Our resident Blogger, Wayne Box takes a trip across the channel for a week that he will never forget!
I have been to France a few times now, as well as Austria and Germany, yet I have still never banked a 50lb carp. One of the reasons for this is venue choice, the first time I went to France some 15 years ago, the lake was relatively new with scraper 40's being the biggest in there, I managed 15 fish to 36lb, a good weeks angling but no monsters by any means. Subsequent trips to France resulted in fish to low 40's but still no monsters. Austria saw me bank a big common of 47lb and I was over the moon but that was 10 years ago and it was time to set the record straight, I jumped at the chance to visit Lac Du Tard, formally known as Etangs des deux pierres but under new ownership. The stock is incredible for a 14 acre lake, approx 10-15 different 60lb fish with back up fifties and forties a plenty. We had all been here before but for me it was a good few years ago under the old owner and bailiff and the fish had grown since then, a lot!
5 of us were going on this trip and with 10 swims there would be plenty of room for us all. I checked the weather forecast a few days before we were due to leave and the wind had been blowing from the north down towards an area in front of two swims called the Grandstand and the Dug Out, our trip was Saturday to Saturday but halfway through our week on Wednesday morning the wind was due to change completely with fresh new wind blowing down the opposite end of the lake towards the Beach, a large double swim and two other swims that are often overlooked called Marcelle's and Lillies.
One of my good mates James picked my up late on Friday night and we packed the gear into his van and set off to meet Graham and Steve who were travelling with us. The 5th member of our group Clint, was already in France with his other half, he would meet us at the lake on Saturday lunchtime. It wasn't long before we were on the M25 heading for Folkestone to pick up the tunnel for the crossing to France, travelling across in the early hours means you miss the rush hour traffic around Paris which can be a nightmare to say the least. We arrived with loads of time to spare and picked up an earlier crossing so by 3.45am we were on the train and off to France, James and I spoke about swim choice and I told him about the weather change in a few days, something he had already noticed himself.
We hit French soil, pulled over for a quick comfort break and then headed off into the darkness across France. The journey was easy but long, we stopped halfway for a bit of breakfast and a break, James was flagging by now and I drove the second leg to let him catch a few winks. We arrived at the lake ridiculously early, we hadn't met the new owners or the new bailiff and the lads who were on before us were still packing down so we popped in to see an old mate at a nearby lake and sat in the sun drinking a cold beer and watching the fish sun themselves in the shallows. Clint arrived and the 5some was complete, we said our goodbyes and headed to the lake to meet the new bailiff and his wife.
Mark and Sue greeted us with a cold beer and a smile, a perfect way to start the week! We usually have a walk round but everyone had an idea of where they wanted to go already and I was gobsmacked when nobody else fancied the same end of the lake as James and myself. You can see from the lake map, but James and I went in the Beach (me on the right, James on the left), Clint went in the Lonely, Graham went in the Grandstand and Steve went in Mid Drive. Although the wind was hacking down the opposite end to us I still felt there were bites to be had at our end of the lake but I decided not to fish the first night, I was absolutely shattered after two night shifts at work and a long drive so I threw the bivvy up and helped James put the Nash Gazebo up which would be out base camp for the week, we also had a small wooden cabin in our swim, so we chucked all the gear we wouldn't need straight away in there and we put all the tackle and bait in the gazebo on a big table, it was carp fishing luxury!
I watched James put 3 rods out onto calculated spots and we sat back with a beer and watched the water, the fish were going nuts at the other end, jumping and showing and I knew Graham was in for a busy night! I crashed out and it was barely passed midnight when I was woken by a delkim playing its tune, James was into a fish on the first night! James had already caught a low 50 last year at a different lake so he was also on for a potential personal best this week. As the Beach suggests the water is shallow close in so I donned a pair of chesties and grabbed a net, the fish plodded and stated deep all the way in and she finally rolled in front of me in the gloomy night. I nearly fell over backwards when I saw it, it was bloody huge but I said nothing, the last thing you need when playing a fish is to see it might be a new PB! The fish finally tired and I scooped her up first time and peered into the net, 'how big' James asked, 'well I think it's a new PB you had better ring Mark!'
Mark the bailiff wanted to be told about any fish over 50lb day or night so we gave him a ring and he said he was on his way down from his cabin 50 meters away, we carefully got the fish into the sling and weighted her, I kept the scales hidden....... 'six.... six....sixtttyyyyyy one NO sixty two?' we double checked the weight, my hands were shaking but one thing was clear James had landed a sixty on the first night, first fish!!! We settled on a weight of 61lb 15oz which was a new PB by 10lbs and he was understandably over the moon, we had a celebratory cuppa before heading back to bed, not before James recast his rod back out the spot.
I was in a blissful state of deep sleep when I was rudely awoken by another delkim with what was clearly an angry carp on the end of one of his rods! The recast rod had gone again and it was time for me to throw the chesties on once more. The fish once again stayed deep and plodded about, no head shaking just slow deep runs that took line every time. It wasn't too much longer before the fish was ready for the net and I could see it was another lump! I told James to ring Mark again which meant it was over 50 or very close! Once again I kept the scales hidden and the needle spun round to 51lb 6oz!! First night and a 60 and a 50 already!!I was beginning to regret my decision not to fish that first night. Photos done, tea drank and we were back in the land of nod in not time, we awoke late at about 9am and I checked my phone, Graham had indeed had a busy night with a few fish caught to over 50lb! Clint was yet to catch and Steve had spent all night taking photos of Graham's fish, the lake had fished very well indeed and by 10am the sun was scorching hot, it was clear the fish were stacked up in front of Graham as he went on to land a few more fish that day, I had finally got my rods out, but there were no signs of fish at all down our end, but it was all part of the master plan, a quiet few days then when the wind changes hopefully the fish would follow!
We consumed a banging BBQ sunk a couple of beers and retired to bed Sunday night full of hope, James was off to a flyer and I was hopeful of a night bite once the temperature had dropped a little bit. I was right and at about 1am James had a ripper of a take and we weighed and photographed a 35lb mirror for him, a great start and hopefully one of my rods would soon be called into action. At about 3am I got my chance, the left hand rod pulled up tight and then ripped off, I lifted into a powerful fish that did not want to be caught! The fish gave me a hell of a scrap under the rod tip, powering off and going on long runs again and again. Finally she went into the net and James said it didn't look that big, we weighed her at 32lb, one of the lakes babies but I was happy none the less to be off the mark. We awoke to news that Steve had landed a 45lb mirror, ending a long blank run of French trips! Clint was yet to get off the mark but it was early days and he was opposite us so I had no doubt he would catch. Graham had landed another couple of fish and that day (Monday) he went on to land 5 or 6 fish which was incredible angling, 50's, 40's and 30's this lake had been kind to us I wasn't aware of just how kind the lake was going to be to me! James had landed his two monsters on multi rigs popped up about 2 inches above the silk weed and not one for being left behind I quickly followed suit, a pink scent from hell pop up was the going bait so all 3 rods were changed to those!
The next night and day were pretty uneventful for James and I, we stuck at it, didn't pile too much bait in and stuck to our spots. Clint had moved a swim closer to the other end after the first night to try and get near the fish, despite losing a fish in the weed on the first day! I thought it was a mistake and it proved to be so as the week went on.
Tuesday night the wind changed, not strong but it hd swung round pushing straight down our end, we set the rods that night and went to bed full of hope! at 5.30am my right hand rod was away again, this fish was totally different to the first, slow, plodding, powerful and I felt my heart beat a little quicker as she neared the net. James netted her first time and I could see it was a big common! We unhooked her and put her on the scales, James returning the favour by hiding the weight from me! 'Well it's a new PB he smiled, 57lb!!!'
I let out a little scream of delight and rang Mark, he was as happy as I was and with the photos done I went about messaging my other half Louise, it was just after 5am UK time and I knew she would wake up and be just as chuffed as I was! A new personal best at 57lb and I had also beaten my PB by 10lbs! I waited for the sun to improve and had the rod back on it's spot. We had a lovely sausage and bacon baguette and sat back to see what the day would bring. At about 1pm my middle rod was away and after a short battle a 37lb mirror was photographed and slipped back none the worse for her ordeal.
We decided to reel in and go for a beer in town, Clint came with us and we headed into Vitry Le Francois for a drink, we found a lovely bar and sank a couple of beers in the sun with the locals, it was a great afternoon and we all felt a bit refreshed and ready for action when we got back!
We sat back and watched, by now the wind had really got up, it was blowing hard down our end of the lake and my plan was slowly starting to come together.......
As I write this I cannot for the life of me remember what James caught over the next few days so I will focus on my catches and summarise the rest of the catches towards the end!
As we sat and watched, the fish started to show, it was still Wednesday afternoon, I had slipped back the 37lb'er and I was sure there would be more action and at 4.45pm we were just discussing what to have for dinner when my right hand rod tore off! I lifted into a slow but powerful fish, taking line at distance, it was knit one pearl one with 6 rods in one swim and the fish managed to wipe out all 3 of James's rods! With bail arms open James scooped the fish up and we could see it was big deep fish! We left her in the retention sling to recover while we untangled the rods and got them back out to their spots. We tried to ring Mark but could not get a signal so we thought it best to carry on, we got the fish out and put her on the scales, James started grinning, the grin got bigger and bigger as read out the weight...... 62lb 10oz!! I nearly fell over, I could not believe it a 60lb'er!! We photographed the fish and slipped her back, I had beaten my PB from a few hours ago and landed a 60!!
We had a big BBQ that night, and as the food was consumed we sat back and chilled out but that didn't last long as at about 7.45pm I was away again! Another powerful fish led me a merry dance but was soon in the net thanks to James and his superb netting skills! It looked every inch another whacker and the scales spun round to 59lb 14oz!! Talk about a right result a 62 and 59 within a few hours!! Pics done, we had a few beers to celebrate and we were soon pushing out the zzzzzzz's. That was until about 2.30am when I was in again, a big mirror rolled over the net cord and she went 47lb, incredible and the stuff dreams were made of!! I went back to sleep but had barely drifted off when another of my delkims issued a warning before melting off! A good scrap ensured and another bit mirror was safely encased in my net, she went 50lb and a few ounces and this was going from the sublime to the downright ridiculous! A 30, 2 x 50's and 60 all within 12 hours!
That night I landed a 41lb common and James landed a monster 57lb 8oz common as well, it was insane, we had both landed new PB commons and mirrors, very similar weights and beating PB's by 10lbs, how bizarre!
This was all too much for Clint who had moved up the lake to be closer to Graham but to no avail, but with Clint moving it game us loads of room so I went long towards where the fish were showing, still my water but further out than the first few days, the result was this mega hit of fish and Clint packed up again and moved back to his original swim to get a slice of the action. I knew this would mess our chances up and I wasn't wrong, Clint did go on to land low 30lb common but the fish pushed further up into the far corner, not really my water but with no one in the end swims I fancied a rod up there. Clint could not cast there from his swim so I sent a rod long into the corner but the fish just were not playing ball, the extra 3 rods in the area had made the fish wary and our bites dried up.
By Friday the weather was now awful, strong winds and driving rain that resulted in us rescuing the Nash Gazebo from the trees as we hadn't pegged it down properly and the wind caught us on the hop! Our gear got soaked and all we could do was laugh out loud, what else can you do?!
The final bite for me came at 2pm with a fish of 44lb, a lovely dark mirror with scales down one side, a fitting end to a great trip! I also went on to land Sammy the Sturgeon twice, he is a right character and usually comes out a few times every week, Graham had caught him 4 times, myself twice and Steve once so that was 7 times we caught him! James had a couple of fish on Friday, a 23lb mirror and a big mirror as well of about 45lb from memory.
That night James and I packed down the majority of the gear and set the alarms for early o clock, no more bites came that night and we woke early and took the bivvies down in the dry, we loaded the van and Mark made us a breakfast baguette which hit the spot ready for the drive home. We said our goodbyes and drove out the lake, what a trip it had been, we were absolutely knackered but we wouldn't have it any other way, we had both smashed our PB mirrors and commons and caught 16 fish between us. Graham had smashed it in the Grandstand and he must have had 20 carp to low 60's, with numerous 50's and 40's along the way, Steve had caught his 45lb mirror and Clint had only managed a low 30 common.
A red letter week for sure and one I will not forget in a hurry!! Now, where can I go to catch a 70!!
I must make a special mention to Mark the bailiff who was great fun and went out of his way to fetch us supplies every couple of days, top bloke and a credit to the venue.
If anyone wants to look at the venue their website is www.lacdutard.com or find them on facebook under Lac Du Tard Carp Fishing Holiday's.