Well, as always, November has been a busy month for us as a family. Jan’s birthday, our golden wedding anniversary and my birthday all condensed into a couple of weeks. We managed to grab a wonderful week away in Antibes and it made me realize, yet again, just how much I still love my beautiful wife and how easy we are together.
Anyway, enough of the slushy stuff. I have spent all of my spare days, since the end of the season, strimming and burning the reeds along the Long bank. With the water still low I have been able to stand in the clay and cut the reeds back to bed level as opposed to the water level that we have had to work to in recent years. We managed to burn the cuttings as we worked up from Billy’s to Stumps but we are now suffering light rain so burning is going to take a back seat. However, today I completed that bank and now hope to do the whole of the meadow bank by the weekend. Before anyone asks, my reasons for the cutting are that the spring growth is always fresh green with no old dead stems showing, the coots have less nesting material and any rats that do move in are more exposed and easier for the stoats, martens and birds of prey to pick off.
While on this subject can I give a massive well done to the moron who decided that an empty beer bottle was much too heavy to carry all the way back from Middles to the lodge so decided to throw it in the reeds. I hit it with the brush cutter and got showered with broken glass so thank you very much.
I won’t go into the rest of our winter plans just yet but there are a few that we hope to carry out and I will cover each one as we do it. However, we do hope to be able to offer our guests the chance to have their bait here waiting for them when they arrive. If we can get everything worked out it should be possible to order the amount of bait that you want, at the same time as paying your balances, including pop ups, glues etc. and we will get them shipped out and sitting in our freezer waiting for you. The advantages will be, no more arranging delivery, finding freezer room at home, finding room in the car to bring it with you and worrying about keeping it frozen. On top of all that we hope to be able to do this for about the same price as the U.K. tackle shops. More details will be available within the next few days.
Exciting times ahead and I really can’t wait to be able to let you all know as each plan bears fruit.
Having completed our 2017 season and with the second half being below our hopes and expectations, I have been concentrating on reed strimming and burning, emptying the stock pond, and stocking up on logs to keep us warm for the winter and various other bits and pieces during our “time off.” We are also planning a long weekend in Antibes to celebrate our golden wedding (50th) anniversary so I have had very little time to put together any detail of the season in depth. However, what little time I have had, I have spent examining the captures of the easily recognizable members of the “A” team and I think it’s quite interesting.
Now, before you jump to the list below, I need to explain that these are not all of the team nor are the recorded weights at their best weights, some are, some aren’t. There is also a lot of fish not on this list as we have several fifty pound plus carp that have been named by anglers but the names haven’t really stuck because the names refer to a moment in time rather than a feature on the fish itself. Basically, I am unlikely to remember “Fido” because it was “my nan’s dog’s name” as opposed to “Single Scale” or similar. That is the main reason that we stopped trying to record every fifty pounder. We got to about 42 of them and realized it was impossible to recognize every one easily.
There have also been several mid and upper fifties caught which we either didn’t get called to verify weights and names or the photos were so poor that we couldn’t tell which fish it was. It would be pointless for me to add several “unknown” fish to the list which might actually already be included. And that brings us neatly to another example “The Unknown” is missing from the list because we didn’t see her this year. She was a good fifty last year but didn’t get banked prior to spawning.
We must also bear in mind that we have a common in here which will put the Pipesmoker and Andy’s to shame when it does get banked. The fish that we rescued from the stock pond dam fence was up with the top two on our list and I have a theory as to why she, and a few others, rarely gets caught but that’s for another day.
I think you will agree that, even with a continuation of our growth rates, plus getting caught at exactly the right time, we could easily have at least 10 carp over 60lbs next year and two of them could be 80lbs plus.
SEASON END 2017
We are now into the period of our year where we don’t have any anglers but we start the hard graft of trimming back trees and hedges, strimming all of the reeds around the lake, repairing the swims and getting everything ready for the new year.
Before all of that we have virtually completed draining our stock pond so that will be left dry for a while before refilling and ready to accommodate any carp below 25lbs which may be caught in the main lake next year. I’m also hoping to get a chance to plant some oxygenating weeds and water lilies in order to make it a much more attractive part of our home.
Right, that’s the work orientated blurb out of the way so it would make sense to have a brief look back at the seasons end. It’s not been the most exciting second half of our year but there have still been some high spots. Whilst writing this I should also let you know that I have been doing some research into the captures of our known and named fish and there could be some very interesting things to report so watch this space.
Right, the fishing over the second half of this season has fluctuated from very poor to exciting. In all honesty there have been more poor weeks than good ones but we ended on a good one. The lads last week worked bloody hard and banked 39 carp, which is a superb result in dropping temperatures so they all deserve a big “well angled” fellas.
In amongst those 39 carp were 4 personal bests and that included “Horseshoe Scale” at her best ever weight of 54lbs 14oz which was also 2lbs 7oz bigger than her last capture on 31st August 2017 (8 weeks).
I think it’s pretty obvious that the carp have remained on naturals throughout this year and this would appear to apply to several other lakes across France. My theory is that the fluctuating weather this year has slowed or even stopped the normal hatches. We haven’t seen prolonged spells of swallows feeding over the lake and even the bats were sparse until very recently and we haven’t seen the clouds of midges this year. If my theory is correct it would mean that the likes of bloodworm have remained in the mud much longer then normal so the carp have had an easy feast. This could prove very beneficial in the long term but hasn’t helped this year.
Now, in general terms, boilies have struggled while the naturals have been in abundance but one particular boilie shone out. I had never heard of “ComplexT” until Ting Tong turned up with it and it IMMEDIATELY produced the goods. I mentioned it in my blog following his groups 70 carp catch and several of the following anglers made sure that they brought some with them and used it to their advantage. It isn’t too hard to say that it certainly continued to lure the carp and virtually all of the big fish since early September have fallen to it. Obviously I wanted to try to find out what was making it different and what little testing I have managed suggests that it attracts everything and not just the carp. A couple of baits thrown in the margin were covered in snails within minutes so that could easily be the reason for the extra attraction. Whether that is right or not, the fact remains that it has certainly been a successful bait.
Well here we are at the start of our penultimate week of this season. Last week was another poor week with just a handful of carp to mid forties banked. It seemed that the low water levels had an immediate effect on the confidence of some of the anglers and there was a distinct feeling that the fish weren’t feeding because of the levels. Nothing could be further from the truth as we watched numbers of carp bubbling and rolling from the dam wall down to Boneyard. Yes, you need to put in some extra effort to get the best out of these conditions but that goes for most carp angling situations doesn’t it?
Anyway, the lads, this week, have moved in with a determination to get some results and it seems to already be paying off. Yesterday saw virtually every one of the eight anglers wading out to find spots to fish to and plenty of bait going in. Now, bait, since Ting Tong’s success with ComplexT, we have seen a few anglers using it and, the more that goes in, the more successes it produces. It’s a soft bait but seems to have high attraction levels. So far this week, with only one night gone, we have ween four carp banked with the two biggest at 41lbs common to Jez and “Horseshoe Scale” at 54lbs 15oz (her best ever weight) to Simon. Well angled fellas and let’s hope it carries on.
Sorry for the lack of posts and blogs but, with the dry weather continuing and extreme low water levels there has been precious little to write about. However, at least we saw a couple of decent fish banked this week so I can give a little more detail.
Before I do can I again suggest that everyone needs to bring thigh boots or chesties as it is essential to wade out a bit to safely land and release the fish.
Right, the group of lads, last week, seemed totally unfazed by the water levels and managed to bank a few. One angler landed 8 up to 42lbs from 1st Pontoon with another couple of forties from other swims. The best of the carp came to Max in Oaks with a mirror of 53lbs 8oz but he didn’t call me and didn’t get a photograph good enough for me to be able to identify which fish. Simon, in Mistletoe, banked a new PB mirror in the shape of “Arfur” (actually a leather) at 52lbs 14oz. I am pleased, and somewhat amazed, considering the conditions throughout this summer to be able to report that this is only 4oz below her best ever weight when she was last caught, just before spawning back in May.
Having suffered the extremely hot and dry summer and having also seen the anglers continue to strive for a crumb of encouragement from feeding carp which just wouldn’t pick up a hook bait, it is a real pleasure to be reporting a good week.
“Ting Tong’s Tours” arrived last Friday evening with the weather seeming to have broken the day before they got here. Some of them were using a new bait, from Dynamite, that I hadn’t heard of before, the Complex-T. I’m always skeptical about baits that our carp have never seen before but this proved to be different gravy. Seemingly, within minutes, Iain had had two double pick ups and the action continued throughout the week. On a slightly unfortunate note, it appeared that a lot of the twenties and thirties were the first to switch from naturals to boilies, so their totals didn’t included the number of known big fish that might be expected. However, we have to salute any group that banks 70 (yes seventy) carp. That total included 10 forties (several above 47lbs), 2 fifties and the cream of the crop in the shape of Cut Tail at a superb 71lbs 9oz.
Well angled fellas.
I will just end by saying that there may be some interesting developments in the pipeline before the start of next season which could reduce some of the hassles for traveling anglers. We are always looking for ways to make it easier for our customers to enjoy their stay even more by taking away some of the headaches during the “making sure you’ve got everything” stage. Watch this space.
Well last week was, shall we just say interesting? Let’s get the grim part out of the way first. Conditions were shocking for the first five days with temperatures in the high thirties. We then had our first proper rainfall which raised the level by one million gallons and dropped the water temperature by four degrees. The result of all that was a poor week for fish captures but, and this was the real frustration, the carp were bubbling, rolling, head and shouldering and crashing out every evening and through the nights. They were obviously feeding on naturals but wouldn’t pick up hook baits. I was able to fish myself and took the opportunity to test two baits that some good friends had persuaded me to try. They had been so confident that they would be perfect for Moorlands and I was looking for the chance to test it. In short, I failed miserably and “not even a bleep” covers my week. I’m pleased to say that I stuck rigidly to my tests and tried beds of bait, small scattering of bait, glugged baits and washed out baits so I can now discount those baits for future use.
Right, that’s got that out of the way. The other lads fished hard but struggled and only four fish topped 40lbs, three mid forties and one fifty in the shape of “Horseshoe Scale” at 52lbs 7oz.
Now the typical frustration of carp angling has kicked in with the new group turning up with different baits (Dynamite Complex-T) and, even fishing to the same marks as last week, within 2 hours of casting out, had had 5 pick ups and banked 4 fish. Astonishing!!!
I will finish with a taster for the future. This year we have got on top of the weed growth and we are confident that that is a problem of the past. We also tried the blue dye to control the algae but, unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to have worked as expected. It appears that the suspended clay particles may have absorbed the dye and this has simply turned the lake a misty blue/green color with very little clarity. Now we are investigating “floculants” and various means to oxygenate the silt and thereby stop the silt releasing the nitrates etc. which are, apparently, the main cause of algae blooms. Our initial tests are VERY interesting and our test samples have cleared within 24 hours. Now I’m not expecting the entire lake to be crystal clear by the start of next season but I am confident that we should be able to make a massive improvement and that should be able to be improved year by year. If that proves to be right, we should also see a major change in the colors of these beautiful carp. Exciting times ahead.
“FIRST WEEK OF THE SECOND HALF”
I’m pleased to say that the first week back after our summer break hasn’t been the total disaster that the incessant hot, dry weather could have caused.
There were more twenties and thirties than it would be reasonable to expect but 3 forties and 3 fifties in these conditions are a fair result. Add to that that five of those six carp were above 46lbs and we can continue to be excited for the following weeks.
That leads me nicely into some detail, albeit a small sample, of the success of the recovery of these fish. I know I keep rabbiting on about the weather but it has always been my belief that some “average” summer weather would produce better conditions for the carp to get back to “feeling good” and thereby in the mood to eat, recover, after spawning and grow back to their pre-spawn weights. This year has been far from average plus we have removed the weed and dyed the water. In the light of all that, here we are with some interesting figures.
Before our break, on 23rd July 2017, Alan caught The Peach at 57lbs 5oz. Back on 30th May 2017 she was reported to us at 58lbs but we didn’t see nor check weigh her and the scales that were used didn’t offer themselves for an accurate reading. Going another step further back, on 3rd October 2016 she weighed 59lbs 14oz and that was a confirmed and double checked weight. In short, she is already approaching last autumn’s best weight with the two most important months growth still to come so I expect her to be well into the sixties by year end.
This week we’ve also seen two unknown mirrors at 46lbs 9oz and 52lbs 7oz. Without knowing what they weighed previously I can only say that they should both be fifties, one possibly an upper fifty, by the end of the season.
Now, we’ve also seen two known fifties and an upper forty that we can trace.
Chunky’s Double was banked on 21st August 2017 at 49lbs exactly. Her previous capture was on 4th May 2017 when she was banked, full of spawn, at 50lbs 13oz. To already be back up to that weight is simply amazing.
Another capture on 21st August 2017 was Black Scale at 53lbs 8oz. Her best ever weight was 57lbs 3oz on 10th May 2017 when she was just about to spawn. 12 days later she had “shrunk” to 47lbs 8oz so she is another of the fifties which is well on her way back to her best.
We then also saw The Twin on 23rd August 2017 at 54lbs 13oz. Her best weight last year was 54lbs 11oz when she was caught on 27th September 2016 so she has already passed that mark and is close to her 2017 best which was 55lbs 7oz prior to spawning on 10th April.
Taking all of these recovery weights as an “average guide” and putting those against the remaining stock and known big fish would suggest that, given suitable conditions for the rest of this year (please let it rain) we have have the potential for some new lake records and some very big hits. Exciting times ahead.
Just a brief update at the start of our first week after our summer break.
Nothing immense to report but a few details which may help following groups. The lads spent yesterday wading out to find spots of interest and then marking and baiting, quite heavily, to those spots. The guiding factor was simply to watch where the fish were feeding on naturals and then wade to those spots and the signs are that the fish are coming to the bait very quickly. We watched fish head and shouldering over three or four of the baited areas within a couple of hours of the bait being put out. That surprised me a bit because, while I had said that I thought they were hungry, it normally takes 24 to 48 hours to get them on the bait.
Anyway, three fish banked and three lost so far but the biggest banked is only a 35.15 fully scaled. I’m pretty sure that there could be some surprises to come.
As promised, I have waded parts of the lake in order to check for snags and I’m pleased to say that none were found.
I started in “Stumps” and waded across in front of “Leanin Tree” and the center of the arm in that area is waist deep and there was no sign of any weed growth.
Having reach the forest bank I waded along under the trees and the whole area was free of obstructions. Personally I would not be fishing right across the arm as the fish appear to be feeding on naturals (probably bloodworm) in the softer clay in the middle of the arm. The bow waves from the fish that I disturbed suggested that there were some very big fish skulking about up there.
I then waded out to the fourth lilie bin and aerator and was just able to get there in chesties (chest deep). There were some interesting hard areas in the middle and another as I made my way back towards the forest bank point.
From there I waded along the trees into the Easter Arm bay and, again, no snags nor any sign of weed growth. The water in front of “Oaks” was waist deep and shallowed up to thigh deep as I got just past “Evening Pitch”.
From those observations, until we get some rain, my advice would be to concentrate choosing swims from, “First or Second Pontoon”, “Royal Box” or “Oaks” on the field bank and “Stumps”, “Sun Rise”, “Boneyard”, “Dog Leg”, “Reeds”, “Middles”, “Mistletoe”, or “Pampas” on the long bank. There have certainly been signs of feeding carp in the other, shallower, swims but my gut feeling is that, even the lightest disturbance would move them away.
Hope that is helpful.
I’m now off out to mow a strip of grass and put three stumps and bales at each end. That always used to work in England.