Craig with his new PB – 39.02
Following a week-long visit to Bletiere, I described the venue in my feedback as being a wonderful place. That simply doesn’t do the place justice and I felt compelled to give a more detailed account.
My brother, Greg, and I spent a week as the guests of John London at Bletiere during the first week of November 2012. We caught the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Caen and then had an easy, steady drive along the deserted and immaculately maintained network of toll roads. Three tolls on the way down cost us a little over 20 euros. John can give a route back that’s not much slower, more scenic and, importantly, saves on the toll charges.
Directions to the venue were spot on until we hit the point that my Sat Nav veered away from them. Guess what? We then got lost. We made it as far as the picturesque village, local to Bletiere, but had no clue where to go from there. However, a quick phone call to John and we were quickly guided the last couple of miles to the venue.
The first glimpse of a new lake is always a memorable moment. For me, there is always the gradual build-up of excitement and anticipation of things to come, yet tinged with a little trepidation that the lake, fish and surroundings will live up to expectations. I was not to be disappointed with Bletiere.
I got my first glimpse of the lake as we drove down the track and soon spotted John’s home, the barn and gîte nestled into the hillside. The lake is as picturesque as they come, situated in pleasant surroundings of open fields and woodland. John has gone to a great deal of effort to plant interesting plants and flowers around the lake and the small island, situated at the top end of the lake, holds an impressive Weeping Willow tree.
We were soon introduced to John and the dogs, Wispa and Daisy and, over a cuppa, John told us a little about the lake. John knows the lake intimately and, as he gave us the tour around the lake, was able to point out the hotspots where it would be worth putting a bait and give us sensible advice on the tactics that work on this particular lake.
Greg and I were soon set up in our selected swims, with me opting for the house swim and Greg opting for the large double at the top of the lake. As John had pointed out the likely hotspots and topography of the lake bottom we resisted the temptation to get the marker rods out, opting to keep the disturbance to a minimum. John’s assessment proved to be spot on with the majority of the lake bottom being firm with some silt patches and areas of deeper water where the bottom had been scoured out by the carp.
On the baiting front, again we followed John’s advice and resisted the temptation to bait heavily from the off. A handful of mixed size, 10 and 15mm boilies and a handful of John’s pellets were fed over each rod on a little and often basis and after every fish. Later in the week we also started to use some of John’s particle mix. Quest Baits, Baitcraft and Frank Warwick boilies all scored for us.
We also followed John’s advice on the rig front using backleads, small leads and smallish hooks. I opted to start on running leads and Greg for fixed leads on a lead clip system.
Rig wise I caught on all three of my favourite rigs. All were combi rigs of some description. The first was a simple coated braid, Korda in my case, attached to a size 10 Fox Kuro S4XS hook, with a small piece of shrink tube over the eye and a piece of silicone along the shank to hold the hair in place.
The second rig was similar to the first but was a proper combi rig, consisting of a fluorocarbon boom made from 12 or 15lb Korda IQ soft and a flexible section made from Supernatural braid. The two materials were joined together using an Albright knot and a small piece of Tungsten putty used to cover the knot and aide the hook to turn.
My final rig, again a combi, is one that I generally save for trickier situations but is the one that was in use when I caught my largest fish of the trip, a truly magnificent 39lb 2oz common carp. This rig is a full blown anti-eject rig featuring a stiff boom, in this case made of 25lb Korda IQ and a flexible section made of Supernatural braid. Hook was a size 8 Fox Kuro S4XS attached slip D style (publicised by Martin Clarke) with a small rig ring for attaching the hair. A small piece of shrink tube was placed over the eye and again, a small piece of putty employed to cover the knot and aide turning. The stiff boom helps to keep the hook in the carp’s mouth and the slip D helps to improve separation of the bait and hook on eject. Combined, they help to improve the chances of the hook finding a hold. I only tend to use this presentation with hookbaits with at least some degree of buoyancy as the buoyancy helps the rig to reset itself in the event of it being inspected.
I vividly remember sitting there on that first night, taking in the atmosphere, with a glass of single malt whiskey in hand to warm me against the cold night air. I love to sit out in the dark at the lakeside, listening to all of the night sounds and the comings and goings of nocturnal animals. I also enjoy watching the night sky, and trying to spot the different star constellations, something I’m totally hopeless at. Being in quite a rural location the clarity of the night sky was something to behold and the number of visible stars was quite astounding, beyond anything I can usually see at home. I was even lucky enough to see shooting stars several times throughout the week.
The daytimes were equally as pleasant as the nights. I spent some time on one day watching a Kingfisher flying up and down the far margin and, on another, tried without success to capture a photograph of a small bird repeatedly coming to rest on one of my rods. John and the dogs visited several times each day and I enjoyed our daily chats. He is approachable, friendly and keen to help you make the most of your stay. John appears to have struck the perfect balance between being attentive and eager to help but, at the same time, giving you the space to enjoy your holiday in peace.
Greg and I both worked our swims all week, adjusting the end tackles, tweaking the presentations, trying different hookbaits and fishing different areas within each baited patch, in an attempt to keep the bites coming. We both caught, but, on reflection, I have wondered whether, for such a small lake, I over pressured some of my spots. I fed five different spots throughout the week but fished two for the entire week, one for six nights, one for one night only and one not at all even though I saw fish rolling over it on a number of occasions. I may have had better results by rotating the spots, giving them a rest after each capture.
We ended the week on 26 fish, with five thirties between us and a number of big twenties. We were both chuffed with the result, especially as it was November. In a way, I was glad that no forty came our way as it gives us something still to aim for.
Some lakes stir something inside you that is hard to fathom. They leave an indelible impression upon you, and that is how Bletiere has been with me. I spent the week at peace with myself, life and the worId. In a busy, stressful, demanding life, that is a gift in itself. I can’t wait to get back.
By Craig Barlow
Fishing Holidays at Bletiere