I travel abroad a lot for my fishing but rarely is it for days only. The mighty Cassien in France is the exception. A couple of years ago night fishing was totally banned but I still wanted to fish there so I’ve had to find ways around it. Apart from the obvious change of staying on a campsite rather than in a bivvy my whole outlook on the fishing has had to change too.
You are allowed on the lake from an hour before sunrise to an hour after sunset, which in the summer gives you plenty of hours to play with but of course it’s hard work and if you want to fish every hour it gets very tiring. What I wanted to do was pinpoint the main feeding times and concentrate my efforts around those and hopefully that would make everything much more manageable.
After talking to anglers that had been there before me the mornings were more or less a waste of time and the feeding spells almost exclusively mid afternoon to late evening – that suited me fine and I rarely started before 10am without feeling that I was missing out. Cutting down on all the gear was vital in order to make the most of my time, Scope rods pack down quick and save on room and of course small chairs replace bedchairs and sleep systems. Only a small bag of essential tackle items was taken with me every day with spares left in the van should I run out.
It was very warm in the south of France and believe it or not even the water temperature was 30 degrees! I expected that to push the fish down deeper. Finding the right spots is always essential and with my four Scopes I was able to fish various depths and areas. But it became apparent that most fish were still moving around in shallower depths of around 10 to 20 feet. Cassien is a lake full of features, with sharp drop offs and ledges and also varying amounts of weed. It is always worth giving the weed beds a go if you can find them and I must admit that my swim choices were based on three things: where I thought the fish would be: where it was quiet enough to fish away from the holiday makers: where I could find the most weed. Most of the weed wasn’t visible but the echo sounder would show it in depths of around 15 to 18 feet.
Baiting was another consideration, on short sessions of 6 to 10 hours it’s no good loading the swims up. Mostly I was fishing different areas every day searching for fish and my aim was to get one bite at a time. For that reason I only used around ten or fifteen freebies around each hookbait, which on this trip was the 4G Squid with two air-dried 20mm versions on the hair.
It took a few days to get in the swing of things and my first take came at 6.30pm one evening from a swim in the central area of the lake. I’d only started fishing at 2pm that day so I hadn’t waited too long but on the other end was a cracking 43lb common – a great way to get off the mark. I tried that same swim a couple more times but with no further action, which can sometimes be the way with those very nomadic fish. But I kept looking and thinking and for the last couple of hours one day I dropped in by the ramp where we load and unload the boats. I’d seen a fish show there one morning but it’s impossible to fish for most of the day being too busy with people and pedalos. But in the evening it was quiet and the rods were only out for around ten minutes when one rattled off with a 37lb 8oz mirror – what a good move that was!
For the final day we got in to the Aviron swim, which had been busy most days. It had the biggest visible weed beds in front and it looked great but most anglers seemed to be fishing out in to deeper water for some reason. The last hour produced two runs, a small common of around 12lb and a real old Cassien warrior mirror of 47lb 8oz! It was a great way to finish the trip, okay it hadn’t been easy fishing – it rarely is at Cassien, but it had been immensely enjoyable as always. Even on limited time there are ways of getting good results and it doesn’t always mean going at it full-bore, this was all about picking the right spots at the right times and making the most of it.