusion in 2008 that venturing out to France for a session in a warmer climate was a fantastic idea. So, after much deliberation and thrashing through all the glossy Carp magazines looking at the various adverts, and some very drawn out debates over cups of tea in the Snags shop, we settled on a trip to Kevin Nash’s Lac Cavagnac. Sadly Hoops couldn’t be with us on this one so it was left to Stuart Maskell and myself to fly the Snags flag.
So that was the destination agreed, and a great start on what fishing tackle to take – the package provides everything but end tackle and sleeping bags! This still left the question of end tackle and tactics, and with due consideration for the resort rules, we were advised to use Gardner GR80 15lb line and Sufix Camfusion 25lb hooklink. Leads were a minimum of 4oz to provide as much hooking assistance as possible. The original plan was to scale up the usual UK tactics slightly and go with a size 8 or so Gamakatsu G-Point Super – this was blown right out of the water (excuse the pun!) when the on-site guys produced a pack of size 4 Nash hooks and advised that should be the absolute minimum!
So before we actually flew out, we’d agreed on a preferred order of swims depending on how far through the order we ended up for choice of swims (agreed through drawing cards – lowest first, highest last). Miracle upon miracles, we ended up second and chose our preferred swim – The Field.
Setting up on the platform, there were 6 banks of lily pads all offering the potential for excellent carp fishing, so with a 4oz lead and a mighty heave I managed to drop a bait to the edge of a patch half way across the lake. A quiet night ensued with nothing but a few beers and some sleep!
Following day, David spent some time with us and explained that to fish the swim properly, we needed to fish the far bank some 150 yards away! At this point the real point of having the row boat became apparent… None of this casting lark but boat your bait out to where you want to fish which in some cases was through two sets of lily pads to reach a third set!
That day all was quiet without a fish to be seen so it was a case of eat some dinner, get showered and plans for a few beers before bed time with the expectation that it would all kick off over night. So having freshened up, I’m strolling happily back to the swim only to be greeted by “You won’t believe this but….” Expecting a tale of the one that got away it was then followed by ‘Look at the size of this bugger…” only to be shown the largest slab of a Common Carp I had ever seen at that time! You’ve all heard the phrase ‘You could put a saddle on that’ from a certain Matt Hayes, but now I understood that emotion completely! Bear in mind that at that time the biggest I’d caught was probably a mid-double, this fish weighed in at 27lb and a few ounces – oh and just to add insult to injury it was on one of my rods….! The fish was duly captured on camera and returned to fight another day, and an air of hopeful expectation hung around the swim for bigger and better during the night – this is what we came for!!!!
To cut a long story short, many fish were had that week (26 fish between the two of us) and for about 4 days or so I was top rod with a monster (to me!) Mirror Carp of 36lb. That one even ended up with me in the lake up to my chest amongst the lily pads for the sake of a good photo!
We both came home with new personal bests after that week’s fishing, and Stu came back with a new nickname of ‘Poacher’ after managing three fish off of my rods (you have no idea how frustrating it is to hear your bite alarm squealing when you’re 80 yards away in a row boat!)
So to all French Carping Virgins out there, give it a go. Keep it simple and strong (if you’ve got a working UK rig then just scale up with a larger hook, heavier hook link, heavier mainline). If you need any advice, come down and have a cuppa with Hoops and I’m sure he’ll talk you through the way we’ve fished various French lakes and a completely different approach to fishing the Ebro which I’ll come on to shortly…..