Chris and Steph made the move out to France fourteen years ago, purchasing a 75 acre estate in Creuse, central France. This estate contained a couple of lakes which were to become two very successful carp fishing venues – Alder and Notaires. Here’s Chris with the story…
We finalised the purchase of the Alder and Notaires Lakes in June 2006. We came over for a couple of weeks, which we spent clearing junk and debris out of the long-empty houses, and then I had to return to Ireland as my company had decided that I wasn’t actually dispensable and had a lot of responsibilities that needed to be handed over and people trained up to do them. We thus made our big move two months later in August, and set up camp in our new hovels (with one working tap and one working light between them).
The first priority was to organise a builder and submit planning applications to convert the hovels into inhabitable two-storey houses. The second priority was to get into the lakes.
In what seemed like a catastrophe at the time, we found that the hunting club who had been renting the lake and houses had drained the lake and removed all the fish. This became a silver lining as the carp we bought in were triploid (sterile) and so did not reproduce. Triploid carp are produced by giving the fertilised eggs a heat shock which produces an extra chromosome. These carp have three chromosomes (triploid) instead of the normal two (diploid).
Now there is little time lost to spawning behaviour and no baby carp to have to remove. (Also no residue nuisance species such as bream or poisson chat.)
When the second delivery of slightly larger carp arrived from the pisciculteur I was still working in Ireland so Steph asked the school if the children could have the day off to witness this great event, although in reality they were needed for the chain gang!
We opened our lakes and gîte in August 2007. We operated independently for our first few years. As we didn’t have a TV company filming our progress or ready access to a famous fishing celebrity we had to publicise the lake the hard way.
We decided to sell a fishing holiday on eBay and Annette Smith put the first and only bid in, landing a week’s fishing for husband Paul for the princely sum of £5. However, this paid rich future dividends as Paul was a skilled old school angler and Paul and Annette can still be seen doing their comedy routine in the Alder & Notaire’s videos!
In 2009 we signed up with Angling Lines and haven’t look back since then. Pictured above were some of the first carp to be caught at Alder by Angling Lines’ field testers Ken and Ron back in 2009.
The biggest and most satisfying change is watching the carp grow steadily year after year. We’ve recorded the growth of the carp in Notaire’s Lake since the majority of the fish have a microchip. The chipping was done gradually and was very popular with anglers as we let the captor name the fish if it was previously unrecorded in the database. We loan our scanner to anglers so they can check on the history of the carp that they catch.
The lake record carp in Alder now sits at 55lb. The Notaires lake carp also continued to gain weight, with it’s lake record carp sitting at 52lb.
Netting the lakes to remove the small silver fish has proved to be a good move, and another change we made a few years ago was to bolster biosecurity measures. Initially we provided mats, slings and nets to clients but we now allow anglers to bring their own again for us to sterilise before they can be used.
It’s also incredibly gratifying to see how many anglers have become regulars over the years.
Want more info on the lakes?
Alder is a 6 acre lake which comfortably accommodates up to 5 anglers, you can book the lake exclusively for your group or individually. Notaires is smaller at 3 acres, providing the perfect lake for just 2/3 anglers wanting to hire a lake exclusively and also offers sole use of a dedicated catfish lake.
Both lakes have the usual angler’s facilities and also offer food packages and some bait on site.
Carp Fishing in France at Alder
Notaires Small Exclusive Carp Lake in France