How to Tackle Big French Carp Lakes


French carp fishing holidays, and in particular those provided by Angling Lines, seem to be heading towards the top end of the big carp waters in France. Bigger lakes, with lower stocking density, meaning bigger and better carp for the industrious angler.

This obviously means that we have to work just that bit harder to bank some of the huge specimens swimming in these big waters.

Over the past couple of years I have been involved in testing these huge waters to over 100 acres for Angling Lines, and for various reasons, not all are suitable for the commercial market. I have had some great results, but on just a few either swims, facilities or fish stocks have not been up to the standard that are required. These waters have fallen by the wayside for various reasons, however, some have been perfect and these are the ones that are now available to the potential Angling Lines customers.

big carp fishing at Castle Lake in France

Big carp fishing at Castle Lake in France

Waters such as Jonchery, Vaumigny, Brocard Large and Castle Lake to name but a few are all big fish waters in their own right, both in size and the huge specimens that swim in their depths. Tackling these waters  can be a little bit daunting if you are used to fishing smaller and more intimate waters. Smaller waters may have there own challenges, but when it comes to fishing vast expanses of open water, it can be an entirely different kettle of fish.


Lets take one of my most recent trips to Castle Lake

Castle Lake is around 42 acres with 19 swims available to fish from. In front of every swim is a huge amount of water, some of the swims have there own features, such as lily beds, reed lined margins, hard gravelled areas to soft or slightly silted lake beds.

carp fishing in france at Castle Lake

A partial view of Castle Lake from the top of the hill

Solid visual features are not always the best fish catching areas, as there can be unseen areas out in mid-water which hold huge quantities of natural food for the carp. To find these areas the first thing that I do is spend as much time possible observing the lake, anything up to 4 or 5 hours on the day of my arrival. More often than not the carp will show themselves over their feeding areas during this small time period. Once the fish have been located, I have to work out if I have the ability to cast to these spots, or as near to the spots as possible.


Now the work begins

I first of all decide on how big a feeding area I want to create and at what distance. I do not want to move into a swim and have the fish roving from one feeding table to another. I need to get them returning time after time back to my bait.

Big waters are just the same as the smaller ones in respect to the amount of bait that I will initially be introducing. I don’t fall into the trap of piling in the bait straight away, thinking that I can draw every fish in the lake towards my swim. This can be the kiss of death.

Caught from around 100 yards in open water from swim 8 at Castle Lake

Caught from around 100 yards in open water from swim 8 at Castle Lake

I start off by baiting with around 2 kilo of boilies for all three rods, which are spread over a tight area. Once the carp move onto the bait, they will spread it about themselves during their feeding spree. Following every occurrence I will reintroduce more bait, but no more than your 1/2 a kilo at a time. By an occurrence I mean runs, not liners. I work on the basis that my hook bait is the last one left in the baited area, that way I  am sure that there is always something for the carp to return too.


Keeping one baited area sometimes may not work

Big prevailing winds may move large shoals of fish out of my reach and into different sections of the lake. I could sit on my hands and hope that the fish come back but more often than not (and where possible) a move is required. Getting into the head of the wind is normally the answer as the fish will congregate just off where the undertow finishes on that windward bank.

It may be the coldest part of the lake but with a new warm wind blowing, the carp will follow as this is were all the hatching naturals are carried too. There may be somebody already positioned on that swim, but it could pay dividends to get as close to the feeding area as possible on the next available swim. In these circumstances, it is best to get the rods out immediately on arrival at the new swim, well before I set up camp as the action could be short and sweet.

Once settled I would follow the same procedure as before – observations and then creating another tight baited area for all my rods. Sometimes a few moves during the week is necessary, on others sitting in one swim all week is the answer, only my previous experiences tell me what to do.

Well, I am off to another venue in mid-May, 20 acres of untouched water set deep within a forest in the Champagne region. I have not got too much information about the lake, but that is the beauty of being an Angling Lines field tester, being thrown into the deep end. Hopefully I will have a successful trip and be in a position to recommend yet another water to join Angling Lines.

Paul Cooper

For more information on Castle Lake follow the link – Carp Fishing in France

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