7th April 2018

First fifty of 2018

As we have now completed our first full week of 2018 here is a very brief revue of captures so far. Our pre-season week saw just four of us battle the elements and some of the conditions were extreme indeed. Driving rain and bitter cold winds reall gave me the “I will be glad when I’ve had enough of this” feeling. The Fishing was tough and only improved very slightly, for the eight anglers last week, until a proper deluge on Wednesday flooded some of the swims and totally shut down the angling for the the end of the week.

Even with those conditions we managed to force one or two carp to feed and we have seen just 31 carp banked with most being thirty pound plus and including 9 forties, 1 fifty and Half Lin at 67lbs 14oz. She is down in weight whereas the fifty wasn’t a recognized fish so is probably a new fifty. My gut feeling is that this winter has been the longest since we moved to France and that some of the carp have simply spent the entire winter laid up and not feeding very much while others have gorged on naturals. I guess we will never know but I’m expecting several more to be up in weight while others disappoint us.   I will end by saying that the Dynamite ComplexT is doing well and has produced most of this season’s fish. We are still learning how to extract the best from it and continue to test glugs, liquids, pop ups etc. etc. and I’m extremely confident that it’s form will get better and better over the next few weeks.

This week sees a full compliment of anglers and all are using ComplexT so this could give us some proper conclusions.

2nd March 2018

With the current freezing conditions, ice lid on the lake and 3″ of snow yesterday, there’s not much fishing to report.

However, I have used the time to complete the writing of my book “LIVING WITH CARP”, and I’m currently sorting out the photos to go with the text. It is really the story of my angling life and is, very much, painted with broad brush strokes but there are snippets of detail in there if you can find them. I’ve already had lots of orders for it and the interest is way past anything that I ever imagined. So humbling!

The detail, for anyone interested, is that it is about 300 pages plus about 75 photos and we are targeting a price of £24.95 to include signed hard back copies, boxed and posted.

12th February 2018

I have recently had a few conversations relating to my reasons for fishing light running leads and these have led to me writing this post in order to try to clarify my reasons. I say “try” because, technically, it is difficult, but I have tried to simplify it as much as I can. Here we go:-


For many, many years now I have been using light leads on running rigs, otherwise known as ledger rigs. I have had considerable success with these and my totals, up to the point of writing this are 268 forties, 42 fifties and 3 sixties. That is not a boast but just to get the “numbers” out of the way as proof that it works. I also appreciate that I am fortunate to own my own lake so those captures are swollen by fishing my own water. However, I need to clear up, immediately, that they haven’t all come from my lake. Myself, and some of my friends, have had success with this system on estate lakes, gravel pits and rivers so it is not just working on one specific type of water. Now, with the results coming regularly, I had no real need to question why my tactics work until people began to question my reasons. It just doesn’t seem right to shrug and say “because it works” so I started to look into it and do some research.
Before I get into the detail let me jot down some of the queries that I received from anglers who needed some more clarification or proof.
The first and most obvious was “but you need a heavy lead to hook the fish.”
The second, because I fish slack lines was “you won’t see a bite until the fish has tightened the line.”
Those two “questions” were my starting point but my research also led to other benefits from the light lead approach so let’s get started.
I will try to illustrate each area of research as simply as possible but, to start with, there are two main forces acting in water which affect us while fishing. These are “Hydrodynamic slip” and “Hydrodynamic drag”.
We will take each one separately and try to illustrate how they affect us but, in fact, in our angling situation they actually work together as I’m sure you will realize throughout this brief detail.
The “slip” works along the length of an object in water and is generated by the shape of that object. i.e. long object generates more slip. It’s the force that keeps a ship traveling in a straight line and makes it difficult to stop quickly. It also works to keep our main line traveling in a straight line and Is simplest to imaging our line being in a “tube”. Now both forces work together to create this effect and I will come back to that at the end but I will just explain the “slip” allows the line to travel “lengthwise” and “drag” helps to prevent it moving sideways. The simplest way to illustrate this is to cast out a wagler float, allow the line to sink to the lake bed and leave the rod laying in the rod rest. Now, the float is the equivalent of your bobbin and the rod tip is the fish. Pick up the rod and see how far you can move the tip before the float moves. Almost immediately is the answer and long before the line is tight. In short, the line begins to “travel along its length” quicker than it moves sideways or upwards. That is why, with a slack line and a running rig, the bites are so obvious and come from just the bait being moved and not waiting until the lead is moved.
As I said above, the “drag” force stops the line from moving sideways easily and it is also this force which helps to hook the fish. Another easy example is to stand on the bank of a lake with a very thin cane and swish it backwards and forwards in the air. It’s very easy to do with very little effort. Now push the cane down into the water and try to swish it backwards and forwards. It’s much more difficult plus the cane sort of vibrates as it moves through the water and that is “drag”. This force acts on all surfaces of your line and that includes the top, so it makes it more difficult or heavier to lift up through the water. It is this force acting along the length of your line which actually hooks the fish so the weight is only necessary to reach the fish when casting. In fact it would be possible to calculate the weight effect of a certain length of line at a certain diameter but that gets far too complicated and beyond a mere angler like me.
Two more examples of how these forces work can be shown by underwater experiments carried out by other people. The first we all know about. A harpoon gun uses a simple piece of elastic to fire its missile underwater. The harpoon, being elongated like an arrow, benefits from the slip force traveling along its length and allows quite accurate shooting and will travel reasonable distances. On the other hand a bullet from a rifle, and there is a YouTube video of this exact experiment, does not work in the same way. I think we can all agree that, in general terms, a rifle is more powerful than a harpoon gun? The video, to which I refer above, shows a rifle set up on a tripod, beneath the surface of a swimming pool and the rifle is fully waterproofed. The man carrying out this experiment then climbs into the pool, in shorts, and stands about twenty feet in front of the rifle. When he pulls the cord to fire the rifle, the bullet doesn’t even reach him and it’s the drag force working against the short, blunt projectile that stops it short. In short again, the shape of the bullet isn’t long enough to benefit from the slip force.
Hopefully that has given you all some food for thought but I would just add a couple of things that also came about while doing this research. One was that I realized that I have been losing a lot less fish since switching to light leads and I am certain that this is mainly because they don’t have such a violent effect by bouncing up and down during the fight, as does a heavy lead, so the hook hold is less likely to get stretched and elongated and therefore less chance of the hook falling out. Another is that, for similar reasons, the lead is free to slide up and down so the fish is not tethered to the lead first and then the rod tip at a different angle. I also realized that a heavy lead can travel down through light weed and give you the feel that it has landed on a clearing when it is actually still weedy. If you feel the “donk” with a light lead, it is much more likely to be clear.
I would also add that fluoro main lines work more effectively, when being fished slack, than mono. I believe it is their inherent extra weight, and the fact that they don’t absorb water as mono does, that adds to the effectiveness of the two forces above.
Be lucky.

5th January 2018

This is going to be a bit of a rant but, hopefully, also some clarity on our insistence that our cradles are used.

I am tired of reading comments from people suggesting that cradles are dangerous and cause damage to fish so here are the details of many years of experience.

For the first 4 years of owning this lake we allowed anglers to use floor mats, in fact we supplied floor mats with sides. During this period I saw fish dropped onto these mats and, no matter how much padding they had, I could hear the thump as the padding was squashed and the main impact was with the solid ground beneath. I also saw fish, and I admit that, because our fish are so fit, they are a nightmare on the bank, which would use the solid ground beneath the mat to flip themselves out and across the bank, causing damage to their sides.

Having watched these mini fiascos I decided to trial the, at the time, new cradles. My findings were that they were much more secure and that the fish could not get enough purchase from the suspended fabric to be able to get out of the cradle. There was also one other major benefit, while the fish was being held for the photo, there was much less distance for it to fall as the cradle fabric is above ground level.

Following those trials we bought and supply cradles for each angler and NEVER in the 12 years since, have we seen fish damaged. In fact they are in mint condition and are now approaching 80lbs. That is not a figure that can be reached if fish are not cared for properly.

Rant over.

2nd February 2018

I certainly wasn’t planning to post again yet as winter is normally a time of ……… nothing happening. However, not this year.

I walk the lake at least a couple of times each day in order to check for wind damage, security to the fences etc. and I’m surprised how many feeding fish I have seen recently. Today seems very quiet and the sudden drop in temperature seems to have been felt by the carp but two days ago was totally different.

I was getting near the end of my walk, approaching Billy no Mates when I heard a fish crash out. I didn’t see it but it sounded like a good size. You know, the kind of “wallow” noise that big fish make as opposed to the slappy crash of smaller fish. Now, for obvious reasons, I spent a while standing quietly and just watching and saw several really good sized patches of bubbles. The carp were certainly feeding well. I returned to the same area at lunch time and again that evening and during those three visits I saw or heard ten or eleven fish roll or crash.

Now, let me say that, in order to know roughly how big the fish is, that is making the eruption, you really need to be looking at just the right spot in order to see it in detail. With that in mind I can confirm that two of the fish that I saw were very small, probably low doubles, so we need to continue with our policy of removing small carp as they get caught. However, another couple that I saw were bloody huge. One was a very dark mirror with massive shoulders and the other was a much paler mirror but I would estimate bothe to be well into the fifties. It would have been so good to be able to estimate some weights on the other half dozen or so but they were on the periphery of my view and not seen clearly enough.

Lets hope that’s a sign of a good start to the season but it might also be an indication that spawning could be early this year?

Be lucky.

26th January 2018

Having just come back from my daily, early morning walk round my lake I can confirm that some of the paths now have a couple of inches of water flowing down them so work around the lake has taken a back seat for a while.
This blog has been generated by a discussion that I had, recently, with a fellow lake owner who has remained a long term friend. Both of our lakes are of similar acreage and similar stock quantities and sizes and both of us experienced a season during 2017 that was below expectations for numbers of fish caught. I will add that I was delighted that we managed the two mid seventies but that didn’t make up for the low numbers. This was even more frustrating by the sights of carp rolling, crashing and fizzing everywhere but, simply, not picking up hook baits. I know that they are unlikely to ever “need” our boilies because of the incredible amount of nutrition contained within the live food on the lake bed. Just one gram of dried daphnia contains 525 calories so they can grow without trying.
We talked about our frustrations and being puzzled about captures and I totally accept that a lot of French fisheries went through similar situations which could easily be laid at the door of the long drought. However, I’ve seen dry summers and low water levels before and they didn’t have this effect in the past. I searched my brain for what might be the difference and the only thing that both of us have in common is the installation of a proper aeration system. Ours was installed over two years ago and has been a savior during the hot dry summers. It’s not one of these floating, beat the granny out of the surface and keep everyone awake, type systems but a proper, air pump system. The air is delivered, by a specially made air pump, through pipes along the lake bed, to diffuser heads which are constructed with a micro-porous membrane. The air is forced through these minute holes and rises to the surface in a powerful, but silent, stream of tiny bubbles. Not only does this push air/oxygen into the water at all levels but it also creates a current around each head, and we have four, sited along the length of the middle of the lake. Now comes the interesting bit.
Whilst talking we both agreed that, since the installations of these systems we have seen a massive reduction in the amount of silt on the lake bed. My own wading during the summer suggests that our silt level has been reduced by as much as 18″ through the center of the lake.
It then began to make me consider the “end result” of the aeration. If, as we are seeing, the system is reducing the depth of silt available for the bloodworm, mudworm, baby muscles, Cadis larvae et al to hide in then surely it is beginning to expose this food source in greater quantities for the carp to find. Maybe the numbers of feeding carp being seen are simply because they are finding more and more natural food to eat?
Taking this one step further, we should see, very soon, that they will be able to clear that food source much earlier in the year and this could have two major effects. One is that they will pile on even more weight, even quicker and that looks to have been the case on all of the known fish banked at the end of last season with several, not just beating their previous best weights, but absolutely destroying them. The second effect should be that they will continue to eat throughout the winter as the snails, cadis etc remain more active plus, as spring develops, the carp should move onto beds of bait and this won’t just be because they want those baits alone, it may also be because the other aquatic insects are feeding on the bait and creating streams of amino acids to attract the attention of passing carp. This last sentence explains why I have searched to find a bait that seems to have a powerful attraction to the snails and beetles and my end of season tests with Dynamite’s ComplexT suggests that that is exactly how it works. This season will be “the amino acid test”.
Be lucky

2nd January 2018


The first day of 2018 and another clear blue sky greeted me as I made my daily wander around the lake. It is only days away from starting to run over the spillway once again so I will soon be able to float off the remaining cut reeds ready for fresh growth in the spring.
Anyway, the real reason for this post is that I became aware of some minor disturbances in the wind ripples and further examination revealed that they were coming from a couple of carp feeding in front of Stumps. I stood and watched but there only appeared to be the two there but then this feeble brain of mine started to work overtime. What had made me notice such small indications?
There’s no definitive answer to that but I have some theories which lead to other theories so here goes.
I have now lived on the banks of my own lake for 16 years and I walk the lake almost every day, sometimes several times each day. I believe that my love of fishing and lakes in general has made me observe, and in doing so, become more observant of what is going on in normal conditions. In short I have become tuned to the lake. It appears to me that I have grown to know what to “expect” to see as I walk the banks and the slightest deviation from that norm attracts my attention. In a pure fishing situation I guess you would call it watercraft but it extends slightly further than that. I’m likely to notice a broken branch because the “shape” of the overhang on the opposite side of the arm has changed. I notice small movements in the forest from deer or boar, even when I’m not really looking for them. Now this is where it becomes interesting.
I’m not relying on this “recognition of the normal” for survival but it is something that has developed naturally and not by any sort of training on my part. If this same instinct is switched to the brain of a carp then it leads to some very interesting suggestions.
I accept that all wild animals are born with a natural survival plan which goes from avoiding danger from being eaten by other fish or simply recognizing and finding food. Now my first question is, does this instinct become more developed over the years? If so, does this mean that the bigger, older, carp are more aware of the norm than their younger mates? The reason I ask this because I’m not sure that I would have been quite so aware of the small nuances on my lake 16 years ago.
I’m going to throw in a few scenarios with no proof but just pure bumbling thoughts.
I refuse to accept that carp have powerful enough brains to recognize danger in specific rigs or baits, Jesus, their brains are smaller than mine and I struggle to work out the reason for some of the rigs. If they did they would have stopped eating round food items about forty years ago. However, I now ask, does a poorly presented rig change what they have got used to, (the normal situation) and cause them to become defensive? Would this also explain why small carp seem easier to catch than their big brethren? Possibly they haven’t yet had enough years patrolling their home territory to immediately recognize the change from the norm. I have had some very, very experienced anglers ask me why pop ups don’t work as well as bottom baits on here. Maybe they just don’t look “normal”.
This can also be applied to bait in two ways, color and flavor.
I have noticed, and been stupid enough not to realize, that even fishing with sweet corn needs a bit of thought. I can remember stalking some fish, close in, down the Southern Arm. My float was armed with three grains of corn and about ten grains scattered around it. Two fish surrendered to it in quick succession so I loaded the swim with loose offerings of corn and ……………… didn’t get another sniff. My suspicion is that the small quantity of corn was acceptable but the mass of grains changed the norm and put the fish on edge.
I have also watched a very experienced angler have a fantastic week with heavy baiting. He then returned the following year with the same bait but in a yellow base color ………….. and blanked. Was this coincidence or did the color of the bait change the norm? I have also tested very pale baits and I can’t get the same results, with beds of them, as I can with darker baits.
I have had some major successes on big beds of boilies but the most successful have certainly been dark colors and the same goes for all of my bigger fish.
Now here’s another true story. Some years ago I walked into Leaning Tree and there was a young lad fishing with loads of carp feeding like crazy. I was astonished when he said that he hadn’t had a bite and that he thought the bubbles must just be marsh gas. I pointed out that the patches of bubbles were moving so they were definitely fish. He was fishing pineapple pop ups on all three rods and the fish obviously weren’t interested in either the flavor, color or presentation. I suggested he switch to a bottom bait and try that. Two hours later I walked back into the swim and he still hadn’t had a bite. I asked whether he had switched to bottom baits and he said “Yes. They’re baits that I’ve had glugged for two years. They’re brilliant!” I suggested that, it could be that the flavor was too strong and that he should try a bottom bait straight out of the bag. I’m pleased to say that my advice paid off and he had 7 carp, including his first forty, that afternoon. Now that opens a whole barrel load of worms. Were all of the options that he tried presented wrong, too bright or too strong? Does that also go some way to explain the effectiveness of washed out baits?
I have been carp angling for 50+ years now and I can remember the experiments with making our own bait. I remember making strawberry flavor for Darenth big lake with 2.5ml of strawberry flavor and catching on my first session. Brilliant, I thought, 5ml will rinse the place. WRONG! Couldn’t buy a bite.
Well that’s probably enough waffling so I will sum up what I THINK I’m getting at.
1. Is it worth trying to ensure that your bait flavor isn’t too obvious if you’re fishing a rich water? If the carp are feeding on bloodworm and snails etc they are not searching for a strong flavor. The glugged bait might even put them off as it is totally different to the norm and might even make them ignore that area.
2. It might be better to opt for darker baits than to go for lots of bright baits spread over a swim. Unless you’ve been prebaiting like that for a long time that is not what they will be expecting to find as they mooch through their garden. It could take some time to get them to accept this as normal. It could also explain why it often pays to use the same bait as the majority of other anglers. With lots of anglers baiting regularly, that bait becomes accepted as a food source, which is pretty much the same as saying that it is what the carp expect to find.
3. Think about your presentation to make sure that it doesn’t give them reason to avoid it because they’re not used to seeing it. If they’re feeding in the mud why not present the bait where they’re feeding.
However, I would also add that a single bright, pink, yellow, white or whatever, pop up can be used very effectively as an “opportunity” bait that can be roamed about to trip them up. After all, the only way carp can test things is to use their mouths.
Bet that’s got the grey matter bubbling.
Be lucky.

31st December 2017

I hadn’t planned to add any more blogs or posts until after the start of the new year. However, we woke this morning to a bright, clear, blue sky and very mild conditions so it gave me a perfect opportunity to use the boat to remove the last marker pole, which I forgot last time. In all honesty it was probably my last chance because the lake had risen by 6″ overnight (2 million gallons) and less than an inch of the pole was still showing.

While I was out in the boat I heard a splash come from the area in front of Boneyard but assumed it was a coot. I sat and watched but no bird surfaced. Can’t have been a fish surely? I decided to check the spot and there was definitely some mud stirred up. Having rowed that far I decided to check the flow through the filter bed so rowed the length of the Southern Arm.

As I neared Snag Bay I thought I could see,what fly fishermen call “nervous water” in front of Billy’s. I gently rowed closer and there, before my eyes, was a patch of proper feeding bubbles. As the boat drifted closer a huge nose, followed by eyes and shoulders, slowly, almost frozen in time, lifted itself above the surface. I sat back absolutely gobsmacked. Here it is, the last day of the year, and I’ve just watched a fifty plus carp head and shoulder in what can only be 2′ 6″ of water. Amazing.

In my astonishment my foot slipped on the bottom of the boat and, suddenly, all hell broke loose. There were bow waves, streams of bubbles, swirls of muddy water and angry carp heading in all directions. I was so intent on watching the one fish that I had missed at least 25 to 30 others, all down in the shallow inflow of water feeding heavily.

So much for them heading for deep water in the winter eh?

Be lucky!!!!

29th December 2017

A cold night last night and, with the water already down to 4 degrees, it was no surprise to see areas of thin ice across the lake. With that in mind and the fact that most of my work will be carried out on the sheep and chicken pens, plus some major cutting back down in the garden, this will probably be my last post this year.

On the positive side, the lake is filling nicely and with no run off from the field. It suggests that the aquifer was very low after last summer and is taking a long time to replenish its store. With another week of steady rain forecast we are likely to be full and flowing again very shortly. That will also give me a chance to float off the remaining red stems that we didn’t get time to burn before Christmas.

The stock pond is also nearly full and will be ready to house any small fish caught next season. We intend to plant it out with ornamental lilies to make it a bit more picturesque for us to sit and relax, when we get the chance.

Anyway, let me wish all of you a happy, and healthy New Year.

19th December 2017


As we come into the run up to Christmas, unfortunately with a trip to England for my wife’s mum’s funeral to get through first, I thought it worth jotting down some of my thoughts on winter fishing.
I was walking the lake this morning and saw very little, insert absolutely none, signs of carp feeding or even moving. The water is down to four degrees and the gentle flow through the filter bed has added about three million gallons over the course of the last week or so. During my stroll I got to thinking about the many years in UK that I spent freezing my nuts off but still determined to catch those winter carp, even to the point of switching from my pike gear back to carp gear. Now I don’t have that same drive to sit out in the cold in the hope of a carp making a mistake but it must be more than that. I’m now in the lucky position to be able to put my rods out in front of my house and sit in front of the log fire in the warmth and comfort of our lounge but I don’t very often bother.
Now, to analyze that further I think it amounts to remembering the lessons of the last fifty carp angling winters. In England I was mainly a weekend angler with a high pressure job and a family to look after so every second weekend was the best I could hope for and I needed to make the most of them. However, I remember, on numerous occasions, searching for any sign of fish but having to settle for a swim that I’d previously caught from. I can remember setting up and looking out at the lake thinking “I don’t even know if I’m at the right end of the lake.” Now I did catch a few cracking winter fish but I think the frustrations outnumbered the successes. I’m now in the position where I can “optimize” my fishing and I tend to only put the rods out when I find some moving fish, see some signs of feeding fish or simply feel that conditions are right. I’m no longer limited to that “second weekend” no matter what.
Don’t get me wrong, I still long to catch one of those big carp and I walk the lake at least once every day in order to try to find them. What I don’t do anymore is to just chuck a rod out and hope. There has to be that extra little trigger that makes me keener than yesterday and that is primarily because, if I don’t see any signs of feeding or moving carp, I can’t see them coming to a bait that’s in the wrong place. Over the last two or three years this approach has paid off with two sixties and four fifties in amongst the others that I’ve banked, so it’s an approach that I intend to continue. I will just end by saying that I don’t “Scale down” for winter. I agree with Chilly when he says it’s a load of bollox. I want the best chance, that I can give myself, to land whatever carp I hook so I stick with my trusty size 2 hooks and the same hook link that has done the business all season. The only adjustment might be in the size of the bait but that will also be dictated by the type of feeding that I find, if I find any.
As a footnote, can I just remind everyone that there are still a very small number of spaces left for 2018 and some of those early in the year are likely to produce some very special fish indeed. The bookings for 2019 are also growing nicely so thank you to all of you who have made those already.
I will be sending out the details of our bait ordering availability so all of you who have booked can expect to receive that immediately after Christmas.
Have a great Christmas and most of all BE LUCKY!!!!!