Your French carp fishing adventure starts here…
Planning your inaugural continental carp trip? Do your homework before you book…
Any European road trip requires a modicum of preparation. An angling trip demands so much more, bringing with it a whole host of questions, variables and imponderables. Not least: What’s my goal for the trip? Non-stop action, targeting 20s and 30s, or a new PB?
What kind of hardware – rods and reels, leads, line and hooks – will I need? And what and how much bait should I take?
Is my chosen venue close to a tackle store, restaurant and shops? Or will I need to take the kitchen sink (not to mention, the fridge, stove and cookware)?
Fact is, whether you’re considering a family break with all the comforts (www.anglinglines.com/accommodationlakes/) or going ‘back to basics’ – chasing monsters in the back of beyond (www.anglinglines.com/bigcarplakes/) – thorough planning is key to an enjoyable, and successful, angling getaway.
Your first port of call: the Angling Lines website, which – through detailed descriptions, stocking information, maps, pics and impartial reviews – provides all the information you need to make an informed decision regarding the right venue for you.
Personal recommendation too can be worth its weight in bragging rights; so if possible solicit the opinions and experiences of your angling buddies, both directly and online, via your extended circle of Facebook fishing friends and forum members.
Tell them the kind of holiday that interests you – in terms of ease of access, travel times, accommodation, stock levels and so on – and get their recommendations.
Chances are, they’ll point you in the direction of any number of lakes in the Angling Lines portfolio, which comprises around 40 diverse, proven and established French carp lakes; enabling you to find a water that suits your preferred fishing style, your abilities, and your objectives – including:
Big carp venues and
Comforts and conveniences aside, I would recommend, for your initial trip at least, that you select a runs water within easy driving distance of the ferry port; a venue with a substantial head of fish, combining the best possible chance of a bend in your rod with a better than average chance of a chunk.
Before starting your shortlist, take a moment to consider the carp fishing you do at home; and the styles of angling you enjoy.
If you usually fish at relatively close range, and have tackle to suit, then rocking up at a 40-acre pit, where you may need to consistently cast 100 yards are more into strong winds, may not be the right choice for you
Rather, you should select a water that allows you to fish to your strengths.
Cut your teeth, and gain your confidence, on this kind of venue; then consider one of the tougher, more challenging waters next time around.
Rest assured: there are plenty of lakes in the Angling Lines ‘stable’ where many a chunk has been caught just inches from the bank.
Next consideration: will you be travelling alone, with family, or with your angling pals? If it’s the latter, be warned: gaining consensus on venues and dates from a group of carpers can be tantamount to herding cats.
So if you’re in charge of the coffers, be sure to get a firm commitment – and a substantial deposit – before you book. You have been warned.
That said, and if you are travelling with a group (or have sufficient funds at your disposal), you might consider a lake exclusive booking – enabling you to focus your efforts on targeting carp, rather than working round, and competing with, other anglers. And the really good news: prices, per person, may be far lower than the cost of a single slot on one of the larger, more commercial venues.
If on the other hand you’re travelling alone, you may prefer to fish in proximity to other anglers.
From a social, safety and convenience point of view this certainly has merit – if nothing else ensuring there’s always someone around to take a pic or keep an eye on your gear whilst you pop to the shop, shower… or elsewhere.
In theory, more established, commercial venues offer visiting anglers an equal chance of catching in numbers. But as in the UK, the fish often have other ideas – frequently favouring certain areas over others for no better reason, seemingly, than carpy contrariness.
Shallower areas for instance may fish better early in the season. This can work to your advantage if there are only a couple of you, and you can move around the lake; but if the lakes fully booked, some anglers may get a better night’s sleep than others.
So a little prior research, into not just the venues themselves, but the swims and successful approaches rigs, bait, and so on, will afford you a pronounced edge; either when you arrive or when pre-booking your peg.
With this in mind, seek the advice of the Angling Lines team and/or the owners and bailiffs, whose job it is to ensure you have the best and most productive holiday possible.
Going equipped: gearing up for your chosen venue…
The right tackle and bait are central to a successful trip and should be informed by your chosen venue; taking in to account the size of the lake, stock, topography, snags, access, and so on.
Of course, if you are restricted to one pre-booked swim for the duration of your stay, then it’ll be relatively easy to choose and pack exactly the right gear.
If on the other hand you have the ‘right to roam’ – and plenty of water to go at – you face a difficult compromise: striving to cover all the bases, whilst taking only the minimum of kit, so optimising mobility (which can be important when fishing a week long session).
Either way, you’ll need to be ‘tooled up’ for the task at hand: if a big chuck’s likely to be required, you’ll require rods and reels, line and leads that are up to the job.
Similarly, if larger cats are present, you’ll require hardware capable of bullying these 100lbs+ beasts to the bank.
If in doubt, my advice would be erring on the side of caution – with 3lb (minimum) rods and dependable big bit reels.
Fact is, you can’t –nor should you – take an entire battery of rods with you. Carp are carp, wherever they swim. And they’re wont to respond to angler pressure by ‘doing the off’. Which means, assuming the rules permit, moving every couple of days could help you stay two steps ahead of your more sedentary fellow anglers.
The less gear you have to shift, the more responsive you can be.
With this in mind, before you start packing, check what the fishery itself provides: many these days supply boats, barrows, weigh slings, cradles, and so on. Meaning you don’t have to.
Consider too the nature (and amount) of terminal tackle that you’ll – really – need. (Though they may not take up much room, leads for example will put a big dent in your weight allowance if you’re flying.)
But don’t scrimp: if you’re some distance from a tackle shop, you won’t want to spend the latter part of your break jury-rigging stones to your lead clips.
Generally, you’ll only need three or four spools of hooklink material – a coated braid, a fluorocarbon, maybe a zig link and a supple braid – the diameter of which should be determined by the quarry, the presence of catfish, the lakebed, snags and so on.
Hooks-wise, generally I’d go with a strong, sharp, dependable pattern that you know and trust, in sizes 4, 6 and 10 (the latter, for surface/zig fishing).
As to mainline, if you’re fishing a venue where you need to cast long distances, then your line needs to be of a relatively narrow diameter (possibly accompanied by a shock leader).
If you’ll be coping with tough terrain, abrasion resistance is key. And on smaller spookier venues, I’d go with a fast sinking fluorocarbon.
And take a couple of (freshly) filled spare spools, since big cats have a habit of stripping line from a reel faster than you can say “Where’s my head torch?”
Ad then there’s bait.
With space at a premium, you might investigate what if any baits – boilies, pellets or particles – are provided by the fishery owners.
If they’re offering for sale a bait that forms part of the carp’s natural diet – at a reasonable price – then, really: why wouldn’t you?
Sure, you can add a few pots of your favoured hookbaits. But why risk the wrath of the DVSA solely to ‘try something different’? (It bears repeating: fisheries want you to catch fish; they want you to come back. So you can bet their advice will be good.)
Failing this, the extensive range of palatable, nutritionally balanced ‘catch anywhere’ shelf life boilies from the likes of Nash, Nutrabaits, Pallatrax, Sticky et al eliminate the problems previously associated with maintaining fresh baits in good condition throughout longer sessions.
Other essentials that you may otherwise overlook on your first trip (and almost certainly will never overlook again) include mosquito repellent (depending on the time of year); and in the unlikely event that your venue doesn’t offer charging facilities, a power pack and solar panel to keep your phone, camera etc fully-juiced throughout the week.
Assuming you’ll be driving to your chosen venue, you’ll also need to carry your driving licence, vehicle registration document and motor insurance certificate (which must of course cover you for driving on the continent).
A GB sticker should be clearly displayed on the back of your car. And you’re also required to carry a warning triangle, fluorescent safety vest (to be worn in the event of a breakdown) and breathalyser (yes, really).
You’ll also need to adjust your headlight beam pattern to suit driving on the right (so that the dipped beam doesn’t dazzle oncoming drivers).
Be aware too that French laws prohibit drivers from carrying any device capable of detecting speed cameras. So be sure to disable camera alerts on your sat nav.
Unlike in the UK, it is also illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving (even hands-free). And, though not mandatory, international breakdown cover and holiday insurance are also advisable.
For everything else you may need to know – about, for instance, toll charges, restaurants and service stations along your route – visit www.autoroutes.fr.
For all other issues relating to carp fishing in France, Angling Lines has you covered.
Follow their advice and you can be confident your first French carp fishing trip will be hassle-free; fruitful… and the first of many.
Your European carp fishing adventure starts here
For more info on recommended venues for your first French trip, check out www.anglinglines.com/runswaterlakes/ and www.anglinglines.com/accommodationlakes/