Grumpy Old Men at Old Oaks

Angling Lines’ David Keep and Paul Cooper escaped to Old Oaks for a session this September. Here is Paul’s account of what turned out to be a tricky week’s fishing…

Sometimes you have to bite your lip and follow the flow. I didn’t and I paid the price.

It was late September 2013 when David Keep and I paid a visit to Old Oaks, the smaller sister water to Laroussi. Dave was no stranger to either lake, where as this would be my 1st trip to one of Medhi’s famous waters.

Old Oaks Big Carp France

The secluded bay in swim 5

Now for those of you that have not been fortunate enough to fish these lakes it is hard to describe the warm and friendly a welcome you receive from Medhi and his family. Medhi knows his waters like the back of his hand and soon filled us in with the previous captures on the lake over the past few week’s.

We established that 3 anglers that had just left the lake and they had really turned the water over with 48 captures and over 15 fish lost. This was a brilliant result for them but obviously we gathered that at least 1/2 of the fish in the lake had seen a hook over the past week. Now that does not always effect the fishing, but that coupled with the forecast of high pressure and 27C for the forthcoming week did knock our confidence a little.

Old Oaks Big Carp France

First fish of the session

The Lake

As with any visit to a new lake I like to find out what the general make up of the lake is, and I started to do this by leading and plumbing the water. Old Oaks is around 65yards wide along the whole length of the lake and averages around nine and a half foot of water up to around a rod length off the far margin where it shallows off to around 4 foot.

Swim 1 which is the 1st swim as you enter the complex, has over hanging bushes to the right and the far margins is the narrowest part of the lake. Swim 2 has a couple of overhanging bushes with the rest of the margins having brambles along the far margin.

Swims 3, 4 and 5 are full of features on the far margins, with overhanging bushes all along the banks with deep holes in them creating perfect feeding spots for carp.

Old Oaks Big Carp France

Swim 4


At the head of the lake there is the wooden lodge which has all the requirements, including a shower room with sink, another sink and worktop, an English style flush toilet, plenty of electrical points, a huge chest freezer and a large fridge. Everything is kept clean and in excellent working order. The water from the taps can be used as drinking water and there is also a barbeque area outside with a table and bench.. The whole area around the lake is fully secure with a large locking gate at the entrance.

All the swims have vehicular access so that tackle etc can be dropped at the swims.

Vehicle access to the swims

The Fishing

Previously, most of the carp had been caught from the top end of the lake in swims 4 and 5 so this would be our first choice of swims. Dave settled into swim 4 and I chose to try out swim 5. Now swim 5 gave me little room to manoeuvre as the fishing area was at a minimum, but it had been a productive swim. Dave settled for swim 4 as he could spread his rods covering water in swims 3 and 4.

We had a good selection of bait with us in the form of Quality Baits HG All Seasons and the Patshull Park mix. Dave also purchased some of Medhi’s partiblend to add to his baiting campaign for the week. My tactic was to use boilie only which to date has caught me lots of fish over the past 18 months.

From early observations I could see that the carp were sulking under the far marginal bushes well out of the reach of a cast bait. They were hugging the far bank and over cleared areas under bushes.

Old Oaks Big Carp France

The far margins

Dave had had the hindsight to bring his bait boat which enabled him to put his baits under the far marginal bushes. I resorted to my old traditional casting and tried to draw a few fish out into open water. For the first 2 days I failed miserably and could not buy a bite whilst Dave picked up the odd fish with his tactics. By Monday I had decided that I was wasting my time fishing off the tree line and moved down to swim 2.

Old Oaks Big French Carp

Swim 2 and a view down the lake

I had a walk around to the far side opposite swim 2 and could see large dark shapes lurking under the 2 bushes on that margin. I fed them a few boilies under the tree and had an instant reaction off the carp. A foot away from the bush in open water and absolutely no reaction at all. This was going to be a struggle.

Old Oaks Big Carp France

Another nice fish for Dave

The temperature had been around 27C all week and not a cloud in the sky, not an excuse by any means. On the Tuesday Mehdi gave us a tour of Laroussi and the lads on there were pulling the odd fish out.

Old Oaks Big Carp France

My one and only carp

Back to Old oaks and it seemed dead, no fish in open water still with lots of huge carp still hugging the tree line. By night fall I had taken a 34lb 4oz mirror from about a foot off the far marginal tree, but that was to be my only fish of the week.

Dave’s tally by the end of the week was mirrors of 43lb, two at 38lb, a 36lb, a 30lb 14oz and a 36lb common.

Old Oaks Big Carp France


I was totally out fished, well done Dave. Before we set off from England, Dave had suggested that I bring a bait boat, but I dug my heals in and refused. Next time I might think about it, but it may only be a thought.

I thoroughly enjoyed the week despite struggling to catch carp. Good company coupled with fishing a water that contains mostly huge carp certainly makes up for the loss. I am sure that with different circumstances I would have had a bumper catch, but it just goes to show that we can all have a bad day at the office.

Old Oaks Big Carp France

Another upper thirty


Mehdi has produced a brilliant carp fishing lake that looks after itself. There is a diversity of different species of fish in the lake which control any increase in his carp population, in turn, enabling his carp to grow quickly and healthily. The average weight of the carp is around 36lb to 38lb and from previous catch reports it is easy to see that there are lots of forty pound fish along with the odd fifty swimming around.

It just goes to show that every week is not the same on this type of lake. Anglers that struggle occasionally on French waters, have no need to beat themselves, it could be totally different on their next visit. On this occasion there was not too much that we could do, we were the victim of the previous week’s anglers success,  but you live and learn.

Paul Cooper



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