It was good to be back on Old Oaks. Like us the fish were five years older, a bit wiser and a lot fatter…
When we arrived at the lake after the drive through the lovely French countryside, it was good to see Mehdi again and even better to be back on Old Oaks. Once you close the gates behind you, with a week’s fishing ahead, it feels like all your Christmasses have come at once.
We had been told that the fishing had been very slow recently, unfortunately the previous party had been unsuccessful which meant we knew our work was going to be cut out. After taking a trip around the lake, we didn’t see many signs of fish but it was drizzling a little which gave us hope, so it we picked swims based on everyones gut feelings, knowing there would always be one swim available as we were only a party of four.
Everyone was pretty tired after the long journey, so we got the gear set up, had some food and stocked up on some essentials from the supermarket (beer), before flicking the rods out and getting our heads down for the night. The first action came in Swim 4 at 12.30am. Keith had a screamer which resulted in a beautiful common of 43 pounds caught on a Banoffee Boilie, smashing his PB and getting the trip off to a flyer. We took some pics and made ourselves comfortable once more.
The next morning came and we were all a bit more awake. A couple of the guys went off to get some food shopping whilst 2 of us stayed at the lake in VERY warm sunshine. Keith and I were discussing rigs and he chucked out a fake pink sweetcorn rig over a small bed of boilies. About 20 minutes later, which was 12.30pm the very same rod tore off and after a good scrap there was a huge mirror sat in the net which weighed in at 46 pounds. Smashing his PB again! After this, we thought the pink fake baits were going to smash it, but as always in carp fishing, you can never be sure of anything.
We then began to have quite a few issues with the poisson chats in swims 3, 4 and 5. They were mainly attacking the boilies that were rigged up. Lots of single bleeps and reeling in to find that they were either on the end of the hook or had eaten away the boilie. It took us a few days to get our heads around what they did and didn’t like. More on this shortly.
There was no action for the rest of the day or night but at 5.30am on day 3 Simon hooked into a fish in swim one but unfortunately the hook pulled. At the end of day 3 we had a BBQ and a few beers and got back into the swims at around 7.30pm to bait up and cast out for the night.
Chris had popped a Rahja Spice bait over to the far margin snags in swim 3 and while he was still sorting out the other rods, the baitrunner tore off and he was hooking into an Old Oaks Mirror that tipped the scales at 46lb. Another PB smashed! Within about 20 minutes Matt, who was in swim 2, was also in on the action and after a fairly quick fight the net slipped under a Mirror that weighed in at 46lb. Another PB!
The following morning the action started again. Keith (swim 4) had played a fish and as it came to the net it became clear that it was a catfish. Bizarrely, it was the same one that Simon had caught 5 years before and according to Mehdi, it hadn’t been caught by anyone in the time in between. It was an absolutely amazing coincidence and the huge cat weighed in 78lb and was caught on a banoffee boilie!
The catfish was still languishing in the net when Matt (in swim 2) was in again. A long hard fight with an absolutely stunning mirror carp of around 38lb that was one of the most solid fish we had seen.
The Poisson chat were still causing problems with some of the baits and we weren’t sure we were fishing as effectively as we could. A trip to the supermarket to get some womens tights to mesh the boilies became one tactic, and small hard, fruity pop ups) became another. The rest of the day was quite uneventful although at 3.30am Keith (swim 4) had another fish on the meshed boilies at 31lb.
The only person who hadn’t caught yet was Simon (me) and on Wednesday morning the lake was quite moody. Rain was coming down and the wind was blowing into the bottom end of the lake so he moved from Swim 1 to Swim 5. A few minutes after casting out all three rods with 12mm orange pop ups the right rod registered a bleep and the end of the rod bent round. After striking into a fish, it then banked to the left and after about 10 seconds all went solid. Unfortunately, after trying all the tricks in the book there was no movement so applying pressure was the only way. There was movement and although no fish was on I reeled in the biggest snag I’ve ever seen. It was a huge branch of a tree and once I finally got it in it was clear this had caused several anglers problems as there were a couple of peoples lines and a rig attached. Hopefully something good would come out of it’s removal.
I must admit I felt a bit hard done by but then within minutes, my middle rod was showing signs of a bite. A very strange take that didn’t register on the alarms but the angle of the line kept on changing. I picked up the rod and amazingly it hooped over. After the snag incident I made sure that I got the fish up in the water as soon as possible. Thankfully all went well and after a good fight a lovely mirror carp weighing in at 47 lbs was in the net. Another PB. What a result!
The weather warmed up in the afternoon and the fish were playing hard to get. Chris had a walk round the lake and found a big group of about 30 – 40 fish under the snag opposite him. He watched in awe as big commons and mirrors basked and glided around under his nose. Unfortunately they were all out of fishing reach but he managed to get some great footage of the fish which you can watch below. On the right hand side there is a monster basking which looks like it could easily be a 50!
That night I had another fish out of swim five at about midnight which was again taken on a small fruity pop up over a scattering of cell boilies and partiblend. It was a particularly handsome chestnut brown mirror. We did the business with the snaps and slipped him back. Matthew (swim 2) also had another fish during the night. His second 40 weighing in at 45lb which fell to a Tigernut boilie fished over a small gravel patch half way out.
Thursday came and the weather had warmed up considerably again. It was mid morning and just when Chris felt like his luck was out in swim 3 he had a steaming run and played a nice looking mirror for about five minutes and then had a stinker when the hook pulled. In silence, we all left the swim and went out to get a Mcdonalds and recharge the battery’s away from the lake for an hour.
On our return, it was still blazing hot. We weren’t really expecting much but another screamer from Chris in swim 3 changed that. He had a hard fought scrap with a fish and was absolutely made up when a huge common finally graced the net. It was a beauty and I think although it wasn’t the biggest fish of the trip it was definitely the most pretty and one which Chris was overjoyed with. We had pictures on the bank and in the lake to mark his special moment before getting the fish back to it’s home.
On the last day, the weather took a turn for the worst and it rain hard for about 10 hours non stop. There were a few fishing showing and we thought it looked good for a take but there was no action until late in the evening when Matthew topped off the week with a dumpy 46 mirror. A great way to finish a great week.
Overall the fishing wasn’t easy although we did well. We had to work out what was working, combat the poisson chats, change tactics. It ended up being a very rewarding week though and we all caught pbs and no one blanked which is more than we were hoping for. Mehdi was great as usual and helped us out with some scales after we realised ours weren’t quite up to the job. It was good to be back and hope it’s not too long before we cross paths again.
Finally, I would say – do listen to the feedback regarding the poisson chat. We went thinking that they wouldn’t affect us. I would say that a lot of the boilies we took were probably rendered useless quite quickly. Cell and Banoffee. I would suggest going armed with Tutti Frutti, Pineapple and fruity little numbers. I think we could have added a few more to the tally if we realised this earlier.
For more information on Old Oaks follow the link – French Carp Lakes