I bank the king and queen of the pond during a wild, wet and windy autumn fishing session. Here are the tactics and setup I used to trick these wily carp.
A tricky end to the 2018 season
With the end of yet another great year at the fishery (our eighth), I got the chance to get the rods out which I’d been been looking forward to for months!
For the last month, carp fishing in France has been hard at most venues. Tough conditions at a tricky venue like Beausoleil means every take (and there haven’t been many) has been very precious indeed! A quick look at our catch reports will show that this has been one of the toughest ends of the year we’ve seen for a long time.
In the past it would have been easy to blame low oxygen levels but this has not been the case as we’ve held a minimum of 60% throughout October. The conditions have been very challenging for returning guests and even harder for those that were new to the venue.
Time for a new plan
At the end of the season, these carp have been under constant pressure since March and have been defeating rigs week in week out. With the carp playing very hard to get, I decided to throw everything I could at the problem and add a few new tricks into the mix.
With my baiting strategy, I was very specific about when, where, how much and the exact distribution of bait over each spot. I gave the carp many small scoops of Shrimp & Cray/house pellet/glug mix spread out over a number of metres. I then left these seeded zones to quietly work their magic for a few days.
This strategy is designed to simulate multiple bait boat drops (something the carp see a lot of). The plan was that the carp would first discover, then explore these false traps, investigate closer, sample, then slowly gain confidence. It takes a number of days for this to happen and it’s essential not to rush things and confuse the situation by actually fishing for them at the same time. This is an advanced version of a strategy I cover in my tutorials and it virtually never fails!
Inspired by Max’s success this summer, I discovered the potential of the multi rig. Coupled with the Beausoleil lead setup, it proved to be a deadly combination. For my session, I wanted to try a couple of multi rig variants. To start with, I went with the classic pop up multi rig (with and without a shrink tube curve). It wasn’t a rig I’d ever fished with before but I was in the mood for experimenting. It did bank one carp but I also had multiple short flurries of beeps….
Done, done and done again
As any Beausoleil visitor will tell you, getting multiple beeps and no runs happens a lot here. In my experience, you’re getting done and it’s down to hooks or rigs. I have total faith in my hand sharpened hooks so I had to put it down to the rig. My lead system was working perfectly but the business end was not doing the business. Time for a tweak and I went with Max’s double bottom bait variant of the multi rig. It would be the first time I’d be fishing with it but I’d seen its potential and it was time to put it to the test.
There are many many spots here and as I had the place to myself I actually went for larger spots that I could either feel a lead down onto or just guide the Anatec to by eye. Knowing the spots is one thing, knowing which ones to fish when and for how long is another. That’s what I call spot roulette. My plan as always is to move traps about to find which ones are going to do me a bite. In total I fished 10 different spots from one swim and caught from two of them. I commit to each spot for 12 to 20 hrs. Depending on what happens, sometimes I’ll try a spot, then leave it and return to it later in the session. A trap could be a simple bait boat trap, a single, a PVA stick, a solid bag or a parachute bag. All of these are capable of doing a bite but which one to choose….
Parachute bags are meant to combat the low lying weed. It’s a very underused technique and that’s exactly why I chose it for this session. At Beausoleil we don’t have to worry about weed, but we do have a very rocky bottom to contend with as well as large areas of soft silt and chod. Parachute bags are great at controlling the descent of the rig while keeping everything safe until the rig finally comes come to rest.
I also protect the hook by folding a nugget of PVA over it before loading into a solid bag. This also stops pellets, crumb or chops masking the delicate hook point. During the session, I both cast them and bait boated them out. The rest of the setup was fairly standard with a tell-tale lead system and backleads to combat the strong winds and leaf litter which can cause havoc at this time of year with slack lines.
A right 2 and 8
After two days of waiting and with conditions forecast to turn in my favour for at least 72 hrs, it was time to actually try and catch one. I blanked the first night but there were signs of fish movement in areas that I had not baited. Conditions continued to improve so I stuck with the solid bags but moved them onto known hard spots close to where the carp had been most active. At 10pm on the 2nd evening, I had a flurry of bleeps from my middle rod. I wound down and lifted into something solid but something wasn’t right. I continued to pump and wind, the resistance was there but it was more like dragging in a big branch than a fish. When the rig appeared from the depths, without a carp, I was a bit miffed but hang on what do we have here…. another line… I’d heard a few beeps on my right hander so maybe I got my lines crossed? I offed the first rod, and tried my luck on the 2nd. I was definitely connected to something but as a great ball of line surfaced, it was obvious that things had gone badly wrong. I could no longer gain line so I took to the boat to sort thing out. The boat was now filled with a tangled mess of Big Game but I was definitely connected to a carp out there somewhere. It was blowing a good southwesterly and the rain lashed down harder and harder as I was spun in circles by both wind and fish.
In the end it came down to hand lining, all a bit too exciting at night! After a few missed attempts I bundled a good carp into the net and sighed a massive relief! I was safe, the fish was safe…. Job done but what a mess!
Switching things up
The conditions were looking bang on but I’d only had one take so I changed the popped up multi rig to a double bottom bait variant fished parachute bag style with glug/half sticks and a mix of small pellets. The carp were still boshing out here and there and I’d definitely had carp over my rigs at various points. I bait boated two out to the dam wall margin where most of the activity was concentrated. For the right hand rod I went back to a spot I’d primed on arrival with my multi-trap approach. The sky was looking really moody, the sun was highlighting the colours in the trees and the wind was blowing nicely into the corner….. it looked bang on for a bite and an hour later and the 2nd rod that I’d dropped off on the dam wall margin was away! This time there were no dramas and Ren got to watch the whole show. This one turned out to be the Little Orange and at 28lbs 8oz looked amazing in the late afternoon light.
Misty morning magic and a new PB!
The following morning, with the light level slowly rising and knowing we had to be off by 9am, I swung my legs off the bed chair a little earlier than normal. Even before I’d thought about putting my boots on, the alarm on my right hander (the one I lobbed out to the spot I’d primed 4 days earlier) sounded and I watched intrigued as the tip arched down, the back lead rose and the line started to tick very slowly from the spool…. There was no doubt about this one…. I was in! It must have been 5 minutes before I actually gained any line. The fight was slow and plodding, always a good sign… 10 minutes later she was circling under the tip but staying deep…. another good sign.
As the fish came closer to me I didn’t fancy another round of power circling so I went for a bit of a salmon scoop and managed to bundle a rather fabulous looking common with massive shoulders into the net… Now there’s only one common that could possibly fit the brief glimpse I’d had of her and as I peered into the net my suspicions were confirmed. I’d only gone and banked Pepe the big common!
In the cradle she gave me a right kicking and I struggled like hell to control her. She span the scales round to 42lbs, that’ll be a new PB then! She was absolutely mint in every way, no evidence of previous hook holds and that’s testament to the care taken by the lucky anglers that have banked her and the special AVT 24 amino acid additive in our bait to promote health and healing rate.
A change in wind
After a splendid lunch, the southerlies returned and the sky darkened. Now this is more like it! As I’d blanked the night before I still had my three parachute bags ready to rock so I wasted no time in boating them out. I still couldn’t buy a bite from the left hand rod so I moved it again. The middle rod was moved back to the spot that had already done my two carp and the right hander went back onto the spot that I tricked Pepe on.
From the sublime to the ridiculous
It looked absolutely prime for an afternoon take and 2 hrs later my right hander signalled one beep, the bobbin rose and locked and it was game on. I lifted into heavy resistance and as the semi tight clutch span faster and faster I was pretty sure I was into a mid-sized cat (not what I need when fishing solo).
I lost 30 yards of line on the first run and the fish had kited over both my other two lines. Having run out of lake by heading left, the fish turned and kited right. A high rod and tight line kept the fish away from trouble but he was still pretty determined to make it to the end of the island. When that failed he tried to do me in some tree roots on the edge of point ‘C’. After 10 minutes he was under the tip but he wasn’t having any of it and made many powerful surges. “Isn’t he angry”, said Ren… yes and I have a funny feeling why! Finally a massive flank of bronze glided over the cord, the nose touched the spreader block and I still had to fold the tail in…. OMG have I really just done this?
Rod down, line cut, scales, tripod, forceps, antiseptic, propolis, bucket of water and a fully wetted cradle were assembled in double quick time. I could see from the width that this was a very good carp and as I lifted the sling, the weight came on … I just knew what I’d banked.
The double bottom bait multi rig had truly done the business and he was nailed 1” back in the bottom left corner. No way this one was dropping off! As we unfurled the net and removed it from the cradle Ren gasped at the majesty of him. He’s an absolutely slab of a mirror! He did give me one good round of tail slaps in the cradle and made a decent effort at removing all the water and spraying it over my head. I’d already re-zeroed the scales with a fully wet sling and when the needle span round and settled exactly half-way between 45 and 46lbs we could finally confirm the capture. Mr. Angry the king of the pond at new top weight of 45lbs 8oz….. get in!
I have banked a brace of back to back 40’s here once before but this one is going to take a while to sink in.
The highs and lows
This was a good session and I’d converted every take into a fish on the bank with 5 carp and a sturgeon. I also got it wrong a lot and had multiple blank nights during the seven night session. For me every bite was a result and hard won. To bank the two largest carp in the lake in one single week long session is ridiculous I know but it is possible. Back in August I did 5 nights with my good friends Perm, James & Graham. Sure I put my own fishing as the very last priority but I did try hard during the time and space I had and banked one carp for my efforts (which I was delighted with!).
As any of our regulars will tell you, most have had tough sessions and most have had dream sessions. These are the highs and lows of carp fishing at a venue that is not rammed full of carp. Yes it can be hard but each capture is special and should be cherished. For me, even after many years of fishing the place, every single night I get the chance to fish here is special and I know that many of our regulars feel the same way which is why we love what we do.