Planning your tactics for a particular lake or a specific swim is a vital part of your preparations for your French fishing trip.
In the first article of this series, I focused on pairing down your tackle and kit to keep you mobile. We’ll now look at some key carp angling tactics that you should plan for. In part 3, I’ll focus on how much bait you should take for a week in France.
Based on my experiences as both angler and fishery manager, here are some tips to help point you in the right direction.
► Don’t assume French fish are easy to catch
Most quality French venues see constant angling pressure for 7 months of the year. Find the fish and keep your approach simple and discrete. Cast to showing fish and know what you’re fishing over by leading around and feeling for the drop. For more tactics on dealing with pressured french waters, click here.
► Sharpen your hooks
Due to the constant level of angling pressure, French fish have become exceptionally adept at getting rid of rigs. Before you start tying up the worlds most complicated, elasticised, anti eject, muzza, wuzza, banga rig, just sharpen your hooks. If you don’t know how, then learn.
Any money you spend on a hook sharpening kit will repay itself tenfold in the number of hooks used and if you do a good job your results will improve. Guys like Kevin Nash used to get a jeweller to do his at 50p a go! It is the greatest edge in carping and yet the most over looked. For more information see article: How to create your own ultra sharp hooks.
► Don’t pile the bait in on arrival
It’s very difficult to know how much bait and most importantly where it was applied by the previous week’s crew. It’s always best to start with stringers, solid or mesh PVA bags or just a light scattering of bait. If you catch, then top up. If you don’t, then pick some new spots and try again. Just piling the bait rarely works (unless you’re after the catfish) and may be detrimental to the fishing. However if you had a fish off a spot using a strategic approach then give them a bit more and see what happens. Beausoleil is capable of producing up to multiple fish per night from one spot if you get it right! For more information, see: How much bait to take to France.
► Think in 3D
All you need to catch a fish is one rig in the right place. Now at venues like Abbey that are crystal clear, deep and weedy, the fish, during the early part of the season, spend a lot (if not most of the time) in mid water. This is the venue to practice the art of Zig fishing with small pieces of black foam (for years my PB was an 46lb Abbey mirror caught on a 10ft long 8lb Zig rig in 14 ft of water at 90 yards range!). No freebies, no sloppy spod mix, just get ahead of the fish as they move down the lake, launch a Zig at them and wait for the fireworks! Such tactics don’t work at Beausoleil even when you know the fish are feeding in mid water. All you’re going to do is foul hook a catfish or sturgeon.
► Make sure you’re tooled up for the job!
It’s no good turning up to a lake in the full knowledge that you need to cast 120yds when you and your gear can’t. Choose a venue that suits your casting ability. At Beausoleil, all the fishing is done at close/medium range (I rarely fish further than 60 yards). You also need to consider the nature of the lake.
Beausoleil is a small estate lake dug from gravel with an island and bridge. The fish are large and powerful, especially the cats which are capable of dragging you and your mate round the lake in the boat for 4 hours! In order to balance the odds in your favour you need gear capable of dealing with fish of this size. Ideally you should bring 3lb minimum TC rods and quality big bit reels. If your gear doesn’t quite make this mark, you’ll have to be more aware of where you fish and the angle that you fish from as you won’t have much control over them.