Our Villefond session; 25th March to Ist April 2011
Sick as a Parrott…
Our trip to Villefond was to celebrate my good friend Andy’s 40th Birthday. The weather had improved showing a large increase in temperature in just a couple of weeks in both England and France.
On arriving at the venue we were met by Mark and his mum, Debbie who welcomed us and showed us the amenities which were more than ample. The lake looked very picturesque even though spring wasn’t in full flow yet. As we walked around the lake we met the two lads who were just about to leave after a successful week having fished the far end of the lake. This having been the first angling week of the season on the lake and the fish seeing pressure that they hadn’t been use to for some 5 months, I was interested to see if they would continue to ‘slip up’ and plenty more trips to the bank were on the cards. Mark and Debbie left us to it and said they would see us in the morning.
Andy wanted to follow the lads into peg 4, something I am always dubious about being the cynic that I am! So after around 2 hours I dropped into peg 6 to cover a different area of water. The weather was still reasonably warm and dry but soon changed, and we to see a lot of showers some of which were very heavy at times bringing a lot of colder water in to the lake.
Around the majority of the lake it is tree-lined with goat willows with a good sized grass verge to access your peg by vehicle. The lake was an online water body whereby it was fed from above and flowed out into the lower chain of other lakes. This being an advantage for the owners being able to manage the water level and to keep a constant trickle turnover of water to keep oxygen levels up. This also allows the owners to be able to drop the level in case any stock surveys or nettings were required in the future. All of which are recognized features of good fishery management.
We found the lake to vary from 1 feet deep at the end nearest the facilities (north) and as deep as14 feet at the far end in the corner next to peg 3
(south east). The contours of the lake bed were fairly consistent, generally made up of a type of sharp sand substrate with fine layers of silt covering it. The areas round the island and in the margins round the lake were a harder bottom. The margins on the south and east side featured a deep drop off and the west side a more gradual slope. In this area there were a lot of marginal bushes where a bait could be placed with ease.
On our first night I stayed up till the early hours in anticipation of a take as the fish were crashing out for hours around the lake. I had baits placed near the island margin, in mid water and to the right of peg 6 past the corner there are some sweet spots near a sunken bush that can be baited up by walking round. I fished this spot on the ‘washing line’ trick ( a pole in margin with a rubber band that your line clips on to, so there is no line on the area’).This method has proved very successful for me on pressured waters in Cheshire.
Whilst looking in the margins I could see one or two crayfish. The lake does have a population of these present, although during the trip they didn’t pose much of a problem with only the odd bait showing the tell tale ‘claw marks’.
The crayfish tend to be more active in the warmer months, however there are still plenty of methods of bait protection available on the market.
The picture below shows the crayfish and the armo netting that can be used to mesh the boilies. Also shrink tube is available and even a pair of women’s tights can be cut down to mesh your chosen bait. Plastic baits are widely available in all types these days, so it’s always worth going prepared just incase.
Crayfish and methods of protection
By morning we had both had no action and it wasn’t until 15:30 that my island rod ripped off with a hard fighting fish attached. I already had the chesties on which proved to be quite handy as the fish ploughed off down the left hand margin and it was easier to get a better pull on the fish to turn it from in the water. The fish was a deep bodied mirror that on the scales went 39.06 lb. Not a bad fish to start off with I thought and was true to the average size fish that can be expected at this well stocked venue.
Damien 39-6 mirror
A fish was lost of a similar size the next morning on the washing line’ rod inches from the net, gutted…
On Monday afternoon I decided to just fish two rods in the next peg, no.7 as it had warmed up again and it was much shallower down this end of the lake.
This soon resulted in a nice common of 27.08lb, which looked like a recent stocked fish with a fully intact curtain in its mouth.
Damien 27.08lb common
By this time Andy was starting to get a little worried as he still hadn’t got off the mark. I told him it would only be a matter of time, especially because he had moved into an area that had seen a lot of pressure in the previous week.
He needn’t have worried because at 6pm he was away with a nice mirror of 34lb that had a nice yellow tinge to its markings. He was a happy lad as this upped his Pb by a few pounds.
On Monday evening we discussed how the lake was taking a while to ‘kick in’ and could only put it down to recent angling pressure and a change for the worse with the rain and cold water going into the lake. We just had to bide our time and fish well and let the carp decide the rest. We had no idea what was in store for us!
During the night I had taken a 35.08lb mirror from the island rod again and also a bait cast long down to the shallows where the common had come from produced a 29lb mirror all within 15 minutes in the pitch black night that we were becoming used to out in this lovely unspoilt countryside where there was very little light pollution.
Unfortunately in the early hours on Tuesday morning I became quite ill, and was in no fit state to fish so the rods were brought in and It was looking like I’d be spending a few days in the bivvy to hopefully recover from the bug that I seemed to have picked up.
Just as I’d woken up I heard Andy shout over to me that he had ‘a massive common and to get myself round there asap! ‘
I tried to muster up some energy and grabbed the camera and went round to see what all the commotion was about. Now may I just point out, Andy has in the past expected me to come and photo a 26lb common whilst in bed at night 15miles away, so I was hoping I hadn’t got out of the ‘sick bivvy’ for such an occurrence!!!
On peeling the mesh away to reveal the carp, he was right it was a huge common and I knew straight away it was the big girl although I don’t quite think he had a clue what weight it was as he seemed a little shocked, which made the whole occasion even more exciting.
At 51.03lb it was the lake record and without a doubt Andy’s pb to boot. He was ecstatic with the result and this was his second fish of the week!
Andy 51.03lb common
Andy was getting quite into his session now and having the time of his life. He had just followed the big common with two more fish just under the forty mark. Each day he seemed to be consistently putting some very good fish on the bank. One or two of those I’d managed to get out and photo for him as he didn’t trust himself with my DSLR and remote! Mark had kindly helped Andy out with a few photos of some of the bigger fish. I couldn’t help but think at the time that I was there just to photograph fish for Andy and Mark was busily trying to juggle his own business and rush back to take photos as well. But hey when someone’s catching what you can say…
Andy and myself with a 38.02lb mirror & recent stocked fish
Over the next couple of days the weather remained drizzly with the temperatures not getting above 12 oC. I was still not feeling much better so we decided we would catch an early ferry on the Friday.
This being our last night we moved my tackle to peg 1 nearest the car to make packing up in the morning a little easier. I got my rods out for the last night and put plenty of bait out where the fish seemed to be patrolling along the margins in to the deeper water towards the top of the lake.
During the night I managed a 38.12 mirror and a 41.06 mirror which was a nice end to our session.
Damien 41.06lb mirror
Andy also had a mirror of 41.08 just as we packed up on Friday morning.
As we packed away it was just starting to warm up! It was a shame how things had turned out but overall we still had the opportunity to catch some fantastic fish.
We found Villefond to be an ideal venue for the angler wishing to have a taste of carp fishing abroad. However, this venue still requires anglers to have a certain level of knowledge as it is not a runs water but one that takes a little thinking about and trying to keep one step ahead of the fish. By using techniques such as prebaiting, resting spots, stalking fish and other methods that can only be gained with experience it will help you be successful on this venue and continue putting fish on the bank even when times get hard.
For those anglers wishing to visit the venue please bear these things in mind and don’t expect fish just to fall on the hook. Keep watching for tell tale signs, trying different methods and be willing to ring the changes and you will not be disappointed as there is an impressive stock of big fish to go at.