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Great winter carping session when French lake owner Matt takes a new PB and a brace of 40lbs mirrors on his big carp bottom bait rig

Matt with greyscar a mirror carp of 48lbs 4oz in spring

Most of my carp fishing at the Beausoleil lake takes place during the winter. In March, two weeks before I opened the lake to the first group of clients of 2013, I had my last carp fishing session of the winter with two mates that had driven over from the UK. The night before they arrived, the weather conditions were less than favourable with a low of -4 degrees! Despite the cold start, 4 days into the session, I got my new PB when I landed the largest known mirror carp in the lake, Grey Scar at 48lbs 4 oz. Here’s what happened.

Brothers on the bank anglers

As it was the first holiday to the venue for my friends, my number one priority was to see them both with a carp on the bank. I needn’t have worried, as by the 2nd day they’d both each had a carp over 30lbs and a 23lbs plus sturgeon to boot. Meanwhile after 3 days and nights, it was me that was doing all the blanking! The guys knew that I’d sacrificed a good portion of the lake to them and insisted that I spread my baits a little further out across the lake so that I could join in the fun. Never being one to look a gift horse in the mouth I accepted the offer and what a move it proved to be.

The secret to successful carp fishing at Beausoleil weather summer or winter is very simple: find the fish! This is not difficult to do but is often given lower priority than it should be. All you need to do is walk around the 4 acre lake at least two or three times a day to monitor what the big carp and monster catfish are up to. It’s no good sitting there day after day staring at the same piece of the lake. The fish are probably having a whale of a time round the other side of the island feeding on a good supply of natural food! It’s not that they don’t like bait, but they do know the risk of eating it!

On the 3rd day, we all set off on the 2nd lake tour of the day at around noon. As we slowly made our way round, my good friend Mark, who happens to be blessed with the eyes of a hawk, pointed to a faintly disappearing swirl halfway along the snake bank margin. I knew the spot as I’d caught the same 22lb common from it twice within 24hrs last October. It was a good solid sign of carp activity and even if it meant a recapture of a low twenty it would still be a beautiful bar of gold on the bank and another shot for the website. The spot was 70 yards away from where I was fishing and directly in front of me so no need to move the bivvy. Ritch kindly offered to fish one of his rods a little shorter to give me the angle I needed to safely fish the spot and the plan was set. At 5pm we started getting the rods out and the lads insisted that it was my turn to go first.

carp-bait-pellets-carp-fishing

Due to the nature of the lake, bait boats are allowed and make getting the baits exactly where you want them so much easier. For those that don’t have them a rowing boat is provided and can achieve exactly the same result with a little more effort. On this occasion most of the 9 rods were placed with my bait boat. Hence the queue!

The previous afternoon, the wind started to pick up and we felt the lake take on an atmosphere as the pressure dropped. This is always a good sign and we were all excited by the prospect of a few fish on the bank. I had my spot, I had the weather, now it was simply was a matter of sliding a rig into position. I went with my favourite tactic of just a handful of mixed pellets and some chopped, whole and crumbed blue oyster boilies that I had rolled myself. I sent the Anatec off on its mission and the trap was set. I got my first take at 3 am. This turned out to be yet another newly discovered 30lb carp (no. 7 since October of last year!). At 30lbs exactly, I named it the Big Apple as it had delicious apple sliced scales! My blank had ended in fine style and we sacked the fish for some daylight photos and a piece to the camera. The following day’s tasks passed more easily and by 5pm we re-set for the night.

My next take came at dawn on a cool and misty morning when I was abruptly awoken by my screaming Neville. The take was very sharp and violent and the bobbin raced to meet the rod and the alarm. It then dropped back slightly and I feared the worse (another aggressive liner) but a few seconds later the bobbin locked up again and began to dance. I stumbled out of the bivvy, head torch in hand, shoes half on and lifted my Infinity into solid resistance. I knew it was a good fish as it didn’t race off and simply used its weight to counter the force exerted by the rod. Even at range my Basia delicately clicked as the carp decided it wasn’t going to go down without a good fight. As I pumped and wound, in the dim morning light, I didn’t truly realise how big the mirror carp was when I was playing it. Even when Mark expertly netted it, I didn’t have much of a clue how big it was. In hindsight the fact that after its nose hit the spreader block, the tail still needed to be folded into the 42” landing net should have been enough! After the back slapping and the handshakes we decided to have a peek at my prize. As Mark opened the net I my mouth fell open as I saw the unmistakeable grey scar of Grey Scar! It’s an old wound and very well healed (which is why it’s grey) and just happens to belong to the biggest mirror carp in my lake!

bottom-bait-big-carp-rig-with-sharp-hook

I was lucky enough to catch him three times last year, again in the winter/early spring. Yet again it fell to my Beausoleil bottom bait big carp rig which I designed especially for use at the lake. It may look deceptively simple but it can do things that few other rigs can. For one, at Beausoleil, for carp only, my hook to land ratio is currently 98 out of 100….. They don’t drop off virtually ever! In basic terms it is a 10” braided rig with 2 x 20mm bottom baits (in this case Nutrabaits Blue Oyster) connected to an  inline lead. Big deal right? Where it differs is the fact that I use a size 4 Korda wide gape X (which I sharpen to within an inch of its life by hand and then dab with Vaseline to prevent rust and act as a penetrative lubricant). The braid is Kryston’s 25lb supernova, knotless knotted to the hook with a two turn kicker under the hair (note the exit point of the hair is opposite the point of the hook). A couple of blobs of putty ensure that whatever it lands on the rig sinks over it and follows the contours to keep out of the way of the riggy carp. It’s then tied with a 5 turn double grinner directly to a swivel (quick links are simply something else to fail). Apart from the hand sharpened hook, the most important part of the rig is the lead setup. You can use a range of inline leads but my current favourite is the 3.5oz Avid groove lead. The first thing I do is to remove the insert. I then thread my mainline through the lead and then over a Korda anti tangle sleeve. A five turn double grinner connects the 15lb mainline to the swivel. I then slide the sleeve over the first eye of the swivel and then the lead over the top. This creates a lightly semi fixed inline lead that offers optimum hooking potential but converts to a running rig after the initial pick up. Basically what happens is that when the carp feels the weight of the lead for the first time, it shakes its head, then the lead simply drops off the sleeve and slides down the mainline and acts as a running lead. No matter which direction the carp moves, you will get a positive indication on your alarm. Perfect for fishing tight to margins with slack lines (as long as there are no snags nearby).

carp-scales_carp-fishing-france

Despite the fact that this was the fourth time I’d caught this carp, it was the most special moment thus far in my angling. I’d waited over 3 year to move my PB from 46lbs (an Abbey Lakes mirror) to a new level of 48lbs 4oz. It was also the first opportunity that I’d ever had to catch this amazing fish on video. After we’d safely pinned the net to the bank I went to wake Ritch who’d slept through the whole event. Coffees in hand, I gently enquired from outside his bivvy whether he was awake. “Yes mate, yeah, what’s going on, you got one on the mat?” came the reply. “I’ve got something you might like to see” I said as he stumbled out the bivvy door. “What you had then mate” said Ritch as he actually saw my face for the first time. “You’ve had one of the forties haven’t you?” I guess I must have been transparent… “Kind of”, I said.” You’ve had Grey Scar haven’t you?”  said Ritch. “Yes mate, I have”, and despite the fact that I’m 41 years of age I had to fight back the tears as we walked toward my swim to see the fish.

Matt with Patch a mirror carp of 43lbs france

I went on take a 43lb mirror carp from exactly the same spot using the same tactics over the next 48hrs. The two big mirrors are the two largest carp in the lake. This is also my first ever brace of forties during one single session. It truly was the session of a lifetime.

You can see these 2 beautiful mirrors in this video:

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