A holiday fishing in France has never been easier arrange, you only have to take a quick look on the internet to see there is a large number of different venues offering a wide range of accommodation and food packages to chose from. These holidays range from the most basic “Drive and Survive” to the all inclusive food, accommodation some even offer bait and tackle, for the UK angler there has never been so much choice.
I have been a very keen carp angler for many years but have never fished anywhere but good old Blighty. Having spent countless hours talking to fishing buddies about their French carping exploits I started to feel I was somehow missing out, for me the time was right to stretch my legs and try fishing outside my comfort zone – “Look out France here I come”.
I started my search for an appropriate French venue on my favourite UK carp fishing websites, one name kept coming out time and time again “Angling Lines”. The feedback I was getting talked about the clear and easy to navigate website, with lots of useful information you will need to get the best from your trip as well as a very comprehensive pricing menu.
I was able to find lots of useful information about a huge range of waters offered across France and Spain. From the Angling lines web site “Our Holidays” page I was able to easily see the geographical position of each lake, this is important to help you get a feel for how far you are going to have to travel once you land in France. I was able to read helpful and comprehensive write-ups of all of the lake including pictures and videos enabling you to get a good understanding of the venue you are considering.
A call to Bridget and the Team at Angling lines to discuss my angling need and to get a few recommendation on some venues I could tackle soon put my mind to rest that I would be well looked after and the company understood the needs of UK anglers going abroad offering excellent advice and support to prospective customers. I chose to fish a small intimate 30 year old 3 acre lake called Le-Lac-de-Beaute situated in western France just outside Musanne in a lovely little village called Ecommoy.
With the tickets booked including the ferry crossing all I had to do was to sort out the logistics of getting the tackle, bait and transport ready for a week’s long fishing trip.
Planning for the trip is vital to ensure you don’t suffer any mishaps. Firstly we made sure to minimise the risk of the car breaking down on route we had the car serviced prior to leaving asking the service centre to ensure all of the tyres were well within legal limits. Next I spoke to the insurance and recovery companies and added international insurance to the normal UK cover.
Make sure you’ve got all your documents Essential checklist
Angling Lines forwarded a very helpful list of items needed for the car when travelling:
Hi Viz tabard
First aid kit
If you do happen to get stopped by the Gendarmes and you have not got any of the above they will happily dispense on the spot €130 fines if you are missing any of the items listed above. Medical insurance is a must when travelling abroad, Angling Lines has a competitive insurance offer on its website which will give you the cover required for your trip. Try to be thorough about your planning write everything down you will need not forgetting anything this will become your pre trip check sheet.
It is also a good idea to start getting the tackle and bait you will need for the trip purchased and ready early, this will ensure you are spreading you spend across several months and not prior to the trip which could potentially cause cash flow problems. You will need your current driving license and your passport with you prior to the trip. Take time to study and plan your route ensuring you cater for plenty of rest stops as driving for long periods of time can be extremely tiring. Most modern cars now have satellite navigation systems installed and after market systems are now readily available and not too expensive and these can make the long trip much simpler. Before you set off ensure your Satellite navigation system has got a French map in it otherwise it’s useless. Always have a backup plan and take along a nice large French road map just in case. With the car and transportation out of the way I moved on to the bait and tackle.
A quick call to Alex the lake owner soon gave me the information I required the carp at Lac-De-Beaute loved seed particles and halibut pellets. Armed with this information a trip was planned to my local animal feed specialist where I purchased a few large sacks of pigeon conditioner, Partiblend, hemp and groats.
Particles, pellets, boilies and dips all sorted for the trip
Alex has been using Quest baits with good results and recommended we use Quest baits Raja Spice and Special crab in 15mm and 18mm sizes with quest maximum action pellets. These can be purchased on site so you will not have to worry about storing frozen boilies or finding room for all that extra bait you will need.
The Master Chef!
Particle baits, including pigeon conditioner, bird seeds and hemp were taken over dry so I could prepare them on the bankside. To make sure the particles were prepared and cooked properly several large plastic containers were used to soak the dry particles in lake water for at least 24 hours before boiling. Prior to adding the particles to the boiling pan I would add a handful of salt and chilli flakes to give the particle a really spicy edge.
We took with us a large propane gas ring with an 8 gallon boiling pan to cook them, in this way I could prepare bait fresh on the bank as I wanted it and saved a small fortune at the same time.
With the lake being just 3 acres we were able to use standard UK style carp rods and reels, which were Chub Outkast 2.75lb TC with Shimano Poweraero big pit reels as we had no need to cast long distances or fish close to snags. Alex had informed us that Lac de Beaute was snag and weed free and recommended we use a minimum of 15lb main line on our reels. With this in mind I loaded my reels up with the new Korda Adrena-Line in 15lb with a spare spool of 18lb in case of emergencies. Looking through our end tackle we decided we had got enough to cope with most eventualities that we would come across, however we both went a spent a small fortune at the local tackle shop on extra bits just in case!
Fresh line loaded ready to go
All too soon the day of our departure was here and my long time fishing partner and driver for the week John arrived at my house early from where we both set about loading what seemed like a ton of fishing tackle and bait into his car and box trailer.
The box trailer gave us loads of carrying space for all of the tackle and dry baits leaving the inside of the car for clothes and cameras, etc, with the ability to have the tackle locked and secure as well as being out of sight.
The box trailer
By late morning the last items of tackle had been crammed into the car and we set off. Our route to Lac de Beaute would take us round the M25 and along the M20 to Dover where we would catch the Sea France Ferry crossing to Calais. with the M25 being all clear for a change the trip to Dover had gone without a fault. We had a short 20 minute stop at Dover before we were loaded onto a massive Sea France ferry. Once on board we locked the car and set off for the bar and restaurant for a liquid lunch and discussions about the coming week’s fishing.
All too soon the French coast could be seen through the windows of the ferry and we made our way back to the car, as we sat waiting for the vehicles in front to leave the ferry suddenly there was a huge bang and the car lurched forward, we had been hit in the back by a van behind us. John and I jumped out to survey the damage, John was obviously angry but fortunately neither the trailer nor the car was marked. Was this an omen for the rest of the trip? Hopefully not.
Once off the ferry and out of the docks in Calais the trip should have taken about 4.5 hours. We found the French roads to be easy to drive on; very smooth and with hardly any traffic, so unlike the roads in the UK. This made the trip a real pleasure. We had already planned our route and had chosen to use toll roads so with this in mind I made sure we had plenty of Euros to pay for the tolls.
Despite having a top end satellite navigation system in the car we managed to get a little lost, adding several hours to our driving time, however we eventually arrived at Lac de Beaute at 12.00am. We had been travelling for over twelve hours, but despite our very late arrival our host met us at the complex gates and made us a cup of tea and some food which was much appreciated.
As John and I sat eating our food out of the window we could see the full moon reflecting in the waters of the lake just a few yards away. Alex has three mobile homes set up on the lake for anglers and their partners to share. We were allocated the Kitchen and shower block one which is normally allocated for the drive and survive anglers to use for cooking and showers, however, we were both in no state to start setting up bivvies in the pitch dark. So we gladly got the sofa bed out and used our sleeping bags.
A cold autumn
A cold autum morning was soon apon us, however the sun did its best to warm us as we set about getting our gear into the swims we were allocated.
The lake has five pegs, each with a far bank tree-lined margin a short 70 yard chuck away. The venue holds about 250 large carp to over 50lb with a good head of carp averaging 20lb-to 36lb. Also resident in the lake are catfish to 50lb, grass carp and some very hungry sturgeon. Fortunately there are no poisson chats so our baits would be safe.
The town of Ecommoy offered excellent local amenities with a very large new supermarket just a few miles from the venue. This would be used this to replenish the depleted food stocks mid week. There was also an excellent fishing tackle shop for those last few forgotten items in Le-Mann about 10 miles away.
I was given peg 2 which gave me a nice 68 yard chuck to the far bank margin. A feel around with the marker rod found a sandy borttom all the way across with a nice 4.5’ deep gully at 58 yards. The lake, to be fair, was about 18” down on its normal winter depths but the gully was too good a feature to leave.
Peg 2 Peg 3
With John pitched up in the swim next door, peg 3, with almost identical features and ranges, we both chose to bait up the deep gully and try and draw the fish from the deeper swims to our left in front of pegs 4 and 5.
A couple of large buckets of prepared and cooked particles were blended on the bankside with plenty of pellets and boilies. Two marker floats were postioned in the swim and I set out in the rowing boat to put a load of bait in the swims.
Baiting the swims from a boat
We let the swim settle for most of the day, watching fish after fish show themselves on the baited area as they realy enjoyed the feast we had laid on for them. The final bankside tackle was set with two large 42” landing nets each and a very large, deeply padded Gardner unhooking mat with fish care products, scales, weigh slings and a bucket of water and forceps all at the ready.
The rigs were put onto our leads systems. A simple Korda Kurv hooks were tied to Korda Hybrid Soft in
leadcore running rig was my preferred end tackle gravel brown to try and match the sandy lake bottom.
set-up with 2.5oz inline leads
Bait was a wittled down Quest
Special Crab 15mm boilie topped
off with a small piece of fake
corn a typical UK rig. The
hooklength and bait were
protected from tangling by using
a PVA stick mix slid down the
hooklink and over the hook.
With the pre baiting completed all that was left to do was to let the swim settle and hope the carp would find the bait we had put out for them. As we sat by the lakeside enjoying a bite to eat and the warming sun our swim staretd to come alive with fish fizzing and bubbling all over the baited area. Our expectations grew and grew as carp started to roll and crash out in front of us.
After what seemed like a lifetime we both cast our rigs out to the waiting carp and sat watching the bobbins dancing up and down as the feeding carp brushed against the lines as they hoovered up the particles we had fed earlier.
Eventually after what seemed like a lifetime John’s left hand rod
ripped off with the first fish of the session – a fine 32lb mirror
John’s rig nailed the first fish of the trip
I did not have to wait to much longer before I was into my first French mirror carp, a fish
with a lovely scale pattern running across its back showing off its full Autum colours in the
bright afternoon sun. At 31 lb 4 oz I was really pleased with this stunning carp. One of many
fine Lac de Beaute carp
To ensure we were able to optimise our fishing we used a simple catch record sheet, this enabled us to document what was caught, when it was caught and on what bait and at what time. By studying this we were able to quickly see the most prolific feeding times which enabled us to optimise our fishing strategies.
It quickly became aparent the carp in our swims preferred to feed in the late afternoon as the bright autum sun warmed the water. With this in mind we were able to feed the swim early in the morning befor breakfast and leave our lines out of the water to rest the swim and only fishing again after lunch.
During the week John and I managed to bank 33 fish for total weight of 570lb 11oz. Within the haul we had sturgeon up to 26lb 11oz and grass carp 10lb 3oz. John managed to cath the biggest carp of the week, a fine mirror of 31lb 8 oz.
Another 30lb carp
This venue is a great fishery, small, intimate and comfortable, a cracking starting place for everyone who would like to try a French fishing trip but are unsure where to go. The high quality caravans on site and the local towns and supermarkets open this holiday up to the entire family to enjoy. Lac de Beaute is by no means an easy water, however, if you work hard and use your watercraft skills you will be rewarded with some excellent fishing.
_______________________________________________________________________________________Ian Gemson started fishing as a child for whatever came along, mainly in the area of the Hampshire/Surrey border. He fished for pike and later fished with much success in matches on rivers, canals and lakes. Watching huge fish during the close season and seeing a few being caught infected him with the carp fishing bug. Ian’s friendly and patient personality led him naturally into teaching. He has completed the Professional Anglers Association (PAA) level 2 coaching course organised by 1st4Sport which officially qualifies him as an angling coach. As a result of this accreditation Ian’s company, Smart Carping, is able to offer £5 million public liability insurance and has passed the CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check. Angling Lines Quality Carp Fishing Holidays