Travel plays a big part in my fishing and I sometimes wonder what the result would be if I added up all the miles I have driven or flown in search of carp, not just each year but for the last few decades put together.
Three trips to three venues all in the same geographical area around Limoges in France seemed like a lot of hard work, unnecessary driving and also expense. The logical thing to do was to fish all three in the same trip, packing up from one and then heading off to the next. A little tour-de-Limoges if you like!
The Secret Garden
I’d been looking forward to getting back to the lovely little lake called The Secret Garden since I’d first fished it last year. Spring fishing can be very tricky, and I’ve found especially in France where you can get some real harsh weather in March and April but I expected the fish to be at the deeper dam end of the lake. Indeed that area had been baited prior to my arrival, so all was looking good! Yet the first 24 hours passed without a bleep – was it too early, was I in the wrong area or just using the wrong tactics?
I saw no real signs but walked around the lake half a dozen times and just once in the shallows I saw what looked like a small patch of bubbles come off bottom. It was enough for me to give the shallows a try and sure enough that one observation was to pay dividends. As it was still cold I went in with the Coconut Crème boilies as they’ve worked really well in cold water conditions for me before. The first night fishing the shallows it proved the right move and I had fish of 30lb and 28lb from just three feet of water. That’s where they wanted to be despite how cold it felt and from then on I caught consistently. The fish appeared to be tightly grouped in one area and it just shows once again how important the basics are – especially observation!
On to Lac Serreire
Lac Serreire is a beautiful mature lake of just over 20 acres, mostly shallow with depths around three to four feet going a bit deeper towards the outflow end. The weather forecast wasn’t great but after what I’d just experienced I guessed the shallows would be the area to head for. The shallows end covers a large bay that’s mainly two to three feet but there are some deeper holes that have been created by the carp, dug out from the lake bed by feeding activity. If you can find these spots on any venue you’ve hit gold.
Contrary to what I’d just found at the Secret Garden the main bulk of fish, including the bigger ones held up all week towards the deeper end where other people were already set up, but on the plus side fish were visiting the shallows. Carp holes at Serreire aren’t very large being typically four to six feet across but they are about two feet deeper than the surrounding areas and the carp love visiting them. In my experience you don’t need lots of bait but a bait placed in the deeper holes is regularly picked up. That proved to be the case and the first day produced a 29lb mirror. Amazingly, just two of these small holes produced consistently all week.
I was just baiting them with just 15 to 20 4G Squid 15mm freebies and a couple of handfuls of the Salted Mini Seed Mix. I was baiting from a boat and often when I approached those carp holes fish would spook out from them – I would see the clouds of silt and a large trail of bubbles, but they always returned when everything had calmed down.
By the end of the week I’d landed a dozen fish including mirrors and commons over 40lb and it really did show the absolute importance of putting baits in the right places. Hookbaits placed anywhere else were totally ignored that trip!
Etang de Brigueuil
Brigueuil is a fantastic old mature lake and one that is going to become very popular I’m sure. We had the wonderful Gite swim booked for the week, which is positioned at the deeper dam end of the lake – I wondered where the fish would be this time? Well, within two hours I’d banked my first fish, a lovely scaley 31lb 8oz mirror so all looked good. But it appeared that I’d caught the tail end of a group of moving fish. The weather was warming up and they were heading mainly for the shallows. A couple on their honeymoon blanked the first night up at the shallows but then started catching as the fish arrived in numbers and ended up doing really well – which was nice for them.
I stuck with my tactics of 4G Squid boilies and a snowman set up on Combilink and size 2 Fang Twisters or Uni hooks and I did get rewarded with another mirror of 27lb but it was clear that the bulk of the fish were at the far end - I could see them jumping from where I was! There was a free swim down there and with time running out I travelled light and just fished under a brolly for 36 hours. Sure enough there was plenty of activity around me and I banked a 35lb common and lost another around the emerging lily pads.
Unfortunately time wasn’t on my side but at least I had caught – in fact I had caught from all three venues. Although all three venues were geographically close together, each one was very different in what was needed to catch. Observation, trial and error, getting the tactics and baiting right all came in to play and it just shows that even lakes you’d imagine would be showing the same patterns in the same conditions can be vastly different.