Well after 18 months of planning and watching endless YouTube videos, our lad’s trip to France had finally arrived. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no expert when it comes to fishing in France having only ventured over the channel once before, but I think I’ve learned enough from the boys at Beechwood to hopefully catch that fish of a life time. The venue chosen was Le Queroy in south-west France, some 7 hours from Calais and home to some very big carp, the smallest being 28lb and going to 69lb with an average weight of 45lb; I think it was fair to say whatever we hooked was going to be big!
It was soon Friday afternoon and with the minibus loaded we made the trip down to the channel tunnel, negotiating the m25 with some relative ease we hit Folkestone 6 hours early. Now I like to be early but this was silly even for me, so after several coffees and reading the latest edition of Carp Talk front to back god knows how many times it was our time to board the train, 25 minutes later we had arrived in France and made the long journey down to the lake. After several wrong turns and a few pit stops we rocked up at Le Queroy around lunch time very tired, and were met by Dan the owner. He told us the lake had been fishing hard the week before with only 1 fish coming out, so straight away I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.
Itching to see the lake we made the short walk from the cottage down the path towards the lake making our way through the trees to be greeted by the most carpy looking lake I’ve ever seen, over hanging trees on every bank 2 bays made for stalking, it had everything. Now the draw had been made in advance over a few pints and guess what, yes I had come out last, so I was walking round keeping my cards very close to my chest so not to give the other lads any ideas. After much deliberating the swims were chosen and off we went in search of the prize.
I set up on the far bank next to one of the bays to my left and open water in front of me, the rods were baited with single Trigonella and plastic corn toppers and sent out about 40 yards. After a few hours of no activity I decided to have a lead around and find something for the night and introduce some bait. The night passed without even a beep all round the lake but I had heard in the bay to my left what could only be described as a pig falling of a boat not once but on several occasions. Once breakfast and a catch up with the lads had finished I had decided to move and get a better look at the bay to my left.
The move was made and almost instantly it felt right, I was looking down the lake from the point in the middle of the lake and the bay was on my right with plenty of places to put a rod. Not much happened for the next few days apart from several big fish showing me their stomach in the bay over the bits of bait I kept trickling in, trying to give the fish a bit of confidence in feeding without being fished for. On the Tuesday after days of unforgivable heat we had a mighty thunder-storm, this perked us all up hoping it would cool the lake and the fish would get their heads down. Wednesday morning brought the first fish of the trip in the form of a very nice 34lb grass carp for one of the lads, and this bit of action had me itching to get a rod on the baited areas in the bay. I was soon tying up a new rig baiting up with Trig and casting it towards an overhanging tree on the far side of the bay where big fish had been showing.
2 hours had passed and with no sign of fish I was becoming frustrated and worried I had spooked any fish in the bay, then a few beeps followed by a twitch of the bobbin grabbed my attention and just like that the bobbin hit the rod and I was in. A battle followed which felt like hours but I was assured only lasted 20 minutes, and a carp was sitting in my landing net. “That’s a good 30” one of the lads said looking into the net which I was more than happy with, it was a fish and that’s all that mattered. Placed into a sling I tried to lift my catch and soon realized it was no 30, and placed on the matt I drew back the net to gasps at the size of the mirror, it was obvious I had caught a beast of a fish.
My capture was placed in the weigh sling and with a little help from my friends hoisted up to reveal I had captured my first 50, 51lb 2oz to be precise and just like that my legs turned to jelly and were shaking like a sh***ing dog. The usual photos were taken; the bucket of water on the head and of course the all important water shots. But it wasn’t till I sat down and looked through my pics and videos that the size of the fish I had just caught hit me.
A few cat-fish that week followed and all the lads caught a carp so everyone was happy but no one was happier than me, a 50 and the biggest fish of the week, all down to a bit of patience and the mighty Trigonella!
Tight lines, Ant.