I was very fortunate to fish Jonchery‘s smaller counterpart, Jonchery 7, earlier this year. During my visit I took the opportunity to do a few laps of the main Jonchery lake. On my way around I chatted with the anglers and was amazed to find that some had been coming since they were children, others only fished at Jonchery and visited six or seven times a year! That’s a measure of their loyalty that I haven’t seen at other French waters and speaks volumes for the venue, the fish, the facilities and of course the owners who manage it.
It’s an easy drive to Jonchery straight down the A26 motorway onto the new Reims ring road and down towards Troyes. As we motored along we chased dark storm clouds and eventually overtook them. At the venue we chose swim 2. I had seriously hurt my back putting the whole trip in jeopardy so we took the swim nearest to the car and the facilities. We quickly put up our camp and as I organised my bivvy the storm caught up with us. There had been a heatwave in the weeks preceding our trip and suddenly there was torrential rain and massive hailstones in August! Over the next few hours the water temperature went from bath water to cold water. We were unsure whether the influx of cold water into the lake was a good or a bad thing, only time would tell.
All the swims on Jonchery are doubles so Phil took the right hand side and I took the left. I was happy as I’d seen fish showing only two or three rod lengths out about sixty yards along the bank. I figured even with my bad back I could cast sixty yards and baiting up would be easy, just walking along the bank and catapulting over the reeds. We also marked out an area in front of us both between two markers and intended to keep it baited with hemp, corn and boilies and place a rod each on it. I’d been told on more than one occasion corn was a good bait at Jonchery so both Phil and I had a rod baited with a stack of maize. Phil’s other rods went out at range to fizzing carp he had spotted. We set up our basha as a shelter from the rain and enjoyed our take on French cuisine and the obligatory glass of red. We had intended the basha to be used as a sunshade but needs must.
By 10:30 we had been awake almost 36 hours so it was time for an early night, time to hit the sack and listen to the rain. I’d like to say I was up at the crack of dawn and watching the water like a hawk but the truth is a carp woke me up. At 8:30 a single beep from the buzzer and the line on my margin rod slightly tightened and the rod tip trembled. I staggered over to the rods and it was still trembling, so I thought I’d better hit it! A single Quest Baits Magnum White had been picked up and was now being carried out to the centre of the lake.
Something heavy and very strong was slowly grinding out the yards as my spool ticked away. My back was really causing me some grief, and I was very limited in the amount of pressure I could put on the carp. This was going to take some time. Phil was now out of bed and giving words of encouragement, I would have thumped him but I didn’t have a hand free. Luckily the carp gave up before my back did and Phil scooped it up in the net and safely deposited it onto the unhooking mat. It was a common, a beauty, Phil weighed it and declared it was ”39-2!” What a start, now I had to try and lift it and smile for the camera. This was surprisingly easy as I gritted my teeth and rolled the big common onto my arms and quickly rested one arm on my knee.
With the fish safely returned and the celebrations over. I noticed for the first time Phil had only two rods out. After a dogged fight on one of his long range rods he’d got a very large carp to the net and then disaster. In the dark the fish had lunged on a short line and got caught up in the landing net. As Phil tried to sort it all out the hook popped and a tired and dejected angler propped up the rod and went to bed.
The next day I lost another biggie when my hook straightened as it took the same route as the last one charging out from the margins into the centre of the lake. Phil also lost a good fish and then landed a couple of the smaller commons. The weather has closed in and the water was now very cold. We were getting a little action but decided it was time for a move.
We move to swim 3 at the far end of the lake and on the opposite side. It was slightly shallower which we thought may become an advantage as the water starts to warm back up. Swim 3 is on a point created by a bend in the lake and commands a lot of water across to the far margin and into the bay on its right. The same strategy applied, two markers on an area baited with hemp, corn and boilies and a rod each on it. The other rods searched the water for carp. I had started to rehydrate my boilies with the water from the particles to avoid them taking on the silt smell and fished a wafter to sit lightly on top of them. The wafter was created from half a pop-up and half of a bottom bait and this time the hooks were a lot stronger.
Next morning all hell broke loose! The lunchtime baguette was interrupted as I watched as my right hand rod tip curled around and the spool started hissing. I didn’t stop the carp, the end of the lake did! Then it slowly and doggedly worked its way back towards me under my other two lines and over Phil’s. Was it heading for the other end of the lake? The next few minutes had Phil and me plaiting and unplaiting lines raising and lowering rods before eventually Phil lifted the net and hauled it towards us. Another common this time 37lb 4oz and making every ounce count. Certainly one to remember, wow!
It’s Thursday now and the carp have started to show at last. We were beginning to think our time would be up before the carp recovered from the rapid temperature drop. I spotted a mirror roll on the far margin to my right. Quickly I wound in a rod and launched a Magnum White/Chilli Chocolate wafter hooked into a pva bag of boilie crumb out to the spot where it had surfaced. Half an hour later and a beautiful scaly mirror of just over thirty pounds was on the mat. Another showed further along the far margin in front of a large tree. The same technique; this time with a wafter manufactured from a Magnum White bottom bait and a Fluoro Chilli Chocolate pop-up. In an hour or so I was bundling a near 26lb mirror into the net.
I’d love to say it continued but the water was still very moody, only a couple of other carp had been caught on the lake, but never say die. On the last morning with nearly all of our gear packed a blue light on one of Phil’s Delkims flickered. We looked at each other in amazement as his Stow bobbin dropped away and the blue light shone continuously. “Hit it Phil!” Then after quite a while “Come on Phil, get a move on we have a ferry to catch.” In all honesty we would have missed the ferry for this one, a cracking 34lb 6oz mirror and a great finish to the week.
Summing up; we had a really tough week and worked incredibly hard for all our fish. We can see though what induces the incredible loyalty of the anglers on Jonchery. We were certainly captivated by it and can’t wait to get back. As we suspected the water continued to warm and the fish responded to it. The following week 48 carp were caught! Next time, and yes there will be a next time.