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Carp fishing in France
This article is about carp fishing in France and fishing holidays. By Rod Simpson Carp fishing FRANCE holidays Domaine Du Brocard La Barriere Fontaine Aux loups Intro to fishing holidays Before moving onto this month's lake review I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the English team on their win against France! The fishing was quite difficult and every fish was hard earned, Kev Knight was a nervous wreck on the last night as one of the French pairs landed several carp closing the gap on our lead. However the ever consistent Mark England and Gary Thomas landed 6 carp which equalled the French last minute surge. Ian Macmillan (Armaled fame) and I were amongst those that managed a few carp on the last night that extended the English lead further. Although we didn't know it at the time England was in front by quite a margin! The match ended and the cheers from the team echoed down the valley! Unofficially we knew we had won; however the official announcement was to be made at the presentations ceremony that evening. The announcement was made, & the winners of the France Vs England match - ENGLAND!, Tim Paisley and Kev Knight hoisted the trophy and the deafening roar could have raised the roof! A proud moment and a memory that will stay with me till the end of time! I am already looking forward to meeting the French team on a lake closer to home next year? As they said in their match advertisement, come on girls! Enough of my blabbering and on with the venues: which consist of a complex of 3 lakes, 2 of them allowing carp and catfish fishing. They are known as Domaine Du Brocard. The lake closest to the site entrance named Barriere and the top lake being Fontaine Aux Loups. Both are fairly shallow and picturesque with masses of surface features. Imagine a 37 and 28 acre Redmire pool, you wouldn't be far from picturing these lakes. English reservations are through French Carping UK: Rob, one of the directors was my angling partner for this trip, he is a capable angler and has similar ability to myself except in the culinary department. A good choice on any session, however his culinary efforts require some improvement! No offence Rob you set a low catering standard and failed to achieve it, I would rather eat off turnip than let you near the Coleman again! The lakes lie in the heart of the Champagne region and are surrounded by woodland. We fished the upper lake known as Fontaine Aux loups, however a daily visit was made to the lower lake and a quick chat to the anglers, which enabled me to gather enough information to recommend an approach to both Fontaine Aux Loups and La Barriere. For those nature lovers amongst you, which I presume is the majority; there is an abundance of wildlife to be seen. I was lucky enough to see what I believe was a kite take a pigeon in flight; it was an amazing sight and one which I would have liked to catch on film. For all of you bird watchers out there; common sightings include many different species of birds of prey. If you are lucky you may even spot a wild bore or deer as they venture down to their watering hole just after sunrise. Over the years I have been asked a number of apprehensive questions regarding wild bore, let's get rid of a few myths. They are retiring animals and fairly harmless unless you are stupid enough to corner or provoke them when they have piglets! Even then they will try to avoid you, possibly due to their encounters with humans. As these encounters tend to be with hunters which often ends up with the bore receiving a bullet to the vital organs. Approach to carp fishing Crayfish are present but not in enough numbers to present major problems, I used harder mainline air-dried hook baits than the free offerings and didn't encounter any apple-cored boilie's. A throwing stick and spod rod are recommended as no boats of any type are allowed. My feed strategy consisted of 2 areas baited with 2 kilo of 18 mm mainline essential opal and active 8 and a tighter bed of ground bait and hemp placed close to the hook bait i.e. a spread of boilies and a tighter dinner plate effect. The theory being that any carp passing the area will notice the spread and move onto the more attractive dinner plate where the trap is waiting. A high attract dipped mainline pop up was used on the third roving rod cast to crashing carp. Robs approach was slightly different fishing one rod close to a bush in the near margin. Several handfuls of pellets and mainline baits were scattered over the top, and produced fish to 37 lb (16.5 kg) Robs roving rod produced his biggest carp which settled the scales at just under 39 lb (17 kg) Don't overcomplicate the matter with fancy rigs, a basic flouro carbon, Armaled kick back or any other coated braid will suffice. These stiffer hook length materials create a push away effect from lead to boilie and rarely tangle. Due to the lead burying into the clay bottom it was necessary to pull back, this not only makes the bait more visible as it sits on top of the silt/clay but also straightens the hook length. Had we been able to pick our swim we would have had more carp as they could be seen crashing on a regular basis at 110 yards range in front of swim 8 and swim 5. The anglers that were in those swims couldn't reach the carp, still we can't complain at the amount of 30s (14 kg +) we caught! The fishing was said to be quite slow in comparison to the average week, but still produced mirrors of 45 (20 kg) and 53 lb (23.5 kg), which fell to some Dutch anglers further down the bank. Facilities for fishing The main shower/toilet block is located near the town of Brienne La Chateau, the showers are hot the toilets are English style and all that is needed. There are several toilets of the wooden thunder box type around the lake. They are suitable to a rough and ready angler, however a trip to the better quality toilets in the town may be required if you prefer the comforts of home. There are a number of supermarkets, small angling shops, bars and cake shops in the town. The fishing/shooting shops sell basic items of tackle, bait and a large range of camouflage type clothing. The carp La Barriere contains an estimated 450 carp with at least 40% weighing between 30-50 lbs (14 - 22.5 kg) The lake record stands at 54.5 lb. It is a is very well stocked with catfish, the average being 30-50 lb (14-22.5 kg) However the lake is being drained this winter with the intention of removing all catfish below 40 lbs (17.5 kg) Even with these smaller fish removed, there will still be a large stock of cats of a larger average size. The current biggest landed is 110 lb. There are heavier mogies present but due to the power and size of them they are difficult to land on standard carp tackle. Due to the cats enjoying a bit of fowl you will see no birds on this lake! You may see some frogs but will notice that they are reluctant to swim in the water, I know it sounds strange but they tend to hop across the water from branch to branch as quick as their little legs will carry them! Obviously in fear of the vultures below! Fontaine Aux Loups is also very well stocked with over 600 carp with at least 50% over 30 lbs and approximately 150 over 40lbs at the right time of year, this being during the fish check and count during the vidange (draining of the lake) In addition there are a good number of grass carp which go to mid 30s, if like me you are not a lover of grass carp and don't want to hook them, don't use particles. Big head carp to over 70 lbs are present but rarely caught due to their main diet consisting of tiny food morsels. There are no catfish in this lake but does contain a lot of pike; they are stocked to keep the levels of the smaller fish down. After this years successful spawning there are thousands of small carp of 4-6 inches in length. The fisheries director and onsite bailiff Frank demonstrated just how successful the spawning was with a scoop of a landing net, each dip engulfed an average of 20 miniature carp. Rules for fishing A full set of rules and regulations is sent upon reservation, the main rules worth mentioning are as follows: 1. Barbless hooks only 2. Mono mainline only 3. Hook links must be weaker than the mainline 4. No boats or bait boats 5. No nuts 6. No sacking of carp 7. Large beanie type mats 8. No unattended rods 9. Cars must be parked in car parks after unloading 10. No mutilation of carp 11. 3 rods and one smaller match type rod is allowed. Swims and features La Barierre is different in shape to Loups, it is longer and narrower with 4 swims well spaced along the track bank. Swim 1 is the shallowest swim with reed beds to the left and overhanging trees along the far margin. Judging by the catch reports it is a very good swim during the summer months. Swim 2 has a wooden platform and depths to the front averaging 4 feet. The far margin is a cast of 150 yards and littered with overhanging trees and snags, however if you are able to cast a bait to within 20 metres of it you will be on fish as there are normally numbers of carp in the area. The fallen tree in the near margin to the right is an area that tends to hold carp and resident catfish. Swim 3 has dead trees along the far margin at a range of 80 - 100 yards, a popular swim that produces a lot of fish. Swim 4 is the dam sluice swim which covers a lot of water and a good choice when the wind is blowing towards that end of the lake. The main features being the marginal tree line and dead tree that protrudes out from the far margin. Fontaine Aux Loups has 7 double swims with a new one being planned for next year. The lake bed is mainly made up of clay with a covering of silt. The average depth is 4 foot and fairly flat. The masses of features I mentioned earlier are the large lilly beds and a number of smaller clumps. Mature trees drape into the water along the forest swims creating a natural looking lake. The old branches that have fallen from the large trees have been left beneath the canopy creating sanctuary areas. Pea mussels cling to them forming a food larder; carp visit this area on a regular basis to crunch some tasty morsels. Swim 5 is the first swim as you travel along the track from La Barriere, the main features, as with most of the swims are the abundant lilly clumps at ranges from 30 - 100 yards plus. Swim 6 is the deepest part of the lake as it is close to the sluice; the old river bed departs the lake at this point and is fairly easy to find due to being close to the bank. The island is located to the left of this swim at a range of 80-100 yards. Swim 7 is located to the left side of the island which is a fairly simple cast. There is open water to the front with several clumps of lilies at range. Swim 8 has pads to the right and a small lily bed at approximately 100 yards. Swims 9 and 10 both have wooden platforms and are located in the forest. Features are similar with large lily beds and marginal snags where the trees have fallen in. No driving is allowed to these swims; if you have reserved one of them a carp porter may be useful. Swim 11 is at the bottom end of the lake, the main features being the large lily beds and smaller clumps at 70 - 100 yards range. Conclusion and carp fishing in France advice These lakes are suitable to those looking for carp of a good average size as both venues contain many fish in the 20 - 40 lb (9 - 17.5 kg) bracket. La Barriere is the more productive of the two lakes although the average size is slightly smaller. Fontaine Aux Loups holds more 40s (17.5 kg) and 50s (22.5 kg) but is slightly more difficult than its lower cousin. During an average week several 40s (17.5 kg) and a couple of 50s (22.5 kg) pose for the cameras and a number of catfish. If you are looking for lakes that contain a large average size of carp in natural surroundings then these lakes are worth considering. Note: This series is not an advert for any commercial fishery owners, although it can be good for their promotion; it is one man paying his own way, travelling to commercial waters in France to review them. The main emphasis being on recommending an approach, successful baits, swims and finding features. However in order to gather as much information as possible I not only fish the venues but also interview the owner. This lengthy chat includes: looking at their catch reports, requesting photographs of past clients, stock, facilities and other information. I did just this for a lake featured in an earlier issue. I fished the lake caught fish but not the biggest ones, therefore requested some photos of carp caught by past clients and took some photographs of their photographs on their picture board. I made an assumption that the fish photographs on the picture board were from that venue! Wrong! After the said article was published Tony Miller (French commercial venue owner) rang and told me that some of the fish were actually from his lake and not the one in the feature. I had placed fish photographs in an article that were not caught from the featured lake and was totally unaware of the fact! One obviously presumes that they were caught from that venue? I am a little perturbed about the matter! As ever I make every effort to present accurate facts on all venues I visit for this series. That's Carp fishing in France!