We asked Matt Linstead to give us an account of his memorable fishing trip to 19-acre Etang du Furet this year, which culminated in two impressive 50lb+ carp…
During the late summer of 2016 Angling Lines contacted my brother, Mike Linstead, to inform us of a new venue that they were taking on their books- Etang du Furet. They wanted us visit the lake as part of the filming projects we do for them.
This venue instantly got my fishing brain ticking. Being around 20 acres in size, shallow across most of the lake and with a reported stock of around 230 carp, many of which are over the thirty and forty-pound mark there is lots of potential to work with, this venue ticks all my boxes.
Fast forward to February 2017 and out of the blue Mike dropped me a text saying, “Furet is on, call me to set the date”.
I cannot explain the buzz I get when visiting new venues, I love the new puzzle that is in front of me, I relish the fresh challenge and the test on my angling ability that it brings. Yes, research can be done to build an idea of what lies ahead but there is nothing like first-hand experience to get the true feeling of the place.
If there is one piece of advice I could offer to any one reading this, do your research on your chosen venue but keep an open mind on what you find. The main things I want to find out are the size of the venue, stock levels of the carp / average size and other species present – silvers, crayfish etc. In terms of other angler’s results and tactics I am very cautious of how others have done before me.
I have tried and tested methods in my armoury that I can take to low stock big lakes right through to small intimate venues with tricky carp that I know will work. I do tweak these a little once at my chosen venue to suit but I am a big believer in being consistent in what you do and my results will be consistent.
The Preparation Game…
After my research on the venue was done it was time to get the wheels in motion gearing up for a May trip. I always take plenty of time preparing my gear and bait well in advance.
For me this is all part of the fun, it has always stood me in good stead and usually my results show with the effort that goes into the build-up to any session. Extra attention is always given to my rig and bait prep.
Driving in France for me is a joy. We headed to the lake via the Eurotunnel, we had around five and half hours on the road ahead of us. The time soon flew by with plenty of fishing related chat plus a few “Old Skool” tunes (sorry Mike), on these stress-free roads we were soon within touching distance of Furet.
There is a Intermarche about six miles from the lake so a quick stop off for some supplies, then we were on the last leg of our journey. The lake is very easy to find and we soon found ourselves stood at the water’s edge taking in what was in front of us.
Owner Guillaume greeted us on our arrival, showing us around the facilities available, as well as sorting out some bait which I had ordered from him. I have chosen to let Guillaume sort my particles out for this trip which I was told were made fresh to order. To my delight while he was showing us the fridge and bait freezer, I could firstly smell then see a fresh batch of maize simmering away on the hot ring.
I never let the previous weeks angling effect my thinking too much. Apparently, the lake was fishing slow with the anglers in the swims that me and Mike had booked only taking a couple of fish each.
Now I always consider this a bonus as its more fish that need to feed and catch if approached correctly. It was still Mid May at this point the fish currently hadn’t spawned and with high day time temperatures the only reason I could see that they hadn’t was because they need to build their carbs up.
Putting the Game Plan into action…
Now the previous winter had been really dry and the lake’s water level reflected this, but this is a common theme for the French style dams and reservoirs. With a little thought plus care with the bait application the water level would be no issue whatsoever.
Mike and I quickly decided who was in which swim with Mike opting for the bay and myself favouring the open water plus part of the entrance of the bay.
I decided to get two spots working, one on the far margin to the mouth of the bay and the other out in open water where the lake gradually deepened off from an average of around two and a half feet to four feet. The bottom here was predominantly silty in its makeup. The open water spot was perfect for a potential hit of fish, being able to capitalize on the fish moving in and out of the bay to my left.
The far margin spot I decided to fish with purely maize, application was easy I would simply walk around to the far bank and wade to the spot and spread maize along the margin with the hope of picking anything up that was traveling around the far bank.
The second spot was a different animal. I intended to spread boilies out across a large area, but with the lake being quite shallow the only option for the bait application was with the throwing stick which required a lot more effort.
I thought that using the spod/spomb at this point would have been the kiss of death. This turned out to be a correct when I observed some of the other anglers results on the lake later in the week.
The Plan was to go in quite heavy with the boilies, purely based on the fish not having spawned at the time plus the stock level of big fish. I gave the spot an initial hit of six kg of 20mm Sticky Baits “Vortex” and “Krill”, two baits that have caught well for me on every venue I have taken them to. I presented 16mm pop-up’s over the top and waited to see what would unfold.
First Fish and a quick change…
After getting all the rods and the camp sorted I needed some rest after a long day at work on the Friday plus the drive down to the lake. Within three hours my alarm for my right-hand rod sounded to my surprise, which had me quickly jumping from my bed to hitting into potentially my first carp from Furet.
I quickly realised this was our green friend MR tench, who had quickly homed in on the baited area. I am always quite pleased to get an early bite be it carp or tench, firstly it means my presentation is right and secondly how I applied the bait was correct. Plus, I always say if you’re catching tench then the carp won’t be far behind that’s for sure.
A quick change was made to the two rods fishing the open water boilie spot. I dropped the 16mm pop-ups and replaced them for some homemade 20mm cork ball pop-ups which I hoped the tench would find too big a mouthful. Now I know some will think 20mm pop up, wow that’s a bit blatant. I have never personally found this to be the case when baiting heavily in this way and have at times gone up to 24mm pop-ups!
After the initial tench the evening passed quietly by, enjoying a bank side meal and a cold beer with Mike while celebrating my new promotion at work watching the odd carp’s dorsal fin break the surface, it was a pleasant evening soaking in the buzz of the lake.
My mind was full of “what ifs”, because I knew there was the potential of hooking one of the lakes bigger residents – a goal of mine for some time had been to catch a 50lb plus carp and on Furet I knew there was a good chance if I angled well. It was soon time to hit the bedchair and catch some ZZZ’s.
Early Wake Up…
There is something magic about that first night and first take from a new venue. Going to bed full of the excitement and then the madness of that first take while you are fast asleep. At around 5am my alarm burst into life and I knew this was no tench.
“Get In” my first carp on from Furet, I was quickly into the chest waders as the very shallow margins required me to wade around twenty yards out to safely net my quarry.
My first carp from the lake didn’t let me down, it really gave me the run around making me work for every inch of line gained, this set the bench mark for the fighting quality of the carp in the lake. After about a fifteen minute battle I was slipping the net under a sizeable carp.
Once on the mat it became apparent for the fighting quality the rudder and pecks on this fish were huge and with a solid frame to back it up I had a beautiful carp to get me off the mark. The fish was in immaculate condition with a near perfect mouth. On the scales, it went 33.03lb which left me very pleased indeed.
After a quick piece to camera for the Angling Lines film, I was soon sat enjoying a cup of tea and a croissant for breakfast chuffed to bits with opening my Furet account.
The morning seemed to roll by with the odd fish showing as the morning temperatures started to climb. By lunch time on the Sunday the temperatures had reached 28c which saw most of the carp heading for the two bays to soak up the daytime sun rays in the shallows.
After a quiet afternoon and with the evening quickly drawing in the temperatures started to cool and the fish started to move from the bays. Surely a bite was on the cards.
A Night Time Surprise…
Mike and I had been sat since dinner watching the evening turn to night, both soaking in the atmosphere while watching and then listening to the carp show.
At 11pm I had a drop back bite on the long-range rod fished on the maize to the far margin, as I went to the rod I happened to comment it may be a tench due to the small hook bait of maize.
Then as I wound down, the line tightened up and it became apparent that it was a carp and a good one at that. So, I was straight into the waders ready to head out to the safe landing point I had marked out, meanwhile Mike had gone to get into his waders as well as grab the net.
There is something special about standing in the lake late at night playing a fish, especially in rural France as you get very little city light bleeding into the sky line, so you get these intense black skies with thousands of stars which adds to the moment.
By the time Mike joined me with the net I was a good five minutes into the battle, the fish moving through a lot of water with large powerful surges.
After years of fishing together Mike knows that when I am quiet playing a fish it’s a good one and this was one of those moments. Around ten minutes later, with the fish finally starting to play ball and head my way, it broke the surface and in the red light from my head lamp we could see it was a large mirror, the width across the back was unreal.
Mike moved towards the wallowing fish and had to take two goes at getting the fish in the net. He turned and said, “that’s no tench” referring to my earlier comment.
Once we went to get the fish out of the water, ready for unhooking, weighing and photos, it became apparent the true size of the fish which we both guessed at over fifty pounds.
On the scales, we both settled on 52.05. A new PB for me. Not something that happens much these days and an angling goal completed so early into our trip. With the photos done we settled down again with a cold beer to celebrate my achievement, both buzzing at what we had witnessed.
The rest of the night passed quietly by until the morning light broke through. What followed was a flurry of action with firstly a small common, backed up with mirrors of 37lb, 27.01lb, plus another common of 36.10lb. I did lose one other fish.
The plan was well and truly coming together, by late morning the signs of the fish feeding had slowed on my main area but with the run of fish I’d just had I was very pleased.
Now, I made a tactical decision. I had fished solid since arriving on the Saturday morning, I had caught several great fish. But I am always very cautious of over doing a spot. The day time temperatures were reaching over 29c again, plus the fact the lake was fully booked so there was a lot of line pressure on the lake. The fish were just milling around the surface soaking up the sun rays.
I decided to bring the rods in, to rest the swim and continue this tactic for each of the days I had left at Furet. So, the plan would be reel in at noon each day then bait the open water with around five kg of boilies, using throwing stick to help keep the disturbance down to a minimum, then wait to cast out at 7pm.
This allowed the fish to move around my swim with complete freedom. This is a tried and tested tactic that has paid off on several occasions where there are pressured fish. The results speak for themselves.
On A Roll…
So, the evening came and right on cue the fish moved in and I followed up my previous captures with mirrors of 28lb, 24.03lb, 27.03lb, plus a further loss through the night and the following morning.
The spot was well and truly rocking, all the prep work beforehand was paying off. The pressure of delivering for the Angling Lines video was off, we had plenty of footage to make our film so I could pleasure fish now. I followed the same rest and bait tactic.
The day was another hot one with most of the carp heading in to the two bays again I just relaxed and prepared for the evening.
Tuesday evening soon drew in and right on cue the Furet carp put on a serious show where I had baited, Mike and I sat eating the evening meal in awe at the show the carp put on.
It was surely a matter of time till one of the rods was away. Then right on cue the left-hand rod burst into life, it was clear the moment I picked the rod up that I had another of the monsters that reside in the lake with the rod hooped over the clutch steadily ticking away. The fish was pushing across the shallow bay, the sheer power again impressive, then just like that the hook just gave way and my heart sunk at what I had potentially lost. I can’t really explain what happened, I use strong reliable gear with efficient rigs. I must have just pricked the fish on the edge of the lips. It happens.
Feeling a little sorry for myself I quickly sorted the rod with a fresh rig then sent it back out into the lake to make up for the lost fish.
I had just got the kettle on when the middle rod burst into life so it was straight into the waders and out to the netting point. What followed was another furious battle with another powerful fish, Mike had decided to stay on dry land and get the camera gear ready, whilst I dealt with the fish myself.
As I got the better of the fish and managed to get it to take the all-important gulps of air it drew across the surface and straight over the net cord. At this point I was again blown away at the size of what had just hit the net. I love big commons and this was one indeed, I was pretty sure it would go at least mid-forties.
Once on the unhooking mat a large block of gold lay there. Mike did the honours with the scales going around to 51.06… I was completely blown away to get my second fifty of the trip.
After a celebration as you do with moments like these it was time to call it a night. I couldn’t sleep with the buzz that Furet had gifted me.
I just lay there listening to the fish crashing out over my area as well as listening to the nightingales singing away in the trees which reside around the lake. I followed up that night’s fifty with mirrors of 29lb, 25.01lb, 36.06lb and 27.06lb through the night until the mid-morning lull, as the day time temperatures raised.
Over the coming days I managed to land several more fish to over 36lb.
I had taken my foot off the gas slightly as I was running low on my bait supplies. This lake’s potential is bright for the future.
I would put Etang du Furet in my top three of French commercial venues I have visited, with its quality fish stocks both size and condition through to the well-spaced out and lush grass swims it is a well worth the drive across France. There is everything you need for the drive & survive angler.
The quality and price of the prepared particle is as good as I would have prepared myself and I saved a lot of valuable space in the car.
There are plenty of amenities close by for quick supplies as well as a larger shopping complex around fifteen minutes drive away.
Owner Guillaume is on hand to offer advice and speaks great English.
If you’re on the lookout for a venue for the individual or as part of a group where you want to experience some quality big carp fishing then Etang du Furet is a “must go” in my opinion.
If you use sound tactics and apply them well the lake will look after you.
Watch the venue video for Etang du Furet below…