Our group marketing manager, Lewis Porter, recently had a week’s holiday with his partner and their friends to the impressive River Lot Paradise in the south of France, here’s an overview of how things went…Fishing was never the main thing on the agenda for this holiday, the plan was to spend the days out and about sightseeing and sunbathing and then at night we would get the rods out and have a few hours fishing. Thankfully in the weeks leading up to our arrival the majority of the bites had been at night or early morning so we felt that our plan would work out nicely.
I first became aware of the River Lot Paradise a couple of years back when UK angler, Jim Lightfoot, announced on social media his new business venture. Usually UK anglers go to France and buy a fishery, so this immediately took my interest as I had never fished a river in France before. Plans were soon made with my good mate Lee and his wife Hannah for them to join myself and my partner, Abi, on a 6-night long trip to the venue.
A short flight of just over an hour from Stansted to Bergerac airport was then followed by a 45-minute drive to the villa on the banks of the stunning River Lot. We had hired a Peugeot 5008 which had plenty of room for our suitcases and would ensure a comfortable journey for us all on each of our planned daily excursions. Certain items of tackle were supplied at the villa such as rods, pods, bivvy, bedchair, we then just took our own reels, alarms, indicators and end tackle. On the bait front we pre-ordered some maize with Jim. In addition I had couriered 25kg of shelf-life boilies out to the venue beforehand (Jim does sell some boilies at the venue for a reasonable price but I preferred to use bait that I had previously used) in addition between myself and Lee we had managed to also fit 12kg of tiger nuts into our suitcases!
Upon arrival to the villa on the Saturday afternoon we were blown away by what an incredible setting we were about to spend the next week in. The large villa was right on the banks of the river with three purpose-built swims outside, plus the bonus of a swimming pool too! I was extremely eager to get fishing but first we had to unload the car and sort out setting up all of our tackle. The light was fading fast and as Lee had never fished a river or with a rowing boat before I decided to help him sort his three rods first, which meant by the time I was to place mine it was pitch black. I dropped two rods on the far tree line and placed my third under my tips on the nearside margin. To be honest the rushing around left me feeling very unconfident and it was no surprise when I awoke the next morning to motionless bobbins.
We had to reel in by 9am as we had plans to do stuff with the girls all day but I made sure that we would be back in good time so that I could have a proper look about in the boat and find some spots I was happier with for the remaining 5 nights. The plan worked a treat and we were back at the villa by 4pm meaning I had plenty of time to get out in the boat with a leading rod and find some nice firm areas on the far margin. After about 45 minutes I had found two likely looking areas and so deposited a few KG of boilies, tigers and maize on each one, followed by 360 rigs each baited with two tiger nuts and a whittled down yellow pop-up topper. The final rod remained in the nearside margin as Jim had said that often the bigger fish would get caught close in. Such was the snaggy nature of both margins I had to fish all rods locked solid so not a single inch of line could be taken on the bite. I was using proper gear too with 55lb Submerge braided main line to 45lb mono Snag Leader to a 50lb Submerge lead-free leader (with a lead clip and 12oz Kling On lead) whilst the rigs were tied from 50lb Camo-Splice with size 7 Flexi Ring Swivels and size 2 Medium Curve Edges hooks – extreme tackle for extreme fishing!
At around 1am on the Monday morning I received a take on my middle rod, which had me out in a flash, sadly as I went for the rod I tripped on some wood and ended up hurting my big toe badly (meaning I could hardly walk for the rest of the holiday!). The offending fish was soon landed despite the agony I was in and the pain was made worse when a bream surfaced to the net! With the rod soon replaced I went back to bed in agony hoping that I would wake up in the morning and find it all to have been a bad dream.
At 4.30am my right hand rod was away with just a few violent bleeps as an angry river carp tried its best to pull my rod in. Despite my injury I was on the rod fast and soon had my first River Lot carp in the net thanks to some expert netting skills from Lee. The fish was only 17lb but the weight did not matter as any fish from a large river system like this is a result in my book. The capture also meant I had now caught river carp from five different countries, a little milestone I was personally very proud of.No more action was forthcoming that night and following another day of doing the tourist thing the rods went back out with confidence for the Monday night. This time I had moved my nearside margin rod a bit further out into deeper water to see if I could pick up a fish here, but by Tuesday morning I awoke with no more carp to my name other than some strange crucian-looking thing of about 2-3lb. Lee too had had a quiet night. Again the rods were pulled in early as we had a day at the beach planned. The beach that Jim recommended was called Mimizan and was a 2.5hr drive away so despite my suspected broken big toe I drove us all to the beach. And what a beach it turned out to be! It really was awesome and we had a great time there. By the time we got back to the villa however, the light was fading so we set about getting the rods out as quickly as possible. Thankfully I managed to get mine sorted in the light but this time Lee found himself putting his last rod out in the dark. Due to me banking a bream and a crucian/carassio thing I decided to take the pop-up topper off my rigs and replaced it with a 3rd tiger nut, this stopped the rig sitting up ‘snowman style’ and meant the hookbait was a much bigger mouthful for any nuisance species to deal with.At 4.30am on the Wednesday morning my middle rod was away and after a frantic battle I managed to slip the net under a chunky mirror for 23lb. Now this thing did not look like a stereotypical river carp and when Jim saw the pictures he said it was most likely one of the stocked fish that the local club had put in. Either way I was happy to get another one, and a couple of hours later I was even happier when Lee banked his first-ever river carp. Sadly Lee’s prize was a single figure common, and Jim said it was the smallest carp he’d seen banked from the garden so far – Lee wasn’t too bothered as he was just buzzing to catch one!
Another day was spent with the girls and the rods were put out a couple of hours before dark. This time I decided to abandon my nearside margin as it had not done me a bite and instead I put it across to the far side to the left of where my other two rods were. This turned out to be a very good decision as Wednesday night saw this rod produce an 18lb and 27lb 8oz common followed by a 28lb 12oz common at 8am on the Thursday morning. Sadly Lee had also received another bite but the fish managed to find an old sunken buoy in the middle of the river and left his hook embedded into the rope! I was gutted for him as he was giving it 110% effort and it was a cruel turn of events.After photographing my 28.12 all of the rods were reeled in as we were going out to enjoy our last day in the area. We visited a lovely village called Pujols, which is truly breath-taking and also went for some lunch at a restaurant close to the river that Jim had recommended to us.I had been in two minds whether to fish the final night as we needed to be all packed up and on the road for the airport no later than 8am on the Friday. However, given the fact I had most of my bites before 8am I felt it silly not to fish and so the rods went back out once we returned from the day trip. For our final night in paradise, Jim joined us and Lee cooked a fantastic barbeque and was rewarded by Jim with a few generous portions of his favourite whiskey! It was the perfect final night and as I went to sleep I hoped for just one more bite for myself and of course one good ‘un for Lee too.
Well at about 4am my left hand rod was away again but this it resulted in not only my smallest carp of the trip but also one smaller than Lee’s so I had set the record of the smallest carp ever caught from Jim’s garden (sorry mate) the common looked a very young fish and was probably around the 4-5lb mark. I decided not to re-drop the rod as I wanted to get some more sleep before the long journey back home.At 6.30am on the Friday morning we found ourselves reeling in and packing everything away. As we set off back to the airport I took a little glimpse at what we were leaving behind and realised that I had just had one of my most enjoyable holidays ever – not just from a fishing point of view either! As I reflect back on the fishing I am extremely happy with my results, ending with six carp landed in six nights without a single loss. My only regret is that Lee did not get amongst a few more but sadly that is fishing for you, especially on a river when the fish can be approaching your rigs from a certain direction each time.
If anyone reading this is looking for a holiday to France a bit different to the normal commercial carp lakes then I thoroughly recommend you check out the River Lot Paradise, especially if you want a venue that your whole family can enjoy too…
Find out more about the River Lot Paradise here: https://www.riverlotparadise.com/