Paul Cooper has just returned from a carp fishing trip to Alder, where an unusual approach really paid off….
This will be my second summer vacation to Alder Lakes, the last being in July 2012 where I banked 101 mirror carp. That particular week it averaged around 30C all week and every fish came out during daylight hours. However, French weather can never be predictable and the forth coming week’s weather proved just that, with daytime temperatures ranging from 36c down to 14c.
My fishing companion for the week was Paul Brooks, a good friend and fellow carp angler who is not new to the French carp angling scene. We arrived in France at midday Friday, travelling south past Paris to our first destination, a hotel in Nevers. At 6pm the temperature was 36C, little did we know that by the next afternoon we would be sitting with our cold wet gear on.
We arrived at Alder lake around 11am on the Saturday to be greeted once again by Chris and Stephanie Dagg, the lake owners. As I have visited the lake previously, I was fully aware of the lakes surroundings and features so off we set into the valley to once again fish this piece of French magic.
The catches on this 6 acre lake can be phenomenal as long as mother nature is on your side, but this was not to be. We decided to both fish off the dam wall down either side of the margins. Paul chose the right hand margins and I settled for the left.
The ground on the dam is made up of rocks covered with grass so despite my normal quiet approach we had to take to banging in the tent pegs with a mallet. Once all that commotion was over we got down to the fishing.
Tactics and fishing
I had with me 35 kilo of Quality Baits Squid and Orange boilies in 16mil and 5 kilo of CM60 in 18 mil. Paul had around 25 kilo of Quality Baits of HG42 boilies, so between us we could share out 65 kilo if needs be. We had no pellet or particle baits so it was boilies or nothing.
Out went my 3 rods along with a few kilo of boilies for starters. The temperature was around 16C, a drop of 20C from the previous day, this was not ideal. I have encountered temperature changes like this in the past with very negative results. There was a mist coming off the lake due to the water being that much warmer than the air and heavy rain was forecast.
Prior to arriving at the lake we had made a decision that we would be fishing days only so as to rest the lake at night, this giving the carp chance to feed uninterruptedly on our baits with all lines out of the water. This is a tactic that I have used numerous times in France with great success. We would draw all our rods in for meals, breakfast and lunch would be taken at the fishing hut and evening meal at the farm as previously arranged with Chris.
The heavy rain started around 5pm on the Saturday and lasted through to midday on the Sunday. Not a bleep off any of our rods.
Once the rain had stopped we both started to get a few runs, initially off grass carp and large roach, off came any pop ups, on went the bottom baits and in came the carp. I took 2 mirror carp and 2 grassies by Sunday evening, both mid twenties, with Paul taking just one grassie.
The skies cleared on Monday and the temperature shot back up to around 30c with the lake suddenly coming back too to life. We both started picking up carp but they were all grassies averaging around 20lb, good sport but not what we were aiming at. Lots of big carp were showing in the bays down the opposite end of the lake so a move was on the cards to fish the shallower bays.
Paul chose the right hand bay fishing the margins just off the overhanging far tree line and I fished the left hand bay by baiting up 2 areas at 48 yards and 64 yards, to see which would produce the best results.
2 rods on the 64 yard mark and one on the 48. All of the rods produced carp but the 48 yard mark rod was the most productive.
My big gamble
By Wednesday the storms arrived dropping the temperature once more to double figures. Fishing had been difficult so far with just the odd run for both myself and Paul, mostly off grass carp. There had to be a way to get the mirrors feeding.
You would think that more rods meant more fish but I had decided a different approach. Due to the vast variations in temperatures fishing was becoming difficult and the proper carp had gone off the feed. I needed a different approach to try and gain their confidence to feed.
I decided to reduce my rods to two and I started to get more runs. By Friday I had reduced down to 1 rod which I fished on the 48 yard mark. This worked. The runs came one after the other. The temperatures had plummeted again but I had encouraged carp to feed. I could let a hooked fish fight in my swim without worrying about catching the other lines and also all of my bait was concentrated in a very small area meaning more activity on my one and only bait.
I could not believe the difference that reducing the rods had made. Less line pressure and the bigger fish came in for a feast. I was spombing out my baits to the 48 yard mark and within minutes of 10 to 15 spombs hitting the water, I would get a run. It seemed the bigger carp were waiting for a mass feast. Paul remained with his 3 rods fishing in his same area but could not buy a bite. I had a queue of fish waiting for spombs and spombs of boilies.
I used almost 20 kilo of boilies in 3 days, mostly on one spot. Despite another massive drop in temperature, I banked a total of 30 mirror carp to 44lb 12oz with back up fish of 36lb 12oz and 34lb 8oz along with other carp on or around the 30lb mark. Another 17 grassies and our week was over.
After returning from our evening meal on the Friday the heavens opened and that was it for yet another fantastic week at Alder. In came the rods and we settled down for a social and good nights sleep in the fishing hut.
Over the week Paul managed to bank 10 mirror carp to 25lb along with 14 grassies.
I am sure that if I had not changed my tactics on Thursday I would have struggled to pick up those extra carp. It was a big gamble to do it but it paid off. The reasons behind this approach was to try and get some of the bigger fish to feel confident in entering my bay to feed. I had been getting a few liners and the reduced lines gave them the confidence to explore and feed. My baited area was tight, possibly the size of a small coffee table, and accurate casting was the key, with my baited area being over gravel in about 3 foot of water.
Alder lake has the potential of massive hits, however as with this week, mother nature can make fishing a little difficult, but with a bit of perseverance and guess work, I turned an average week into a successful one.
For more information on Alder follow the link – Carp Fishing in France
Got a question for Paul? Email firstname.lastname@example.org