When the four Devonian´s rolled up again, the autumn feeding binge had started in earnest & continued throughout the week. The morning first light to 10am feeding period noticeably moving to the afternoon. Very few fish have been landed during the night this year, especially since the end of April. Roy, Chris, Les & Lady Ballantine (doing it again with a record cat for the lake at 73lbs) landed a total of twenty five carp + the one cat. For Roy; two commons at 19.14 & 29.12, four mirrors at 36.12, 41.12, 22.15 & 61lb. For Les; two commons at 24.7 & 20lb, six mirrors at 54.12, 33.7, 50.8, 50.4, 23.8 & 59.1. Three fish for Jill; the cat at 73lb, a mirror at 39.15 & the only resident leather at 42.8. Nine fish for Chris, fishing the south bank; one common at 30.2 & eight mirrors at 43.10, 38.4, 53.4, 49.12, 55, 59.12, 23.6 & 37.4.
After a cycling holiday down in the south of France, back to fishy business again, with the arrival of the Bakers. This second week in August turned out to be a difficult one. The fish were constantly active from first light until around 10am; rolling, bubbling & clouding up the bottom feeding. Casting to feeding fish here, usually within an hour, often within minutes, regularly provides a take. This time hook baits were constantly ignored. I had several goes myself, fishing to feeding fish, eventually catching an 18lb cat (taken out) & a 24lb common. For the Bakers; two commons at 26lb 4oz & 27lb 10oz, with four mirrors at 34lb 4oz, 44lb 8oz, 37lb & 49lb.
Six days later Steve & Rachel Clay arrived for their second visit. This week turned out to be a very different one, with the fish turned on. Eleven carp & four cats, the smallest fish going 31lbs, making this trip one of the best of the year. Four cats at 56, 54, 60 & 67, two commons at 31.12 & 31 (stalked on float fished worm up the shallows – I love it when people do this). Nine mirrors going 49, 43, 41, 37.12, 47.8, 31.4, 34.2, 56.4 & the big plated mirror showing its usual once a year appearance, this time at 55.8.
Doors open again for July, with another return visit for Jason Meigh, Tony Ashford & Kevin Heath from Stoke-on-Trent. For Tony, fishing opposite the larger of the islands; one cat at 50lb, a fully scaled home brew mirror at 18lb, one commons at 15lb & a second taking the lake record common to 47lb. Kevin fished close to the great wall, grass carp territory. The result, the most & the lake record landed in one trip. The grass carp went; two at 29lbs, two at 26lbs, the fifth at 42lb. Kevin took two commons at 33lb & 43lb.
Roy Williams & Jill Wilcox on the lake for another return visit, this time again earning her new pseudonym of Lady Ballantine, by raising the lake record again, I think for the third time. Roy took six carp & two cats, three commons at 25.2, 25.4, 23.4, three mirrors at 18.8 (fully scaled), 29.14 & 59.4. Two cats at 46 & 24. Jill´s fish went; two commons at 45.14 & 27, four mirrors at 40, 45.8, 52.6 & the new lake record at 66.4. For the regulars, this fish was the fish with a small patch of scales below the dorsal on the left flank, making a triangle.
End of the month before the gates close for June post spawning, I had a few sessions down the lake, some successful, some not. Mirrors which came along; 45lb 2oz, 30lb 4oz, 24lb 2oz, 24lb 4oz & 34lb, with one common rolling into the net at 22lb. Sheldon Starkey took three cats in three nights; 10lb, 67lb & 65lb.
First week of the month & the weather turned into Spring again. First timers here Kevin Merritt & Steve Ali were to profit from it. The carp were still lethargic but were feeding visibly more regularly now. The guys landed two cats at 50.8 & 18.8 (taken out) & eight carp, four commons at; 26.4, 23.12, 22.8 & 23.6, four mirrors at 34.6, 28.6, 53.8 & 62.8.
Last week of the month & the fish switched on. Phil & Richard took twenty two carp in total. They kept on the move to get the best from their week here but their efforts were rewarded. Noticeably, most of the big carp came in the last 36 hours. Clouds finally blotted out the dazzling sunshine & the barometer finally dropped. Twelve fish to Phil going; 9lb mirror, 29lb common, 2 doubles, 3 twenties, 11lb, + four better mirrors at 34, 38, 52 & a very honest 49.15. For Richard, ten fish; 22 fully scaled, 22 mirror, 36 mirror, another 36 mirror, 41.6 fully scaled, 45.8 mirror, 55.10 mirror, 43 commo, two more mirrors at 60lb & 54lb 10oz.
The first group of anglers arrived for the week 19th to 25th. The Brittany weather during March & April can swing from one extreme to another, for this group; it was a text book disaster. The week previous I had been working outside in shorts, after late morning. The guys arrived to lower temperatures, then a north easterly blew up & it just got colder. The day after they left, back in the shorts under glorious sunshine. The fishing was notoriously difficult, just three fish coming out at 23.2, 36.6 & 24.4. See what happens next time.
Three Devonians; Jill, Roy & Chris up next, plus chocolate devouring Les. This week the run of smaller commons came to an abrupt end, the bigger fish on the munch again. Between the four; two commons at 27.12 & 28, one grassie at 30.08, eight mirrors at 31, 31.15, 30.14, 41.10, 46.02, 52.14, 52.12 & 58.02. The weight of chocolate consumed best not be displayed.
Last week of the month Gary Baker & Stuart Hicks came for another visit. A cool northerly & easterly winds are never a good sign, but with the barometer rising rapidly, to very high air pressures, it was going to be as hard as it could get here. The guys managed a total of five carp, plus a small cat. One common at 30lb 4oz, four mirrors at 47lb, 43lb, 45lb 6oz & 54lb 10oz, bringing the season here to a close.
I was starting to wander when the larger fish would come out of hiding, this turned out to be the week. Martin & Tom Good taking a total of nineteen fish; commons of 28lb, 27lb, 43lb 10oz, 22lb, 23lb, 26lb, 27lb & 31lb. One ghostie at 23lb, mirrors at 30lb 8oz, 31lb 5oz, 41lb, 42lb 14oz, 51lb 8oz, 52lb 8oz, 28lb 6oz, 51lb 8oz, 51lb 8oz, & 52lb 8oz.
For the next group; Dan, David & Paul, the big fish played difficult to temp again. Each took three fish each going, commons at 24lb 5oz, 26lb 5oz, 39lb, 43lb 6oz, 24lb 4oz, 26lb 8oz & 27lb 12oz. Just two mirrors this week at 18 & 25lbs (personally delighted with both these two fish though, great for the future).
More new faces here in August. Steve Clay came down from the Midlands with his family. The end tally was; one mirror at 42lb & four commons going 22lb, 18lb 8oz, 27lb & 43lb 12oz (for Rachel).
This year the cray´s (Louisiana Red Swamp for those interested) have been a real nuisance, making the fishing very frustrating at times. All credit to Steve who spent a great deal of time being very meticulous, to find a solution. Baits fished on the hard spots remained untouched, through the night too. Off the hard spot & the cray attention was instant. If this is because their instinct tells them they are likely to be the next ready meal, or because they feel exposed & can´t do that rapid tail flick dive into the silt – I don´t know. The advice however, has to be find the hard spots & fish on them – with maximum accuracy. Well done Steve, for your perseverance.
Next up were regulars Jason, Kevin & Anthony from the Potts. The hot weather continuing with no let up in sight, the fish not very active at all, not the usual bubbling a rolling. Two blanks but nine fish for Tony (most taken from close to the large island); One small 8lb cat, one large cat at 65lb, commons of 28lb, 21lb & 22lb 8oz, one ghostie at 22lb, two mirrors at 20lb & 61lb.
Regular visitors Dave Land & Kieran Murphy brought a new face with them this time; Steve Dobson. By the end of the week, Steve had landed the most fish. The times I have seen this happen! Kieran took three commons; 24lb, 33lb 10oz & 45lb 12oz. Dave landing two cats at 23lb 8oz & 11lb & three mirrors at 25lb 4oz, 32lb 6oz & 38lb 2oz. For Steve; one cat at 71lb, one grassie at 27lb 5oz & four mirrors at 34lb, 23lb 5oz, 35lb 2oz & 43lb 2oz.
For the rest of the month we took the annual family holiday. This year we spent one week by Lac de Saint Croix, a vast lake in Provence, seemingly untouched by carp anglers. The second week close to La de Saint Cassien. So if not carp fishing, we did what one has to do when down at Cassien – go to Chez Pierre´s & hire a pedalo! What a mad house to go fishing.
Regulars Jill Wilcox & Roy Williams from Devon arrived, for the first week of June. The fish seemed to have recovered & back to their normal habits i.e. eating. The cats put an appearance in; 44.8, 63.2 & 68.8. A grass carp put in an appearance at 39lb upping the lake record. Seven commons at 17.8, 14.4, 25.8, 26, 24.2, 31.2 & 45.12. This forty five pound common upping the lake record by just 1oz, but considering the fish had shed her eggs, for me this is a good result towards getting the first commons to 50lbs. Six mirrors were landed going; 55, 19.8, 36.12, 43, 45.8 & 55.12.
First week of May brought Phil & Richard here from Wokingham, both having been coming to France to fish since the 80´s. With the weather been warm stable, it was inevitable that spawning was about to start – down at the lake it was all quiet & like waiting for a bus. The fish started to spawn on the Wednesday, but clearly all the fish were not ready yet;
Thirty five fish in total, twenty to Phil going; five mid doubles, four twenties, two thirty pound commons, mirrors at 62lb 3oz, 48lb 8oz, 43lb 5oz, 56lb 5oz, 45lb 3oz, 47lb 7oz, 47lb 11oz & 56lb.
Fifteen fish to Richard going; two fifteen pound fully scaled mirrors, 27lb mirror, five commons & mirrors in the 30lbs range, two commons at 42lb 14oz & 44lb 2oz, mirrors at 47lb 4oz, 54lb 9oz, 55lb 6oz, 47lb 6oz & 46lb 5oz.
The sixty two pounder was a fourth different sixty this year but I was very pleased to see one fish, which had not been caught for a few years now – a linear, now at 47lb 7oz.
The Bailey brothers arrived next, for their first crack at La Morinais. Their tactics from the outset, were to establish a large bed of bait & wait for the fish to move onto it. The carp were in the post spawning doldrums & did not oblige. Two twenty pounders were taken at the end of their week. Perhaps a different week & things may have turned out very differently.
Next up were Glenn & Andrew from Stoke-on-Trent. This turned out not to be a good week, with just three fish coming to the net; two commons at 27lb & 30lb & one grass carp at 23lb. The wind & the water were still very cold with nothing really getting going with a vengeance. Too much bait too early on may well have been the curse of doom I suspect. Some groups of fish did feed during the afternoons, staying behind the wind & feeding behind the far island up the shallows.
Third week of the month, some faces arrived having not fished here since 2009. Since then the carp are much bigger but also much wiser, La Morinais is not as easy as it once was. I made an exception for this trip, letting four anglers onto the lake, mainly for Jason, who has fished here since 2004.
I was interested to see how the carp would react, if each angler fished three rods, putting a total of twelve lines across the water. However, two fished three rods, two fished two rods, which I think certainly made a difference. Nine fish were caught in total, six of which were caught up the shallows, in the water surrounding the far small island. They rolled; one common at 30lb & eight mirrors at 40lb, 37lb, 40lb 1oz, 42lb 15oz, 43lb 8oz, 55lb & 64lb 8oz equalling the lake record, making a third different sixty already this year.
Any fishery owner is always intrigued to see how the fish have over-wintered. The winter was mild & wet throughout, with no real prolonged cold spells i.e. the lake not icing over. Although I always prefer to have a ´proper` winter, for a variety of reasons, the fish are likely to have fed right through.
Winter pike expeditions took the lake record to 22lb 10oz. Matthew & I had a couple of attempts for a carp, success on the second try; Matthew taking a 44lb 5oz long leather.
My last guests last year, were my first guests for the 2016 season, Gary & Haydon Baker. Bright & sunny during the day but the cold north easterly wind did not relent until their last day. The guys had to think hard for every fish & remain constantly alert & mobile, which I am certain this is how they got the their rewards. Sitting on heavy baiting could have been the curse of doom.
Their fourteen fish total went; seven commons of 44lb, 22lb 6oz, 30lb, 45lb 6oz, 23lb, 25lb & 42lb 7oz. Big plated mirror at 54lb 10oz & six other mirrors at 51lb 10oz, 55lb 8oz, 63lb 8oz, 36lb 15oz, 41lb 5oz & 64lb (the fish with the triangle of scales below its dorsal). The good growth news being that these two different sixty pounders, are different fish to the two different sixties caught last year. So as things are at the moment, coming to the end of March, there is the likelihood of a minimum of four fish over the 60lb mark, with the possibility of six or seven.
Time for a work party; more dying Poplars to come down, cormorant defences to go across the smaller growing pools, Bridge Pool to be netted & woodland to be cleared. Inbetween work periods, Devonians & regulars Gary Baker & Stuart Hicks put baits in the water. Fish came slowly at first but towards the end of their visit, their total reached fifteen carp. Stuart took nine fish; four commons at 27.4, 21.12, 32 & 30.4. Five mirrors at 34.2, 35.1, 33.3, 33.12 & 56.13. Gary´s six fish weighed in at; one common at 21.12 with five mirrors at 35.6, 30.1, 45.13, 42.4 & 57.8.
More winds from the east. Classic case of ´You should have been here last week`. The carp were not listening to the rules however & fed enthusiastically at what turned out to be very specific feeding periods. Fish for my three visiting UK southern gentleman hopping across the Channel, went as follows:-
Stewart; commons of 43.3, 33.5 & 27. Mirrors of 30, 31.3, 33 & 57. Steve; three mirrors at 38.5, 31.5 & 35. Ten fish to James; three commons at 27.8, 28.3 & 23.9. Seven mirrors at 33.6, 57, 18.10, 43, 30.6, 24.6 & 47.14.
Next up here were regular visitor Dave Land & friend Kieran Murphy. Conditions were looking good, certainly very mild, but the fish proved very difficult to tempt. I have seen anglers struggle here sometimes, but such circumstances usually come hand in hand with an unproven bait. Bait this time was good, but tempted just one fish; a 29lb´er taken behind the Great Wall. I actually thought things tipped right for big autumn catch – just shows how wrong you can be.
Always a month of change & high expectations. The Devonians came back for another crack, this time bringing with them first timer to La Morinais – Les. Les going on to land two fish over 50lbs by the end of their stint. Jill took six fish going; mirrors of 42.14, 44.8, 15.2, three commons of 19.8, 18 & 18lbs. Roy took two mirrors at 40.10 & 56.10, one common at 32.8. Seven fish for Les; commons at 20, 20, one grass carp at 30lb & four mirrors at 36.6, 34, 50.8 & 57lb.
Next came Glenn & Andy from Stoke-on-Trent. After day one, a north easterly came swirling across the lake, which I think of as the curse of doom. Things turned out OK by the end of the week, Andy taking his very first fish here at 50lb 10oz. Two more mirrors came along at 28lb 8oz & 32lb 8oz. Glenn took four fish; two commons at 29lb 6oz & 20lb, two mirrors at 22lb 4oz & 52lb.
Hot weather continuing, no real wind of any gusto & no rain. Day after day, week after week of hot weather -not ideal conditions. Devon trio; Stuart, Jim & Richard came to make the best of it. This is how they did collectively:- Commons at 20.4, 22.12, 25.4, 26.11, 15, 21, 22, 22.1 & 27.13. (Interesting run of small commons, big ones staying very elusive). Mirrors at 32.3, 33.5, 33.15, 34, 41.12, 41.4, 28.2, 31.15 (fully scaled), 33.3, 50.15, 55.2, 31.4, 37.13 & 43.3. One cat at 40.2.
Back from two weeks holiday, to find an air leak in the Cabane des Pecheurs water supply pump, the bore hole pump clogged up (lake water top up supply during hot weather) & four wasps nests. Four days to get everything sorted before my next guests; Ian & John Sargent.
Again the fishing was hard. The fish were clearly loitering over baited areas, but not feeding with any gusto. The duo took a total of thirteen fish going; 20lb 8oz ghostie mirror, 10lb cat, 59lb 6oz mirror, 46lb 15oz mirror, 46lb 4oz mirror, 23lb mirror, 32lb 10oz mirror, 71lb cat (lake record), 19lb 4oz common, 56lb 12oz mirror, 16lb 2oz common, 26lb grassie & a 57lb 2oz mirror.
The gates closed for June, fish recuperation time.
At the end of the month, regular Sheldon Starkey came for another visit alone. During the ongoing spell of very hot weather, the carp were lethargic. One noticeable change, being the crayfish were very active. Not usually a problem for anglers here. If this is directly a result of removing twenty five smaller Cats & thirty five Commons under 20lbs during the last netting – time will tell. Would this also explain the accelerated growth rates in some of the fish?
Sheldon took three carp; 17lb mirror, 33lb mirror & a mirror just tipping the 50lb mark.
Martin Good came back for another visit, bringing friend Steve Ringwood for a first visit here. The weather was consistently warm & hence the carp were spawning heavily. This certainly made the fishing difficult. They totalled fifteen fish, including another grass carp (31lb 8oz). During the whole of last year, just one was landed. This year, including one I landed, six have been caught. Why? What has changed?
Three commons at 28, 33 & 28lb. Eleven mirrors at 33lb, 24lb, 41lb 12oz, 41lb 8oz, 47lb, 40lb, 43lb, 47lb 12oz, 38lb, then two personal bests; 55lb 8oz for Martin & 64lb 8oz for Steve, this fish raising the lake record from 58lb 8oz & the first sixty pounder here.
Next slot being the last week in May, Gary Baker bringing the family Alex, Haydon & Dee having a go. At the start of the week, things did not look too good. At the back end of the spawning, the week could have been & whitewash. Things turned out very differently indeed, a total of forty four fish, the total average weight a few ounces under forty pounds per fish. Considering most of these fish had spawned, for me as a fishery owner, I hope these guys remember what happened here during a fantastic week for a long time to come. Alex took eight carp; three commons at 26lb 14oz, 30lb 4oz & 28lb 9oz. Five mirrors at 29lb 4oz, 33lb 14oz, 64lb, 54lb 2oz & 17lb 11oz. Next Dee´s daytime fish of 32lb 8oz & 20lb 4oz mirrors, 29lb 10oz & 26lb 9oz commons. Sixteen fish for Gary going; four cats (two taken out) 35lb 12oz, 39lb 14oz, 34lb & 36lb. Six commons at 37lb 8oz, 38lb 10oz, 35lb 4oz, 25lb 10oz, 31lb 6oz & 28lb 10oz. Mirrors went; 41lb 4oz, 30lb 1oz, 30lb 2oz, 34lb 2oz, 47lb 8oz & 50lb 8oz. Next up Haydon, a red letter week for sure; three cats at 64lb 8oz, 51lb 1oz & 39lb 6oz. Four commons at 24lb 11oz, 21lb 2oz, 28lb, then a fish nudging up the lake record again to 45lb 11oz. Mirrors came in at 17lb 4oz, 37lb 12oz, a fully scaled mirror at 38lb 4oz (not caught since 2011), 38lb 8oz, 46lb 1oz, 53lb, 36lb 6oz, another fish hitting sixty pound at 60lb 13oz.
First guests arrived this year the second week of April; Jason & Leon Meigh. A steady week, averaging a fish roughly every 24 hours. One common at 25lb 6oz, two cats at 47lb & 12lb 12oz, unusually two grass carp showing up at 36lb 2oz (new lake record) & 31lb, three mirrors at 57lb, 47lb 4oz & 27lb 12oz.
For the last week of April, Jill Wilcox & Roy Williams came back for another crack at the lake. Like last year, the cats showed up early in the year, three were landed at 44lb 7oz, 58lb 6oz & 60lb 9oz. Two more grass carp weighing in at 21lb 8oz & 35lb 14oz. One common was landed, Jill nudging up the lake record common to 44lb 14oz. Four mirrors at 42lb 14oz, 41lb 15oz, 35lb 10oz & 46lb 6oz.