French Trip Part One

Tue 28 October 14


It ain’t ‘arf hot mum Pat One

A view of the lake

So as promised I have finally got round to finishing off this blog piece that I originally started at the beginning of July, yeah I know 4 months is pretty pants but as explained I have been otherwise engaged.

Therefore lets jump back to the 20th June, my good friend Mark had turned up at my place just after lunch, we’d been food shopping and taken our gear round to Lane’s house to load in the van. We prefer to do this as trying to load a van correctly at 2am is bound to result in something either getting left behind or trodden on in the darkness. So now it was just a case of some food, a beer or two and a few hours of shut-eye before we were due to be picked up. As usual the excitement of the week ahead, even more so for Mark who’d not been to Island lake before got the better of us and it was way past midnight before we even tried to sleep.

All too soon we were on the tunnel and the trip was well underway, this trip included a few newbies to the venue, including Mark was John “Penfold” and Andy “B&H” along with the usual suspects. The drive the other side was uneventful, with the exception of a small amount of traffic just after the tolls at Senlis the run down was seamless and it was around 11:45 that we rolled into the car park. Micky Hall, the bailiff, was there to greet us and went through the usual basics regarding fish safety and rigs.

As we book the venue out to ourselves the walk round is a friendly chat, we don’t need to go secret squirrel on these trips as the aim is to try and ensure that everyone catches. The lake as usual was in pristine condition as Micky Hall and Mick Bowman work hard to keep things looking good. Just because of the positioning of the swims the final swim we reach is 5&6, which is a much coveted after double swim. Our party consisted of 3 pairs and 3 single anglers, the pairs pick from 1&2, 5&6 and 7&8 and as we were all mates we didn’t need a draw, Mark and I fancied 1&2, so John & Andy chose 5&6 and Terry and his mate ended up in 7&8. Adam really wanted to fish peg 13, so Dave opted for 12 and Lane said he’d probably start in 3&4.

When you walk into peg 1&2 you are immediately drawn to the left hand side of peg 1 which is a small bay which just looks like it must have loads of fish in there. Now I am sure the fish go into this area, but for some reason they just don’t seem to spend any amount of time in there and so, as with this week, the bay remains motionless. Mark opted for peg 2, as it was his first trip to the lake I knew that with us sharing fish I would, so long as we caught something, get to fish both swims anyway.

The weather was gorgeous, which we quickly realised wasn’t going to help the fishing too much, it also had been nice for quite a while so the banks were rock hard, almost to the point that we’d need to resort to a “carp-away” mallet to get bank sticks and pegs into the ground, luckily with some persuasion and with a lot of cursing and sweating had everything setup. We decided to hold off heading out in the boat for a little while, the sky was cloudless and as it was so hot we retreated to the shade of the hut for a beer and to relax.

Catch shot one

Fast forward a couple of hours and we were out in the boat finding the spots we wanted to fish and placing the rigs, I accept it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I really do like fishing using a boat, the ability to ensure your rigs are laid out, untangled, especially on a venue where you are going to leave the rods alone possibly for 2 days or more gives you an extra bit of confidence. An hour or so later the traps were set and we were sitting out surveying the lake, I would say chilling, but even though it was now 8pm it was still baking hot, it was now we realised that if the weather stayed as it is that we would not only need to eat very late but that it was unlikely that we’d be catching too many during the daylight hours.

So after eating at about 9:30, the earliest time the whole week, we then decided to head off to bed around midnight. We weren’t expecting anything to happen on the first night and for us it didn’t however, around 1am Adam came into the swim and asked if I could come and do some pictures for him, he’d landed a 48lb mirror so I popped round and helped him get sorted, sadly the fish was stressing a bit so only we took a couple of quick shots before slipping her back. The following morning Dave managed a 59lb common, now I am sure most of you reading this will agree that a big common is one of those fish we all dream of catching, make that fish a smidge under 60lb and you could well understand the massive smile on his face as I walked into the swim.

Now once a fish comes out like that you can forgive the captor for not really having his fishing head on for the rest of the week and understandably that was the case, I have to say I was quite pleased as Dave is a seriously good angler and the rest of us didn’t want to get left behind. The rest of Sunday just crept by, our swim gave us shade until about 11am but after that we were in full-on sun until it set at 9:45 and I can tell you that with temperatures in the low to mid-30’s all week that was not the most comfortable place to be. Each evening would see us take it in turns to head off for a cold shower just to try and give your body some respite from the heat.

Catch shot two

All too soon it was time to crash out and not more than 5minutes after we’d headed to bed Mark had a take, it was from the spot out towards the island and to start with things were looking good until it buried itself in a weed bed. Mark had no sooner got into the boat when the hook pulled, to say he was gutted was an understatement, as the lake holds some absolute monsters and one had got away. As if that wasn’t bad enough about 2am I had a take and I didn’t even get as far as the boat when the hook pulled. Needless to say not much was said but we were both gutted, as so far we were 0 for 2 and it wasn’t as if the fish were showing in front of us.

At 4am Mark had another take though, this time he was able to play it totally from the bank and within a few minutes he had a 39lb mirror on the bank. We were both relieved as it’s never good to lose fish. Despite it being almost breakfast time we decided that a celebratory beer was in order, it also meant that I was now in charge of the rods and Mark was free to wander or do whatever he wanted. The rest of the day was un-eventful, as with the previous days the weather was hot and we saw no signs of fish. All too soon we’d eaten and were heading off to our bivvies to get some shuteye again. Like the previous evening no sooner had we retired than one of the rods was off, as this was the rod Mark had lost a fish on the night before I decided very quickly to get into the boat and head out to try and prevent it getting into the weed bed.

Now as mentioned I like using a boat, however, there is one big downside of playing fish from a boat and that is that they can pretty much tow you around the lake until they tire out, I stupidly thought that with the weather being so hot that the fish wouldn’t put up too much of a scrap, sadly someone forgot to tell the fish that and it was nearly 30 minutes later that I finally got back to the jetty with my first fish of the trip, a 43lb mirror.

Catch Shot three

Tight lines,



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