Spring Diary

May 12, 2014

Well I haven’t written a diary piece for a good few months. I left off with some modest carp from a local gravel pit, which filled a gap while the rivers got back to a fishable condition.
It wasn’t really till mid March that I really managed to kick off the barbel season, even if I had managed the odd fish beforehand.
I’d been having some success in the river Aisne which runs behind my lakes, and had baited a few spots which I know to hold barbel. Most of my sessions were just mornings or afternoons, a few hours I could fit in to hope for a fish or two.


Two takes at once

March 15th :
After my customers arrived I headed for one of my preferred stretches of the Aisne. The levels were still quite high, and 5oz feeders had a hard job holding, due mostly to the leaves and debris that wzs being pushed down by the current. Upping the feeders to 165g seemed to do the trick.

Baits were my usual 16mm red halibuts on one rod and a Quest Baits Absolute Seafood on the other. The boilie was wrapped in the matching paste which I’m sure made a difference in the cold water.

By 12:30 I was fishing. After an hour the pellet rod produced a small 3lb 6oz fish. Both rods were recast and the kettle was put on for a coffee; a cold wind had picked up and things were pretty chilly.


At 7lb a good fish from the Aisne


I had just poured my coffee when the Seafood rod ripped off, lifting the rod butt off the floor. The fish fought well and just as I lifted it onto the mat the other rod was away. Two takes virtually at once.. Merde!!! I left the first fish in the net and bullied a bit the second one, but he fought back and was obviously a better fish than the first. He also finished in the net and both were lifted onto the mat. I made a few photos, not easy with two fish… they were then weighed at 6lb 10oz and 4lb 10oz.


My brace.. shows the difference in size.

Other than a couple of taps on the rods tops that was the end of the action until I had to pack up.

March 19th:

I received my electronic Hahnel Giga Pro remote today, so my first thought was to shoot off to the river and catch a fish to try it out… any excuse right???


My “Video” Swim

By 12h30 then I was set up in a swim I’d been feeding on and off and had seen me bank a few fish. I cast out, and opened a bottle of beer, now they only had 75cl bottles in the shop and sod’s law dictated that as soon as I took a swig one of my rods buckled over and ripped off… I carefully put the bottle down and went into action .. The result was the smallest barbel I have taken from this stretch at just over 3lb.. I decided in any case to try the remote out as I’d set it up.. It worked brilliantly.

With the fish back in the river I noticed my bottle had toppled over and emptied completely into the grass… I had hardly wetted my lips with it …

I recast my rods just as a chap in a 4×4 pulled up for a chat. I’d seen him a few times on the stretch, he was very curious as to how I was fishing as I think he was completely lost. Anyway as we were talking the pellet rod was away and I landed a nice 5lb 8oz fish. He was very pleased as in all the years he’d fished the river he’d never caught a barbel.

I quickly got the rods back out and Monsieur 4×4 left. He had hardly slipped from sight when the pellet rod was bouncing again. The fish put up a terrific scrap, but the Hi ‘S’ rods were just perfect and soon I was lifting him up onto the bank. It was a long fish that I actually measured at 68cm… he tipped the scales at bang on 7lb.

31 Mars 01

My mate the 7lb’er popped in for the video too


camera shot

Behind the camera and in front.. Not easy!!

The first week of April I decided to make a short film on my barbel fishing, this time in French, as the subject had been getting a lot of interest on the French fishing forums, and the two articles I’d written for MaDfred’s Angling Mag were well received.
I chose the swim where I’d had the most success this Spring, even if I had caught one or two fish more than once.
Now self shot films are really complicated if you want to get enough shots to do a proper edit.. Looking at my rushes I was out of breathe all the time, simply because I was up and down the steep banks placing the camera, and they shooting the take, and not wanting to keep the fish out of water for any unduly long period.

The gods smiled on me though as I managed 12 takes in the day and a half it took to shoot the film, including my old friend the 7lb’er and a fish just a tad smaller. The weather was fine and I really enjoyed the whole experience even if it was very tiring.

My friend Laurent leant me his GoPro which meant for most of the shoot I had two cameras to work with. This was great for editing, especially as the GoPro gives you some fantastic options for original shots.

After I had finished the film the action on the rivers slowed dramatically before virtually stopping. A sign??? I was however well pleased with my early season catches as 99% of my session had been on my local river Aisne and I had notched up 32 barbel to over 7lb. The previous season I had only managed three fish from this river…

But tench were now calling, and Spring is always the best tench time. I then turned my attention to my own lakes. The Croix Blanche has some fantastic tench well into double figures, but they are hard to tempt and the doubles even harder. I’ve not managed a fish over 8lb so far, despite seeing customers with 9’s and 10’s regularly.

April 12th

I decided to do an over nighter on peg 6 to kick off my tench season and hopefully bank a fish or two.


Back on peg 6

Around 14h00 I set up my camp. I had baited the swim the day before so was hopeful of some quick action, but nonetheless topped up the swim with ten spombs of sweet corn/hemp /pellets.
Both rods were put out with ESP Mega Method feeders one with a 14mm pineapple pop up and the other with fake maize.

I had hardly had time to turn in the buzzers when the pop up rod flew off… Bearing in mind I was using the Hi ‘S’ Barbel rods, I held on for dear life as the fish stripped line from the spool, a sure indication of a catfish. The fight lasted for at least 15 to 20 minutes, before I had the fish under the rod. I was fortunate he had not found sanctuary in a weed bed.
He finally rolled into the carp landing net I had set up just in case. At just over 40lb I was well pleased with this large moggie. I think if one of the really big ones had picked up my bait the story would have been different.


A 40lb plus cat on barbel gear.

Anyway both rods were put back out. I didn’t have long to wait before the plastic corn was picked up and my first tench of the year was in the bag. It went 5lb 5oz, a great start. Soon afterwards the same rod produced a smaller fish of 3lb 8oz.

Next the pop up rod saw some action, but not from tench but from bream. I banked three fish in quick succession of 7lb 13oz; 8lb 1oz & 9lb 14oz. I’m not a bream fan as I’ve said on many occasions, but these were big fish and allowed me to get the top three spots for the species on our Forum Challenge.

After a gap of a couple of hours the fake corn was back into action with a decent male tench of 6lb 10oz. This signalled the end of the tench activity for the night, as darkness fell, but the pop up rod was quite busy with a second catfish of 36lb and three more large bream of 9lb 10oz; 8lb 9oz & 9lb 8oz. At this point I reeled in both rods and turned in. A few hours’ kip seemed the best idea and getting out of bed for bream was not really on the agenda.


A near double figure bream

The next morning as the sun came up around 7am, I cast my rods back out and very soon had another tench of 5lb 10oz again on the fake corn.

I continued to fish until the day’s clients turned up, at which point I reeled in and settled everybody in. At the start of the afternoon I decided to give it a couple more hours on the peg as I broke down the bivvy and bedchair. The fake corn, didn’t take long to get taken by another fine tench of 6lb 6oz, a good way to end the session with a target species.


Best tench of 6lb 10oz

One of the positive aspect of internet is the huge exchange of information and the sharing that seems to have taken us a million light years from the secret squirrel days of the 70’s & 80’s.
I participate in a couple of French fishing forums, and on one such forum I received a PM from a young chap keen to share his fishing experience on a lake only about 45 miles from my home.
We ended up chatting on the phone and we agreed to meet up to fish it together the following week.

Unfortunately he had to cry of just the day before due to work, but as I’d put aside that day to fish and prepared all my bait I still wanted a crack at this new and promising venue.
He indicated the likely spots too me and we agreed to fish together later in the week.

The lake in question is a very pretty venue, of about 32 acres. A decent sized lake then which apparently has been a well kept secret on the big fish scene over here. Day and season tickets are available and there is a carp syndicate of about 90 members with a long waiting list.

April 23rd

I arranged a day ticket to see, planning to get a season ticket if it seemed promising. I arrived around 8h30 and set up in a swim on the north bank with an island at about 150 yards. It was a sloping beach to a bay of about 12 foot of water.
I used a spomb to put out a kilo or so of sweet corn hemp & pellets before casting a pair of feeders baited with my usual fake corn and pineapple pop up.

First bite came after an hour or so, a positive drop back and I landed a very nice tench. It looked all of 7lb, but when I came to weigh it I found my electronic scales were dead.. Ahhh!!! Not much to do except return the fish after a photo.


First fish on new lake .. unweighed due to dead scales.

The rods were recast and after a similar period the pop up was away again, but this time it was a different fight as a heavy fish stripped line from the spool. The fight was slow and ponderous, but eventually a fat mirror carp rolled into my slightly under sized barbel net. I had no scales so I estimated it at around 35lb or 36lb.


Guessed at upper thirty but probably 40+ (Will never know)

I was pretty disappointed not to be able to weigh what was a very good carp. But I continued to fish on. I spombed out some more bait and soon had another specimen on the mat, this time a massive bream. Now my Croix fish had been close to double figures but this one looked way bigger. I was sure it was over double figures.
I soon had a second fish at around the same size… which concluded a day of big fish, let down by a set of batteries which I had changed only a couple of weeks before and usually lasted at least a season.

April 25th

The chap that had put me onto the venue, called and asked if I fancied a return trip with him the following Friday. Did I??? After my first result I was champing at the bit.

I arrived again around 8h30 and Alex, as such is his name, was already set up in the same swim, which was easily wide enough for two. Thus far he had had no action.

So I set up to his right and applied the same strategy as my previous trip and spombed out a kilo or so if corn, hemp and pellets. Out went two feeders with fake corn and my last pine apple pop up.

After about an hour the pop up rod was away and a frisky 25lb mirror was the result. They do scrap well on barbel rods.
Unfortunately the fish destroyed my last pop up and Alex didn’t have any. The only pop up bait I had left was a pink 12mm Enterprise plastic boilie. I put this on the hair and cast it back out. I’m perfectly happy with plastic baits as they have caught me loads of fish.
It didn’t take long before the plastic bait was taken and a huge bream was netted by Alex. It went 11lb 8oz, a new PB.


PB bream at 11lb 8oz

I’d not had a single fish in two trips on the fake corn so I decided to fish pink plastic boilies on both rods. This quietened down on my rods while Alex had two huge bream on his side of the swim. Both were doubles.
The fish were very active and we saw several signs over our area. I decided to put out some more bait with the spomb. In such a deep swim I was not at all worried about spooking them, but wanted a bit more bait out there to hold them.
This tactic worked as I soon had a run which was a lovely little double figure common of 12lb 10oz, which put up a cracking fight.
I recast both rods and sat back as more and more fish showed over our area. Eventually my baitrunner started to spin fast and I was in to another fish. This one was heavy and fought really well, but I must say these Hi ‘S’ BW Barbel rods are absolutely fabulous fishing rods. At no point did I feel out of control, and every lunge of the fish was absorbed by the blank.


This one definitely a forty at 40lb 10oz, and a cracker

Alex netted it for me and I knew it was a good fish, and a very pretty one. I lifted it onto the mat and my first comment to Alex was, nice fish but its smaller than the one I had Wednesday, it took the scales round to 40lb 10oz. I’m sure now the previous fish was four or five pounds bigger… but I will never know.
Alex closed the session with a cracking common of 22lb to end a brilliant day on a water that in two short trips had produced several real stunners.

This spring has been excellent for fishing so far, warm, dry and very productive. I’ve already had 32 barbel and certainly two 40lb carp, so I really can’t complain..

Tight Lines






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