Around this time in France fish farmers are in full swing managing the nettings on their many lakes. It is because of this that Heather and I made a trip over to France this November. We called in to visit the Bacheliers, who were going to be netting both Jonchery and Brocard Large over two days.
The dates of nettings are pencilled in as autumn approaches, so a ‘window’ for our visit was set, but the wet weather was to play a huge part. Normally the first netting of the season is the top lake at La Horre. However, Paul Bachelier had kept me updated and even 10 days after the start of the drain down the lake was still full, simply due to the constant rain. As the labour is already organised, they opted to drain Jonchery first as this lake’s water level was more easily controllable. So, with 1 days notice, we packed the warmest clothes we could find as well as all our photography gear and waders.
The purpose of these nettings are basically two fold;
Firstly they remove the silver fish roach, zander etc which are later sold on to either tackle shops as live bait or to other fishery owners all over France. This maintains a healthy balance in the lake so that the volume of smaller fish doesn’t get too great, thus depriving the carp of their share of food in the lake.
Silver fish are carefully sorted and then placed in specific holding ponds ready for distribution. This process is repeated each day on a different lake or lakes for around a month, and can only be described as manic hard work, as the fish farmers net everyday to gather in their harvest.
Secondly they manage the stocks of carp and catfish alongside checking the general health of the carp. It gives them a chance to see if damage is occurring and also to see the growth rates. The Bacheliers have so many lakes and clearly don’t net every one, every year. Some lakes are stocked & left for years until the fish grow to the required size. However, they do try to net or partially net the lakes used for carp fishing annually to keep track.
I have to admit that, although very much looking forward to seeing the carp, we weren’t particularly looking forward to standing in very cold water for hours on end, open to the elements! As it turns out, I really needn’t have worried about the cold. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it milder at this time of year, and whilst it rained almost non stop through out, the temperatures were not at all harsh. The warmer weather was a relief to us but unfortunately not ideal at all for netting a lake. In ideal conditions you want the water cold, very cold! This makes the fish less active and therefore easier to handle and less likely to be damaged through stress.
Because of the warm weather the carp were hugely active and as a result it was decided to only net partially. It’s fairly easy to see where the silver fish are held up and so they walk a net out and loop around pulling it in slowly. The fish are gathered and placed on a wide tray where they are sorted into different bins according to size and species, then hauled up and transferred into the aerated tanks on the wagons.
It was here, amongst the silver fish, that some very big and beautifully scaled carp nestled in the nets. We kept our camera rolling as one after the other was passed over the net back into the lake, many stunning fully scaled mirrors and linears amongst them. They were often so lively that Franck barely had time to check their mouths before they were wriggling through his grip and back into the water.
This partial netting process was repeated and several tonnes of silver fish were removed. There are no catfish present in Jonchery at the moment, mainly because Paul also uses the water to grow on a small selection of Zander. We were told that Zander were fetching a very good price, proving very popular in coarse fisheries and it is difficult to meet demand.
Finally, when we assured Paul we had seen enough large carp, the netting was ended and focus immediately passed to transporting the silver fish into the small stock ponds.
When all was done everyone sat to enjoy a well earned lunch and we set about reviewing the video footage. We’re still putting it together & in the next few weeks we’ll release the video. You can see the photos from netting Brocard Large here.
Carp Fishing Tactics – 34 Videos Packed with Info