My first trip to France in 2014 and I headed to one of my favourite Angling Lines venues; Bletiere, a lovely little 2 ½ acre lake located just to the east of Le Mans. This account I hope will give you a few insights which may entice you to spend a week there, and if you do, maybe help you put a couple more fish on the bank.
This was my 8th week at Bletiere since August 2010 so you can see it is a place my wife and I enjoy going to! Why?
Reasons as follows in order of what I look for when I search the Angling Lines website for suitable venues:
- Stock – Bletiere is a very well stocked lake and holds somewhere in the region of 250 to 350 carp up to approximately 45lb. This stock virtually guarantees action even in difficult conditions, with the right application and tactics
- Lakeside accommodation – as I am joined by my wife (and used to be with my two children too) comfort is key, and the gite here is fantastic and suits us perfectly as it is 30 yards from the lake, clean, comfortable and well maintained, has a good quality English TV with Sky and all the facilities provided
- Size and shape of the lake – as I fish alone, it is very important to select a venue that suits a single angler and therefore, the size and shape of the lake has to be suitable in my opinion. By that I mean I look for a small lake that doesn’t have too many places where the carp can “hide” from you as this can mean you spend your week chasing fish and moving swims. Bletiere is pretty good in this respect as if I fish from the Middle swim I can cover virtually three quarters of it.
- Meal package – as it is a holiday for my wife as well, having your meals freshly prepared and delivered to your gite every evening is a real bonus. Not having to plan or think about what you’re going to eat, having to go off site to go shopping, clearing up afterwards etc, makes for a happy holiday! I have to say that the meal package Lesley produces is consistently the best we have come across and cannot recommend highly enough
- Location – these days, I don’t like to travel too far and Bletiere is easy to get to and only a short 2 ½ hour drive from the port of St Malo in Brittany
- Friendly, helpful but not intrusive owners – another vital ingredient to a relaxing holiday and in this respect John and Lesley are top draw. Although they live on site, you don’t really know they are there but are always on hand if you need them and they will do their best to make sure you’re stay is as enjoyable as possible. If you need fishing advice then John can help if you so wish and he is an experienced angler who knows how to fish his own lake. However, if you are happy to do your own thing then John will leave you alone and just pop down to see you every now and again to make sure everything is ok
- On site fresh bait – although I take my own boilies everywhere I go, the fact that John can supply competitively priced frozen boilies, freshly prepared particles and “lake pellets” is another bonus (this came in really useful, see below!)
And finally, but most importantly;
- Surroundings – I like to fish in places that are quiet, comfortable, relaxing and picturesque if possible and again, Bletiere is first class as it is well maintained (but keeps a nice degree of “naturalness”) with lots of wildlife to see and very little normal life noise as the lake is nicely situated in a very peaceful area
So that’s why I selected Bletiere as my opening venue for 2014.
I don’t know about other Angling Lines customers but what fascinates me is the story and history behind the lake and I enjoy listening to lake owners tell their story of how they took the plunge and got started and put it all together. Maybe it’s just me being jealous but lake owners like John and Lesley have made a life changing commitment and I admire their courage and belief in what they do.
John and Lesley (plus their two dogs, Daisy and Wisper) moved to France in December 2007 and when they brought the lake it was overgrown and silted up and not stocked, but after 12 months of renovation and a lot of manual work they were nearly ready for their first anglers. It just needed the fish and the list of these can be seen on the web site and when they were introduced. It’s fair to say that in 7 years they have carefully developed their lake and facilities and it has become a fantastic fishery.
That gives you a little background but now onto what I guess most Angling Lines customers will be mostly interested in and that was the fishing! John had invited us to come early as his lake was free so I took a couple of days extra leave to take advantage. What happened over the next week was extraordinary to say the least!!!
In summary, I landed 75 carp of which 2 were forties and 18 were thirties with an average size of 23lb. This was nearly double the amount of carp that I have caught in a week there before so why I hear you ask.
I don’t really know the reason (who ever does when this happens?) but would say the following were contributory factors:
- Weather – we had fantastic weather with clear, sunny skies every day and high pressure dominating throughout our stay. The text books say these conditions are not conducive to carp fishing but I believe the key was that it was a settled weather pattern, and not changeable. Last winter had been very warm and I think this affected the carp’s feeding.
- Bait – I used 20kgs of Baitcraft’s T1 which is bait I have complete faith in. It is a high quality, high nutritional value food source with inbuilt attractors that carp keep coming back for (Note: I am not in any way connected to Baitcraft or sponsored by them). I ran out of this with 2 days to spare so moved onto John’s Sticky Baits Krill which proved just as successful.
- Bait application – in my mind, this was, and is the key to most successful holidays. On venues like this, where there are a lot of fish, you need to keep the bait going in, even when things appear to be “dead”. Now I don’t mean just pile it in at the start of the day, but keep it going on a little and often basis and fish for one carp at a time.
Every day I would start with a quick walk around the lake and put in approximately 3 large handfuls of a mixture of 15 and 18mm whole boilies into each spot. Personally, I don’t bait up again until I have had action (and therefore I was doing plenty of that this trip!) or if action goes quiet then I will bait up just before a peak period moontime starts as I have written about previously. This worked very well this week.
- Set up – again, something I have written about before, but I am a firm advocate of using slack fluorocarbon mainlines combined with light lead (no more than 1.5oz) running rigs and simple fluorocarbon combi-links and large hooks (no smaller than size 5). I had very few aborted takes or hook pulls.
- Resting the swim – I fished days only and therefore rested the swim at night. Whilst this suits me, it does give the carp the opportunity to move around without coming across lines. John has experienced this on many occasions where his customers who fish 24/7 actually have less success then anglers who give their swim a rest. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, pressured fish just as John’s, know they are being fished for and I resting your swim will help.
Quite simply, one of the most memorable week’s fishing I have had in over 10 years fishing in France. Combine the excellent fishing with lakeside accommodation, a terrific meal package and very friendly hosts then you have a superb all around holiday package. My wife and I are back again to Bletiere in October and although I would certainly not expect to reach the dizzy heights of the catch this week, I know we will have a great time!
Duncan de Gruchy