Three more regulars on again next, first week in September, with the autumn feeding binge imminent. But thats all down to the weather of course. For James Hampton; a fully scaled at 36.12, a mirror at 48.14 & two cats going 23 & 36lbs (taken out). For Steve Godfrey; a linear at 42.4, two more mirrors at 39 & 41.4. A very good trip for Rob this time; mirrors going 52.12, 46.6, 39.4, 38.10, 30.12, a grass carp at 40.4 & two commons at 23 & 34.
Just been on the radio, this year has been the second hottest summer in France since records began. Along with that, the long range forecast for next January & February, is for long periods of freezing temperatures, much colder than average. That will probably hurt the cray population somewhat.
Up next came Roy & Lady Ballantine. Their second night was not what you would relate to as ´the peaceful, tranquil setting at La Morinais`. My neighbours had a 40th birthday party, just across the field. My guests reported that they could feel the vibrations in the ground, of Tom Jones´s Sex Bomb, booming across the neighbourhood at 3am. Eeecckk. I wander if the fish can feel it? This night Jill & Roy didn´t get a pick up.
The other times were far more fruitful, Jill landing two mirrors at 46 & 34, one common at 46, two cats (taken out) at 35.2 & 61.2. A top visit for Roy this time, three commons at 46, 31.14 & 20.2, five mirrors going 61.14, 54.14, 52, 40 & 32.4.
The regular 7 till 10 morning bite time has changed now, fish now regularly picking up baits during the small hours.
The stifling heat has gone away at last. Ironically August, usually the hottest month, cooled down. Second week into August & daily afternoon temperatures in the mid twenties, plenty of cloud, consistent westerly breeze, a drop in air pressure & the odd thunder storm – perfect. Aaron Bartlett & Tony Matthews made the best of it, on their first visit here. For Tony two cats at 22 & 44 (taken out), one common at 33, three mirrors going 10.4, 18 & 28. Aaron took ten fish, four commons at 19, 22, 41 & 48.8. Six mirrors at 34.8, 37, 51, 53, 54.8 & 66.4.
There have been a few hard weeks this year, so it was nice to see things all come together in a great weeks fishing, some good food & several super siestas!
Third week in August & Steve & Rachel Clay were back. Steve knows this place well & said it was ´a difficult week`. Rain & subsequent low pressure, started the week off well. Two fish during the first night; 18lb mirror & 34.8 common. Then two the next day for Rachel; 25lb common & a mirror at 50lb. Then that was pretty much it, the fish fizzed & bubbled here & there occasionally but with no real gusto.
Second visit for Roy Adams´ group. The stifling heatwave continuing, not exactly ideal fishing conditions. Collectively the group took nine fish, some of the smaller up & comings getting caught. Mark James took the best catch; one grassy at 32.8 & four mirrors at 33, 37, 36.8 & 46lb.
Incidentally, just been announced on the radio, the summer has been hotter than 1976.
Steve Clay & John Boddice arrived to tackle a difficult weeks fishing. The carp very active in the warm weather, but clearly gorging on last Octobers hatch of small crays; instant ready meals.
Four fish for Steve; three mirrors at 25, 32 & 41, a common at 50.09, 1oz below the lake record bizarrely. Seven carp for John; five mirrors at 37.12, 35.8, 39.12, 44.2 & 66.8. Two commons at 17.12 & 22.4. Not bad at all for a first timer here.
Second week of May I did some fishing myself. I have still yet to catch a forty pound common. So I baited a spot where I have seen fish feeding on a reasonably regular basis, an area that most anglers cast over it towards the island. I fished an old school bait; red kidney beans. I fished three mornings on the trot, picking up a common each morning; 33, 28 & 32, all empty of eggs.
Roy & Lady Ballantine came next, she was back up to standard, catching another spawned out fish, a mirror going 66.4, caught right up the far end, behind the small island. Other fish for the duo were commons of 47.8, mirrors of 22, 39.2 (full of eggs still), 54.6, 39, 42.2 & 51.14. At 3am one morning, Roy caught the monster grass carp. Some one was going to catch it one day. Roy grumbled ´it beat me up`, so sadly it was not weighed or photographed, for reasons I completely understand with grass carp. Weight estimated at 55lb minimum.
The cycle starts again…. First on this year were the wanderers from Wokingham; Phil & Richard. Their week started absolutely perishing, winter clothes with not much activity in the lake. Their week ended eating ice creams in the hot sunshine. Twenty-two fish total, a mixed bag of big fish & young escapees from the growing pool. Six commons at 34.8, 34, 34.8, 47.8, 48 & a second La Morinais common topping 50lb at 50.09. Sixteen mirrors going 6, 6, 25, 35, 29, 38, 66.13, 25, 25, 35, 40.9, 41, 49, 51, 57.7 & 66.4.
The guys left on Saturday morning. Sunday morning I went down to the lake to see a full on spawning started. It carried on through Monday, subsiding Tuesday evening. Three nights & three days, with a lot of eggs shed. If that is it for this year & all the females have shed their eggs, I am not sure but hope so. An early spawning leaving more time for growth.
Nature lover ´Stax`came along in October, on his own this time, due to some very high quality fish & chips. Story for another day but well done Dan. I wasn´t sure how this week, with just one angler would pan out, but it turned out a difficult one. One carp rolling into the net, a common at 32.8.
James Hampton, Steve & Stuart came third week of October & I was crossing my fingers, that the fishing would pick up. Two struggled but James did OK in the end. Six fish in total; four mirrors of 17, 41.10, 34.2 & 34.3. Two commons at 25.3 & 43.12. The fish, for the time of year, were still laying low – the bigger fish especially.
At the end of the month, into November, the last group came, last knockings for a seventy pounder. It was a good trip with some of the bigger fish turning up at last. For Ollie Kennard; one 20lb common, eight mirrors going 24.7, 24.8, 35.6, 43.4, 46, 50.2, 58 & 65. For Nathan Bridle; one common at 31.8 & three mirrors at 27.8, 35.8 & 43.14. Seven fish for Gary Baker; commons of 29 & 33.4, mirrors of 35, 65, 57.12, 39.12, 54.6.
Two fish here, 58 & 57.12 was a repeat capture, the big plated mirror. Ollie´s 65 was third time on the bank this year. 69 in April, 62 in August, then 65 in October. Par for the season, but a result. Another prospective seventy for next year. Gary´s 65 was first time on the bank this year. This one does seem to have topped out though around this weight.
So, a fifty pound common this year but will have to wait until next year for the seventy pounder. Its just a matter of time, it will happen.
I met PC Tomlinson ten years ago, during a ´roadside incident`. We kept in touch & years later, he finally made it here. I´m sure the carp passing 60lbs were duly written down in his note book (do the police still carry note books?). When I got stopped here in France recently for a ´Controle`, le ´flic` took a photo of my driving licence & insurance cert with his smart phone. Then one minute later gave me the good to go, after they had been validated by the gendarmarie on line check-in centre. Oooff how things have moved on.
Was it worth the wait? – ask Neil, he landed three commons at 20.04, 27.02 & 23, a grassie at 38, one cat at 45, four mirrors going 43.01, 47.07, 32 & 53.08. The party of French veterans included Kev Sayer; one common of 15lb, one grassie of 40.02, one cat of 16lb & six mirrors of 26.08, 20, 40, 41.08, 41.02 & 34. For Steve Gill; a 26lb common, two mirrors of 27 & 34, plus & 6lb common in the stock pond on the cane rod & centre pin – nice. For Rob Eley, two commons at 31.08 & 33.09 with a mirror at 46.02.
The guys left on Saturday, I had Sheldon Starkey back for Sunday & Monday, a birthday session. On his birthday, we enjoyed a very pleasant bank side malt, then at around 8pm a run from nowhere, no sign of any feeding fish. The fish came straight towards the bank & I´m thinking grass carp – all hell is about to break loose. Then the rod hooped round & the slow click..click..click of a decent fish headed left. I didn´t realise the size of the common until I lifted it up onto the bank. This has taken some time in coming, but the first common here to take the scales over fifty pounds. 50lbs 10ozs, surprising for me, not one of the fish I expected to top fifty. Happy Birthday!
Third week of September & Devonians Roy, Chris, Les & Lady Ballantine pulled in through the gates again. Where ever I am around the lake, when this gang are here, I can usually here laughter. Thats what its´ all about isn´t it? The fish fed during the week, mostly up the shallows, but were clearly being very selective what they were eating. Hence, the fishing was difficult. Twelve fish in total were landed; six commons at 30, 32.04, 31.08, 34.07, 22.07 & 21.08. Six mirrors going 41.02, 42, 24.08, 17.10, 17 & 31.06.
Always nice when people haven´t been for a few years & come back. I am always intrigued to hear what they think of the changes, plus hopefully, the size of bigger fish. The Sargents came back, after a three year gap. John Catching six mirrors of 15.09, 51.10, 33.03, 38.13, 41.11 & 42.09. For Ian; five commons at 21, 35.08, 31.08, 26.08 & 6lb! One grassie causing havoc at 38.04. Six mirrors going; 47.08, 62, 39.12, 52.04, 30.10 & 22.08.
Third week of August & Danny Gordon came back for another go, with companion Sean. Six years since Danny was here last. More smaller fish coming out during this latter part of the year, the big ones coming out less. To date, seven of the big cats have been taken out, five or six left. Time will tell, the impact on the fishery.
Danny landed two commons at 32 & 47.01. Seven mirrors going 35.11, 33.12, 27.06, 26.07, 25.04, 52.04 & 21.09. For Sean; two nice mirrors of 40 & 49.04.
On 26th August I had my cycling buddy Sheldon Starkey here for a night session. What a night it turned out to be, four fish beneath almost constant lightening, a forty pound common picking the bait up, when the storm & rain was at its peak, right over head. The common going 40.05, three mirrors at 25.04, 43 & 53.02.
A roasting hot week for three new anglers to come here, down from the north west. Steve Lawrence took two commons at 27 & 37, two mirrors at 45.04 & 13lb. For Mark James; three fish of 21.09, 24.08 & 36. Party organiser Roy Adams took four fish; two commons at 25 & 37, a mirror of 52, then a mirror which really got me tingling, a post spawned fish at 68lb 2oz. Certainly one of the fish that is due to hit seventy pounds soon.
Third week of July in the hot summer sun for the Baker family; for Alex fish of 53.03, 35, 49 & a 69lb cat. There were new noises on the banks this year, a first for me, little baby noises, bivvied up quite snuggly with Mum Alice in bivvy camp Baker. Alice took one of the runs & brought in a fully scaled mirror of 36lbs (there are six completely fully scaled in here now). Father Baker, Gary, took one common at 45, four mirrors at 18, 23, 52 & 30lb. Three forties for sixteen year old Elley Baker; 47, 42.12 & 43.12. Travelling companion Keith Prowse took two fish, a 23.08 common & a small cat. That didn´t matter really, we enjoyed some delightful whiskey moments facing the evening sunsets.
Last week of May & into the first week of June, always a gamble with the spawning period. The carp were spawning when Roy & Lady Ballantine arrived, petering out mid week. The fishing wasn´t bad though in the end; Roy taking three commons of 8.12, 40.02 & 33.10, two mirrors of 45 & 38.04. One cat putting in an appearance, just to keep Roy´s muscles in tone, at 65.08. No record breakers (unusually) this time for Lady Ballantine, taking fish; two commons of 27 & 31, mirrors of 34.08, 38.08, 21.08 & 18.
Next its the annual four week post spawning shut down, the carp left alone for recovery.
What happened was certainly not textbook, early May can be prime time for a big catch, plus a big pre spawning heavy weight. Three guys from Stoke-on-Trent, who know this lake very well, after coming here since 2005, came to a lake which looked like it had no carp in it. During six days on the lake, one bubbler was spotted. Nothing rolling, leaping, or showing any sign of activity. One mirror was caught at 30lbs. Weather all over the place. Turned out to be the most difficult weeks fishing here since 2002.
Two weeks later & it had all changed. Three guys on. Interesting for me to see, most of the activity was on the north side of the great wall & one guy, Jason, decided to fish there. Fourteen carp in four nights. Most of the fish getting caught in the dark, as is the general rule fishing there. Commons at 12, 25, 25, 26, 26, 31, 36 & 38. Mirrors at 20, 36, 38, 45 & 56. Other fish getting caught included a 60lb cat, six twenty pound commons & a mirror at 42.
Second week in April, the wanderers from Wokingham returned, Richard & Phil´s third trip here. This time was a very different visit, still no real sign of the carp feeding with any vengance. The weather went from perishing to the mid twenties in just a few days, a real trigger for spawning, which is what started to happen on the Friday, continuing until Monday afternoon, when the temperature started to tumble again.
Fourteen carp going; 58lb, 62lb 8oz, four 20lb´s, 54lb 13oz, 42lb 8oz, 41lb 6oz, 18lb & 16lb, three of which were commons at 32lb, 38lb & 29lb.
Things progressing & looking good so far, despite the cool weather. Three different fish over sixty pounds so far, one topping the lake record, has to be good news for the rest of the year.
Following the long cold & very wet winter, I was intrigued to see what effect this had on the carp. First group of the year arrived on the 16th March, for the annual event Spring cleaning week + hopefully some carp. The perishing weather continuing made things very difficult, with the carp showing no real signs of any feeding activity with any gusto. The first night, the temperature went down to -6°C. Nathan Bridle, Keith Prowse & Gary Baker took a total of ten carp, four commons at; 28lb 14oz, 29lb 4oz, 26lb 10oz & 23lb. Six mirrors at; 43lb 9oz, 40lb, 34lb, 45lb 10oz, 48lb 8oz & 62lb 9oz.
The end of the month & the Clay´s were back, from Littleover. The weather improved a little, slowly starting to warm up but still below seasonal averages. Eight carp in the net, two commons at 37lb & 33lb, a linear at 20lb & five mirrors at 42lb, 42lb, 25lb, 46lb, plus one more upping the lake record to 69lb 3oz. Always interesting to see how things turn out, this time Steve had only been fishing for a few hours, when he landed the sixty. Matthew & I had not been in the house long, which was a blessing, enabling us to participate in the ceremonial weighing & photographing.