It was the end of March and Jim Kelly and I were about to take on our first field testing trip of 2013. We were off to Northern France to fish a lake on a trial for Angling Lines.
With these first exploratory trips on a new lake, our purpose is to provide feedback to both to the owners and Angling Lines, with the prospects of the lake being taken on as a viable concern.
We not only take into account the fishing, but also the facilities provided and services provided such as meal packages etc. Prior to our arrival at the venue we were fully aware that the facilities were still under construction so we would be unable to comment on them. We had however arranged to have the meal package.
We were to concentrate on trying to get an idea of the stocking density of carp in the lake along with lake features and anglers swims.
We arrived in Calais around midday and made our way to the Normandy Region of Northern France with temperatures varying from 3 degrees to 8 degrees. During the journey we saw odd snow drifts scattered about the country side, remnants of heavy snowfall from the previous week. Around 5 miles from our destination we noticed the temperature dropping as we started to climb up hilled areas. By the time we reached the lake the whole area was still covered with around 4 inches of snow. Apparently we were 1000 feet above sea level and they earlier had between 6 and 8 inches of snow that very morning.
We couldn’t set up on the snow comfortably so the first night was spent in the comfort of the lake owners gite. A good hearty meal and we had an early night.
On the Sunday morning both Jim and I set about plumbing and leading the lake.
We found that the majority of the lake bottom was covered in meadow grass that had grown and died back. This was a result of the lake being drained last year for major work on the lake bed with the grass taking hold during the drying out period prior to the lake being re-filled. Depths ranged from 2 foot to 11 foot with the majority of the lake being over 3½ foot.
The recent snow along with the recent work on the lake had left three of the banks muddy and un-fishable so we had no choice but to set up camp on the West bank of the lake, now mostly snow free. Jim dropped onto the left of the bank where the deepest part of the lake was situated, giving him around 11 foot to play with.
I was further along the bank with depths of 6 to 3 foot available to me.
Jim put out single fluro pop ups on all three rods and cast them out into the deeper water and within the first couple of hours he had banked 3 low twenty pound mirror carp. I put out an assortment of pop ups and bottom baits but I could not buy a bite. The Easterly wind was chilling the water in front of me as well as freezing us both to the bones. The temperature dropped to -8C overnight and by Monday morning Jim had banked another 2 carp and I had managed to wheedle out a single carp.
As it came light I began a slow move to the more sheltered East bank. The temperature appeared to be around 5 or 6 degrees warmer than the other bank, this would do me for the week as long as that wind kept in the same direction.
Jim stayed with his deep water marks to freeze on the cold East and North Easterlies that were to hit us for the rest of the week.
On the East bank there was only one possible location to fish which was on a grassed slope with a muddy bank leading down to the water. My rods were at least 20 yards in front of me, this was the closest that I could bivvy up to them, but I was comfortable now and warmer.
I found an area in front of me around the size of a table tennis table that was totally clear of this dead grass. I decided to put out a bit of bait and spombed out about 150 boilies onto this area made up of Quality Baits 12 mil HG47 and 16mil HG42 Specials. I put 2 rods on this area, one with a critically balanced pop up and the other on a HG42 Special bottom bait.
I started to pick up the odd carp, re-baiting after each fish with 4 spombs of assorted boilies. This seemed to work, I was on the back of the cold wind in much warmer water and my baiting strategy was working. Jim had another 3 fish, taking his tally to 8 carp by Thursday Morning and I had managed 14 carp.
The forecast was for more snow and we had achieved what we had set out to do. Despite the poor weather conditions we had still caught 22 carp averaging low twenties. Not bad!
Our prognosis for the lake was that more time was needed for the banks to mature and that more swims should be constructed giving anglers access to all parts of the lake. The average size of the fish that we caught was around 21lb. The stocked fish ranged from 20lb to 40lb and no doubt the bigger fish were present but not feeding in the adverse conditions.
Plans for the facilities to be completed over the next month are in hand and I am sure that this lake, although presently not named, will be on the Angling Lines books in the near future.
Best of luck to the owners for the future who were excellent hosts and provided an excellent food package.
Angling Lines Field Tester
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