Firstly hi, I’d like to say how pleased I am to be part of the team. It’s well known that I do a lot of varied fishing and I now have everything that I’m likely to need at my disposal and all of the very highest quality. It has been a while since I’ve done any blogs on the internet for lots of reasons, but I’m looking forward to penning the odd bit for the site to give you a little insight into what I get up to from month to month.
My first outing since I came “on board” as it were was to one of my favourite lakes, Lac De St Cassien in the south of France. Looking back, I could barely believe that it had been 12 years or so since I’d last ventured that far south. A couple of my mates, Trev and Lee, were off for their annual spring jolly and had decided to head to the famous lake and while chatting to Trev on the phone he suggested that I should fly down and join them. They would take some kit down with them for me. I didn’t have to think too long before I found myself checking flight prices and at only fifty odd quid return on good old Easyjet, I booked myself a flight.
The last year had been a nightmare for me for one reason and another, so it was a welcome break. A few days before they were due to leave, I drove down to Southampton and dropped off my kit at Trev’s, which consisted of my tackle and clothes bag. The lads at CC Moore had sent Trev my bait for them to take and all this left me to do was make my way to Luton at the start of the following week with a hand luggage bag containing my camera and Go Pro kit.
My girlfriend dropped me off at 6.30 am and I was soon through passport control and before I knew it I was boarding for Nice.
Now, in the past, a trip to Cassien entailed a trip of several days. I’d drive to mid France and usually have a night on the river or a lake around Lyon and then continue the rest of the arduous journey the following day, a costly and time consuming mission but all part of the adventure. Flying though was a bit of a revelation, sat in rainy Luton one minute and before I knew it I was in the balmy, south of France sipping a coffee and watching the sauce pots saunter by while waiting for the boys to pick me up, very civilised indeed. I didn’t have long to wait before two smiling faces turned the corner and we were soon on our way through the palm-tree lined streets and onto the autoroute .
We arrived at the lake barely half an hour later and after a quick dash to the supermarche we headed back to the gite the boys had rented for the duration of our stay, which sat high on the hill overlooking the lakes West Arm. It’s fair to say we were all keen to get fishing so we decided on a few hours by the famous bridge to start the ball rolling. The weather was warm, but not overly so, and the lake seemed devoid of anglers which is always nice to see. Of course, this was a very rare situation in the past but as the lake is now strictly day fishing only this has unsurprisingly put an awful lot of people off making the long drive down.
Anyway, it was nice to be back especially as the lake was full to the brim and looking amazing. We fished the first afternoon for a few hours before heading back to the gite for the evening to prepare for our first full day on the lake.
We had a lovely BBQ on the veranda overlooking the lake and had a few drinks as you do to toast the trip. It was gone midnight by the time we turned in, the boys stayed in the gite while I put out my bed chair under the stars and laid there listening to the sounds of the night in the south of France and drifted off to the sound of the frogs and the nightingales singing, it was a good evening!
Before I knew it, Trev was kicking me: “ coffee ere for ya mush,” he said. It was 4am and the consumption of cheap red wine the night before didn’t seem such a good idea. My head was banging, the bitter, sugarless coffee tasting like poison to me, but I downed it hoping it would kick start me into action.
Soon enough, the caffeine started to work its magic and I managed to get up. After packing a food bag, we set off for the slipway and soon enough three zombies set about blowing up their respective boats before loading them ready for the off. Trev and Lee fish together and weren’t sure where to head whereas I would be fishing alone. I was looking forward to a few days of my own company it has to be said. The plan was to keep in touch, I’d let them know what I’d seen and vice versa.
It was a lovely morning as we headed out of the West Arm with the mist rolling down from the mountains across the lake. I decided to do the first day in the central basin for no other reason than it was not too far to travel and it allowed me to see a big chunk of water. Trev and lee continued on towards the top of the South Arm where a local French angler reported seeing lots of fish showing a few days previously. I settled on a nice bit of bank with lots of options, it was an area that I’d caught a few from in the past, besides the wind was starting to pick up and it was blowing into the area.
Placing the rods was academic, I fished a rod left and right and a couple at varying depths out in front. With the water high close in, it looked good and I dropped rigs in around 12ft of water – one rod fished with black tigers over a sprinkling and the others on 24mm Live System baits with a light scattering around each. With the water being clear, I felt the sandy-coloured live system was the best option as they were not too blatant against the similar coloured lake bed.
Within the hour, the rods were done and I sat back with a Cassien breakfast of champions, namely a croissant and a bottle of Kronenbourg! Through mid morning, the wind gradually increased as my supply of beers rapidly decreased and it got warmer and warmer until I retreated to the shade further up the bank where I put out my bed and decided it was time for a little snooze.
Tired and full of beer, I soon slipped into a deep sleep and awoke to the sound of a screaming buzzer. For a while, I didn’t know where I was and my normally slick routine of jumping into the boat to go out after the fish went to complete pot. I stumbled, half fell down the rocky incline towards the screaming clutch and remember the right hand rod buckled hard round. Typically, the boat was on the wrong side of the rods and it took me much longer than usual to gain control of the little boat. All the while whatever was on the other end was pulling like a train, the braid whistling through the rings as it tore line off at a shocking rate.
In the big waves the little boat was, well lets just say a handful, and as I motored towards the fish it continued to rip line off a tight clutch. Thankfully, I could see it was high in the water and headed out into deeper water but it was a good minute or so before I gained any real control of it. I guess I was 30yrd from the fish when a big, oily vortex appeared in the waves and then it was gone, the hook had fallen out, how’s your luck?!
As I motored dejectedly back to the swim, I checked the hook which was still perfect and put it down to one of those things. I soon had the rod repositioned back close to the overhangs in 12ft and returned to the swim hopeful of another chance in the evening, but it was not to be and I reeled in as the light started to fade to begin the trek back to the slipway to meet up with the boys.
They had a quiet day and had spent a lot of it looking for fish but they had remained elusive. Apart from my take, I’d seen nothing either so it was back to the gite to prepare for the following day and have a BBQ before turning in again after midnight, full of food and a bit worse for wear after a few beers.
The following day the lake was much busier with pecheurs, it transpired that it was the start of the pike season and it seemed like literally every angler in the south of the country who owned a boat had arrived to try their luck. Everywhere you looked there were boats with several anglers all looking at echo sounders and casting lures or live baits about. With so much activity, I didn’t fancy my chances much to put it mildly and so I opted to fish close to the mouth of the West Arm in a famous swim called Matilda, which incidentally was one I’d never fished as it was always so popular. Once I got out in the boat for a look about I could see why, in front of the swim was a huge plateaux that was a real bottleneck for any fish that might be moving in or out of the arm. Rather than fishing all my rods on the obvious spots, I fished hard left and right of the swim along steep rocky bits of bank. That morning, I actually saw a couple of carp, well I saw a couple of shows whether or not they were carp or cats I couldn’t be sure but it was encouraging non the less. Again, I fished in relatively shallow water as the day before with my rods in depths of between 10ft and 15ft.
It was a good job that I decided to fish where I did instead of on or around the plateaux as throughout the day boat after boat raked the entire area with lures. With so much disturbance, I was convinced that any carp in the area would have retreated to the sanctuary of the reserve which extends from just to the left of the famous Kevin Ellis point and continues all the way to the end of the arm, a good half a mile away, if not more.
Nevertheless, I had a lovely day on my own enjoying just being there, listening to music or napping in the shade, which was difficult as it was very warm. Despite it being quiet, the day flew by. I had the odd call to Trev who had spent another day looking for fish to no avail. It appeared that there were still lots of fish spawning down in the reserve and they were only venturing out after dark when we were not allowed to be there.
As the sun began to set I was sat on the boat feeding the black bass in the margins when I had the take of death on a rod fished along the treacherous rocky margin to my right. The rod was literally folded over the buzzer as I ran through the flooded margins to grab it. I played it hard for a few seconds before jumping in the boat and the line thankfully began to head out towards the deep, open water and once I was sure it was clear I jumped in the little boat and began to winch myself towards it.
Now I can’t stress enough just what an incredible battle followed and I was towed a long way down towards the reserve by a very angry fish that pulled my arm off for the next half an hour. In the little inflatable, I had very little control and the fish span the boat like a top as it charged around. Eventually, I caught sight of an incredibly long common that dived hard for the bottom again and again but there could only be one winner…and it was me!
With my arm cramping badly, I eventually drew the fish over the net and with its nose to the block there was still a load of it hanging over the cord, but I managed to shuffle it in and I let out a huge sigh of relief, what a battle and what a carp!
The fish had towed me so far that it took me a good 10 minutes to get back to swim. I unhooked it in the net, the big 24mm Live System bait looked lost in its huge, bucket-like mouth and I slipped the long beast into a retainer and called Trev who volunteered to boat down to do some pics.
That was it for me, that was to be my last bite of the trip. Trev also managed a whacker but that’s his story. As always, Cassien was a magical place to spend some time, we had a good laugh along the way and looked at another special lake before I had to sadly fly home and leave Trev and lee to continue their adventure as they were headed north to some other lakes.
Spring trips to France are and have always been a double-edged sword for an angler like me, as I feel I’ll miss out while I’m away and this trip was no exception. No sooner had I got home, I was hearing tales of a huge, low pressure system while I’d been gone and great catches all around. Still, you can’t be in two places at once and I’d been glad of the break if not the rest.
I was soon back and sorting out the kit once more. Any of you who know me or have read my stuff in the past know that I love a spring campaign and this year is no different, as I have several “secret” for want of a better description waters where I’m planning to do a bit away from all others, my own little world if you will. Thankfully, I have a freezer full up with Live System and Tuna Project baits, which meant I could get into the routine of baiting and looking and in-between doing this a few other waters where I could go for a dabble to get a few pulls and have a social with my friends.
One of my new secret waters for this year is exciting and rare in several respects, not least because it’s unknown, but even the unknown waters still get walked and looked at but this one isn’t even being walked. When I found out about it I genuinely never knew it was there and my mate Tel never knew it was there and that’s amazing in itself because if on the rare occasion that I don’t know, he will or vice versa but neither of us knew this one which is mega exciting. What’s more, it has got plenty of carp in and even some big ones which is even rarer still as the sort of quiet places I like to frequent rarely hold many carp at all so you could say I’m quite excited about this one. In fact, I went there today with a little leading rod and a small rucksack stuffed to the brim with a mixture of baits, all of which are now laying on the lake bed and hopefully some of them have already been eaten!
Oh I forgot, I had a lovely result last week. I picked up my mate Alfie and we went for a wander as we do, stopping in on several lakes and a few “possibles” for the future.
Anyway, we headed over to a lake near my home one windy day last week for a mooch about. First stop was a bay at the end of the lake in question that is full of little snaggy islands. I’d been at the lake a few days before and found the bream spawning in the bay so I had a little look around like you do and in the hour I was looking I saw several big carp turn up in the bay obviously there to capitalise on the free feed.
I reckon several of these were close to if not 40+. Typically, this was on a friday and I left to avoid the weekenders and spent the time with my girlfriend, but I knew I’d be back the following week as there was a good shout of a big fish. Lady luck smiled on me as on the saturday the weather changed and the temperature plummeted which drove the carp out of the bay, but I knew they knew and would be back as soon as conditions changed as there was a ton of bream eggs waiting for them.
The start of the following week brought with it big westerly winds, which would smack into the bay and I knew they would be back and hungry so as soon as Alfie and I arrived, I headed straight to the bay. Thankfully it was quiet and although we didn’t see any fish it looked prime, so we doubled up in a swim on the end of the wind for a few hours. The first rod I plopped in the edge to my right under a bush and got a hard drop. This was followed by a handful of broken tuna baits and the other rods were fished on single pop-ups out to where the bream had been spawning. Both those drops were weedy but I couldn’t care less, the weed was literally dripping with fresh eggs. I’d barely had the rods in for five minutes when Alf shouted: “your rod!”.
The bait by the bush had been snaffled and the tip was flicking as the fish ran back out towards open water. After a good old fight, I netted a lovely upper 20 that I took a few snaps of and then it went quiet for an hour so we upped sticks and moved to another lake for the afternoon which proved lifeless.
“I reckon it’s worth going back to the bay for an hour or two,” I said to Alf who agreed so we headed back and soon had the rods back on the same areas. Again, less than five minutes later we were sat in the car out of the big blow when I looked at the rods and one of the stones was off the spool and the line looked to have tightened up. Upon picking up the rod the fish was weeded but soon started to come. Unlike the first fish, this one just shook its head a few times and hit the surface leading me to think it was a small one. That was until I saw a big set of shoulders. “Quick Alf, it’s a whacker, get it in the net… quick!!”
“Oh my god,” gasped Alf, it’s a massive linear!
In the net it looked incredible, I’d blagged one of the lakes bigguns and a real pearler at that. I recognised it straight away as the cut tail and it looked massive at 37+. It had taken a Tuna Project corkball soaked in CC Moore salmon oil, how could it resist? Alf did me proud with the camera and we went home happy.
A few days later, the weather finally looked to be improving so I arranged to meet Alf with the intention of having a days floater fishing over the ressies at Walthamstow in London, a place we both love to fish as you have lots of options and there are lots of lovely carp to fish for.
We ended up doing the night on an inner city park but caught nothing and we were up at first light and off to the Stow. I had a sack of floating trout pellets that I’d got from my visit to the bait factory and I’d been itching to use them, I love my floater fishing and this year so far I’d not done any as we just haven’t had the weather for it, but that morning I checked my phone while we waited for the gates to open and it showed 20+ degrees, it looked very promising indeed!
We started off by heading to the number two reservoir once we’d been let in, the other anglers on the gate all steaming off for the popular swims but we were in no hurry as we knew we would probably be on the move all day anyway.
No sooner had we arrived at the number 2, when we saw a couple of fish show, so slung out the bottom rods for a bit and watched but saw no further shows and was soon off again to do a lap of the lake. On the way back round we saw a load of fish rolling on the number 1 ressie so we stopped there for an hour and cast out a few singles here and there. After 20 minutes, I had a take and unfortunately lost it. After that they began to move off up the lake so we packed up and went after them. By now, the sun had started to warm up and roughly half way down the lake we stopped as there was lots of fish milling around on the top…it was on!
A few Spombs of floating pellets soaked in a mixture of Liquid Krill Extract and Salmon Oil got an immediate response from the fish and within minutes there was literally loads of carp charging around devouring everything they came across, we couldn’t set up the floater kit quick enough I can tell you!
The next few hours were a blur. I don’t know exactly how many we caught but it was a lot!If I wasn’t playing one, Alfie was, it was proper floater carnage…more than one a chuck, lol!
By early afternoon, I was sunburnt and covered in oil -stinking. The action had been so frantic that we decided to have a break and head into Tottenham to grab some lunch. We looked like two homeless people and must have smelt bad, covered in a mixture of Krill, Salmon oil and fish slime. The two girls in front of me in the queue for the checkout in Tescos were actually holding their noses, I kid you not.
By late afternoon, we had had more than enough and were both exhausted and called it a day even though the gates were open till 10pm. I got home dog tired and in desperate need of a bath and a good nights sleep…I love floater fishing, hope it’s warm again next week!.
That’s it for me this time round. The car’s packed and I’m off for a night somewhere, I’ll let you know how I get on next time, be lucky!
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