I’m sure it’s a familiar story, two friends start fishing together as teenagers. The quick evening sessions floating bread for ten pounders and then scarpering before having to pay the bailiff three quid. The joys of fitting two peoples worth of gear into a mark two Fiesta with room to spare. The sleepless nights when i didn’t realize you could buy such a thing as a bedchair, and the young tackle tart pride of owning an un-branded bait runner reel that cost a tenner.
Yes great days indeed; learning from one another and never quite getting it right, the glory days before mass internet and having to muddle through on your own because no one wants to help a young noddy out, let alone a pair of young noddies (and especially a noddy head to toe in sports casual, riding a clapped out fake super sports fiesta… sorry Stu).
Anyway to get to the point of this blog, i’m going to write about how fishing in France and ten years using Angling Lines venues has helped me to become the better fisherman that I am today (although it could be argued that I catch much less now than when I was seventeen and using a 22mm compression nut as a ledger bomb (long noddy story that i’m too ashamed to repeat in print).
At twenty two years of age with a PB of seventeen and a half pounds, Stewart and myself decided we wanted to go on a French fishing holiday. We rang around various companies and after looking through the Angling Lines brochure we decided that Morgane was the place for us. Now with hindsight we will both admit we were far too inexperienced to carp fish in France and I think this holiday represented a water shed moment. If we had a bad time that would be the end of French holidays and we would still be knocking about in small puddles for baby carp.
After reading the documentation for the lake and especially the rules we went out and equipped ourselves with bigger nets, bigger un-hooking mats, better reels with quality line and various other bits and bobs. I understand every young fisherman has to start somewhere and forgetting bivvy poles and taking bad pictures is one thing but I’ve always understood the importance of carp safety. Thankfully with the internet and the various dvd’s a young carp angler can get a head start in fish safety and ideas of what products are available to buy for it.
Back to Morgane and the reason we picked this venue was the size of the lake (and the size and variety of the fish of course). I’ve always thought of carp fishing as being a bit like golf, both have a degree of snobbery to them and like golf some people are just naturally brilliant anglers. For the average amatuer lots of practice and more time on the bank will improve your fishing. Golfers use a driving range to improve their striking of a ball just the same as I practise casting to increase my range and accuracy.
Its always good to know your limitations when choosing a lake. I was very limited in ability and while no lake is easy Morgane is quite small so casting distance wouldn’t be a problem for us to get on the fish.
To say i was chuffed with that grass-carp was an understatement, my new PB of twenty five pounds. If I remember correctly I had about twelve fish all from sixteen to twenty five pounds, not massive but a massive success for me. I dont want to say we muddled through the holiday but it was a huge learning curve for me. Another great thing about Morgane is being able to fish exclusively. I’m sure that, like many other anglers, my confidence gets knocked a bit in front of other fishermen from time to time and at least having that privacy meant I could cock up as many casts as I like without having to crawl under a rock from embarrassment.
So we left Morgane with a completely new idea of what carp fishing is about, and as soon as Stewart and I arrived back in England we began to talk about our next French holiday and made an extra effort to get some time on the bank in England at some better waters.
The next year rolled around and saw us fishing the small lake at former angling lines venue Roseau, again we picked Roseau for its small size and to be fair it was a bit of a stinker. We picked mid July which was blazing hot, and was told in the car park on arrival by a former bailiff fishing the large lake that we would be lucky to catch anything all week. Confidence now at zero we set up and had a very difficult week which saw me catch three carp to twenty three pounds.
By the end of the week my dreams of French fishing had taking a severe beating and booking another trip was the last thing I wanted to think about.
Now this is where friends come in; after four months of not doing much fishing in England, Stewart suggested booking another French trip. I must admit I wasn’t keen but after some long conversations we decided that maybe July wasn’t a great month for us to fish. We had a long conversation with Angling Lines and decided to fish another former venue Vivier in early April.
The closer the holiday came the more I got myself fired up, I didn’t want this holiday to slip away like the last one so I began to get out and put more time on the bank back home. The faithfull old Okuma bait runners got replaced with some shiny new Shimano Loncast big bait runners (which I still use and love dearly despite weighing as much as a house brick) and bait started to fill the chest freezer.
The subject of bait and what to take to France has always been a bit of a head scratcher for me. I used to take maybe four or five types of boilie along with various particles and hemp, a few bags of pellet and tons of pop-ups and dips. The more i fish abroad the more i streamline my bait, i always enjoy fishing Bigot lakes as i find that i always do well with two types of boilie and loads of pellets. By contrast this year fishing Boux i ended up taking 40kg of boilies, 30kg of maize, 30kg of pellet, 30kg of hemp and 30kg of flaked maize, of which the carp hoovered up the lot by Thursday.
Back to Vivier and the lake that final dispelled any doubts in my head about not wanting to go on French fishing holidays again.
Vivier was an absolute pleasure to fish and i still regard it as my favourite French fishing holiday, pure nostalgic memories of learning to catch carp.
Life in your twenties is full of distractions and, okay my time on the bank has sometimes waned, but I’ve always looked forwards to my yearly French holiday more than anything. From the runs madness of Commons lake to the giant carp of Laroussi, I still find Angling Lines has plenty of lakes to keep my passion for catching carp going. As I’m writing this Stewart and myself have just returned from a four day blank session at Oldmill Lakes in Lincolnshire. Has it dented my commitment? Has it hell, I’ve got my second visit to Sapphire to look forwards to in April.
Cheers for reading,