Archive Re-Post – Deux Pierres
I received a rather excited call from Gary Chapman ‘Chappers’, a fishing mate of mine, asking me if I was interested in a trip to France. After hearing the details, plus the fact I had work leave that really needed taking I told him I needed a little time to think about it. I angled with Gary a few years previous in France and I knew that if the fishing wasn’t good the company would be. There was about three weeks until departure and a slight reduction in the normal costs due to four anglers being unable to make the trip was enough for me to take the plunge.
I have spent quite a lot of time in France over the last ten years but my last trip was nearly 18mths ago. Unfortunately I suffered from food poisoning, I had taken my 7 year old daughter along with me on the trip and she too started suffering. At this point I must say the venue I was fishing at wasn’t to blame in any way whatsoever. Unfortunately we cut that trip short and journeyed the 400 miles home after having the lines in the water for only 12 hours. The costs involved for such a short visit and feeling how I did, knowing my daughter felt the same, I have been unable to find the enthusiasm to venture abroad fishing again until now.
Normally I’d spend hours scouring the internet trying to find information but I really didn’t feel the need on this occasion. I looked at the venue website and had a quick read but paid little attention to what was happening and being reported in the weekly updates, I was just happy to be visiting France again.
The three weeks wait flew by and before we knew it we were on our way, miscalculations in our guessing meant we arrived at the ferry port a couple of hours early. Unfortunately just managing to just miss a ferry and with the next one being ‘freight only’ meant we had to wait two hours for the next ferry.
The lake is situated very close to the town of Vitry le Francois so the journey down was a familiar one as I have frequented a few lakes and bars in and around this town. We arrived around 7am but were not allowed onto the lake until midday so took a trip to see Lac Du Der Chantecoq. Although I have visited the area numerous times I have never seen the great lake itself, breathtaking is an understatement. We didn’t spend too long taking in the scenery but we did see a fish roll but it was small and non carpy.
We travelled back to the lake and waited outside the gates until the previous weeks anglers had left. The fishery owner Graham, let us in around 11am and we had a good look around with the other four anglers who had booked on for the week, none of us failed to notice the abundance of fish stacked up in front of the ‘Grandstand’ swim.
The six anglers were made up of three groups of two so we came to the agreement we would pick swims in pairs. Due to the lakes layout we also decided we would choose banks rather than swims, the pairs could then decide between themselves which swim they fancied on their chosen bank.
Although the Grandstand swim looked hot favourite for a few fish the other swim on that bank didn’t appeal to me. It was a renowned big fish swim but Gary like me also said he wouldn’t be happy to fish it, so we ruled that bank out. I also didn’t fancy the bank opposite the Grandstand as the swims didn’t offer as much lake as the other two banks.
As there were three pairs Graham got three cards ace, two and three and we drew first. I went for the middle card and instead of pulling it I let go and gave Gary the choice, he immediately went for the middle card telling me to stop messing around. Result, we were picking first as the middle card was the Ace.
Without hesitation and in unison we both said we would take the road bank smiling from one ear to the other….
Wasting no time we set off to the swims and unloaded our gear before returning the car back to the parking area. The skies weren’t looking to good and rain was a definite possibility making bivvy erection everyone’s first choice.
Soon after setting up my shelter I had my gear all over the floor whilst I set about making some rigs. I marked around to get an idea of the lake bed, also finding some likely spots and then scattered some bait with the throwing stick. My plan was to get any passing fish searching for bait over a large area rather than fishing small spots. If this didn’t work I had a whole week to find something that did. I also spread the rods out giving me plenty of room and opportunity to work different areas of the lake, if anyone was to move into the swim beside me I would need to rethink but for now it was a good choice.
Gary was first to catch with a mid twenty on the bank within a few hours of casting out but the lad opposite us was soon to follow and continue catching taking his tally to seven for the first day….
The weather did as expected and late afternoon it rained continuing into the night. Before it started raining I found two spots to fish and the other was placed using a boat on an area that was to the right. This was the first one to go and gave me little confidence in anything, the blind rod told me nothing as I didn’t even know what I was fishing over. I walked into the next swim and used the marker to find out what I had been lucky to find, a clear soft bottom with weed beds to the right.
The middle rod was next to produce, fishing over a hard area to the back of a weed bed. The third rod was over to the left where I had seen fish rolling earlier in the day, again the bait was presented on a clear soft bottom.
I caught a few more and left the rods in as I was shattered from the journey down, driving has never been too much of a problem before but I had never had such a good start to a trip before. Even though we had a whole week I was conscious that I had fish in front of me and I needed to get the rods back out so after 5 hours sleep I was up baiting and placing the hook baits back in the productive areas. It wasn’t long and I had another, catching continued steadily through the day and into the night, although I was shattered I knew I had to make the most of my swim as it could all change and stop producing at anytime. Just as dusk started to fall I had a run on the middle rod and hit into what felt a decent fish, I almost had it in the net and the right hand rod rattled off. I hit the right hand rod and shouted Gary who ran down and gave me a hand. The first was a forty pound mirror with the second fish of the double take being a stunning linear. The owner identified the big one as ‘Arfur’ as in Half a Tail which was an original when he took over the lake three years previous. The linear was one that had been stocked as part of the lakes stocking program back in November and this was the first time it had seen the bank. Awesome fish, stunning with the biggest mouth you ever did see, it could have managed cricket ball sized boilies….. My week was already made but it hadn’t even started, it was still only Sunday!
Gary was still catching as were the other anglers but I seemed to have got everything right from swim location to choice of bait. The New Grange was having an impact and I was starting to get concerned about whether I’d have enough to see the week out. I slowed down with the baiting but I’m of the opinion that if the fish are having it you got to keep feeding them otherwise they’ll move on. I was catching on Pulse but not as many as I was on the New Grange, I had experienced a couple of double takes already and thought it best not to change the Pulse rod to Grange. This would certainly have produced more fish but an even balance had already been achieved without the need for triple takes.
It wasn’t long before I had my first triple take which resulted in two fish at 24.08 and a 27lb common. As all the rods were in I took this as an opportunity to have a break and give the swim a rest and grab a much needed shower.
All refreshed I returned to my swim and was greeted by Rob, one of the other anglers on the trip. He had decided to reel in and come and see what I was doing to get the results I was having. I explained that I normally got the first two rods in and as I was sorting the third one of the first two would go. We sat and chatted for an hour or so whilst I tied new rigs and positioned the first two rods, we joked that nothing had happened when all of a sudden I heard the thud of a hanger hitting a rod. I looked round as the reel was being stripped of line realising I hadn’t turned the alarm on… I picked up the rod and bent into yet another, after a spirited battle Rob did the honours landing and on the scales it went 32lb. Photos done and just as we were returning the fish the other rod goes resulting in a 34lb mirror, this made it four thirties on the bounce with two whilst Rob sat chatting…unbelievable fishing.
I realised that I hadn’t walked and marked out my lines, just in case of any crack offs, cut offs etc. I walked out the rod which had yet to see the water whilst Rob was in attendance. All measured I placed the bait back on its spot and walked out the other two rods, when I heard the alarm sound, I shouted to Rob to stop messing to which he replied, it’s not me it’s a run. He hit it for me and handed me the rod, sure it must have been something to do with Rob as attached to the end was the smallest carp of the week, a common weighing in at 7lbs. Not the biggest but the trio of fish Rob had come to see caught. Rob carried on his journey to the showers and said he would pop in on his way back.
It wasn’t long before I had the rods all out again. Gary had been down to the super market and returned walking into the swim with a case of chilled beer just as the last rod went out. I sat down and just as I opened my first beer the right hand rod rattled off resulting in a 38lb mirror, would you believe as I returned the fish Rob walked back into the swim and the middle rod rattled off resulting in ‘Arfur’ the forty I had earlier in the week. Lucky for me I had now caught it in the day giving Gary the opportunity to improve on the night shots he had taken on my previous capture.
It was still only Monday and comments were made by the owner that I was sure to break the lake record for the number of fish caught in a week, currently standing at 50. I was quick to dismiss this as my aim when I arrived was to catch one, this would mean I hadn’t blanked, any fish after that would be a bonus. He said ‘something pretty drastic’ needs to happen for you not to beat the record….
The fishing continued in much the same fashion for the following day and into Wednesday morning when……
…..SOMETHING PRETTY DRASTIC HAPPENED !! They decided to spawn….
On the Wednesday morning a large amount of weed started drifting into the rods requiring removal every hour or so due to the amounts. After observing the water it became apparent that the fish had grouped and were chasing and spawning. The water temp was only at 16 degrees but the fish weren’t playing by the book. The next three days were a struggle to bank anything but I did manage a few on bright baits popped up off the lead. I also managed to lose one of the catfish which took a 14mm Squid & Octopus fluoro, adjustable zig rigged a foot below the surface. I was just lifting another fish out to weigh and the rod just started shaking in the rests as line was stripped. I lowered the fish back into the water and lifted into the take only to be flat rodded, I called Gary who came running but as he entered the swim the hooklink parted. The catfish were stocked at 97lb, 110lb and 120lb so I needed a little luck on my side to have any chance of landing any of them without the appropriate cat gear.
I spent the Friday in and around Vitry Le Francois opting not to fish as it wasn’t happening and my week had already been made.
We packed most of the gear away and loaded the car Friday evening ready for an early off on the Saturday morning. Those who know me know how long packing away takes….. I counted up what I had for the week and even with ‘something pretty drastic happening’ I had managed to break the lakes catch record for one angler. Only just mind you, with 51 fish up just over forty including 15 thirties and 30 twenties, not forgetting the 7lber J – obviously you can’t count the ones you lost which totalled 13 carp and one catfish. Certainly if I hadn’t of reeled in on the two nights due to lack of sleep I would have had more…. Next time I’ll be doing as we used to and staying at a hotel in Vitry the night before, I’ll then be better prepared for anything the lake can throw at me.
Thanks to Gary for the invite and the other anglers on the lake for their humour and good company – Rob, Graham, Mike and his son Mike.
Also, a massive thank you to the owners of ‘Etang Des Deux Pierres’ Graham and Jane for making the trip such a memorable one, I look forward to returning……