The dynamic duo of Nathan Fowles and Jordan Cain AKA the iPhone Carpers, return for part 2 of their web blog...
With spring officially in full swing and the weather starting to get noticeably better, most anglers would be starting campaigns on their chosen waters as we reach the month of April. Not me however! I was preparing for what has now become an annual trip to a public park lake across the channel in the heart of the city of Lyon, France.
Myself and Nathan first visited this venue back in June 2015 and immediately fell in love with the place. Amongst the winding paths, beautiful plantation and even a zoo there lies a large public boating lake with some huge carp residing in its depths. With a hotel overlooking the park it’s a perfect setup for the day’s only fishing restriction in place. Across that week’s fishing we had some epic battles landing 17 fish and absolutely loved it. Check out the video of that session over on the CC Moore YouTube channel to see all the action as it unfolded!
Ten months after that session, myself, Nathan and a couple of mates found ourselves heading over once again for 4 days. Using just one rod each we had 27 fish between us up to a massive 57lb 6oz, which we now believe to be the biggest fish in the lake. Absolute scenes!
That then brings me up to last month as myself and the same couple of mates made the decision to head back once again, sadly Nathan was unable to make it due to work commitments. We decided to fly over as per the previous year, using the 20kg luggage allowance to hold 10kg of bait each, plus an unhooking mat and all the items that were forbidden in your hand luggage (terminal tackle, bank sticks, line etc). We then used some carpet tubes to house our rods, nets and retainer slings with the rest of our gear (clothes, leads, alarms etc) stowed away in our small rucksacks, which we carried on to the plane. This all meant we could leave Manchester and be in Lyon within 2 hours rather than enduring the mammoth 17 hour drive, which we faced the first year we went.
Before we knew it we had arrived in Lyon and were heading off from the hotel to the park gates, which opened at 6:30am. As we made our way through the eerie lifeless park before the many tourists and locals flocked in we spotted a couple of lads fishing the swim that we had caught the majority of our fish from in previous years, a real hotspot of the lake as it commands the two islands, which are definite holding areas from past experiences. After having a chat with them, we found out they had travelled from Holland as a result of seeing various videos online about the venue including ours and it was apparent that they were 'having it off' having been there for 2 days and already caught a number of fish to over 20kg.
They had 2 days remaining and had put a lot of bait into this swim so displaying good angling etiquette we decided to leave them to it as we would hope they would do the same if the roles were reversed. To be honest this was a bit of a kick in the teeth as our trip had been planned around fishing from this swim however we had to pick ourselves up and formulate a plan for the next few days.
We decided to hire a rowing boat each day between the hours of 10am and 7pm, negotiating a fair price with the boat staff as we definitely weren't prepared to pay the standard 19 euro per hour rate that was in place. We knew that the fish started off around the plateau off the tip of the big island in the morning as we have seen them crashing out countless times, before then making their patrol routes around the island overhangs from mid-day through into the evening. Therefore the plan was to cast to the plateau in the mornings before the boats opened at 10am and then use the boat to search for fish and tow the rods out to the islands during the day.
Over the course of the three and a half days fishing time we had, it was a real struggle for me compared to previous years. We managed to find fish crashing over the plateau in the mornings and cruising under the island overhangs during the day but I just couldn't get regular bites. In the first two days I had 3 takes, losing all 3 due to savage cut offs and breakages. It was definitely a big wakeup call that I had not brought strong enough tackle for the job. In the past 2 years I had gotten away with using 16lb mainline and fluorocarbon leaders, however this year I had been taught a real lesson. I ended day two on a real downer, however, I knew that the Dutch lads had left that evening so the next day and a half we could get into the hotspot swim that we'd had so much regular success from in the past. On the morning of day three I was properly confident of landing a few fish between us. We'd got the rowing boat and dropped our rigs out tight to the island overhangs at the bottom of the shelf at around 200 yards range along with a good spread of Live System boilies soaked in Response Cream Liquid. The business end was a simple snowman rig coupled with a 4oz lead to make sure the rig didn't move under the tension of a tight line over 200 yards.
Over the course of the day I had some proper battles, playing fish with speed boats and Pedalo’s cutting through the water between me and the island but managed to land 3 fish up to 38lb. I was absolutely buzzing to get off the mark and with my mates having caught a few themselves we headed back to the hotel before the park gates shut at 10pm and had a well-deserved pizza to round off a successful day.
The last day of the trip turned out to be a bit of a disaster. My mate lost an expensive rod and reel set up, we had an angry French man raging at us because we had fished his pre-baited area (even though it was 2pm and we didn't have a clue he had pre-baited) and we lost a few fish due to snags and cut offs even after improvising by stripping back 4 metres of Camotex hook link and using it as a leader.
Even after all that we headed back home that evening on a high. Good company, plenty of laughs and some big French park lake carp thrown in for good measure. Fishing sometimes throws up obstacles but it's all about overcoming them. I suppose that's what adds to the challenge. One things for sure though, we will be back again for more Grande la Peche! Until next time, au revoir...
Well as Jord said, most anglers would be starting their spring campaigns at this time of the year and I was doing just that. It had been 4 weeks since the last blog and things had developed at a steady pace over on the big pit in Scotland.
After deciding that the entrance to the weedy bay would be my main focus with my long term baiting approach, I spent a couple more days up at the lake focusing solely on that spot. I decided that I was going to purchase a couple of weed rakes. This was to remove most of the low lying weed that was present on the spot (of which most was dead from the winter months) to be clear in my mind that my rigs would be presented 100% of the time when it came to fishing.
Clearing this weed revealed something I really hoped for when first finding the spot. The weed was absolutely crawling with naturals! JACKPOT! Each time I would clear a decent amount of the weed from the spot I would put it into the front of the boat and then drive the boat to a corner of the bay to deposit the weed into the margin. After removing the weed from the boat I couldn't believe my eyes, the boat was alive! Each time I did this I came across new bugs and water creatures and on one occasion I counted 11 different types of naturals. No wonder this lake could grow carp to very large proportions.After a couple more sessions clearing the weed, I was very happy with how the spot was looking and I felt that it was time for the next stage in my preparation. The bait I decided to start with didn't need much thinking about. I'm massively confident in the boilie I use so it was CC Moore Pacific Tuna in a mixture of sizes, namely 18mm and 15mm. Although I'm very confident in the bait and thought it would be an ideal bait to use on the pit, being a rich fishmeal, I couldn't help but think I wanted something else, a smaller item to help keep the spot clean and keep the carp busy on the spot for longer in the periods I was away from the lake. I love sweetcorn as a particle due to its visual aspects and its ability to be used as a hook bait so I decided on maize as the other component in my baiting strategy. Being that bit tougher than corn would hopefully slow the bream and tench down but still provide all the qualities I liked in the corn so it was off to the local animal feeds supplier to purchase some bulk sacks.
Before I knew it I was back up at the lake, bait loaded onto the boat and driving myself towards my spot to deposit my first lot of pre-bait. I positioned the H block makers right on the money and began to scatter the bait in a relatively wide area (about a 20ft square). After finishing baiting I then peered through the scope at the spot which was now littered with bait and it looked perfect! No big clumps, just a nice even spread that would hopefully stop any carp in its tracks.
A couple of days passed and I was back on the motorway heading to the lake to repeat the process, eager to see whether my first lot of bait had disappeared or was still sat there. To my surprise, on peering down the scope at the spot there wasn't a grain of bait left! I was completely shocked but absolutely buzzing at the same time. I couldn't be sure that it was 100% carp as there are quite a few big bream and tench that reside in the pit and I wasn't cancelling out the big swarms of tuffties but either way something had fed which I was more than happy with. Creating any competition for food on such a big lake with such a low stock was going to be key so I was more than happy with how things were progressing.
I repeated this pre-baiting process on a couple more occasions and each time the bait was disappearing. I now had my sights set on the 17th April as this was to be my first session on the pit! Before I knew it the day had arrived, the gear was loaded in the car and I was driving like a maniac to the pit full of adrenaline and anticipation of what was to come. However 30 minutes into the drive I was faced with my first issue. The weather had taken a turn for the worse the weekend prior and temperatures had plummeted to around 3/4 degrees and a bitterly cold Northerly wind was starting to pick up. Next thing I know I was met with big hail stone showers and the odd snow shower, however, that wasn't going to stop me, no chance!
On arrival to the lake I was full of excitement, pumping the boat up as fast as I could before loading it to the max with all of my gear to set sail to my swim of choice as it is inaccessible via car. On arrival to the swim I set up base camp and began prepping the rods. Fresh rigs tied, super sharp hooks and boosted up hook baits at the ready, it was time to get them out. I marked up the spot with the H block markers and then individually dropped the rigs onto the spot before towing the line back to the swim. After all 3 rods were in position I drove back over the spot peering down the aqua scope to ensure everything was presented perfectly. I then scattered my trusty bait combination over the area and the rigs before sailing back to the swim feeling very happy and confident everything was bang on.
I spent the next 48 hours constantly watching the water just praying I'd see a sign from one of the pits residents but unfortunately I wasn't that lucky. The bobbins remained motionless and it was soon time to pack up. Before I drove the boat back to the car I went to have a look at the spot out of curiosity to see if the bait had been touched and this time it hadn't. Whether the fish hadn't been in that part of the lake whilst I was there or the sudden weather change had put them off the feed it was out of my hands however I'd already accepted that fishing a place like this would mean blanks would be far more regular than the sessions I would catch. On a more positive note I'd spent the whole time on complete edge as it soon dawned on me that I was only ever going to be one bite away from that fish of a lifetime and I’ve not fished many places that have had that effect on me. Although I didn't catch anything, I'd learnt a lot about the place and the blank had just left me wanting to get back down there as soon as I could at the next available opportunity to try and unlock this amazing place. Until next time...