Three Lakes in Five Nights

Af­ter a lengthy lay-off from the pages of Carp­world, Shaun makes a wel­come re­turn, de­tail­ing a re­cent over­seas trip to a vir­gin French wa­ter, to un­der­take some film­ing on be­half of Free Spirit

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Shaun Har­ri­son

Shaun makes a wel­come re­turn to the pages of Carp­world with this re­count­ing of a re­cent over­seas trip to France

Iwas sat glued to the tele­vi­sion watch­ing Eng­land’s des­per­ate strug­gle in the semi­fi­nal of the foot­ball World Cup. I should have been in bed re­ally and my mind was an ab­so­lute whirl as to whether I had re­mem­bered every­thing needed for a short no­tice lake-hop­ping trip over in France. With only five nights to visit three dif­fer­ent lakes we would be push­ing our­selves a lit­tle. Our­selves, be­ing sev­eral mem­bers of the Free Spirit Fish­ing team, on a mis­sion for film­ing dif­fer­ent prod­ucts be­ing used and to hope­fully film some footage for Dream Fish­ing Hol­i­days about a cou­ple of new venues they have taken on board.

It was silly o’clock when I left my home on the Not­ting­hamshire/der­byshire bor­der on route to Earlswood, to pick up the main cam­era­man for the trip, Steve Coe. Steve is an out­stand­ing an­gler in his own right and was to be fit­ting a bit of fish­ing in be­tween the days of shoot­ing, bas­ing him­self in my swim, but ob­vi­ously on standby to get footage as and when re­quired.

The first is­sue oc­curred when I ar­rived at Steve’s house. He was sup­posed to have met up with Mark Hutchin­son the day be­fore so that Simeon Bond and Mark, who were trav­el­ling to­gether, could re­duce the load in my Dis­cov­ery and take part of the rather bulky film­ing gear. We think we carry a lot as an­glers, you want to see how much a cam­era­man car­ries!

The meet hadn’t taken place and here we were with­out enough room to fit every­thing in. I took a bit of my gear out and even­tu­ally by forc­ing and lean­ing on doors we man­aged to fill my motor to ab­so­lute ca­pac­ity.

If I lived closer to Dover then I would prob­a­bly choose to travel through the tun­nel but, quite frankly, af­ter sev­eral hours of driv­ing along our Bri­tish roads to reach Dover, I’m usu­ally ready to stretch my legs and take ad­van­tage of a meal on board be­fore starting the sec­ond leg of the jour­ney, so choose the ferry, plus it’s cheaper of course.

We were eat­ing up the miles along the N4 with hardly any cars to worry about. It re­ally is a plea­sure driv­ing the un­clut­tered and non-pot­holed roads af­ter what we are used to putting up with in the UK.

Our first port of call was rather an ex­cit­ing one called Grand Pierre (it has been re­ferred to in the past as Pierre 2 as well). The name comes from a venue I first fished in 2003 called Pierre la Tre­iche and was to prove to be an amaz­ing venue that pro­duced some in­cred­i­ble fish. I landed my first 50lb-plus there and I couldn’t help but marvel at the beau­ti­ful carp it held, so many of them wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Colne Val­ley. In fact the only carp pic­ture I have up in my house is a stun­ning com­mon I caught there which to my eyes is sim­ply per­fec­tion.

Daniel and An­dre had de­vel­oped an in­cred­i­ble place, thus it be­came the first French venue I ac­tu­ally vis­ited three times (I like vis­it­ing new ones). To cut a long story short the fish­ing ended on Pierre La Tre­iche, so Daniel went look­ing for a re­place­ment and this was where we were off to now, a larger wa­ter com­plete with an is­land.

To be fair this venue has taken a lot more sort­ing than was ex­pected due to the ex­tremely wet win­ter we had last time around which pre­vented heavy plant from work­ing to make the banks both com­fort­able and safe. Two years of hard labour have gone in to make it what it is to­day. It was hoped to be ready for the spring, but as I write this in July 2018 the first few guests have only just been in­vited to fish.

The stock is still a bit of an un­known quan­tity, as there were carp present when Daniel took the place on, so it will be an ex­cit­ing cou­ple of years see­ing how big these are. The carp that Daniel has in­tro­duced al­ready makes the place rather at­trac­tive as it is, with­out think­ing about the pos­si­ble sur­prises. There are more fish lined up to go in as well. We never hes­i­tated to say yes when Daniel asked if we would like to test fish it.

Any­way, back to our road trip. Simeon Bond and Mark Hutchin­son, Steve ‘Bardo’ Bar­dens and Trev Childs were in two of the mo­tors and Nick

Har­vey had the lux­ury of trav­el­ling alone with lots of space in his Jeep. All had taken a much ear­lier tun­nel cross­ing than the ferry I’d booked. I’m sure they waited to see what I booked then ar­ranged to go much ear­lier. Good an­gling that!

When we ar­rived, Bardo had a grin on his face for he had landed a 30-plus mir­ror mo­ments be­fore, so Steve had an im­me­di­ate job with his cam­eras.

We were in a rush to un­load and set up be­fore dark, so I started to un­pack, whilst Steve got on with his film­ing work. Fish were al­ready show­ing in front so I didn’t mess around with a marker rod want­ing to start an­gling with the min­i­mum of dis­tur­bance. Sim­ply re­ly­ing upon stringers for the first night, with the full in­ten­tion of watch­ing and lis­ten­ing where the carp were out of choice rather than bait­ing an area and hop­ing they moved on to it. Although just cast­ing stringers, they were to where fish were show­ing. One went down hard, and two with a dull thud. They would do for me. My hook­baits for that first night were the same as I would start with on most wa­ters. A bot­tom bait straight out the bag on one, a wafter or snow­man on an­other and a pop-up on the third. These were all my own Quest Baits Spicy Spir­ulina which has been an in­cred­i­ble warm-wa­ter bait this sum­mer and with tem­per­a­tures over 30ºc and the wa­ter feel­ing like bath­wa­ter, it was a no-brainer.

My first take came to the bot­tom bait straight out the bag around mid­night and soon I had the full ‘Lights, Cam­era, Ac­tion’ sce­nario un­fold­ing at the back of my swim! Any­one who knows me will know I’m rather old fash­ioned and don’t use lights other than for an emer­gency. I know they scare carp, not all carp but enough of them for me to have learned over my 41 years of catch­ing carp that I gen­er­ally catch more when I avoid us­ing them.

Some carp are seem­ingly obliv­i­ous to a light shined upon them, but I’ll give an ex­am­ple how some re­ally freak out. In the nat­u­ral spring-fed pool of my gar­den I have carp along with roach, dace, gud­geon and stick­le­backs. The fish keep the wa­ter coloured for most of the sum­mer pe­riod due to them dig­ging away at the bot­tom for the var­i­ous nat­u­ral food items they find crawl­ing around. Dur­ing the cooler pe­ri­ods the wa­ter clar­ity re­turns and by far the best way for me to check on my stock is to walk around it at night with a

Wak­ing some­where new is one of the many joys in life, or at least for me it is. In fact it’s a re­sult ac­tu­ally wak­ing at all with the health is­sue I have

torch. Most of my fish are to­tally tol­er­ant of this but three or four of them are pet­ri­fied of the light and bolt im­me­di­ately. Now the prob­lem with this is that the ones bolt­ing and send­ing out panic sig­nals com­pletely freak out those that are usu­ally un­con­cerned by the light and they too get as far away as they can.

So, I take and ac­cept, that not all the carp are spooked by light, but some most def­i­nitely are and that carp I hooked on my first night at Grand Pierre most def­i­nitely gave me a much big­ger run around than it re­ally should have.

With Simeon Bond, Mark Hutchin­son and Steve in my swim the talk soon moved onto the 70lb-plus com­mon that’s in there as the fight just went on and on, with my beloved 12ft 6 inch 3 ¼ lb Hi ‘S’ rods and 25 year old SS3000S re­ally be­ing tested. I did keep think­ing about my small size 8 hook. I don’t know why though, as I have had loads of big fish on that same pat­tern. They just dig deep and stay in place.

Even­tu­ally Hutch was pad­dling bare foot in the dark to net my prize. It wasn’t the fish we had all been talk­ing about but who am I to com­plain – I’d just had one hell of an ex­cit­ing fight, with my mind con­jur­ing up all sorts of monster carp images. It was a beast any­way.

As we were at Grand Pierre to pri­mar­ily try and cap­ture film footage we had pur­posely set up in a line. Not per­fect from an an­gling point of view, but far bet­ter suited to film­ing with not hav­ing to lug heavy cam­eras around a lake. So, from left to right along the south bank to­wards the fa­cil­i­ties were Nick Har­vey in the cor­ner with a lovely wind push­ing into him; next along were Bardo and Trev, who were dou­bled up to­gether; then my­self and Steve Coe (main cam­era­man) and, fi­nally, Simeon Bond and Mark Hutchin­son, who were dou­bled up on the end. We each armed our­selves with mini cam­eras to cap­ture any ac­tion im­me­di­ately be­fore one of the main cam­eras could get in situ.

Wak­ing some­where new is one of the many joys in life, or at least for me it is. In fact it’s a re­sult ac­tu­ally wak­ing at all with the health is­sue I have. I forced my­self out of bed to sit and watch the wa­ter. I’d not both­ered with any sort of shel­ter so the morn­ing dew had coated every­thing but would soon be evap­o­rat­ing.

Up in the next swim I no­ticed the steam ris­ing from Bardo’s ket­tle. It seemed the per­fect time to take my mug for a walk and save wak­ing Steve with my clank­ing around of spoons, cups and ket­tles. That’s my ex­cuse any­way. We sat watch­ing the world come to life, when sud­denly Trev was into a fish. Quickly I rushed back to wake Steven to get the big cam­era rolling, so miss­ing the fight of Trev’s first fish but man­aged to get a sec­ond brew

out of Bardo whilst watch­ing Trev pos­ing in front of the cam­era with a 40lb-plus mir­ror, which was soon added to with a 45lb com­mon. We had been on the pit for just 15 hours and al­ready we had four big fish cap­tured on film.

Si and Hutch were still to re­ceive ac­tion so it seemed they had no fish in the area that first day. I found it in­ter­est­ing that de­spite the in­cred­i­bly hot con­di­tions most of the shows we were see­ing were on the other side of the lake, out of the wind. Three other English an­glers who were also guests of Daniel were over there.

Even­tu­ally, fish ap­peared at range in front of Si and Hutch and, shortly af­ter the light had dropped, the first fish found a solid bag of Main­line good­ies cast at range. It was a lovely orig­i­nal. Si then got in on the ac­tion too, on a rel­a­tively close-range rod. The French were cel­e­brat­ing Bastille day and when Si hooked his fish, the sky lit up with fire­works. I did com­ment that it was a bit over the top, cel­e­brat­ing him hook­ing one. It hadn’t been that long since his last French fish surely...

Dur­ing the day Steve Coe had wound his rods in so he could con­cen­trate fully on film­ing. Be­fore he had wound in though he had made sure there was a good bed of his Dy­na­mite bait out there for him. I have a friend who will rest his swim for 10 hour pe­ri­ods and he is so suc­cess­ful. The carp’s con­fi­dence is gained, the wa­ter colours up as they feed and, even­tu­ally, when he casts back out, he has the ideal sce­nario. Coloured wa­ter and fish that have started to feed, got away with it and will want more or be back for more if they have drifted off.

So with the film­ing work com­pleted for the day Steve was free to drop all three of his hook­baits re­ally close to­gether, over that pre-baited spot. The fol­low­ing morn­ing it was Steve’s turn and while he was stuck into his first French carp the roles were re­versed and I filmed him. Even­tu­ally, a lovely scaly mir­ror could be seen in the clear wa­ter. The carp was floun­der­ing on the sur­face beaten, when the hook just popped out.

I re­ally felt for Steve, he had worked hard with the cam­eras and fi­nally his time to fish had come and the carp gods had kicked him in the teeth. I talked him out of re­cast­ing the rod he had lost the fish on as he had all three tight on the same spot, so two other rods were still fish­ing ef­fec­tively with­out risk­ing crash­ing an­other lead back in. Sure enough, rod num­ber two was soon away and his first French carp lay on the mat. I was made up for him and it was great to hear his com­ment that he didn’t ex­pect them to look as English as they do. Grande Pierre is a sen­si­bly-stocked big fish wa­ter, you can see that just by its clar­ity, so the fish have lovely dark colours.

If he was not chuffed enough with that com­mon,

The hook hold was fine though and Steve’s first ‘proper French chunk,’ as he put it, was soon be­ing held aloft for the cam­eras. I don’t think the smile left his face af­ter that

then shortly af­ter, the fi­nal rod on the spot went and a much larger fish was hooked. A deep­bod­ied mir­ror sport­ing some rather im­pres­sive scales could be seen twist­ing around, de­ter­mined not to come any closer. The hook hold was fine though and Steve’s first ‘proper French chunk’, as he put it, was soon be­ing held aloft for the cam­eras. I don’t think the smile left his face af­ter that.

Dur­ing this scrap Trev had helped him­self to yet an­other mid-40. What a venue it was prov­ing to be and what an in­cred­i­ble av­er­age size of fish too – all of dif­fer­ent strains, which I like in a fish­ery.

We had a so­cial for our fi­nal night and were to­tally spoiled by Daniel and An­dre, along with a cou­ple of helpers who, I am ashamed to ad­mit, I never caught the names of prop­erly. My hear­ing is that of some­one my age these days! Sev­eral cour­ses were served as dif­fer­ent bowls and trays were brought from the sub­stan­tial kitchen and all washed down with beer and red wine. Ev­ery­one de­parted back to their swims as the light started to drop.

I never cast back out that night as I ended up in a meet­ing which con­tin­ued into the next day. It seemed that the fish had avoided Bardo’s spot af­ter the first cap­ture, so just be­fore our so­cial he had moved from the south bank to the west bank we had lined up along, and in­stantly got stuck into a very big fish. Sadly though, one of the three an­glers on the north bank op­po­site us had bait­boated one out long and Bardo’s fish picked up the line, where­upon a tug of war en­sued which even­tu­ally led to him los­ing his fish. His luck had been in so much, what with the in­stant takes in both swims on his Nash­baits, but this time there was a loss which he could do lit­tle about.

On Sun­day morn­ing, whilst we were pack­ing up, and af­ter a sec­ond en­tan­gle­ment which had ended with an­other fish wres­tled off him, Bardo fi­nally landed a gor­geous long dark com­mon.

Con­clu­sion... Seven an­glers sit­ting in a row, with three of the swims be­ing shared, is far from ideal but a nec­es­sary evil of what we were hop­ing to do. The av­er­age size of the fish is al­ready im­pres­sive, with still more due to go in. Daniel has stated that there will be no carp of less than 35lb put in to sup­ple­ment the ex­ist­ing stock. No­body is quite sure how big the ex­ist­ing fish are but the pic­tures of a 71lb com­mon taken this year are enough to whet the ap­petite of most peo­ple.

The fa­cil­i­ties al­ready there are more than enough, with a fully-fit­ted kitchen where the full cater­ing pack­age meals are freshly pre­pared. There are also show­ers and flush­ing toi­lets, as you would ex­pect. We vis­ited early with the work still on­go­ing but were more than im­pressed with what we saw. There are two dif­fer­ent eat­ing/ sit­ting ar­eas for those who wish to eat away from their swims and quite an amaz­ing bar­be­quing

ABOVE First night suc­cess for me

LEFT STRAIGHT AF­TER TREV’S big com­mon

ABOVE One of a brace of big fish FOR TREVOR

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