Hitting the ground running part one

Mon 16 March 15

 

For my first article of 2015 I am off to Etang du Bois in France and I decided to try something different and as such I have written it as a blog throughout the week as opposed to making notes and writing them up once I return home, so I hope you enjoy my thoughts from throughout the week.

A friend had organized an early season trip to France and as I was unable to go on my usual trip to France in August I jumped at the chance as this will probably be my only visit to France this year, the lake itself is set in stunning scenery near to the village of Ecriennes in the champagne region of France.

The stock is astonishing, 2× 70lb+, 9× 60lb+ , 29× 50lb and 46× 40lb+ carp, when you consider the lake is about 4.5 acres it is a testament to how hard Gary, the owner, and Leigh, the fishery manager work. This close season they had removed a serious amount of weed from the lake as due to the mild winter very little had died off, speaking with Gary he estimated in the region of 80 tonnes had been removed. However, understanding that carp like weed and it holds an abundance of natural food they have left areas of weed in each swim to create channels and ambush points for anglers to set traps.

Although we visited in early March the lake is stunning and I can only imagine how great it will look in the middle of summer when the trees are in full bloom.

Fish care is taken very seriously and each angler is provided with a large 46” net, a massive unhooking mat and large weigh sling/recovery swim, this prevents every fishery owners fear of anglers arriving with substandard equipment. This kit is replaced each year and the net, sling and mat I was supplied with were brand new. On top of this they also provide.

There is an onsite lodge for anglers to use with toilet and shower plus a fully equipped kitchen and whilst at this time of year it wasn’t essential having a fridge and freezer for our use was fantastic.

Saturday 18.30

The day started at 2 am when the alarm goes off, I had just enough time for a coffee and to get my head together before we set off at 3am.

We arrived after a simple journey down around 11am we had a quick cup of tea and then set off for a wander around the lake with the owner and by midday we’d decided where we all wanted to fish, without the need for a draw.

Stef – The Lawn
John – Duck Run
Lane – Cobb
Dave – Point

For Dave and Lane it was just a case of walking their gear to the swim for John and I the owner uses his small tractor and a trailer, but as the lake is so small we were in the swims and getting set up in next to no time.

The owner wandered round whilst we were setting up to point out the obvious and less obvious spots and areas to watch. I took my time setting up and decided to use the marker rod and baitboat rather than the rowing boat for two reasons, firstly all the spots were close to overhanging trees and secondly as two of them were margin spots I could walk round and guide the boat right in on the spot. The third spot was to be in a gully near the island and was easy to find with the marker rod and simple to send to boat to.

By around 4.30 the rods were set and I finally sat down with a beer to enjoy the first evening, soon though the sun set and as the temperatures started to drop I decided to get something to eat and an early night.

Sunday 08.30

The temperatures dropped to around 1 degree overnight and despite a few liners it was soon morning, I’ve been to some picturesque lakes over the years but you can tell the truly stunning ones when they look amazing even without foliage on the trees.

None of the guys had anything last night but that’s to be expected these are not easy fish to catch and we’re fully aware that after a long winter they’re going to be even harder to catch.

16.00

It has been a quiet day for everyone so far, a few line bites but nothing of consequence. I saw some fish moving about over the right hand margin spots but didn’t look big by Etang du Bois standards, although this can be deceiving at the water only looks a couple of feet deep and I already know it is about 6 feet just a few feet out from the bank.

John popped round for a chat; he’d had much the same in his swim, a few line bites but otherwise quiet. I have just put some chops out around the two margin spots, as the water is still a little murky I can’t see if bait has been eaten but keeping the bait going in can’t be a bad thing. It’s been sunny all day, not quite t-shirt temperatures but not far off it, the bailiff measured the water temperature earlier and it was 7.9 degrees in around 8 feet of water which had doubled in under a week so hopefully the extra warmth will get the fish moving and a little more active.

Sunday always seems to be a weird day on a trip to France as you’re hoping for a bite but you don’t quite expect one just yet, still I’m happy with the spots I’ve picked so now just a case of sitting back and waiting for the fish to find the bait.

Monday 09.00

A quiet night again, a couple of line bites one on the middle rod and the other on the right hand rod but sadly neither materialised into a bite, this morning is a little misty although I expect the mist to burn off as the sun comes up a little more. The temperature only dropped to around 3 degrees last night, still cold but a sign of spring edging closer.

The great thing about having a lodge with shower and toilet is the running hot water that is available, there is nothing like a good wash each morning and not having to boil up kettles to do so, although the heating was on in there this morning and it was very tempting to sit in there for an hour or two.

14.00

Well I decided to have a mini social with Dave and Lane so reeled in the rods, I had intended rebating at least 2 rods today so was no big deal doing all three, now the water clarity has improved a little more after the weed clearance I noted on the left hand spot a weed bed about 10 feet further out so I have been fishing a channel between to two but have now gone a little closer to the weed bed.

With the middle rod I have found the edge of the silt that is at the bottom of the marginal slope and have moved the rod on there. Finally after watching some fish closer in on the right hand rod I have positioned that bait closer to where the fish are located under the tree canopy.

Today for the first time there is a breeze on the lake and it is blowing down into my swim, I don’t believe that wind makes a great deal of difference on a lake this size but it’s pleasing none the less. The good/bad thing is that no one else is catching or seeing much in the way of fish do I’m not in a bad swim.

16.30

Well my rods had been out under 2 hours when the right hand rod came to life, a few bleeps then the bobbin pulled up tight to the rod, as I was sat a few get away not sure what else would have happened but I picked the rod up and pulled into a carp.

To start with it headed for the corner but steady pressure saw it head out into open water. A couple of times I saw the fish and even with Gary stand beside me it looked like it would maybe go thirty. After a fight of 10-15mins she was in the net and only then did we realise it was somewhat larger than we first thought. On the scales it was a 56lb 12oz common and in full winter colours looked stunning. Once again Chris Haswell’s bait does the business.

I never normally talk about rigs as I am not one for convoluted contraptions and this rig proves a point, 10” of 15lb ESP Anchor braid through to a size 5 Ace boilie peak hook tied knotless knot with a hair of around 1.5” can’t really get much simpler than that.

Part 2 will follow soon.

Tight lines,

Stef