John & Lesley London of Bletiere continue their very popular series on fulfilling every carp anglers dream.
Well hopefully you have now moved into your new home and are sitting there with plans going through your head about opening for business. Well I am afraid unless you have purchased a up and running fishery forget it for at least 6 to 12 months.
As we stated before on the previous blog posts, these are Lesley’s and my own views and the things we did and the mistakes we made, so I will now explain my opening paragraph. When we moved in I had not really appreciated the amount of work we had to do to get the lake ready and the facilities up to an acceptable standard that I believe anglers expect today. Our lake had never been fished before and consequently had never been cleared out of branches and leaves, or had a drain down for years we guessed… we had a blank canvas!
We sat down and planned the lake as we wanted it to put in all the things that I would expect if I paid to fish here. I will list below some jobs and things that seem obvious now… and some things we have learnt along the way and these may help others think about their plans.
Job 1. Does the lake need dredging or draining?
This is important before you even think about putting fish in. You need to know what state the lake bed is in and if it is full of snags. We decided to have one end of the lake dredged as it had silted up badly over the years. This was the first big cost we incurred and one that was not planned for! It took 4 days (and that’s only 1 acre) and it cost 3,000 euros, but this did include all the mud being leveled over the field. Give this serious thought as it’s the last thing you want to do once your fish are in the lake, and it’s something that takes a few months for nature to recover from.
Job 2. What carp are in the lake?
We’ve all heard the stories of people buying lakes and being told there are carp to 30 to 40lb in there and after moving in finding nothing, so we took the view there was nothing in ours. As it turned out this was not far from the truth, certainly as far as size of the carp were concerned. We spoke to several people for advice and also Angling Lines who really helped us a lot. We decided to have the lake netted to ascertain exactly what stock we had.
This was big unplanned expense number 2… it cost us 1500 euros 3 years ago. However, I believe this is money well spent as it will show you exactly what is in the lake and more important the condition of any fish, after all you would not want to put your new stock into a lake full of diseased fish. It also gives you the chance to remove any nuisance fish and any species you do not want in your lake. The fish farmer will pay for these and it helps with the cost.
When we netted it was a hard day’s work, but exciting as that net reaches the end and you see what you have inherited! In our case it was about 200 carp of all species but none over 5lb! We also had 340kg of small roach removed.
As a keen koi keeper in England and obsessed with water quality I had ours checked at the local government laboratories. For 50 euros it was again money well spent as it showed top quality water and no problems… it all helps to make life easier and less stressful.
Job 3. Plan your lake
Now sit and plan your lake swims and where you want them. Give this a lot of thought as you don’t want to spend days building swims to find them in the wrong place. Think how you would like to fish and the swims you would expect. Ours was easy as we only wanted to fish one bank so all I had to do was choose the spots and build the swims. Take into account things like trees, is it muddy, are the banks high, is the access easy, do the anglers have to walk far to the facilities?
The final decision is what to build the swims out of. I have seen people put gravel or decking down, but for me this is too noisy. We used wood chip instead which is quiet and drains easily if you get a down pour. It’s also pod and bank stick friendly.
Job 4. Stocking the carp
This is the biggest expense you will encounter and the one you have to get correct as it will be the future of your fishery. There are a few good fish farmers in France and people will always put you in touch with the one they use, but I suggest you look around. We used one at the start that was 2 hours from us. A journey of this distance is stress for the fish and makes for a long stocking day as you have to go to the farm to agree on the fish and check every one you are going to buy.
Totally by luck out driving one day we found a fish farm only 30 minutes from us who sold great fish. This distance caused a lot less stress for the fish. It’s a sad fact I’m afraid that you will probably lose 10% of the fish you stock due to stress… but there is nothing you can do about it.
You have to order your fish well in advance and they will normally only deliver late in the year when it has cooled down and the fish have the winter to rest. So don’t expect to have fished delivered when you want… just plan well ahead and make contact with your chosen farmer and arrange the stocking.
Depending on the size and quantity of carp you buy you will be looking at about somewhere between 15 and 20 thousand euro’s at least. Over the 3 stockings we did we spent more than that… but we have a lot of fish in La Bleteiere as the water is spring fed and the oxygen levels are good and constant.
Just to give you an idea, for the last 3 big carp we managed to buy, as big ones are getting hard to get at a price you can afford, they were all around 40lb and they cost about 1100 euro’s each…ouch!
Job 5. Plan the look of your lake
This is really just a thought that may save you time later; think of how you want your lake to look in a year’s time, not now when it may be muddy or overgrown. We had the choice of how we wanted our lake to look and we opted for the natural look. We cultivate the wild flowers that were growing naturally here and this is great for the wildlife. You could go for the tended look and grass. Grass is easier to cut obviously, but for us we prefer the natural look and we will continue to develop this over the years.
This is a snap shot of things we did and I’m sure some people will disagree with some things I have said and say there are easier ways. I’m sure there was but it’s all a learning curve and all part of the challenge of getting it as you want.
But do we regret the move? Well in a word NO… not even when it’s cold and wet and you are clearing the banks. When you stand still and the only noise is the cry of a buzzard circling overhead you know it’s all worth it!
Until next time and please leave some comments good or bad so I know what you want to read.
Lesley and John London