For this years holiday, I was again going to be joined by my brother David and two ex-workmates, father and son duo Garry and Matt Clarke. Now David and Matt very rarely go fishing and Garry doesn’t get out anywhere near as much as he would like. With this in mind, I wanted a venue which would offer the chance of a few ‘runs’ for everybody but where the fish still grew to a good size. If there were a few different species that would add a bit more interest, then so much the better. It was asking a lot to find all this in one venue, but after trawling through the Angling Lines website several times, I came up with Beaurepaire.
Reading through the feedback reports it looked to fulfill all the relevant criteria I was looking for and at around seven acres, it was the perfect size for four anglers, without being too big as to make it a bit daunting for guys who aren’t used to fishing. A nice added bonus was that the lake was so close to Calais (just over 2 hours), so that travelling would be made easier.
Studying the lake depth map on the website, it struck me that the lake was basically ‘two bowls’ seperated by the ‘spit’ and another small island.
It appears that most anglers fish from the ‘spit’ when it is above the water, but to me doing this would be to take away one of the main features in the lake. Far better I thought to fish in pairs, with one pair fishing the ‘near bank’ to the left of the facilities and the other pair fishing opposite them on the far bank. This would give each angler roughly a quarter of the lake each, whilst still giving each pair the chance to fish back towards the ‘spit’ or the small island if they wanted to.
After discussing this with the rest of the party, the other guys agreed with me, so this is how we approached the venue. Garry and Matt fished the facilities side (as their camper van was slightly too big to drive all the way around the lake), whilst David and myself bivvied up directly opposite on the far bank.
Bait choice was not a problem, as the Quest Baits Rahja Spice has never let me down on any of my French Trips. I took 25kg of Rahja Spice in 10 and 15mm and 15kg of Magnum White in 10 and 15mm. Added to this I took 25kg of carp pellets and 25kg of pigeon conditioner. This would be plenty for David and myself for a week. Garry and Matt had the same pellets and pigeon conditioner but had with them a variety of boilies from Mainline etc.
Arriving at about lunchtime, I spent the afternoon plumbing the lake and marking the lines etc and didn’t actually cast a bait in until about 7pm. I opted to fish two of my rods on a baited area back towards the ‘spit’ at the ‘start of the bowl’ (about 20 yards short of the spit) in about 7 feet of water. The other rod was fished up to the left hand corner (just to show the importance of location, even on quite prolific waters, this rod never produced a bite for 3 days, until I moved it to the right of my baited area!)
I set David’s rods up in a similar fashion with 2 rods in about 7 feet of water well short of the small island, and the right hand rod in a deep margin of about 9 feet to the right of the swim. The weather was cold with very high pressure, bright blue sky and a cold Northerly wind pushing straight into our faces, with the forecast of a cold frosty night I kept the baiting to a very light level and only put about fifty baits around each rod to start with.
Nothing happened on the first night and I had my first fish, a grass carp of 17lb, at teatime on Sunday. This was quickly followed by a 20 plus common to David on a rod fished in the shallower water closer to the island (about 4ft deep), so things were starting to pick up. Meanwhile Matt had kicked things off with a P.B. Catfish of 50lb 8oz.
There were numbers of carp showing at the facilities end of the lake, but absolutely nothing on our side of the lake. This was to become the story of the week.
The forecast proved to be right with a bright clear sky and a heavy dew, followed by a frost as soon as it got dark. At around 1.30am my ‘baited area’ started to come to life and in the next few hours, produced a 35lb 12oz mirror, a 8lb bream, a 19lb common and a 36lb 10oz mirror. All fish falling to the Rahja Spice.
We never had another bite on Monday until David had a cracking Grass Carp of 34lbs shortly after tea time.
In fact it was 36 hours before I had another bite (late Tuesday night) and I have to admit to getting a bit dispondent, as I hadn’t seen a single fish at our end of the lake and we were seeing lots of carp at the other end of the lake. Garry and Matt had now had 9 or 10 carp between them. It was as though somebody had drawn a line across the lake and the carp weren’t prepared to cross it. Tuesday the weather changed and the pressure dropped, bringing with it a really heavy thunder storm that rolled around the valley for hours but brought me a couple of 30’s during it.
The change in the weather brought about a change in our fortunes as my baited area kicked off again at about 1.30am and produced mirrors of 45lb 10oz, 26lb, 36lb 10oz and a catfish of 48lb 12oz in the next 6 hours or so. I ‘spombed’ out 4 spomb fulls of boilies after each capture.
David chipped in with a P.B bream of 11lb. Wednesday evening brought me fish of 32lb, 41lb 4oz and a 42lb male (all mirrors) whereas in the early hours of Thursday morning David topped his week off with a lovely 43lb 12oz Mirror.
We caught consistently for the rest of the week (10 runs on the last night!) but I can honestly say, I never saw a single carp in my swim until Friday evening. I would say that 90 % of the carp were spending the daylight hours at the facilities end of the lake and only started to move up to our end from around 8pm onwards (it was always the rod fished furthest out that went first). The only thing that I could put this down to was the masses of daphnia -also called “water fleas”- that was present in the facilities end of the lake. The wind changed to a southerly on Tuesday and so kept it down there.
I have probably fished around 25 different venues in France during the last 15 years and I would have to say that Beaurepaire would be up there with the best of them. It is in a lovely quiet location, has plenty of good fish which are getting bigger all the time (averaging over 30lbs), is easy to find and is run by nice friendly people who just leave you to get on with the fishing.
For the record the groups catch report reads as follows:
- Matt Clarke – 3 carp to 35lbs, 3 catfish to 50lb 8oz and 1 grass carp.
- Garry Clarke – 16 carp (7 x 30lb+) up to 41lb 4oz, 2 grass carp to 29lb 2oz, 1 small cat and 1 bream.
- David Gillett – 4 carp to 43lb 12oz, 2 grass carp to 34lb and 2 bream to 11lbs.
- Pat Gillett – 20 carp (15 x 30lbs+) with 3 forties up to 45lb 10oz, 6 bream to 10lbs+, 1 catfish of 48lb 12oz and 1 grass carp.
All my fish came to Quest Baits Rahja Spice and most of David’s came to the Magnum White. I gave Garry and Matt a couple of kg of the Magnum White to try and I believe most of their bigger fish fell to this bait.
Although I ended up with a good catch for the week, I was left to wonder how many fish I would have caught if I had had carp in my area in the daytime. This would have made the fishing much easier also, as I could have rested the swim and slept at night. I have to admit that after having so many runs between myself and David and not really getting any sleep, by the end of the week I was absolutely shattered and in fact it took me a good few days to get over the lack of sleep.
Rig wise, I used a combi-link made from 19lb Seaguar Flourocarbon and 25lb Kryston Supersilk tied KD style to size 6 and 7 curve shank hooks.
If you are interested in history (especially with this being the 100 year anniversary of the start of the First World War), Pontavert is in a very ‘important’ area of First World War battles. Matt took his bike out for a ride during the week and came across such things has First World War Trenches and other interesting artifacts. The lake itself is sited right next to a First World War memorial for over 5000 British and French Soldiers. This is immaculately kept and is very humbling to see.
So if you fancy a nice quiet lake with plenty of hard fighting carp of an excellent average size with a lot of local history, then give Beaurepaire a go.
For more information on Beaurepaire follow the link – Angling Holidays