It was time again to make the annual trip over to France. This year I had been invited by my old mate ‘Broady’ (Steve Broad) to join him on Gigantica, in the champagne region of France. Broady went to the same venue last August and caught fish to 51lb, so even with the lake’s tricky reputation and the unfavoured time of year I was quietly confident that I could maybe get a bite or two.
We arrived at the lake around lunchtime in readiness for the swim draw at 3pm which subsequently took place. For the first time in my life I pulled out ‘number 1’ giving me choice of the lake.
On the walk round before the draw I had spotted a few fish around ‘Co’s’ point and knew that the swim had produced a lot of fish over the last couple of weeks, so when I came out with number 1, it was a no brainer!
Once the draw was completed it was time to get set up and start fishing. ‘Barty’ the bailiff told me to check a spot at 16 3/4 rod lengths straight out which was a nice clear area that was surrounded by thick weed beds. This spot had done bites just the week before so I accurately placed two rods on the money. The third was placed on another clear spot at 30 rod lengths out. In each case my rigs consisted of 8″ 25lb ESP stiff bristle filament, size 6 Korda barbless Kurv shank hooks on D-rigs and were baited with CC Moore Critical Edge 14mm pop ups that were either fished as singles or on snow man set ups. I was using 4oz leads with 3ft clear tubing and a flying back lead in each case with PVA string tied right at the top of the tubing to stop it flying up on the cast.
Even though we had been advised to use the ‘going bait’ I still took 10kg of frozen 18mm N-Gage XP, some powder attractants, Krill Meal and Green Lipped Mussel Extract. The liquid attractants we chose to take were Hemp Oil, Krill Amino Compound and Feedstim XP which we felt would work really well when combined together. These would provide a strong fishy aroma and taste along with highly attractive salts and amino acids whilst being able to carry signals up through the water with the inclusion of the Hemp Oil.
Around 5kg of bait was soaked in this liquid for a couple of hours before being ‘sticked’ out into the swim. I really rate coating my boilies in a proven, natural liquid combination and, as it was 20ft deep where the rigs were, I was sure this would really help to pull fish down onto my spots. As it went dark, my swim was slicking away nicely; it was then just a waiting game.
I was awoken at 2am with a screaming take which sadly saw the fish fall off due to a hook pull. However, with all this attraction leaking off my baits, at 7am it was off again. Within a few minutes I’d got the first fish under my belt with a 28lb mirror. The possibility of a blank was gone and I could now settle in to the session.
Following these first two takes, nothing occurred for nearly 24hrs when the baited area produced another cracking mirror of 38lb. This very rewarding fish fell to the same tactics and were clearly stimulated by what I was offering them.
Once more it was then 24hrs before I received the next bite; I had just finished my breakfast and was watching the water when it melted off again.
I knew straight away this was a better fish and at this point ‘Barty’ the bailiff arrived back in the swim to offer his help with netting. As I was playing the fish, trying to keep it under constant pressure, she rolled at around 40 yards out and he shouted”it’s Fudgys” (the biggest fish in the lake) After more tussling and a noticeable feeling of growing tension she rolled again at 20 yards following which Barty speculated that it wasn’t ‘Fudgy’s’ but may well be a fish called ‘Split Pec’ that had not been caught for over a year and “could go 60”! Pressure or what?
After a couple of heart-stopping moments when she angrily rolled on the line as she tried to shed the hook, she was mine.
My first impressions were that she was a very English-looking fish; dark-coloured like she could have come from the Colne Valley. I’d had a French PB of 46lb for years and had never had a 50lber. As I looked at the scale of this beauty, it looked like my time had come.
On the scales she went 55lb….Wow!
She was in fact slightly down in weight, almost certainly due to a healthy period of spawning, but who cares; a 50 and a new PB. All the lads reeled in and insisted we celebrate the capture up at the lodge, and even though it was 11 in the morning that was exactly what we did! The capture of the sought-after ‘Split Pec’ topped a superb week which I will always look back on with very fond memories.
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