April Diary

May 1, 2013

One usually hopes that with the arrival of the month of April, we’ll start to see a few sunny warm days and that the fish in particular will start to feed and show signs of activity.

How wrong can you be!!!

3rd April:

I decided to attempt my first trip to the Meuse of this year. It’s a fair old way so I wanted to make the most of my day- and to try both the Meuse & the Semoy rivers.
After around a 90 minute journey I rolled up at a spot known locally as “La  Voute”.
Here the river is deep and powerful and in a small town so is somewhat urban. I set up the usual river gear, and needed 120g of lead to hold bottom. It was not that the flow was fast, just strong.
Baits were 16mm halibut pellets and Hot Demon boilies.


For the first hour I only had the odd “knock” on the rod top… Around 10h30 a mate who lives close by stopped in to see me. Just as we were chatting my upstream rod dropped back and and I landed a fat Meuse chub of 4lb 4oz.
I recast and shortly after my mate had left, the same rod dropped back again and I brought another chub to the net this time a smaller fish of 3lb 5oz.
I continued to get the odd knock on the rods but with a bitter wind in my face, I decided after a couple more hours with no activity to move to another river close by..the Semoy.


Around 14h00 I had both rods out. This is a totally different river, shallow & dark with a shale and slate riverbed. I started to get taps on the rod tops virtually straight away, before my left rod dropped back and I had my first Semoy fish a Bream!  Not long after I had the same type of bite but this time it was a chub. And what a pretty fish! dark almost black on its back with golden flanks.

I called it a day around 6pm and headed home.

6th  & 7th April:

With the sunny but still cold weather we were experiencing I fancied a crack at my lake’s tench. A Dutch angler had banked one the previous week while carping, so I felt I might be in with a chance. But that wasn’t taking into account the fact that Winter was about to make another onslaught on northern France.


I set up in peg 6, on the Croix lake, a peg I’d caught some nice “Tincas” from the previous summer. My tactics were, what has become my standard still water technique now, flat ESP Method feeders. They are brilliant for most coarse species and give me a decent chance of a carp too.
All was quiet except for a few beeps on the Microns. As the temperatures went into free-fall I jumped into the sleeping bag.
I was awoken the following morning having slept well without the slightest sign of a fish, by my mate Laurent who had popped in for a few hours feeder fishing.
My phone and glasses, which had been place on the lid of my bucket next to the bed chair were covered in frost. Laurent announced that it was a heady -4°C.
I continued in vain until midday. I was going to move, as a French lad fishing opposite had banked a nice upper 20 mirror not long before midday. But another mate Francis turned up with an aperitif so I decided to pack up instead.

8th April:

Another of our forum members Séb, asked if I wanted to try the Marne at Epernay. He’d previously had some good barbel there.
I met him at his house at around 8am and we headed for the river. I’m not a big fan of fishing in towns, as its invariably busy and noisy…not why I go fishing.
I set up on a steep bank and cast out the usual feeder rigs. All seemed very quiet and despite reasonable weather it was still cold. Around 11h00 I had a positive take on the left rod and I banked a spritely chub of 3lb 5oz.

That was to be the only bite to either of us… Not exactly easy fishing!!

15th April:

I had to wait a week to get back out. The previous weekend I’d put in a lot of hours for virtually no reward.
Two forum members Yannick & Laurent had had a good catch of barbel on the Semoy, so I headed back up to the Ardennes to give it another shot.
After the long journey I was set up by 9h15. This time I had some Quest Rahja Spice to try. So I cast one rod with a boilie/paste combo and one rod with pellets.


First bite after 30mins was a small chub of 2lb 8oz. Soon after the same rod was away again and I had an even smaller chub of 2lb 5oz.
Still no sign of any barbel. Yannick popped by to say hello and told me he’d had all his barbel  on the Hot Demon boilies. So I set up the same pellet/boilie combo he’d used to see if it made a difference.
As I’d forgotten to buy any lunch on the way up, Yannick very kindly offered to nip to the shops and get me a sandwich.
Just as he was coming back down the bank with my lunch, the upstream rod ripped off and I had my first Semoy barbel of 5lb 8oz. These fish arereally beautiful, dark on the backs… with golden brown flanks, some of the best looking barbel I’ve ever seen.


The day wore on and I had a fair amount of action a couple of chub of 3lb 2oz & 4lb 1oz, plus a few bream. (Can’t seem to get away from them).

During the afternoon I managed a second smaller barbel of 3lb 9oz and a last chub of around 3lb. Then a fast take on the downstream rod saw me attached to a better fish. It headed for an over hanging tree on the nearside bank. I side strained to keep it away and then all went slack. I examined my rig only to find my no8 Continental boilie hook had opened. First time in twenty years I’ve had a “Conti” open. The fish wasn’t that big!! A good’un but I hadn’t really pressured it that much. Just bad luck I guess.


18th April:

With a few hours to kill I on a nice sunny afternoon, I decided to try my luck on the Croix lake. I settled into peg 1 and cast out two method feeders, with hi-viz Gurkka Spice pop ups on.
Soon after I arrived a nice fish rolled near my left hand rod.
Around 14h30 I had a take on my right hand rod but unfortunately if came adrift. I guessed is was a crucian carp.
Around 15h00 my supposition was confirmed when the same rod saw me land a chubby cruician of 4lb 9oz.


I carried on for a couple more hours with no joy, so I packed up.

22nd April:

Having felt very frustrated by my last Semoy trip, where I only seemed to catch smaller fish (my mates had had barbel to 9lb) I opted for another go.
I again arrived around 9h15 on the same swim as the previous trip. It was a nice sunny day and the river had fined down and was quite clear.
From my arrival till 17h00, not a tap, not a knock not a fish. The river was a tomb. I started to read a few magazines to pas the time as the fish were definitely not playing the game.

I was woken form my slumber by the sound of my reel spinning and I banked a very small barbel of 3lb 4oz. My luck certainly wasn’t in.; my mates had had a fair few fish from the river this year all in the 5lb 8oz to 9lb bracket and so far my best wasn’t even as big as their smallest fish!!! Ho hum!!


To add insult to injury my next fast reel churning take saw me lose the fish to a hook pull. Before I left I had a consolation chub and a couple of bream.
A very frustrating day. I’ve really not got to grips at all with this river. As its such a long drive, I’ll take a break and return in a month or so.

30th April:

My difficult period is not over yet or so it seems. After fishing through the winter for only the odd fish, I was really hoping with the better weather I’d have the chance of a few more; I didn’t really expect to struggle quite so much.
Today I did a few hours on the Marne. Last year this stretch saw me bank a good few barbel & chub.
Here I tried 3 different swims, but no sign of any fish. Only a few bream that still managed to swallow my double 16mm & 21mm pellets or double 15mm boilies.
I was hoping the big bait strategy would see me avoid the bream, yet not put the barbel off. First attempt definitely didn’t work.
I’ll see a time goes on if I continue with this approach.



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