I’ve been travelling to France to fish for carp and catfish for over twenty years. One thing that I have learned to my cost is that you cannot do too much preparation. When you visit France, you are often trying to achieve in a week what you would not do in a season, or perhaps in the case of the huge fish available catch something you could never dream of at home. This may all seem a bit dry, but do some planning and come back with the photographs and memories you been dreaming of.
1. It may seem stupid or obvious but choose the right venue. Do you want a runs water, huge carp, a gite, a swimming pool? Do you want an out and out carp fishing trip or a family holiday with some fishing? Angling Lines provide them all; make sure you pick the one you really want
2. Read the brochure, look at the website, and talk to Angling Lines they really want to help you. Make sure there are no tackle or bait restrictions. Those lovingly prepared tigers and peanuts are no good to you if they are not allowed at the venue. Are your rods, lines, hooks, nets and unhooking mats adequate for the fishing you are considering and acceptable to the fishery owner. You want to hook that dream fish, land it and release it safely so ask the questions.
3. Familarise yourself with the lake. Read the catch returns and the articles about the venues. You can find out about features, hotspots, weedbeds, going swims and the most successful baits and methods. A lot of visitors have been very successful over the years and are keen to tell you all about it.
4. Make sure you are aware and comply with all the current driving regulations. When driving in France you are required to carry hi-viz vests, a spare bulb kit, a first aid kit, and a warning triangle. This might sound a lot but it’s all fairly cheap and will last you for many trips. Does your insurance cover you for driving in France, have you got foreign breakdown cover, and have you got an E111 (European Health Insurance Card).
5. Make a loading list for your car and use it. Include everything including tackle, bait, clothing, passport, tickets, money, and even personal medication. There’s a lot going on the day you leave, and you would not be the first person to leave their rods or even their bait at home
6. If the lake is more that about 5 hours from the ferry port I always travel early on the Friday. I book a Formule 1, Campanile , Premiere Classe or one of the many cheap hotels online before I go, making sure it’s fairly close to my venue. Instead of travelling through the night and arriving at the venue tired and dirty, I stop Friday night have a great French meal, and a good nights sleep and arrive on time at the venue, refreshed and ready to catch fish. After all you are on holiday
7. The owner or a bailiff will meet you and show you around the venue, listen to what they have to tell you. They know what fish have been caught, how and where they were caught, how much and what bait has been used. They know their water like the back of their hand and all that information is there for you to use, don’t ignore it. Combined with the research you did at home you are well on the way to catching your first carp
8. After you have picked your swim for the first night, don’t fill it in with bait. Spend some time finding about your swim, depths feature etc and feed lightly or use PVA bags. Give yourself a night to find out about the fish, how hard they are feeding, what they are feeding on, or even if they were the crashing at the other end of the lake. You can then make your decisions about baiting up and your strategy for the week.
9. Prepare to be versatile, we have all heard the stories about what French carp will and will not do. “French fish don’t av it off the top”, do they? When the goings got tough I’ve caught carp by stalking, on the float, off the top, and on sub surface zig rigs even in the dead of winter. The skills and watercraft you have learnt at home are all valuable in France.
10. Enjoy yourself. You did all the hard work before you left home, just chill out enjoy France and catch some carp
Cheers, Ron Key