A new Euro PB
Just to pick up on where I left off from my last blog, I had been struggling to better my UK PB Carp for many years, for a variety of reasons, but eventually caught up with a 38.10, much to my delight.
Now it was time to better my previous best European fish of 43.10; a beautiful Mirror caught back in April 2007 from Jeff and Lisa Powell’s Willow fishery in the Champagne region of France.
I had fished a couple of trips in Spain since then, mostly after Cats, but had a few Carp along the way, up to 33lb. I also had a couple of trips to France in 2008 and 2009, that produced fish up to 35lb, mainly from Crystal Waters near Sens in Burgundy. This water is really thriving under the control and management of Lee Papper and Keith “Backdraft” Standley; and the fish have been really piling the weight on since Lee bought the fishery a few years back.
We organised a short trip last summer, and planned to fish at Crystal for 3-4 nights, followed by a couple of nights at a new water in the south of Burgundy. The lake was around 20 acres and has around 4 fish to mid-fifties, and full of promise for a lump or two. My good friend Pascal Grillot had very kindly made arrangements for myself, my wife Heather, and my good friend John “Watto” Watson, to join himself and his friend Bertrand to fish for a couple of nights. The plan was to get out there after having a few good fish under our belts at Crystal, and then give it the big un in the hope of bagging a new PB!
The date with fate came around too quickly as ever, and on the eve of our departure, I was frantically finishing off the high priority work for a week, and then hastily shovelling all out gear into the pick up for the ferry crossing very early the following day!
After an uneventful crossing and drive down (other than trying to contain Watto’s renewed enthusiasm for a big carp), we arrived at Crystal, to the sight of Pascal and another of his fishing buddies Nicolas, playing a good fish from the boat in one of the swims at the back of the lake. Those crafty fellas had only put themselves in the best swims, and had been busy taking advantage of it for 24 hours before our arrival! They netted a fish of 38lbs, joining other fish of 23, 26 and 28lbs in their premature tally; all on the new Squid and Liver bait. Nice, but we had to set our stalls out pretty rapid if we were to catch up on them!
Heather and I settled on double swim that did not turn up many fish typically, but they were normally big, and Watto plumbed for a spot close to us facing a big reeded bay.
Long story short, and Pascal and Nicolas proceeded to annihilate us with 5 more fish over the next 2 days, including a cracking 50 for Pascal, and a couple of low thirties for Nicolas. We, on the other hand, struggling our pants off for a bite, as all the showing fish appeared to be in Pascal and Nicolas’s swims for most of the day- and the nights were uneventful for all !!
Heather managed to catch one of the lake’s two Sturgeon of 25lb, whereas both myself and Watto managed to pull out of a fish each, to our boated baits at long range. Enough said!
It got worse for me however, as when Pascal and Nicolas were packing up, and I went round to Watto to advise him to move into one of their swims, I left them in charge of my rods for 10 minutes; and guess what? Yep, Pascal struck into, and landed a 28lb Mirror on my margin rod. 10 minutes!! Serves me right, I hear you say, but that’s your luck I guess?! You take chances, and sometimes the risks come home to roost. Thank God it wasn’t a 50!
With Pascal and Nicolas on their way to the new water to make preparations, we were left to our own devices for a further day, and Watto finally tasted victory with 3 fish from the pads swim, including a new PB of 33lb, a beautiful plated Mirror. I eventually landed 4 fish to 32lb on my new faith bait (Pineapple Fever); and then before we knew it, we were on our way South to Pascal’s lake, packed with high hopes as ever.
We duly arrived at Pascal’s fabulous country retreat, to be met by a few more of his friends, and a sumptuous barbeque that he had prepared (thanks Mate!), and a few bottles of his finest wine, that he assured us, we had to “kill” before we set up for the night at the new lake.
What a sight it was, just over 20 acres surrounded by an over hanging tree line, but containing very few other features, apart from one or two plateaus in it’s otherwise consistent 12 ft depths.
A quick tour later, and we settled on fishing at the far end of the lake, committing to fishing a plateau and the adjacent tree line at what one could only describe as extreme range. We had the use of inflatables equipped with echo sounders, and busied ourselves setting the traps for our first night.
Out went the Squid and Liver 20mm baits, with around 1 kg fished over each hookbait; the whole process taking over 2 hours for 6 rods, as our baits were up to 200m out, and each swim took a lot of preparation. Not quite what I was used to, even in France. However, all done, we retired for the evening in the comfort of our bivvies.
About an hour later, around 10pm, I noticed a camera flash from the other end of the lake where Pascal and Bertrand were fishing. I was hoping they had caught a good fish, but my phone remained quiet, and so after a re-cast on one of the shorter rods, I resigned myself to the sleeping bag, in anticipation of bigger things to come.
Next thing I know, my right hand rod, at the most extreme range, exploded into life, with a one-toner!! I was on it as quickly as my zombie-like slumber would allow, and bent into what felt like a “decent fish” that was by then swimming towards me, and thankfully, away from the margins.
After about 15 minutes of sweat, (and taking out Watto’s lines), I eventually got the glory …………..all 49.08 of pristine Mirror Carp rolled into my landing net, very ably netted by Heather.
Result. A new Euro PB !
Photos done at dawn, I was still on a ‘carp high’, especially after learning that Bertrand had netted a 51lb fish earlier that same evening, which explained the camera flash earlier of course.
What a brace shot that made – and from a new water too !
We had a few more fish, including Grassies up to 34lb (to Bertrand) and we were way back to Crystal on our last leg home.
I had a cracking fish of 38lb from what I call the Royal Box, and Watto had another fish to end a very memorable trip for us all; notably for almost turning a die-hard Pike head into a carp angler !!!
As I’ve said before, I guess that’s the beauty of fishing - you never know when it might happen – cant wait for the next time !!
Be lucky too
*Watch this space as I tell you about my recent adventures chasing a some all new PBs including the infamous Arapaima, Amazonian Red Tail Catfish and Siamese Carp