As you begin to think about your trip this year, we thought it would be a good idea to recap on how to go about choosing the right venue. I have made quite a few trips to France over the last 15 years (1 to 3 times per year) and usually to different venues, with this experience I thought I would just outline a few points to make sure you get the most from your week away.
1 – Choice of Venue
This has got to be the most important decision to start with. If you are a relative newcomer to the sport then make sure you pick a water that will suit your angling ability. We all see pictures of monster carp on the internet and in the press and it is only human nature to want to catch the biggest fish. The reality is though that the waters with the biggest fish are very often the most pressured and would really suit the more experienced of anglers.
- Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because it is France that the carp will be easier to catch, this is definitely not the case, some of these fish see angling pressure 24/7 for many months of the year. With this in mind I would definitely recommend the runs type waters for any anglers first 3 or 4 trips to France. You will enjoy it a lot more if you are catching regularly and will soon ‘get a feel’ for fishing abroad. Lakes such as La Fonte, Jonchery 7 and Beaurepaire are great for this.
Also think about the size of the venue. If you are used to fishing relatively small waters in the UK then pick a similar size venue in France, such as Notaires, Lillypool or Bletiere. It’s no good picking one of the huge waters France has to offer if you’ve never fished a big water before. You need to remain in your ‘comfort zone’, to get the best out of your first few trips.
- Do you mind sharing the lake with anglers you don’t know? Personally I will always try and get an exclusive booking where possible. If you go with 3 or 4 like minded people then you know you are going to have a good time. Lakes such as Brie, Deux Iles or Barringtons are great for groups of this size. It’s worth paying a little extra for the privilege safe in the knowledge that you won’t have such things as ‘stroke pulling’ etc, whilst also leaving room for you to move about if required.
- How far do you want to travel in France? This is another big factor for a lot of people whilst choosing a French venue. Not everybody wants to travel loads of hours on foreign roads. The Angling Lines website is great for this, as each venue has the distance to the nearest ferry port, so you know exactly how far you need to go. Lakes such as Beaurepaire and Molyneux are only a couple of hours from the port.
Does the venue offer a food package? I’ve always gone self catering, but after having the food package at Molyneux a couple of years ago, I would choose this option every time if all lakes did it. You don’t have to take extra stuff for cooking purposes and if the weather is poor you haven’t got to worry about trying to cook outside in the rain or wind. A food package just makes everything so much easier!
- Research, research, research! Once you have chosen your venue, do as much research as you can. If it’s an Angling Lines venue, check all the feedback reports, latest news and venue articles. Then google the venue name and you will be surprised how many things you will find out on the various carp forums out there.
2 – What tackle do I need?
If you pick a similar type venue to the one you fish at home then your usual tackle should suffice. Therefore you haven’t got to spend any extra money. I would say rods with a minimum test curve of 2 3/4lbs and a reel with a decent sized spool carrying a good quality line of at least 12 breaking strain.
Always check to see if you will need such things as rod pods or stage stands (fishing on platforms), it’s no good turning up with just bank sticks if you can’t use them!
Make sure you check the venue rules to see if you need to take your own unhooking mats, weigh slings etc. Quite a few venues provide carp cradles now for each swim free of charge. Some venues state barbless hooks only, so you may need to make up some new rigs.
3 – What bait do I take?
Again I would take whatever bait you have been successful with in the UK. If you have confidence in the bait you are using then you will fish so much better. It’s no good taking something you are not familiar with as if you are struggling you will lose confidence in that ‘new bait’ and your fishing will definitely suffer.
Being part of the Quest Baits team, I obviously use their products. I have found their Rahja Spice to be a take anywhere bait and at any time of the year, it has always produced the goods. But saying that there are plenty of baits and bait companies to go at.
Check to see if the lake has poisson chat or crayfish present.
If it does you will want to take some plastic baits and such things as tiger nuts. Also look at the various methods of protecting your boilie hook baits (bait mesh etc). There is lots of information on the Angling Lines site on this subject, take a look at the section here – Combatting Poisson Chat and Crayfish
So there we are, a few thoughts on how I would go about choosing an holiday venue, I am sure the other bloggers will have plenty of other points to add.
Cheers, Pat Gillett
See all 32 French carp fishing lakes here.