When you go on a carp fishing holiday in France, you will be preparing for your holiday for weeks if not months in advance. You have a lot to think about, from logistics and food to satnav and tackle. I will not attempt to cover everything here, just give you a few pointers on the key tactics to consider to help you catch those big carp when you’re there.
1. Find where the fish are. Most quality French fishing venues see constant angling pressure for seven months or more of the year so you shouldn’t assume that they are easy to catch. Use your watercraft skills to find where the fish are actively feeding and keep your fishing approach simple and discrete: cast to showing fish and know what you are fishing over by leading around and feeling for the drop.
2. Don’t forget to sharpen your hooks. Due to the constant level of angling pressure, big carp in France have become exceptionally good at getting rid of rigs. Before you start tying up your favourite rig, just sharpen your hooks. Any money you spend on a hook sharpening kit will repay itself tenfold in the number of hooks used and if you do a good job your results will improve. Guys like Kevin Nash used to get a jeweller to do his at 50p a go! It is the greatest edge in carping and yet the most over looked.
3. Be careful how much bait you put in on arrival. It is very difficult to know how much bait to apply and most importantly where it was applied by the previous week’s anglers at the lake you have chosen. It is always best to start with stringers, solid or mesh PVA bags or just a light scattering of bait. If you catch, then top up. If you don’t, then pick some new spots and try again. Just piling the bait rarely works and may be detrimental to the fishing. However if you’ve had a fish off a spot using a strategic approach then give them a bit more and see what happens.
4. Try zig fishing. All you need to catch a big carp is the right rig in the right place. At large French venues like Abbey Lakes that are crystal clear, deep and weedy, the fish, during the early part of the season, spend a lot of time in mid water. This is the venue to practice the art of zig fishing with small pieces of black foam. No freebies, no sloppy spod mix, just get ahead of the fish as they move down the lake, launch a zig at them and wait for the fireworks! Such tactics don’t work at all venues so get information on the place you are visiting before you go.
5. Make sure you are tooled up for the job. It’s no good turning up to a lake in the full knowledge that you need to cast 120yds when you and your gear can’t. Choose a lake that suits your casting ability. You also need to consider the nature of the lake. If you are going to a place with both big carp and large catfish, you need gear capable of dealing with fish of this size. Ideally you should bring 3lb minimum TC rods and quality big bit reels. If your gear doesn’t quite make this mark you’ll have to be more aware of where you fish and the angle that you fish from as you won’t have much control over them.
Matt Collins, Beausoleil Carp and Cats. All photos taken by Matt Collins.
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