Simon Walker spent a week at Villereal in April 2019, here’s his report on the trip…
Every year my closest fishing pals and I like to book a week away to France. This year we were lucky enough to be asked to fish a lake called Villereal in the south of France.
Our date was set and it seemed an eternity before we were packing the van with all our gear, some more gear, and everything else we had forgotten in between. Our chosen port was Portsmouth and one lumpy overnight ferry journey later we were in St Malo, France.
Villereal is in the Bordeaux region of France, not too far from Bergerac, so an easy 7 hours drive from the port but that did not worry us as the toll roads make the journey down that bit easier. It is worth mentioning the lake also do a free airport transfer if you wish to fly instead (tackle etc can be hired at the venue).
We arrived at the lake after numerous stops(!) to be greeted by Martin and his partner Andi who were very welcoming and offered us refreshments of our choice. They showed us our lodge/apartment which would be ours for the duration of our stay. This consisted of two bedrooms (one with bunks), a lovely modern shower room with walk in shower, toilet, sink unit with plenty of drawers, a lovely well equipped open plan kitchen/dinning living area and information packs of the local town which is a five minute walk away.
There is also a DVD player with Korda TFG, Fox DVDs if you wish to watch which we thought was a nice touch. Plenty of sockets to charge devices – bait boats etc. A fully equipped kitchen with a microwave, kettle, other utensils and a big chest freezer for all your bait.
After a nice cup of tea the lake beckoned us so off we all went to see our home for the next seven days and we were not disappointed, the lake was a lovely blue/green colour and beautiful to just look at, we even spotted fish topping within minutes as if they themselves were greeting us! We all turned to each other with the biggest smiles on our faces and could not wait to get set up and get amongst some Villereal carp. Martin was very informative about each swim on the lake, telling us which areas hold fish and which spots to try. After much discussion we had picked our swims, but decided not to fish the night as we were all tired from our journey and the sun was setting ever so fast. A good night’s sleep was in order ready to be up early for first light.
The mornings at Villereal are stunning, the birdsong feels like you are in a tropical country and the lake mist rising gently into the air is breath taking. Our group of 3 opted for the food package so breakfast and evening meal was to be had everyday. Martin is very flexible with times and asked us when we would like each meal. Before long we were tucking in to what I can only describe as one of the biggest breakfasts I have ever eaten. You will not go hungry at this venue and the food is amazing and of a very high standard. Martin certainly knows how to cook. If you wish to eat on the bank Martin will also deliver your dinner or breakfast to your swim.
Bivvys up and rods cast to our spots, we were all fishing. Feature wise the lake is very uniformed and silty and depths range from 3ft on top of a small bar in front of swim 3 (double swim) to 8-9 ft towards the sunken tree in the right hand corner of the lake, swim 4. There is no plateau that we could find casting out our marker floats and leading around just a small bar as mentioned in front of swim 3.
I thought Margin fishing at this venue was the best option so after a quick move to another swim which had better opportunities and all three rods to margin spots I was into my first Villereal carp, a very hard scrapping Mirror of 21lb.
It’s worth mentioning the Poisson Chat, yes at the moment they are in the lake (like most venues in France) and yes you will catch them, but they are being actively managed. Our party of three had about 20 between us but it did in no way affect our fishing, and the last 3/4 days of our trip we did not catch any. I would suggest taking more particles like hemp corn party mix etc with big boilies in the mix. Martin sells parti mix at the venue if you do not wish to bring your own, and will even bring it to your swim. There is an abundance of plastic hookbait options like corn, Korda Dumbbells, Maize etc which all worked for us as well as pop ups, wafters and wrapped boilies. Martin mentioned to us there was some big bass in the lake which eat all the small Poisson Chat, I personally saw 3 when rowing amongst the snags so once the venue is fished more and the bigger ones are humanly dispatched they will no longer be a problem. As said the last three days of our trip we did not catch any.
As we settled down and tuned into the lake the fish graced the bank ever more frequently with all of us having landed fish into the high 30s mostly mirrors with a few commons thrown in the mix.
Rigs were kept simple size 4s curve shank Ronnies to either boom or fluro sections or d rigs. The thinking behind this was we wanted rigs that would reset themselves, so if nuisance fish did pick them up in the night we knew that they would still be fishing.
By Wednesday the sun was shining and it was hot, I sat down in my chair for the first time in hours. As my eye lids grew heavy and a snooze was imminent my middle rod melted away. It was a tricky one as I had to persuade the fish to swim into the middle of the lake – I had a sunken tree to my right and fishing the far margin behind the tree the fish could have easily kited round the back and snagged me right up. Luckily she played ball and once into open water I could relax a little but new it was something a bit better as the slow nod of the rod tip told me it wasn’t a feisty 20lb mirror.
As she got closer and rolled I knew it was one of the big plated mirrors. My friend Mark did the honours of slipping the net under her and once on the scales she went 62.8lb – a new PB for me and I fish I had been waiting a lifetime to catch. The smile on my face said it all.
It was what we all talked about the days before as the last two trips with Angling Lines my two good friends Andy and Mark had each been luckily enough to catch one of the ‘A Team’. So my capture was such a great feeling for us all. Three trips away and three big fish over 60lb each, not bad at all.
Over the course of the week we managed 29 fish between us. So all I can say is that if you’re after beautiful surroundings, a stunning lake, filling grub, clean facilities and mega fishing, Villereal is the place for you.
Find out more about the lake here – French Carp Fishing
You can also watch the venue video which was created whilst Mark, Simon and Andy were at the lake below: