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The week of 7 September 2024 is now available

A successful first trip to France for this family with multiple carp to 38lbs

This week we welcomed Leon, his son Josh and Leon’s brother Ashley and his son Harry (who was not fishing). It was their first fishing trip to France so they booked me for the day on Sunday to get them off on the right foot. For young Josh this was only his 2nd ever fishing trip! His dad has been a keen coarse angler for many years but he’d done a bit of carp fishing. It was a similar story for Ashley. 

Sunday was a busy day and I tailored the program to meet them where they were at in their fishing. The guys were on-board with the plan and we had a really fun day together. Once we’d run through as much as they could handle, I left the guys to get going properly.

Where do I start! I wanted to have a fishing experience and I got that and more. I opted for the tuition session with Matt I will say if you don’t take this option you are stupid! I class myself as a competent angler but the knowledge I gained not only helped, it improved my angling. We all caught carp and smashed our PB’s, we learnt so much in that week we all wished we had another week to continue honing our skills. I’m already planning my next trip there for next year, I can do nothing but highly recommend this lake not only for the fishing but for the memories that are made.

Good oxygen levels

It’s not uncommon for us to struggle with oxygen levels at this time of year but this year has been considerably cooler than previous and I think that’s helped massively. Current water temp is around 22℃ rather than the usual 25℃ or more and this helps the oxygen. With levels higher than normal, the fishing should be decent so I was quietly confident about the week.

Bait & rigs

The guys opted for the Carp Food packs and some of my ready tied rigs. We spent time during the tuition going through how to tie these but they found it easier to get going with some of my pre-tied versions, although it was great to see how quickly they were able to master rig tying. Back home they were used to buying pre-tied rigs and there’s nothing better than catching on something you’ve made. As they were using Scopex boilies, pellets and flakes, they were going to catch a few kittens but it wasn’t too bad and they caught some proper specimens along the way which is what really matters.

Steady as she goes

As the week progressed they racked up captures steadily. Nothing crazy but the score sheet kept growing steadily. You have to bear in mind that the approach I showed them was completely alien to them and there are a lot of small details that have to be right and plenty of new skills to learn. As the week progressed it was great to see the guys’ confidence grow. Ashley also played the role of mum to three boys this week, making sure they were all fed and watered. It’s not a small job (ask your mother!). Initially Ashley’s results suffered as it was difficult for him to get enough rod hours in. He also desperately needed to sleep at night! By Wednesday he was able to participate a bit more fully in the fishing and when he did so, the results came.

Smoking reels and empty spools

There’s plenty of places that you can go to if you like to watch your spools spinning. But there’s not many venues where you can experience a smoking reel! It’s certainly not the first time I’ve heard of it but it’s reasonably rare and only occurs in damp weather during a fight with a massive catfish. I’ve seen Jeremy Wade (Rivers Monsters) get a helper to pour water over a smoking reel before but I’ve never experienced it myself. Obviously this was a very new experience to the lads who couldn’t quite believe their eyes. Ashley gave it all he had and at one point was literally hauled across the gravel with stones spitting from under his shoes as he tried to hold on and maintain his footing. Despite his best efforts the fish was lost when the mainline failed after 40 minutes. I could still see the shocked look on Ashley’s face when we saw them on Saturday. These creatures take fishing to an entirely new level!

Next up, it was Josh’s turn. At first the fish came in relatively easily. A bit too easily in fact. This is a classic big catfish tactic. It’s almost as though they just want to get a look at you before they smash you. Big catfish are weird like that! As Josh held on for grim death, his reel steadily emptied itself of line. Bear in mind that he’d locked up the clutch as hard as it would go! At one point he almost got de-spooled and shouted to his dad, “I can see the metal!” It was a desperate plea for help but nothing was going to turn this situation around and in the end there was nothing Josh could do to stop this creature going around the back of the island and through the bridge. Just like Ashley, it was the mainline that failed.

Minimum recommendations

If you are planning a trip to us and you do want to bank one of these creatures, it’s worth having a chat with me first about what gear you have and what materials to use. The lake rules reflect the absolute minimum we would advise. It’s no good just buying a thicker line. Everything has to be in balance: rods, reels, mainline. Everything has to be massively strong or you’d need to be a bit lucky. Early in the season, guys have more success with the cats on regular heavy carp gear but as the water gets warmer, the cats have more strength and more stamina and I’m sure this is one reason why we no longer see many landed during the summer nowadays as they are still getting hooked. Bear in mind that we’ve had 9 cats from 100 lbs to 125 lbs banked this year and only one 60lb specimen. 

An experience of a lifetime

It’s safe to say that the guys had an incredible time at the lake and they loved every second of it. Yes the learning curve was steep but they walked the path and were justly rewarded. Of course they were disappointed that they weren’t able to bank the monsters they wanted but they have a much better understanding of what that requires and return to the UK much better anglers as a result. It was a real pleasure to spend time with the guys and I’m sure they’ll be talking about this trip for many years to come.

Catch report & Feedback from:

Leon & Family
Dates at Beausoleil: 8th to the 15th July 2023
Number of anglers: 3

Brief details of your catches:

Mirror Carp: 6 total. 1 x 20 and the rest were all good 30’s Best was 38lbs
Catfish: 2 big cats lost
Sturgeon: 3 captures
Kittens: 12

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