If you run a commercial carp lake in France stocking it with carp is likely to be one of the biggest money outlays you make. Here’s the things I have learnt;
1. Before you even start to think about buying a lake and running your own carp fishery sit down and work out your finances, as the bigger the lake the more fish you will need. They don’t come cheap, prices are rising and big fish are getting harder to buy.
2. Does the lake fill up easily and does it stay full of water throughout the year? This may sound obvious, but it’s vital. With the drier and hotter weather we are having lake levels can soon drop. If a lake relies on rain only to fill it up the levels can drop significantly during the summer and this can cause problems with the fish and water quality, in that the oxygen levels can drop to dangerous levels. A lake that is spring or stream fed are good as you are less likely to suffer with levels dropping too much. Our lake, Bletiere, is spring fed underground and even over a long summer the level only drops by inches, consequently oxygen levels have never been a problem.
Think about what will you do if we get another long hot summer and your carp start to suffer due to dropping oxygen levels. It’s too late when it’s happening so do you need to have ready a means to aeriate the water. You can find on the internet. We are lucky and have never needed to do this but I still have pumps ready in the barn just in case. It can be something very simple – just as long as it forces oxygen into the water. Obviously in a big lake it will take more effort.
3. Have the lake netted – this is very important. You get to see what is in the lake, both species and size, and more importantly if the fish are disease free and in good health. What’s the point in paying out thousands of euro’s and putting healthy fish into a lake that may have disease problems with its existing residents? No point at all! You can also take the chance to look at the bottom of the lake to see if it needs dredging. This would be the time to have this work done – before you stock. It’s not cheap but deffinitely worth it in the long run.
4. For a very small cost (considering how much the carp are going to cost you) I would strongly advise you have the water tested. Most big towns have a municipal laboratory and it’s a great way to ensure there are no water quality problems before your fish start to die.
5. Before you go out and buy the fish try to assess what natural food is in the lake – will it be sufficient to feed all your fish? In most cases the answer is probably no and once you add even more carp there will probably not be enough food to sustain growth rates. So now is the time you need to source a fish feed supplier. There are several large ones in France and it’s down to your budget and what you wish to feed, but cheap is not always good. Don’t forget you will not have anglers there all the time putting bait in. I have covered feeding carp in another article and added ways to save money but still ensure good growth rates.
6. Spend time looking in your area for the fish farm that you intend to buy your carp from. We originally purchased our fish from a farm over 2 hours drive away and this entailed a lot of stress to the fish on the way to us. We now use a farm that is only 30 minutes away from us. So we select the fish and within 1 to 2 hours they are safely in the lake. It’s a sad fact that on average 10% of the carp you buy will die from the stress of moving and settling into their new environment – so try and keep the transportation time as low as possible.
7. Speak to the fish farmer and seek his advice about stocking levels. They are always helpful and they don’t want you to have problems. If they suggest 2 or 3 stockings then agree as it’s all about what’s best for your carp. Also on the day you go to pick your fish be prepared for a long visit as you get to see and choose every fish you buy. They will never argue if you say “no” to a fish, but be careful it’s easy to get carried away and end up with a big invoice… I did!
8. When the fish are delivered don’t forget to weigh and photograph all or at least some of them, as it’s a great way to check future growth rates when they get caught plus generate excellent publicity for your venue.
9. Check your stocking license (issued by the local Gard de Peche) before you buy anything other than carp to ensure you are allowed to stock them. For example, here at Bletiere, we have some constraints as to what we are allowed to put in the lake due to a trout stream running alongside the lake, as they are concerned as to what could get into the stream e.g. pike and perch.
10. Think about any tools or implements that you may need to catch or release any trapped or injured fish. For example chest waders, heavy duty nets and a small work boat. Just stop and think what’s the worst that can happen and then prepare as a little pre-planning and thought can save a lot of stress and heartache.
I hope this has been of interest and use – just a few things I have learnt along the way over the last five years. If you are careful and think about what you are doing nothing much goes wrong – but it pays to be prepared.
John @ La Bletiere Fishing Holidays