Every year hundreds of British anglers invade France in search of those monster carp. With literally hundreds of lakes to choose from, it seems that more and more Brits are traveling to France in the hope of smashing their PB’s. A week seems to be the average length of time that an angler would spend at a lake in France, but this is usually a lot longer session that they are used to …. so I hope the following may help a few of you out if you are going to France for the first time.
The first thing that you should do is to make a list. I know that this may seem a bit anal retentive, but make that list! It could be the difference between a great week and a cxxp week! I have friends who have arrived at their chosen lake to discover they had forgotten rods, reels, pods, bait, food and alarms (Steve) and this can totally ruin the trip, putting you in a negative mood from the start … and that is not going to help your fishing!
This may look like a huge list, but on a self-drive trip these are essential items and it is best to check them off the list so that nothing is forgotten.
I tend to fish smaller lakes in France so my tackle requirements may differ from yours. If you are fishing one of the larger lakes remember it’s like England, use the tackle most suited the water that you are fishing.
- Rods Give yourself every chance of landing a big fish, after all that is why you are in France. It is advisable to take 2.75tc rods and stronger, but of course the choice is yours.
- Reels If everything goes right the week you are there, you may be lucky enough having multiple catches of big fish, so strong reliable reels are the order of the day. You don’t want to hand line a whacker in because your reels break.
- Alarms Check that they work before you leave and I usually put a new set of batteries in them … that way I know that they will last the trip.
- End tackle Take as much as you can because you may have trouble finding a tackle shop , and if you do they probably will not have the items you require. Things such as leads, PVA, hooks, mainline and hooklink materials are hard to come by, so take as much spare tackle as you can. You don’t want to find that miracle method that catches stacks of fish and then run out of the main components!
- Bivvies I normally fish 24-hour sessions in Blighty, so an umbrella with storm sides is about all I use , but after trying that in France for a week I decided that I needed the room for all of the extra tackle that I had, so I changed to a two man bivvy. This made my weeks stay a lot more comfortable and because I was only using it a couple of times a year, it should last quite a long time (fingers crossed) so I should get my monies worth out of it.
- And the rest… Take all of the other pieces that you require, to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Quite a few anglers find a week a very long time to fish, so anything that you take to make your stay more enjoyable can only help you to fish better. One of the pieces of kit that you may pray you had taken is mosquito repellent …. I don’t know if it is just in France, but their mosquito’s are twice the size of the ones in England and boy do they bite! There are a few companies who supply devices that repel these little monsters … you have been warned!
The general advice is to take what you can afford and can fit in … I can only tell you what I normally take.
- Is there a freezer on-site? Find out if there are any facilities to keep your bollies frozen, because if there isn’t you may have to consider taking ready mades or air drying your fresh bait before you travel. Many a good holiday has been spoilt because bait has gone off – you lose confidence in it and you end up fishing half-heartedly (not good!)
- How much should I take? I like to have at least 10 kilo’s of bollies in at least two sizes (10/12 mm) and (18/24 mm) – the mix is up to you.
- What should I use? Use the boilies you are confident in, like you do in England. Where I can, I take matching pop-ups, bottom baits and bait glug. I ‘m a bit of a bait fiend, so I have an assortment of pop-ups from various companies that I take just in case! I would take as much particle bait i.e. pellets, groundbait, method mix, seeds, pulses and nuts as you can fit in your car. Alternatively, many lakes, for example Nautica, stock ranges of bait and pellet at the lake, just ask.
You don’t have to use it all but if the fish are ‘having it’ it is better to have spare than run out half way through the week. Look at feedback, find out what has been working but also what’s most popular. Something different to all the other anglers may be the answer, who knows?
- Clothing The weather in France is unpredictable just like in England. Plenty of spare clothes are required in case of downpours. You never know you may have to get in the water for that trophy shot … you know because it is too heavy to lift out of the water (Oh please God!!!!). Temperatures can change dramatically, so be prepared.
- Washing kit A week is a long time without a wash and you don’t want to be turned away by British customs on your return because you may be a health hazard …. so don’t forget the kit and a towel or two.
- Cooking equipment Take what you normally would in the UK but remember you are there for a week, so you may need more cutlery. Find out if there is somewhere to wash dirty dishes – if not take a bowl and washing up equipment. I have experienced food poisoning in France, probably due to unhygienic pots and pans, and it was not a pretty sight or smell.
- Buy it in France I tend to purchase all of my food in France , mainly because there is not enough room for a bar of chocolate in my car after everything else is in, but also because it is cheaper than in England.
- Push the boat out I like to get the essential items for survival whilst fishing – things like wine, beer, crisps and of course more wine. Seriously, ‘a well fed man is a happy man’ & ‘happy men fish better’ so don’t just settle for snacks, try to have some proper food, even if is only to soak up the beer!
- On the right It may the first time that you have driven abroad so remember to drive on the right hand side of the road. This can be quite daunting but you soon get used to it.
- Headlight converter Whilst driving on the right your headlights will be shining directly at oncoming cars, so a stick -on kit bought from most car accessory shops will stop you from being a target of abuse from dazzled French drivers.
- Warning triangle You are required to carry a warning triangle in case of breakdown.
- GB sticker This must be displayed at all times.
- Insurance Your car insurance may not be valid in France, so call well beforehand to find out, and if it isn’t covered, a small fee may be charged to amend the policy accordingly.
- Car breakdown cover This may seem like a luxury but I assure you it is an essential item. I have had friends breakdown in France without cover and they have been charged hundreds of pounds to fix their car, when a small outlay for insurance would have saved not only a lot of money but also time. If you intend to travel to Europe more than once a year, you may benefit from annual cover.
- Personal Health Insurance Lastly in this section is travel insurance. Again I would advise this, and companies such as Angling Lines will be able to help. Also a quick visit to your local Post Office allows you to get an E111 medical cover leaflet (free of charge) and this will entitle you to some limited medical cover in France.
Lastly just a couple of items that you will have thought of … but here is a quick reminder;
- Camera Don’t forget camera and spare films (I forgot mine on a recent trip and had to put a PB Koi and Mirror back in the water without recording it for prosperity so check it off that list). Take spare batteries for the camera, alarms and lighting. Some of the smaller French villages only have a small general store and do not have a large selection of batteries.
- First aid kit This last item I feel is very important. A first aid kit is essential. It does not have to be as well stocked as a doctors bag, but should have plasters, bandages, headache tablets, antiseptic cream and in my case hangover cure!
Well I hope that this has helped … even if only a little. A trip to France may take a lot of planning, but trust me it is worth it. If your trip runs smoothly, and you end up slipping your net under a fish the size of a small dog, you will want to do it every year. So take some time to organise everything properly.