We now expect all fish that look to be on, above or near to fifty pounds to be kept in the water for all unhooking, checking, weighing and photographing. We have been doing this with the new cradles for a while now and it’s the only way to ensure their safety.
NEW Lake Record caught on 26th. April 2017 at 76lb 15oz
I’m guessing there’s thousands who travel across the water to the land of huge carp and luscious French bread.
Yes, we all hope for big things on every trip, but how often does it happen, and is it just a coincidence or a spot of fine angling? It’s always a game of chess I think. Firstly, we all hope for carpy weather, but not lashing it down all week. Secondly, I suppose we hope that the the lads fishing the lake the week before haven’t kicked the arse out of it, which in turn puts the whole lake on lockdown.
I’m going to tell you about a recent trip over to the idyllic Moorland Fisheries, just south of Dijon, and how it seemed that a few of the stars aligned for us on our annual adventure.
Moorlands is a family run business, and main host is old-school angler Keith Moors, who is a minefield of information about all things carp related. He’s a very gifted angler who has created a superb fishery in France that wouldn’t look out of place in the grounds of a stately home, it’s just beautiful. The lake is about 12 acres and comforably holds 8 anglers, which was the number on the trip. I’ve been to Keith’s a few times before, and following his advice, the trip organiser doesn’t have to draw, so I promptly picked my swim on a few factors.
I wanted a relaxing week as I’d been flat out with all things Shimano for most of the year, so it was time to chill and do a spot of my own fishing was well and truly in order. The First Pontoon swim offers me a few vital things, the van can be parked right behind it, it’s super close to the Lodge and thirdly, along with the Pampas opposite, it controls a good chunk of water, with loads of options, so that would be me for the week. The other lads did a draw and were all mega happy with their swim choices.
Keith always allows you to camp in the field on the Friday night, this means you can drive down on the Friday through the day, to save bombing it through the night and being knackered on Saturday morning. This means you are as fresh as a daisy on Saturday morning and it also gives you the chance to find out how the fishing fared the previous week by talking to the anglers pulling off, and judging by the colour of them the conditions hadn’t been kind at all. The temperatures had soared to the mid 30s with no rain whatsoever, hardly carpy!
It was absolute carnage at times,
it had been some time since I’d experienced double takes. Is it a common of a fully scaled? Luckily Kev was always next door to lend a hand, With such a varied stock over at
he was a godsend throughout the week Moorlands you really don’t know just what the next bite could be.
I’d been watching the weather and there was rain forecast that very night, with daytime temperatures back down to low 20’s all week, surely, after a prolonged spell this would switch the fish on. The lads drove out of the gate and with the light drizzle falling upon us, we couldn’t wait to get set up and see how it looked from there.
My old sparring partner Beechy was opposite me in the Pampas, this would prove to be the deciding factor in what we both ended up catching. I knew we’d work the water between us, almost fishing like a tag team, but the first job was to get the bivvy up and sort everything out.
The drizzle had now stopped and it made fish spotting an absolute breeze. It was flat calm, and as I’d got all three rods rigged up, I started to notice several patches of fizzers appearing all over the swim. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t planning on fishing until after tea, I much prefer to let the fish have a bit of peace on changeover day. This allows them to move about with no line pressure or leads flying all over the place, but the more I watched, the more it looked like a quick bite was on the cards.
Temptation took over and I couldn’t hold out any longer, so a couple of running rigs on light leads, with a mesh bag of pellets were overcast and pulled back to the zones where the fizzers were. I went about my business for maybe 15 minutes or so when the right hand rod buckled round and I was away. I was using my new TX2s in 2.75tc with my baitrunner, so the rod was bent into it’s full curve and all was well with the world.
The fish didn’t feel massive, but I had a double take, so I was now in a bit of a pickle. I shouted up to Daz who was only maybe 80 yards away, and he was soon by my side with the other rod doubled over. They both turned out to be low 20s, but more to the point, they were absolute crackers and I was off the mark within half an hour.
After the commotion you’d have thought the pack would have spooked, but by the looks of things they hadn’t. So I thought I’d chance my arm with a couple more bags and only went and had another double take. This was ridiculous, Keith’s isn’t a runs water, far from it, but I wasn’t going to complain at this early flurry of action.
The dam wall looking from the Pampas, the willow marks the halfway point.
I did have a couple of smaller fish from here,
but by putting a line on it from both sides, slowed the action
Webby was a late replacement on the trip, as one of the lads had to pull out. Now, Webby won’t mind me saying this, but he’s as mad as a box of frogs. He doesn’t take his carp fishing too seriously at all, in fact he’s hardly been lately, as his love for motorcross has taken over his life. As you can imagine, he was totally unprepared, So unprepared, in fact, that he chucked out a couple of rods on the same rigs he’d used on his last session in the UK, months before. In fairness he said he saw a couple of fizzers and chanced his arm. Well you can guess what happened next, can’t you? He got a bite.
I’m watching this commotion from across the pond, and can hear Blower say something when he was in the water helping him to land it “ that’s f####n massive.” He said. Well, everyone was eager to see what it was. Keith went around to assist, and Webby shouted across “71lb.” We all let out a huge cheer. He’s only gone and basically pub-chucked a rod out,on a rusty blunt hook from months ago, and landed one of the biggest fish in the lake, after just 3 hours, how bloody brilliant is that!
Beechy got off the mark too, he was fishing at fizzers as he’d seen me have a few bites doing the same. As we all convened for tea it was smiles and banter all round, with Beechy and Blower very much the centre of attention.
I didn’t bait that night at all. I knew fish were in the swim but I wanted them to eat any bait that the guy before me had introduced. This was so I could start with a blank canvas on Sunday, so it was just bags for the first night.
Beechy put a bit out though, as did blower next to him. When I spoke to Beechy in the morning and he’d had four, and I was beginning to think I’d made the wrong decision. Blower was now out in the pond looking for a hard spot to fish. His plan was to fish all 3 rods tight over a lot of bait, it’s a great tactic for intercepting fish on their travels. I knew this was going to work for him, especially after my little chat with Beechy.
Blower had no choice but to wade and find a spot, but when I saw Beechy out there with him I was a bit shocked. I waved at Beechy to almost get him out of the water, which to be fair he did. He then appeared in my swim and I disclosed the plan. I asked why he was wading and potentially disturbing the lakebed, when he’d already had four bites, and added the fact that if we fish these two swims right, there could be a result on the cards.
That’s the way to do it, Blower with his biggest fish of the week, and it was fitting
Webby with the biggest fish of the week at 71lb+ that such a lovely man should catch such a lovely fish.
only 3 hours after getting his rods out. It’s important to spend a week with like minded anglers who are not only good anglers, but bloody good company too.
The plan was simple, and one that most guys probably wouldn’t go with. We fished both swims well short of our boundaries in order to give the fish some breathing space. In the hope that we could both capitalise on the fact the fish seemed to want to be in front of us. That way, if I had a few, it would ping them over to Beechy, then when Beechy had a few, it would ping them back to me. Plus, it would help Blower as we left the centre channel with no line pressure, which in turn meant if some of the shoal wanted to move up the lake, they’d come across his mass baiting rather than our lines, everyone’s a winner.
The plan started to work almost immediately, and after dark on Sunday night the sound was almost too much. Fish were crashing all over Beechy and I. Sleep was hard to come by, if it wasn’t a bite keeping you awake, it was the sound of hippos bouncing out in front of us. So much for a relaxing week. I hadn’t gone overboard with the bait yet, as I was still feeling my way into the session, as was Beechy, but there’s no doubt, that as the week wore on, and we caught more, they obviously wanted more bait. They seemed in no mood to want to vacate either area soon.
Keith even said he hadn’t seen it like this for a fair few years. Normally you’d club a few fish, then they’d get sick of it and spook off. We weren’t about to let this opportunity pass us by, and if it was lots of bait they desired, then they could have it.
Blower had now started to catch too, his average size was impressive and he was fishing very well. The other lads were scratching for a few bites, but the lads who kept their eyes and ears open were getting the results. Kev and Mick both fancied a move, so Kev dropped into the 2nd Pontoon next to me. He had a few straight away, and some good fish at that. In all honesty, I’d have been knackered if he hadn’t have dropped in there. He was such a big help, not only as he’s great company, but I was now starting to rack up some serious fish. The double take had started to happen in the dark too, as I had seriously upped the mount of bait I was putting in. When the fish moved in it was utter carnage at times. Kev would either be netting a fish for me, taking pictures, or generally being a massive help. I even had to ponce some PVA mesh as I’d done 5m already tying up bags. I ended up getting through 12m that week, just crazy fishing.
The bigger fish had now started to make an appearance for a few of us. Beechy upped his PB with a 53lb+, Blower was getting regular upper 40s, but could only get bites through the night as the fish were mooching about down the centre of the lake. I was catching an obscene amount of mid-30s to mid-40s and some spectacular lookers. They’re all different at Keiths, one bite will be a fully scaled that looks like it belongs in Horseshoe, the next will be a long scale perfect common.
One thing that struck me about just how well the lake is run, is the way the fish scrap. It’s not a deep lake at all, in fact it’s one of the shallowest I’ve fished. I guess we all associate much deeper water with harder fighting fish, but such is the water quality and brilliant biomass at Moorlands, these fish fight so hard, it’s unreal. There were fish that I landed, that if I had lost, I would have said were double their size, just such healthy carp.
The rods were fished towards the dam during the day
The icing on the cake for me came on Thursday. I had a bite about half an hour before first light and I knew it was a good fish. Just a slow and steady scrap, no darting runs or head shaking, just that tell-tale slow head banging as the fish was trying to shed the hook. I was knee deep out in the pond and the light was just breaking when I caught a glimpse of it, it was a really long fish with an underslung mouth. It went in the net first time, and I was almost sure I’d got a Fifty.
Keith likes to be called for every single 50lb+ fish, whether it’s day or night, plus he likes to weigh them all on the same set of scales to track their growth rate. He knew the fish, but it hadn’t been out for seven months, so when the digital reading settled on 51lb, and ounces, I was rather pleased. It’s strange, but my next bite was a smaller fish at 37lb 8oz, but was utterly spellbinding in every way, it was a fully scaled to die for, it really was.
These big girls at Moorlands are no mugs, they’ve adapted to the weekly pressure from the anglers, and how to deal with rig ejection.
The week was almost over for us, and I packed up on Friday teatime so I could get a good night’s sleep for the drive home. What a week, and what a red letter session for both myself and Beechy. There’s absolutely no doubt that we got it nailed down to a tee. We fished it as a team when I knew others would have been more direct with where they put their rigs.
I ended up with 33 bites and 33 landed, which is always a bonus. Beechy had 14 or 15 but in fairness I was chasing the fizzers more in the day as I could see them better in the light than he could. If we could have been bothered to re-bait during the hectic spells in the night then we would have caught even more. Yes, it may be idleness, but we were more than happy with what we caught while having an absolute ball along the way.
we never in our wildest dreams thought we’d amass over 70 fish for the week from Moorlands. In fact, there were over 80 bites with the ones that were lost, and that’s not a common occurrence at all, and Keith will tell you that. What it does prove is, by thinking a little outside the box on these French trips it can pay you back tenfold. These lakes in France are no pushover, just think of them as day-ticket lakes across the water, and give them the respect they deserve, then maybe you can drop on one of those red letter weeks.
Saving the best for last I guess, and my biggest fish of the week at 51lb+.
Just look at that under-slung mouth.