Angling Lines field tester Mike Linstead was sent on assignment to film one of the newest lakes in our collection for 2018, Augustin. Mike reports back on his experience of this eagerly anticipated new venue.
As a field tester and videographer for Angling Lines I am often sent to a range of different French carp fishing lakes and invariably I’m one of the first UK anglers on the water, so information can be somewhat limited.
Having been sent a few pictures of Augustin in the months leading up to my trip and being told on more than one occasion by more than one person in the Angling Lines team that the lake “will be right up your street”, I was keen to get my boots on the ground and get to work capturing on film why this has become one of the most eagerly anticipated lakes to which I’ve been sent.
Arriving on a glorious spring afternoon I was met by Guillaume Roussoulet, the man behind the operation. His reputation needs little introduction and his other lake Etang Du Furet, was the destination of an incredible filming trip for me a year previous.
Augustin is situated in the vast estate of Domaine De St Augustin, along with the other new venue, Forest Lodge.
These two lakes are hidden away in a private forest and once you enter through the security gates you are immediately plunged into dense woodland.
Driving deeper into the treeline it felt like the human world was being left far behind with every passing minute, especially when we had to stop the cars to allow a herd of some 50 or more fallow deer stream past us and melt away into the surrounding greenery.
It was an incredible introduction to Augustin so, as I started to see glimpses of the lake through the trees, my sense of anticipation was sky high.
The first look at a new water is always exciting and when we pulled up at the dam wall I was met with a breath-taking view.
Spring had well and truly exploded into life and the trees skirting the water were verdant and lush, with the brilliant iridescence of new spring growth.
After a quick show around with Guillaume, I was left alone to drink in the atmosphere.
A fresh south westerly wind rattled through the branches as cuckoo calls bounced across the water from each corner of the lake.
With a busy few days ahead of me I took the chance to sit and enjoy a few moments of the peace and tranquillity that Augustin offers.
The lake is a traditional style, shallow bays at the top of the lake give way to the gently sloping depths at the dam wall.
Despite its size (around 17 acres) there are only four swims on Augustin, two double and two single swims, which are well spaced to give plenty of water to fish from each.
I was to fish the single swim adjacent to the dam wall, into the deeper area of the lake.
Setting up in the warming afternoon sunshine was a relief from my recent angling back in England under the icy grip of winter that had long outstayed its welcome.
Given that I had a demanding filming schedule over the days to follow I was debating whether or not to cast out on that first evening.
However, as the afternoon melted into early evening I spotted a fish show just a short distance in front of me. After a second and then a third show in a space of a few minutes I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
A PVA bag with a single 18mm DNA Baits SLK boilie and crayfish mini mix pellets, injected with matching SLK liquid and hemp oil was flicked into the area of the showing fish, landing with a dull thud as the bait settled on the sandy clay lake bed.
I slept soundly that night, as I always tend to do on my first night out in the fresh air, but set my alarm clock to go off just before first light in order to be up and ready to spot any other signs of showing fish.
Having had an undisturbed night I sat with my first coffee of the day as the surroundings began to graduate from a jumble of greys to full colour. A single bleep on my alarm grabbed my attention away from the gently unfolding dawn.
Another bleep pierced the air and then another, which was my cue to scrabble into my boots as it was clear a fish had fallen to my delicately placed trap.
That first run on a new water is unlike anything else. Panic, excitement and anticipation all merge into one surge of adrenaline, muscle memory takes over as you see yourself bolt towards the rod, before reality snaps back into focus at the feeling of a very real and solid resistance on the end of the line.
The fight was frenetic from the first moment to the last. The fish jagged away in the half light, strafing the margin to my right and stripping line from the spool at a furious rate. The cagey and erratic fight was the hallmark of an experienced fighter and indeed it tried several tricks to stack the odds in its favour and give me the slip.
Despite my aching arm, I could feel the arm wrestle was gradually turning in my favour and moments later a wide-backed mirror carp breached the surface, momentarily lunging for a final time, before I was able to turn it towards the waiting net.
It was a solid fish, a shade over 32lbs on the scales, and was in a bullish and defiant mood as I captured the moment on film and fired off a few still images, before slipping my prize back to its home.
Capturing a lake on film is far more demanding than many people may appreciate and it can take hours and even days to piece together all the little details that make a place so atmospheric. With that in mind I knew I was unable to be tied to my spot during the daylight hours so found myself reeling my rods in at around 10am each morning in order to scout out and grasp the essence of this captivating lake.
Speaking to the two other pairs of anglers on the lake, they had arrived a day before me and all caught carp from the off, including a fish nearing 50lb.
For the days that followed I wandered around gathering footage of the lake, the forest and all the inhabitants, both on land and below the water line.
Dawn was a particularly spectacular time to watch the deer tentatively tiptoe to the water’s edge to drink, whilst dusk certainly was the best time to see the carp roll, as the breeze subsided and the ripples of a rolling carp were the only thing to break the lake’s glassy surface.
Despite the initial success from all anglers on the lake, as the week went on it was clear the fish weren’t entertaining the idea of providing us with too many more battles.
This inevitably happens (as it does back home) and only a handful of fish, one of which was a 54lb brute, made an appearance on the bank for the remainder of the week.
Invariably these were caught whilst I was away filming on Forest Lodge lake, which is frustrating when trying to film a promotional video! However, on the final evening I was fortunate to arrive back at Augustin in time to see my Belgian neighbours on the swim opposite me hooking into a fish.
Promptly legging it to their swim with as much filming gear as I was able to carry at such short notice, I was able to film the majority of the fight and witness a solid 41lb mirror slip over the net cord.
After releasing the fish I spent a few moments speaking to them about their experience of the place and it was clear they had been won over just as I had with Augustin.
It’s incredibly rare to find somewhere nowadays that can make you feel that genuine sense of solitude and peace. It’s an ever-decreasing commodity in our country, certainly as even the most tranquil of settings is often interrupted by the nearby sounds of the busy world we live in.
Augustin is very different. If it wasn’t for the odd vehicle passing through the forest from other anglers you really would feel like you’d stepped into an untouched wilderness.
The guys in the Angling Lines office were spot on, Augustin was quite simply “right up my street” and it was a real privilege to be asked to produce the film.
You can’t always predict how the fishing goes and sometimes the stars just don’t quite align. Perhaps the sudden late arrival of spring and rapid rise in temperature that threw the natures delicate balance momentarily out of kilter, but it’s only something on which I can speculate.
Since my return the lake has been producing some impressive looking specimens which makes me incredibly envious of anyone that has the prospect of spending a week hidden away on this jewel in the forest.
Find out more about the venue here – Carp Fishing in France at Augustin