The Session of a Lifetime at Villefond

A simply incredible 24hrs of carp fishing on Villefond lake. A run of huge carp for lake owner Mark which saw 50’s, 60’s and an 80lber on the bank. Watch the full session video below.

The most unbelievably lucky 24 hours of fishing. That’s the best way I can start to describe what just happened to me. I always dreamt of a 50lb carp, as I told myself that was a respectable personal best that if I never beat I’d still be happy.

My first carp over 50lb was a common at 55lb 4oz that stood as my common carp personal best until now. Over the years I have had hundreds of really big carp and my mirror personal best stood at 76lb, until now…

8 acre Villefond lake

Ready and confident of more big fish, I decided to fish my own lake, Villefond, with my dogs this April – due to Covid-19, we were unable to welcome anglers at the time so it gave me an opportunity to fish the lake on a week that looked prime for good results. I decided 3 nights would would be ample time to enjoy the lake and catch several big carp for a short video blog to promote our lake (you can watch the finished video of this session below).

Alone, confident, experienced and sure in my abilities with catching big carp I was walking into the most amazing 24 hours and a humbling experience.

Before I set up my gear, I was struck by the beauty of the lake, the plants were all flowering in the spring sun and the birds were singing their lungs out. Seeds falling from the trees made it seem like it was almost snowing in the blistering sun. I took pictures and video of the scenery.

Before my rods were out I sat down to quickly film my very amateur blog videos on my phone. I sat and talked through my plans, my rigs and even included the two fish I wanted the most.

I mentioned our biggest resident male fish called Arnold who I hoped would be over 80lb now and then I mentioned a common carp I would love to catch. This common had been out around 58lb a couple of years ago and every session since I had been desperate to catch it. Our lake is becoming increasing popular and my chances to fish were normally only in the cold and wet of winter. This common, called the ‘scared common’ had only been caught a couple of times since that capture at 58lb and it was always after spawning at a spawned out weight, so I hoped it would be over 60lb at the right time of year, this time of year.

The view to the right of the cabin swim

I always fish two rods only and I made videos showing my rigs and bait. Chick pea and sweetcorn was my bait of choice, half a tin of each on both spots.

My two spots were either end of the island, that is about 60 -70 yards from the cabin swim in the shallow end of the the lake.

My rigs in brief were size 8 kurve shanks, about 5 inches in length and attached to a 3oz inline lead. Chick pea and sweetcorn was on my hook in a style adapted to how our really smart big carp feed, something I continually work on and adapt over the years.

So the scene is set, my rods out, the lake is a paradise, I’m confident but about to be knocked off my perch in the best possible way.

It begins after about 4 hours, the right hand island spot tears off and I connect to a heavy weight and then it stops fast. In the middle of the lake between me and the island I know there are no snags so it’s holding bottom. I know the big carp do this and I ring my dad to come down to the bank and help me with this fish.

It’s about 17:00, the sun is out so perfect for pictures and he the comes down to help. This fish sits still for so long I start to wonder if a branch fell in and he was actually in a snag but my experience told me not to try and bully him and just to wait. Sure enough he eventually moved off and the fight continued. The huge amount of seed that had settled on the water from the trees was collecting on my line and getting stuck in my reel and the eyes on my rod.

It made fighting very difficult and I was trying to carefully pull it off or shake the big clumps through my rod eyes, I was very worried that this added serious problem would cost me a fish.

After 40 plus minutes of long runs and moments of holding bottom and battling the clumps of seed on my line, I finally slid my net under a huge mirror carp.

58lb 8oz

So excited I was to pose for pictures with a stunning 58lb 8oz mirror in beautiful sunlight. Giddy like a child I put him back. Over the moon with my start, I got my rod back out and my dad returned to the house.

About an hour after that fish the left hand island rod exploded into life. My reel nearly burst into flames as the fish did what no fish before had done and swam away from me and around the island at blistering speed – I couldn’t stop it. I went into full panic mode as I realised I need my boat and I had to put the rod down. As I heard line stripping at a rate I couldn’t believe I grabbed my net, phone and got my boat. The run made me think could this be our resident 100+ lb catfish?! On chick pea?!

In the boat I reeled myself to the island where I saw my line was going around some low hanging branches. I snapped branches and untangled line before I reconnected to the fish who was now right in the deep end of the lake . I panicked knowing landing this alone in a tiny boat would be hard and rang my dad for help once again!

I got my camera phone out and actually caught the first moment the carp rose to the top and I recognised the fish – Arnold, the lakes largest male and the fish I had dreamed of catching.

The first glimpse of Arnold

In the clear April water I saw I was hooked into something dreams were made of and the pressure was on. I eventually brought him up and slid my net under him and I was in shock. I couldn’t believe I had done it, I was beyond lucky.

In my tiny boat with my net, rods and towing a monster carp I slowly struggled to the nearest swim where my dad was now waiting with the scales and sling. As I looked at the enormous carp I thought I could just ride him to shore like Poseidon! Haha

The two of us struggled lifting him from the water and we laughed at my luck. My scales read 80lb 2oz.

80lb 2oz

We made some films and took pictures and I struggled to lift the mammoth fish. We quickly lifted it into the lake for a final farewell. The width and it’s proportions were hard to take in, that one fish out of all the ones in the lake had taken my bait, it didn’t seem real. I joked I had just completed fishing!

Normally after such a crazy success I go home and enjoy the moment, but I was geared up for the night so I decided to press my luck. The fish had destroyed my line, stretched and covered in more of that seed, so I stripped the line and reassembled my rod.

Whilst I did we discussed how I was so lucky and we dared to talk about imagining if I went on to have the ‘scared common’ now. My dad told me about his dream he had the weekend before how he caught both Arnold and the scared common.

Both rods out before he left my right had rod went again and I went the other extreme and caught one of our smallest residents, a Villefond baby of around 13lb. I quickly got both rods out and settled down for the night.

12 o’clock my right island spot exploded into life, I stumbled around getting out the cabin as my bite alarm screamed at me for all it was worth. I was into a big fish again as I couldn’t stop it and it was holding bottom again. Luckily the seed on the surface had blown up the other side of the lake. About 40 minutes later I was winning and I saw a glimpse in the light of my head torch of a very large mirror I thought. I turned the fish again at the surface and saw it was a large common! I ran through the commons in my head wondering which one it might be at this size. I saw no scar on its flank in the water as it stirred up the bottom. I slid my net under it and stood over shining my torch at this massive common when it turned and I saw the old scar that gave it its name! I didn’t believe it.

I rang my dad again haha he answered and I asked, “in an ideal world what fish is in my net right now?” He replied “the scared common” I laughed like a mad clown as I said yes would you believe it.

Soon we were both bankside and in awe at the size of this common, as he went to exactly 60lb on the scales. It was surreal, we couldn’t believe my luck as my dad told me how I had just done what he had dreamt he’d done a few days before.

60lb

Pictures never do these fish justice and other than stupid giddy giggles I wasn’t able to articulate how I was feeling. My dogs were, this entire time, distinctly unimpressed though and only ready to join in my happiness if it meant food was being distributed in their direction.

Dad left for home and once again my rod was in need of attention before being re deployed so it was left out for the night. I was sore, all my clothes including my spares were wet and I hoped just for a quiet night sleep now as I’m sure did my dad! Haha.

At 3:30 the remaining rod went and it was a big fish again. After about 20 minutes of hard fighting the fish turned a funny angle and the line suddenly went slack, the dreaded feeling, the fish was gone and the hook had pulled. Exhausted I left that rod out and got some sleep.

It wasn’t until about 11.30 the next day I got my rods back out with a change. I decided to put one on Zander as we had stocked them to over 13lb a few years ago and they have never been caught.

Carp fishing has never been about numbers for me and I could have kept hauling on two rods but I felt like I had been spoilt already I was so grateful. I baited up both spots on the island though and planned to alternate if I caught any more carp, starting on the left hand side. All was quiet for a few hours then at about 19:00 that rod went and I felt this fish didn’t have the weight of the others but was willing to give a good account of itself.

I landed him and photographed a lovely 38lb mirror then slid him back.

38lb

I moved my rod to the right hand side of the island and baited up both again. About 21:00 it was still light and the right hand rod exploded and line tore off at a rate almost similar to Arnold and again it did what they never do and went away towards the deep and I could do nothing. Again I laid the rod down while I got the boat and listened to the reel screaming at me. I saw the fish had again taken me through a branch by the island, as I reeled the boat toward the island I wasn’t sure I would get the fish this time. I rang dad just incase.

I untangled my line and saw the fish had kited right, straight to the far margins and was in branches there already, unbelievably it had covered 100’s of yards in moments and was in more branches. I eventually got to the far margin where this smart fish knew he wanted to conduct this battle.

Through branches in a flimsy boat I snapped and untangled until I was in contact with the fish. I propped one formerly under water branch up on my boat so he couldn’t tangle me in that, which also served to hold me in place. My boat was too small to accommodate everything so my rod was in the lake and I was hand lining this fish. My saving grace was the fish was too big to get around the smaller branches. For around 20 minutes I pulled the fish by hand to the edge of the branches before he would tear back inside.

My line covered in birds nests and branches in the boat I knew unless I could get him out I could not get my net in the water. He knew in the branches he was winning. This up close hand battle enabled me to see he was another massive carp. My dad watched for the bank just over a few meters away, helpless.

I knew I wasn’t likely to win this fight but then, after so long, he made a mistake and broke for open water. Under the boat he went, I dropped the branches off and untangled my line, passed my rod under the boat and I was back in with a chance. As he towed me around I still had damaged line and big clusters of knots in my line making it very hard to real line in. I knew I still needed my luck in no small measure.

I couldn’t seem to miss this trip though and my luck held out and finally after the craziest fight I netted him. A struggle to the nearest swim there was no more words to describe this.

55lb 10oz

Weighing in at 55lb 10oz, once again we couldn’t believe it. That was it, soaking wet, sore, body and fishing gear beaten up, luck pushed, happiest fisherman alive I decided to call it there.

I will tell this story for the rest of my years and I know I will probably never even come close to the drama and crazy highs again. I always say there is a large part luck in fishing and I have always been lucky. However that (just over) 24 hour period reminded me more than ever that we have no control over much of what goes on.

I did what gamblers don’t do, I left the table while on a winning streak. Unbelievable.

Mark Lambert

Find out more about Villefond and book your holiday here – Carp Fishing in France

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