Tuesday, 23 November 2010

French River Carping Redux

There is something to be said for changes of scenery and fishing new exciting places,I think we run the risk of becoming stale if we do not and as much as I enjoy fishing the many waters available to me locally,I really do enjoy sinking my teeth into new places.

October came and Robert and I were headed to the south of France to fish a very tricky river,this is a very intimate and snag laden river,but if you get the right conditions and rig presentation,you stand a chance of landing some very pretty fish. the river itself is covered in many heavy snags,massive underwater tree stumps as well as having very sharp rocky gravel runs,it is also dotted with numerous feeder streams,each section seperated by weirs.

The first time Robert and I saw it we fell in love with this winding,wild water, it's faster stretches and secluded pools home to Barbel,Chub and trout,with the slower areas holding large,powerful Carp.If I have a second watery love after the river Lot this would be it.

We decided to set up on a bend in the river with a tiny island to my right and dense tree stumps to the left where Robert decided to fish.The opposite bank was heavily tree lined with a feeder stream and looked the perfect patrol area to pick up some Carp.

I had prepared a large amount of maize and tiger nuts in advance and they were pungently fermented,this feed was placed to the far bank feeder stream and tree line,I also decided to place one rod under my near bank margins,not far from a large tangle of sunken tree's.

Bait would be Mistral's Black mussel 20mm,which I must stress I will not leave home without in future,this bait proved to be excellent,a lovely crunchy texture and a subtle smell of mussel.Along with this we would be using Mistral natural Fish in 20mm and the ever reliable Tutti Frutti boilies,all boilies were washed out.

A lifetime is not enough to fish all of the wonderful waters in France,it's just a pity that some people decide to take the easy option by paying over the odds to fish a private lake stacked with fish,rather than putting in some ground work and enjoying some of the excellent and varied fishing that the Carte Peche has to offer.

It was a very sunny afternoon when Robert and I finally got setup and got our rods in place,himself with two rods to the far bank tree line and myself with two rods to the far bank tree line,one tight to the feeder stream which I fancied would be a good area to ambush some Carp as I expected it to be an area that they would frequently visit.my near margin rod was placed out to the tangle of underwater tree's,all rods were back leaded.

Afternoon came and went and all was quiet,with just the call of Kite's and Buzzard's overhead.At late evening my near margin rod received a solid bleep and carried on,I lifted in and was greeted by a very beautifuly marked Koi Carp of 7lb8oz

There was no more activity for the rest of the night and a heavy dew developed,morning signaled a change in weather as hazy cloud moved in with some light drizzle,more or less perfect conditions.at 3pm my margin rod simply lifted off and single toned,it was as if the Delkim could not keep up,as soon as I set the hook I knew that I was into a tussle with a brute of a fish,rod arched over and my clutch was set tight,but line was still being taken,all of a sudden thud,the unenviable feeling of the line running through one of the many underwater tree snags.A multitude of thoughts and expletives ran through my mind,tentatively I tightened the drag and increased the pressure,the water in front of me started to fizz and bubble and the dead weight of an underwater branch was all too obvious, "damn it!" I thought to myself.

Robert was next to me and said "that looked a good fish", "it's still on mate" came my reply. So I decided to play a last ditch attempt at freeing the main line from the snag,by playing out excess slack,which sometimes works as the fish will free itself.After five minutes the main line showed movement and straightened out to my right,I took up the remaining slack and the fish was out of the snag,"I just saw her it's a belter" cried Robert.

This fish was not having any bullying as it tried to make an even bigger set of snags to my right and an area where if it did get into I knew I would never see it again.I had no option but to let the rod take all the surges I could and not give an inch of spare line.Gradually I gained line,the fish rolled to the surface,broad,muscular,beautiful,my mouth was dry and heartbeat off the scale,the landing net cord slid under it's the large frame,the fish was beat and so was I."That's one of hell of a lovely fish" said Robert

After regaining something akin to composure,I slipped here into the sling and was not at all disappointed,31lb11oz of raw,powerful river Carp and a brute at that,I was beyond happy.

Robert's spot remained quiet and he was pondering a possible change to another spot adjacent to our current one,but in the end decided to adjust his baits and place them tighter into the far bank.

Night time drew in,the cloud cleared and the stars welcomed us.at around 3am my margin rod was off again,line being torn from the spool and rod arching downstream,I lifted in and was rebuffed by a powerful fish,line taken was line given back,it would not let me dictate the odds.after a protracted battle a lovely chunky Mirror of 25lb11oz was my reward.This fish slapped me about something rotten as you can probably tell by the picture.

Early morning dawned to the sight of two barn owls flying side by side,wingtips almost touching,a beautiful sight,but far too fast for this slow oath to get a picture of.A heron landed on the nearby snags and set about hunting his breakfast.

At 9am Robert had his first take from the far bank on black mussel and was into a very frisky and beautifully conditioned carp of 22lb12oz he was absolutely made up and I feel this was one of the nicest looking mirror carp I have seen,the scale patterns were simply stunning especially the teardrop scales near the bottom of it's stomach.

Later on in the afternoon Robert was into a very nice looking mirror which I would have estimated at low 30s,unfortunately after bullying her away from a snag she slipped the hook and in fairness he was pretty gutted,which was pretty understandable,given that it looked a superb fish.Not long after,my far bank rod which I had changed to a critically balanced snowman with a black mussel bottom bait and Pineapple fluoro pop up,steamed off,instantly breaking my hooklink like cotton.The rest of the day was a quiet affair with the sun blazing overhead and the red kite's gliding about on the thermals

Just after dark my black mussel rod placed to the opposite side and adjacent to the feeder stream screamed off,after a lively tussle an immaculate mirror of 18lb15oz was sat recuperating in the landing net.

I placed the rod back out near to the entrance of the feeder stream and about 12 inches from an overhanging bush,one of those casts where everything goes perfectly and you think to yourself,why can't all my casts be as accurate?

An hour later and the same rod was off again,I lifted in and felt a bullish resistance.I shouted to Robert "I think I'm into a decent fish,it's trying to go up the feeder stream!"

Robert was beside me watching."feel good?" he said with a grin,"very I replied".The fish was surging trying to make the snags,I started to feel the tell tale grinding of the line running over a snag,all of a sudden the line was free again and the fish was coming through more open water,it's large shoulder breaking the surface,slipping the net under her Robert commented "looks a solid fish Mark".

It was a very lovely 28lb mirror with a distinct pronounced shoulder,this river was certainly producing some nice fish.

Later that night it started to rain steadily,about 2 hours into the rain I heard Robert's Micron go into meltdown and a muffled scream from him,getting down to him I saw his rod doubling over and carrying on over."Mark oh my god I don't know if I can stop this fish,it's big and really powerful","I can bloody see that" I replied,staring at the 3lb test curve rod that was now doubling more alarmingly and reaching its limit,Robert cupped the spool to slow the fish down a little and tried to bring it back,inch by inch he gained line,but the fish surged again,line stripped off the spool,rod arched over "I think the rod is going to go at this rate" I said.

Robert managed to gain some more line and the fish replied by boring down and tearing more line,"Crack!" The hooklink parted company."that was a really big fish mate and so powerful" said Robert."Yes I could see it wasn't having any of it,a real power house",I replied.

As dawn broke I was into another run on the far bank feeder stream rod,no matter how fast I was winding the fish in,it was speeding to my bank and before I knew it it was bolting about under my feet,a lean,wild looking Common,of 15lb8oz was slipped into the landing net.

The final day beckoned and the rain continued to come down,our spot was now starting to look like something from the battle of the Somme.Just as we was having a brew Robert's left rod which was out on double Tutti's single toned and he was into a lively frisky fish with lovely brown tones,weighing 28lb.

I was really happy for Robert given that he had lost an even larger fish in the night and had been jokingly saying "Mark your so jammy your Delkim's go even when the rods aren't in the water". In fairness he was right as I had been lucky enough to have the lions share of fish.

The rest of the day was quiet and the rain gradually eased off,the sun eventually making it's prescence felt and there was not a cloud in the sky,at around 5pm I had another take,again from the feeder stream rod and landed a very portly and lively common of 13lb8oz .

Not long after this Robert had a very fast running take on his right rod and landed our second Koi from the river of 7lb,what it lacked in size it more than made up for with its bright yellow eyes and lovely orangy red tones.

Late evening came and we had packed all but two rod's away,as I had most my runs on the feeder stream rod,I decided to leave it out till the very last minute and this paid off when a violent take saw the swinger fly up,smack against the rod and unclip,I was onto the rod as fast as possible and the fish wanted to carry on up the feeder stream,it's resistance was strong as it tried to bolt further for the cover of the hanging bushes and snags of the stream,asserting more pressure I gained more control and slowly started to bring her in,my headlight shone on the back of an immaculate looking common,at 17lb it was a nice way to cap off our session on this river and it certainly will be a water that Robert and I look forward to fishing again.

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