May was fast approaching but my trip to Lac Des Lesmont was still a distant thought because my new bait company, Apex Baits, was starting to take off and we were very, very busy. I was totally focused on getting the bait company and also my shop, CPS Tackle, fully stocked so I could relax and enjoy the fishing whilst I was away.
With only a week to go before the trip, I had my good friend Ged from Herdl around, working with us to try and get our new Apex Baits website set up with new images and content. It was through talking to him I realised how far behind I was with sorting my tackle and bait out (and I was rapidly running out of time!).
The last time I fished Lesmont, the carp seemed to respond well to our, Apex Baits Low Oil Carp Pellet. This time I made up a mix of our 6mm and 8mm, High Oil Carp Pellet and the same size in our, Halibut Pellets. It was about 70% High Oil Carp to 30% Halibut. Then I made up a bit of bait soak consisting of our Liver Liquid and CSL Liquid and added some almond flavour to match my bait, which was CC Moores Live System. The reason for using a different company’s bait to ours, is because Apex only offers shelf life boilies at the minute and it’s a freezer bait only rule on the lake. I alway love using our Liver Liquid because it’s the amino triggers it sends out into the water, informing fish that there’s a food source nearby. The CSL Liquid is also packed with natural amino acids, proteins and sugars which carp fine irresistible.
That night I got home a started sorting my tackle out and got to my pop up / hookbait bag, oh dear! I’m one of these people that thinks, I’ll put those in, “just in case” but very rarely does “just in case” come. So luckily the last time I was in France, towards the end of the week I went through all my pots and put a cross on everyone I didn’t use, now there were only five pots left! One pot of washed out coloured citrus pop ups and Apex Baits, The Secret pop ups, both in 12mm to tip a bottom bait off. One pot of live system bottom baits with some of my bait glug on and two pots of wafters, one Live system and the other with Spicy Squid Goo on, just to mix it up a bit. After a few hours everything was sorted and ready but, I alway get that feeling that I’ve forgotten something.
The day came when it was time to load the vans and get some miles behind us. We alway travel the day before and stay over in a hotel, just so we don’t feel shattered on setting up day. Ged was in our van with me and Paul and he passed us a Sanef Liber-t Tag for the toll roads, what a fantastic bit of kit. The tag allows to pull up to the toll gates and as you get close, its detects the tag and the barrier automatically raises up without having to pay at the toll station. There’s even one toll gate that has a 30 kilometer sign on it, where you don’t stop. You just drive into it and it detects you a lot sooner, raising the barrier quicker so you just continue on your way.The tag costs around £10 a year and you will get invoiced which is taken by direct debit within 30-60 days.
After a good night’s sleep and breakfast at the hotel, we got to the lake at 12pm to be met by the bailiff, Marty. I know Marty from the days when he was a bailiff a Jurasica 2 and I used to wet a line there. He’s a great chap who uses a lot of common sense when it comes to rules on a lake, which was a breath of fresh air. We didn’t walk all the way around the lake because the water level was still quite high, but we did visit each swim just to get a feel for it. After a quick cuppa came the draw and I came out forth out of five of us, oh well. When people get to know Lesmont or do any research, it’s not hard to find out that peg four is the going swim. So my first choice would of been peg four, then right hand side of swim three, fishing peg twos water because you get a more direct pull on the fish from the margin. After that it would be peg eight , then the double nine and ten. When it got to me pegs two, four and ten had gone but now three wasn’t that favorable because I would be surrounded due to how it’s pegged out, so I went into eight.
Once in my chosen swim and all set up, I got my new X Boat bait boat out, which is fitted with a Toslon TF500 fish finder and Toslon X pilot. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a boat bait person but the more you fish in France the more you will find that, nine times out of ten, you need one. The X Pilot is an awesome bit of kit and it makes using a bait boat a breeze. Once you’ve found your spot, you just set the way point and the X pilot will drive the boat there time after time. You may all be thinking that’s just lazy, but when you are fishing 120 yards up to a margin or island and your trying to do it in the dark with a high powered torch because the lights on you boat aren’t up to the job. Or you’re working off your distance sticks and trying to see the mark on your line coming off so you know it’s on the spot, that’s too much faffing around for me. I want to be back on or as close to the spot as quickly and accurately as possible and the X Pilot does the job.
I found that the depths went from 4ft on my margin going down to 23 feet two thirds of the way across then up to 1ft on the far margin. If you worked back from the far margin towards my margin, within about 3 yards from the far margin it went from 1ft to 23ft, so it was a very steep slope (as Marty the bailiff had said). I was hoping to find a shelf but there really was nothing at all. I even went all the round to the far margin with a long prodding stick but you could just feel it bumping down the slope going deeper and deeper. Whilst round there, the bush to my left had about 10 carp sitting under it in the shade. I sat quiet and watched them as they cruised from their bush to the bush on the other side of where I was trying to locate a shelf to put my bait on and this gave me an idea, so I headed off back to my peg. As I did, I noticed that lots of the overhanging bushes had carp under them so my thought was, the closer I could get to them, the better chance of a bite. When I arrived back at my swim I started on my idea. I got a 5 ounce lead and set up a four foot zig, with the thought that I would, take my zig over in the boat and when the fish finder showed five feet I’d drop the lead, so that the zig was only 1 foot below the surface, right in the path of the fish going from bush to bush. Once this was set in place, I found a couple of other spots. One right by the bush with the 10 fish in but because the bush overhung the water that far it meant i was in 21 feet of water. So, with this one, I sent a load of my oily pellets over with the Liver/CSL bait soak on, hoping the oils and the smell would work up to the surface and draw the fish down. Then I found a spot in open water that had a light covering of silk weed which I thought would be perfect.
When we first got there Marty had said that it wasn’t fishing very well and not many fish had been out. This was mainly due to the bream which were spawning on and off with the carp preoccupied on their eggs as well as fry and naturals. This is why I thought the silk weed would be a good idea to fish on because it may contain the things that they were feeding on.
Monday came around and still nothing, I’d had liners but no runs but then again, no one else had. I sat there on the edge of my peg by my rods and looked to my right, to see an overhanging tree/bush about ten yards away, like the ones over the far side. I got my spomb rod with just a lead on and cast it out just in front of it. The bush overhung the water by about five yards so i knew it would be about six to seven feet deep. It landed with a softish drop but as I pulled the lead towards me, within a yard of where I cast it the rod tip started rattling, telling me there was a gravel patch surrounded by light silt. I felt that confident it was a spot I reeled a rod in, to get a bait on there. Before I put a bait on it I thought I’d try and look under the bush just to see if it was snaggy under there and what an idiot I’d been! I looked in it and saw six carp just sitting under there, just like over the far side, I couldn’t believe it. I turned and crept back out and shot to get my boat out. I could see that there was an opening in the side of this bush, that I would be able to get my boat at least one meter under it. So with only a hookbait and some of my pellets, I sent my boat slowly towards the gap. This tree / bush wasn’t very tight with branches, the sort that if you went under it by mistake, you would be able to force your boat back out. As my boat approached the gap, I stopped the motors and allowed it to glide on its own silently into the hole. Then when it was under enough, I dropped the hookbait and pellet and slowly reversed it back out. Once I’d got the boat out and set the rod on the alarm, I quickly ran to see how many fish, if any were still there, BINGO they hadn’t moved. Then as I stood there, I saw one carp drop deeper towards my area. I couldn’t see my bait because it was too deep under there, but I knew whereabouts it was. I raced back to the rod and sat by it, expecting it to rattle off at any minute but nothing. About twenty minutes later my mate came to see how I was getting on, so I told him about the bush and the fish. He looked at me gone out, so I said, have a look for yourself. I’d just stood up and stepped off my peg to show him and my Nash R3 Alarm screamed. Within a second I was locked into battle with a powerful fish. I was fishing with 20lb Daiwa Tournament ST line that I trust and know its super strong and this gave me the confidence, not to give the fish an inch until I knew it was out from under the bush. Once I’d won that stage of the battle, I slackened off a bit to tire it out a bit more away from my other rods. The water at Lesmont is a beautiful, creamy light blue colour and I could see the fish, twisting and turning, shaking its head trying to get free. Within minutes, she came up out of the depths and was sat sulking in my net and the shout went up, “COME ON!”.
Within a couple of minutes four out of the five of us were in my swim to look at my prize and what a stunner she was. A lovely Mirror weighing in at 47lb 04oz, boom, I was off the mark and over the moon.
Shortly after releasing the fish, my mate said to hurry up and get a bait on the spot because there’s still fish under there. Wasting no time, a hookbait was back under there and I was sat right by my rod waiting. After about an hour I got up and went and checked the bush. There were only two carp under there now and they were on the opposite side to where my hookbait was. As I stood there watching them, this huge, bronze and black common came right in close and started feeding an a ledge the the bream had been spawning on. I stood only metres from it and couldn’t believe the size of it. As I did, it swam along the shelf feeding then dropped off at the end into the depths by my bait. I raced back to my rods expecting it to go again at any minute but after twenty minutes I went back for a look and there it was, back on the shelf feeding like crazy. I couldn’t get it into my head, how a fish this big could feed in such shallow water without its back sticking out. I went back and got some 12mm live system boilies that I’d taken and when he’d dropped off the shelf, I spread some bait all along it, heading towards my spot. An hour later it was back on the shelf feeding on the bream spawn. I can say that because when it did it’s thing of swimming to the end of the shelf and dropping off, my bait was still there, untouched. The hotter the week got the more the bush filled up with carp, but they all seemed to stay on the surface, not feeding except now for two commons. Another huge dark common had joined the other one feeding along the shelf. On wednesday morning I got up and as usual, to blue cloudless skies and not a touch on the other rods. I went and checked the shelf and to my surprise, all the bait had gone. Straight away I thought, have they finally finished feeding on naturals and wanted a bit of bait. I continued baiting the shelf and watched them eat it, until there was just the big black and bronze common doing it’s thing. Feeding along the shelf then dropping off the other end by my baited area. I really didn’t want night to come because I was expecting a run at any second, but as I sat there drinking a couple of ice cold beers, I got the feeling it just wasn’t going to happen, so off to bed I went.
At around 2am in the morning, I was awoken with the scream of my alarm and within seconds I was onto my rod, with a very powerful, strong fighting fish on the end. Unlike the other fish, this one tried to get to the shelf and I thought straight away, is this the big bronze and black common I’d been feeding for two days? I was locked up tight with my 13ft Free Spirit Hi’s ive bent to the butt section as I tried to hold it back. Then came the moment I was dreading, I could feel the grating of something on the line and the fish had reached a snag. Pulling with all my might, I could feel what felt like a hanging branch. Everytime I released some pressure, I could feel it slowly pulling back with really strong head shakes from the fish. I put the rod down and gave it some slack hoping it would swim out, the rod would wack round and I would pile the pressure on hoping it would come free but it just stayed in the same place. Then the inevitable happened, all the head shaking and pulling stopped and I knew the fish had gone. I was gutted. It was too dark and late to go and get the boat and try and get to where I was snagged up. Also the depth of the water made it too dangerous, so I tried to pull for a break. As I pointed the rod at the snag and pulled, I could feel I was gaining line, until it all came free, rig and all. The only thing that didn’t was the coating on the hook link, it had been completely stripped off.
On Thursday night my mate phoned to see how I was getting on and told me his mate had fished in my peg a couple of weeks ago and caught in three feet of water, on a shelf off the far margin. As I said earlier, I’d been around there this a prodding stick and there was no shelf. All I could think was that if he was fishing on a shelf three feet deep then it must have been because there was a lot of flood water on it. Since then the water level had been dropping every day and that spot may now be in only one and a half feet of water. Anyway, I put on a live system bottom bait tipped off with an Apex Baits, The Secret 12mm pop up. Then I changed my lead for a flat 5 oz lead and put it in my boat with chops that I’d cut with a knife so that I’d taken all the round parts off, leaving them flat. I did this hoping that some of them would stay up on the shelf. I sent my boat over watching the fish finder and when it said 2.9ft of depth, I dropped the lead and tightened up to it.
In my mind, I could see my main line cutting through the water to 5 oz lead on a steep shelf that goes down to 23 feet. The lead is sitting in 2.9ft of water and my 6 inch long hook link is hanging further down the shelf, with the lead and line just above it. So in other words, rig, lead and line concealment, is right out the window. For the carp to get to that bait, it had to hit the line, see the lead or something. All the things the so called experts tell you will scare the fish. All was quiet through the night, then at around 9am I had a drop back as the bobbin lowered by about 4 inches. I rushed to the rod and slowly the bobbin started lifting up again. I picked up the rod, bent into the bite and walked back into my peg to get the fish away from the shallow water and snags. Once I got it away from the margin over the other side, it went down deep and started kitting to my right into open water, but it didn’t stop there. With the amount of line that was still out, I could see it heading around the back of the large bush to my right. The one I caught the fish from but also lost the one in the snag. So I quickly swung my rod over and starting steering it away. After what seemed like an age, and with me thinking what a stupid thing to do, the fish turned and went back into open water.Thank God! After about five minutes, I was slipping the net under a stunning common which looked like it would go past the magic 50lb mark. Once on the scales, it went 49lb 08oz. Not a fifty but who cares after such a hard and hot week! I honestly thought I deserved it because all week I never stopped thinking and trying to work out what they were doing. Just like the spot where I caught the common from, how many people would’ve fished that.
I ended the week on two forties and the fish I lost. I honestly think it was the big common that I’d been feeding. After speaking to Marty, he said the average catch rate is 3 fish per angler. I never like being average but with the conditions we had, I feel it was a success.
Once back in the UK I kept in touch with Marty and from the sound of things, the fishing had become even harder as the high temperature and pressure continued. So, the eleven fish we caught in total (with five of them coming off peg four), was good going after all!