France is a mecca for UK carp anglers and every year thousands of us flock to sample some of the finest big carp fishing in Europe. We asked our resident blogger Wayne Box to talk us through preparing for a trip to France.
In this blog piece I am going to talk you through how I prepare for a French trip and show you some of the extra bits of kit I take when fishing a long session abroad. If you have never been to France fishing and this is your first time, then you should find this very useful but anyone can use it as a check list to ensure they are best prepared.
So, let’s assume you have booked your venue, gathered your mates and you are now chomping at the bit to get out there! You need to slow down a second and make sure all your kit is ready and prepared. My prep work starts weeks before the date of my trip, take a look....
Three Months Before
Make sure your passport and any other insurance or medical documents are in your possession, in date and valid. For your passport make sure you have at least 3 months left from your date of return, before it expires. Some countries are now requiring 6 months validation left on your passport, check before you travel!
Driving in France is an absolute joy but you could come unstuck before you have even arrived at the lake. If you are the driver then make sure you have all the correct equipment for the car or van, things like reflective jackets for every person in the vehicle, spare headlight bulbs etc. It is a legal requirement in France to drive with all the correct kit. A quick google will give you all the information you need, the AA or RAC websites are best and most up to date. One thing I will say though, hands free Bluetooth devices are strictly banned in France and a swift 135 Euro fine awaits anyone caught in the act! Don't forget to PLAN your route now and make sure you have European Breakdown cover as well. The toll roads in France are great, usually empty and not too expensive so use them.
One Month Before
You will be getting seriously excited now but use these last 4 weeks to get any extras you need that you haven’t got. Check out my extra’s list below for some ideas. Just remember, you don’t want to run out of anything while you are out there as it can be very hard to get tackle and bait unless it is sold at the lake and even then, your choice will be limited.
- Bait – stick to a bait you have confidence in and take enough bait to last the week. 50kg sounds a lot but it works out at just over 2kg per rod, per day if you fish 3 rods. You can always bring it back if you don’t use it. Check the catch reports out, see what works well but I rarely deviate from the Sticky Baits Krill or Manilla, depending on time of year. One item of bait I always take with me are a few kilos of tiger nuts they can sort out the better fish when the going is tough!
- End tackle – take plenty of hooks, leads and hook link material. Take a spare bulk spool of your mainline too in case you get cut off and have to re spool. Keep your spare stuff in a separate storage box in the car/van, it saves cluttering up you fishing bags. Take more than you think you will need, you can always bring it back and use it another time but if you are out there and run out of something it can put an abrupt halt to your session and ruin your confidence.
- Cooking – if you are self-catering then there is no need to live off pot noodles for a week, a decent stove, set of pots and pans and a BBQ is more than enough to knock up some delicious meals. Personally, weather permitting, I like to BBQ most nights anyway, much less washing up and you can do all sorts of meat, potatoes, veg and salad. Make sure you have enough gas for a week, two canisters usually does me and I rarely get into the second one as I use the BBQ a lot.
- Sleeping – any fool can be uncomfortable, so I tend to bring out my utility front for my tempest bivvy. This creates a massive space to sleep and chill out in. Even if it is busting down with rain I can sit out at the front and not get wet but still watch the water. I always stick my Nash Gazebo in the van as well and if I have the room then I will put that up as a sun shade or rain shelter. Don't forget plenty of spare clothes as well, again you can store them in the van or car if not needed but being wet is not fun at all! A week on a bedchair can be a grind if you are uncomfortable so now might be a good time to treat yourself to a new one.
- Power – Remember this is a holiday so allow yourself a few luxuries! I take my iPad with me and it is loaded with movies that I watch in the evening or if the rain means I am forced to take shelter. A radio is useful too and don’t forget batteries and charging cables. Of course you will also need a way of charging these items so get yourself a decent power pack. Ridgemonkey, Fox and PowaPacs all do very good power banks that will keep you charged all week.
- Bait Boats – Yes I know, not everyone likes them but they can be the difference between an ok week and a fantastic week. On my last two trips, there were 5 of us fishing and 2 were using bait boats with echo sounders. Guess who caught the most? Do your research, if the lake is dominated by bait boats, you might want to think about using one.
One Week To Go!
Now is the time to get a few of your favourite rigs tied up and pack the bags. It might sound a bit over the top but have a check list and make sure you have it all. With a week to go there is still time to change all the batteries in things like head torches, radios, bait boats and handsets etc. Make sure you have all the bait that you need as well. Make sure you pack any medication, first aid kit, sun cream, toilet roll etc. Pack your spare clothes, waterproofs hats, jackets etc.
The Day Before
Now is the time to get all your food sorted, get the cool boxes laid out ready for the morning, make sure the ice packs are freezing and the passports and other documents are safe and ready. I keep all my important non fishing stuff like passport, ferry or tunnel crossing details, cash in my wallet, insurance and medical card in a Cult Tackle Security Pouch and it never leaves my body until we get to the lake! You can also prepare some bait if you want, I tend to put 5kg of boilies in a bucket of rain water and some glug and by the time I get to the lake tomorrow afternoon they are lovely and washed out but full of flavour. Go and fill up the car/van with fuel, check the tyres are inflated and check the oil and water.
Time To Go!
Get all the food packed with ice packs if necessary and load it into the van, double check the passport and other documents are all packed and ready to go. Have a last minute sweep off the house/garage to make sure nothing is left behind. Make sure you have your kit for driving in France and stash it under the seat or in the front somewhere. Don’t forget any food or bait in the freezer/fridge! A great tip is to use bottled water as ice blocks, freeze them and as they defrost slowly over a few days you have your drinking water!
If you are travelling in convoy with each other then hand held walkie talkies are a great idea, they are also good when you are fishing if you need help from a mate when weighing the next 50lb carp!