Barry Oconnor has kindly sent in this write-up of the Jonchery Challenge this September, sounds like a cracking session!
Ben and I were invited to take part in a carp match in France. It was on Jonchery Lake in Brevonnes. Jonchery was created by the Bachelier family who are fish farmers, the fishery is superbly run by Mark Slade and his wife Anita. The lake is 30 acres in size and is well stocked with carp up to 68lbs+. There are six large double swims that will comfortably accommodate twelve anglers. There is a fisherman’s lodge with a proper toilet and shower and also a fridge and a freezer. We’d seen this lake about eight years ago but didn’t fish it as we were going to do a feature on Brocard, another lake owned by the Bachelier family.
We set off for Dover in the early hours and a couple of hours later we boarded our ferry to Calais. Once in Calais we headed off to Belgium to get some baccy and booze. From there it was about four hours to Jonchery. We arrived in the afternoon to be warmly greeted by Mark and Anita. After a welcome cup of coffee and a chat we had a slow walk around the lake. It looked a picture in the evening sunshine and we saw plenty of carp. When we got back to the lodge Mark had got us a kebab which we thought was a nice touch.
The next day we did a draw for swims. Unfortunately two pairs couldn’t make it so we all agreed that Mark could fish it on his own. Because of work commitments Mark wouldn’t be fishing as much as we would and he also agreed to take last peg left in the draw. The first pair out opted for peg 5. We came out second and settled for peg 6. You can drive all the way round Jonchery so getting the tackle to the swims is no problem. We settled in our swim which was to be our home for the next seven days. I went on the left. We both decided to fish just off the far bank on some gravel we found. We were allowed to use three rods each. Each swim had the use of a rowing boat and bait boats were also allowed. Our initial tactics were to try different hookbaits. These being Mainline Cell, Hybrid, Fusion and a new bait we were testing. This tactic is quite common for us when fishing a match on a lake we’ve never fished before. Usually a pattern develops and we base what we do around this.
Our rigs consisted of the new Ashima sheathed type hooklink we’ve been testing tied to size 6 Ashima C415 Indespensable barbless hooks. (There’s a barbless rule on Jonchery). Three ounce leads were attached to safety clips with the tail rubber lightly pushed on. 15lb Gangster mainline tied to fluorocarbon leaders completed our set up. The bait boat was used to drop the rigs on the spots. After they were dropped we scattered boiles over a wide area around each hookbait. We applied this tactic for the first twenty four hours but unfortunately didn’t have a bite. A change was needed. While we were sitting watching the water I noticed some fizzing in open water. I quickly reeled in and put a fresh Cell boilie on and also attached a small Ashima web bag containing some ground Cell boilies to the hook. This was placed in the bait boat along with a few chopped Cell boilies and some Cell Response pellets. The bait boat went out and the rig and bait was dropped onto where they were fizzing. I moved both of my other rods too. Using the same tactics with the bait boat I put one in open water and the other down the margin.
After a couple of hours the bait that went on the fizzing area was away. The carp used its weight to pull and turn but after about ten minutes he was in the net. It was a long Mirror and weighed in at 43lb 12oz. It was worthwhile changing.
Nothing more happened until the early hours when Ben latched into a 26lb Common. Shortly after my other rod in open water went off. It was on the new bait we are testing. Again it felt like a good one and didn’t disappoint at 42lb 12oz. It had become apparent that the fish were on my side of the swim so I moved my rods to allow Ben to bring two of his rods into the productive area. We also agreed to share the rods, something we do in most matches. The next bite was Ben’s and boy did it scream off. It ploughed up and down the swim but every time Ben tried to guide it to the bank it was away again. Eventually it came towards us and as it rolled we could see it was a lump. The rudder on it was massive. It finally succumbed and went into the net. It was big. Ben recognised it as a carp called “Orange Spot”. It took the dial on the scales round to 50lb 2oz. Ben was over the moon with it because it was his PB carp. We later celebrated it with a bottle of champagne.
Over the duration of the match Anita cooked our breakfast and evening meal, which was delivered to our swim. This enabled all the anglers to carry on fishing rather than reel in each time. It was excellent service. We carried on catching until an almighty storm came through us and managed to knock down three pylons in Brienne. After that for the last two days we never had another bite. We weren’t too fussed though as we had amassed a weight of over 670lb of carp which was enough to win the match. This included 1 x 50, 6 x 40s, 9 x 30s and 2 x 20s. We had a great session with some great guys, made some good friends and can’t wait to do it again.
The Jonchery Challenge is now going to be a yearly event thanks to Paul Bachelier and Mark Slade. Incidentally we won a fishing holiday for two for one week on any of the lakes owned by the Bachelier family. I’m sure we’ll put that to good use.
Find out more about Jonchery here – Carp Fishing in France