So my wife and I had booked a small farmhouse in the grounds of a 16th century chateau almost slap bang in the middle of the Burgundy region of France, for a weeks break at the end of Summer.
It was going to be a trip to unwind, a comfortable drive down but no real plans, just enjoy the area, go for walks, visit the local towns, have some nice food, and of course sample the local wine!
We were just over an hours drive away from the historic town of Beaune, the wine capital of the region, and to get there you travel through places that on a wine list would make your mouth water as well as empty your pockets… Pommard, Mersault, Montrachet, Nuit-St-Georges.
All the activities were mentioned in the write up for the farmhouse, but what hadn’t slipped my attention was a line at the bottom saying fishing was allowed on the private lake situated within the estate. Well I couldn’t let that go, so amongst the suitcases I slipped in a couple of rods and a small tackle bag.
I’d also packed a couple of bags of boilies, well it was France and they do seem to have the odd carp in their waters! Actually I’d asked the travel rep if she could find out what was in there and she came back with some ridiculous name and something that sounded like Black Bass?? Oh well.
When we finally arrived I got my first glimpse of the lake, and it looked quite overgrown, but we didn’t stop and made our way up the sweeping drive to the stunning chateau sitting in front of it’s forested backdrop, and then found our farmhouse nestling just behind.
Our desire to get away from it all on this trip was given an added, if not particularly needed boost when we found out that there was no wi-fi available, and our phone signals weren’t much better!
The next few days we went exploring, ambling through the local markets, dining in some lovely restaurants, and took in the idyllic countryside that surrounded us.
Each day we’d wander past the lake on our way to either pick up basic supplies from the village, or just strolling along and seeing where we ended up. I’d had a good look around the water one evening, and found as I’d thought, that it’s banks were very neglected and you could only fish it from certain spots.
One of these areas gave you access to a corner of the lake that had some nice over hanging trees, the perfect holding area for fish. So each day as we walked past I’d chuck in a few handfuls of boilies.
On our fourth day, when returning from a pleasant drive in the morning my wife suggested picking up some bread, cheese, and wine so we could have a rustic style picnic by the side of the lake for lunch, she could catch some rays and I could, well hopefully catch a fish… I didn’t need asking twice!
We set up a couple of chairs, lay out a blanket and put out the food. I’m now sorting the rods, no clever rigs, just a lead clip, braided hooklink down to a size 8 Mugga with a hair, onto which I thread my boilie.
I hop over the slightly untidy wire fence and now find out it’s electrified! I presume it keeps the local cows away from trampling up the edges of the lake, but boy it does give you a belt… which does make the wife laugh!
Anyway I catapult out some free offerings for the waters residents then side cast along to the trees about 30yds away. My second rod is baited with two pieces of sweetcorn, still hair-rigged, and goes straight out to a mass of spindly dead twig things poking out of the water in front of me.
I’ve not got banksticks, the rods are just rested on the bankside vegetation, I tighten up to the lead and click on the baitrunners. I’m only four feet away even if I’ve got to leap over the wire.
Now it’s time to sit down grab a lump of cheese and a glass of wine and really chill. The sun’s out, the scenery is amazing and the good lady is happy.
It’s probably about twenty minutes later as we’re chatting away that I notice a knock on the rod tip, it’s the bait nearest the trees. My wife says she didn’t see anything, but a minute later there’s a second tug, which she does see, and I’m then on my feet and carefully stepping over the fence.
As I bend down to reach for the rod the tip pulls round and something starts to take line, I click off the baitrunner and start to play a spirited fish, this isn’t a 2lb roach!
There’s a bit of resistance but I steer the fish slowly towards me and manage to find an opening in the brambles and grass clumps to put out my landing net, before finally scooping up what I can now see is a carp.
It’s a nice mirror in the 10-12lb range, I don’t weigh it properly, but I’ve actually caught something from an unknown lake and a reasonable fish at that. Not a monster but I’d like to think the prebaiting helped.
For the next hour or so the water goes very quiet, I’m assuming playing in that fish has spooked any other carp away from the area, of course I still rebait and pop it back out but this time a little further into the corner.
Even though nothing much is happening I do notice I’m getting little taps on my other rod and its not until there’s a definite pluck that I wind in to find the corn has been taken. On go a couple more pieces and the bait is back out, with a couple of helpings of corn from the catapult over the top.
Not long after the tip is bouncing all over place, I strike and have something hooked which doesn’t take much to bring in even though it darts all over the place. It’s another mirror, but only small, about a pound, and in the next hour I have a bit of fun landing half a dozen of them.
But I’m soon getting bored with the tiddlers and thread on a boilie instead of the corn and pop it out. All this time nothing has been near my tree rod.
We’re now getting into early evening and the sun is slowly sinking lower in the sky, the wine has been finished, and both of us are sitting by the lake feeling very contented… and then it all goes nuts!
The tree rod suddenly nods, then arcs right round and line starts screaming off the reel. I attempt to leap over the fence but brush my leg on the wire and get a nice belt up my thigh. I grab the rod, baitrunner off, then adjust the clutch to allow some line to pass but also tight enough to tire my quarry.
The first couple of minutes are hairy, as what I’m pretty sure is another carp, drags me deeper in the corner with the overhanging trees, and not knowing the water I have no idea if there are any snags under there. Slowly I gain ground and finally get it into open water, not that it gives up and when I think I have it in front of me it powers off up the other side of the bank. Luckily I’d lifted my other rod out the way.
Eventually I tease this lump of a fish into the net. Now with rods all over the place, and trying to lift the net and fish over the brambles and the fence, I get a second shock from the wire… I think I know how a cow feels!
Finally on the mat I unhook my second mirror carp of the day, but this is certainly bigger, and getting the scales out this time it goes a few ounces over 20lb. Yes, that’s a proper carp!
I give it another half hour as it must be nearly 7.30pm now, and beside some little ones sucking on the boilies that is the end of my afternoons fishing action. I’ve caught a couple of good fish and the wife has taken some great photo’s, so who could complain… perhaps the back of my legs, they’re still tingling!