End of the year Success at Alder – Field Testing Tales

The carp have had their last feed in readiness for winter, in comes the rain, high winds and cold northerly winds… Ron Key and myself (Paul Cooper) are off to try our luck at Alder Lake, in Central France!  We both saw this as our last opportunity to pick up a few carp before the ice and snow arrive.

37lb 11oz of Alder carp for Paul Cooper

We came to this decision by researching the venues on the Angling Lines website.  We were looking for a regular runs water which had the capability of producing big fish – we settled on Alder Lake, but we knew that with the time of year and the poor forecast for the next few weeks we may have a big job on our hands.

Both Ron and I took Quest Chilli Chocolate boilies as our main bulk bait, with Fruity Trifle and Chilli Chocolate pop-ups in support.

Mid-November at Alder

We arrived at the lake on a late Wednesday evening in mid-November and were met by Chris and Stephanie and shown to the gite where we would be spending the first night of our trip.

At first light the next morning we woke up to a heavy ground frost and clear skies. We took the short drive down the track to Alder lake. This was my first visit to this lake and even though most of the leaves had already fallen from the trees it had an aura that attracted me to its beauty. Sitting in a shallow valley it is surrounded by fields and woodland. Secluded in a corner of the lake is the porter cabin and toilet block. The porter cabin would be our sanctuary and kitchen for the next week. The cabin has a Calor gas cooker and heater along with tables, chairs and a sink.

The first couple of hours were taken up by us both plumbing and leading the lake for depths and features. We found that the biggest part of the lake had depths of around 9 feet which gradually shallowed off to the far end of the lake away from the dam to around 2 feet.

Ron settled for the eastern side of the dam and I settled for the middle of the Western bank.

By around midday the clouds had moved in and a strong South Westerly wind started to grow in strength bringing with it heavy rain. The wind was pushing straight over the back of my bivvy but was hitting Ron head on in the corner of the lake.

Over the next 24 hours the fish followed the wind and rain gathering in front of Ron. In conditions that could only be classed as gale force winds with torrential rain, Ron started to get the occasional run, putting fish on the bank which included this 27lb carp.

I had baited up an area at  around 40 yards into the lake and could only manage a mid-double by the second morning. I decided on a move to the Western corner of the dam, placing 2 rods on my previously baited area and the others in the deeper water near to the dam. The weather improved with sunshine and a warm Southerly wind.  Ron continued to pick up the odd fish off his baited gravel patch, and I managed a couple of fish from the deeper water off the dam.

Two days on the dam swim and around 9pm that evening I had a run off the baited area resulting in a fish locking up on a snag 120 yards out in the lake. Ron came to my assistance, as I took to the boat with my rod and landing net.

The 37lb 11oz mirror that thought it was a tug boat

I wound down on the rod to take me over what appeared to be a clear area in the lake. With no indication that the fish was still attached to the line, I got over the top of the snagged line as the lead came loose from being snagged between 2 rocks. This was when the fun started!  For 20 minutes a large carp towed me around in open water in complete darkness, with only my head-torch giving me any visibility. Eventually the fish came to the net. Ron made his way to the far end of the lake with my unhooking mat and weigh sling. I rowed the carp back to terra firma to meet Ron with a 37lb 11oz Alder lake carp… what a result!

The night turned mild and the fish appeared to move away from Ron towards the shallows at the far end of the lake. First light the next morning and I was on the move again… to the shallows this time. Within 10 minutes of casting a line into the lake in the shallows, I was into a low twenty pound carp. I slipped the fish back into the water, recast the rod and as I was setting the line in the on my rod rest, the same rod tore off resulting in another low twenty.

Last fish of the week at 23lb

Over the last 2 days of our trip, we had heavy rain, wind, clear frosty nights followed by a spell of dry mild weather. The weather had thrown everything at us – four seasons in 6 days – but we still ended up with 20 carp to 37lb 11oz, and 2 grass carp to 15lb.


While England was being battered by heavy wind and gales we experienced four seasons of weather in one week with temperatures ranging from 1C to 15C and still managed to catch carp. The decision that we made to fish a normally productive water was definitely the right one as I am sure that there are many French venues that would not have been so kind to us as this one.

We both thoroughly enjoyed the week despite the inclement weather. What waters in England could produce 20 fish to 37lb 11oz in the throws of winter?  Few to none I reckon.  Next year both Ron and I will be heading off with Angling Lines for another similar winter break. This trip has provided a great finale to a very kind and productive year for both Ron and myself.

A big thanks to Chris and Stephanie and to all at Angling Lines.

Paul Cooper


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