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Biggest Grass Carp I have Seen

26/05/2022 - Special Captures

A trip to France
La Saule Paquot
For this month’s blog, I thought I would cover off our trip abroad. We had been looking forward to
our week at La Saule for a long while. Some of the guys had been before and re-booked as a lake
exclusive, which had then been held back due to Covid, Clint and I got an invite to make the numbers
up early last year. So, it’s been a long time in the planning. The fishery has been around for a long
while but is not really what you would call a well-known lake, but has cropped up from time to time
to those that know. It’s also not what you would call a runs water but it has some incredible carp in
the lake. These days I would rather catch less but more quality, who wants to be up all night every
night catching vast numbers of carp (said tongue in cheek!). The journey down was reasonably ok, I
had to pick Matt up on the way down as Clint was travelling with Callum, just logistics of where we
all lived really. We called at the DT factory on the way down to pick some bait up for the trip, all was
going well, until Fenton said to me “how are you for fuel?” I said I needed to fill up before we got
over to France, then he told me about the fuel shortage in Essex! Added to that the A 12 was closed
as well due to an accident, it turned into a bit of a long journey. We eventually got to the hotel just
after 6pm. As we were taking an early train (6am), we had decided to stop in a local hotel the night
before, so it was just a case of a ten-minute drive to the Tunnel, saves worrying about any delays on
route and there does seem to be more of them these days. The check-in to the Tunnel was straight
forward and we were off on time. We arrived in France and headed off to the champagne region,
which was really straight forward 4-hour drive. It always seems that the motorways in France are
much better then those in the UK, particularly the Toll roads, Matt was really impressed with the
electronic tag I had on the dash for automatic Toll charges, it makes getting though the tolls much
We arrived at the lake around Midday, and were greeted by Tony and Julie, though the Sun was
shining, there was a noticeable chilly Easterly Breeze. It really is a beautiful looking lake, once the
other guys arrived we had a walk round and then drew for swims, I ended up with swim 1, it had a
good amount of water in front and the island to my right. It was a bit of a gamble, as you might
expect the carp to be in the shallower areas where the sun might be having some impact at this time
of year, which did prove to be so as there were carp in there for a couple of days. Tony said the lake
had been fishing hard, due he thought to a lot of extra cold water in recently and the persistent
chilly weather, which had been seen across Europe.

It was in the news the week before that many
local vineyards in the area were having to light fires at night to protect against the severe night
frosts. Even in the UK we felt some of the lakes were two weeks behind. We set up our homes for
the week, with much anticipation for the week ahead, as you would expect. To be honest after a
long lay-off from fishing abroad, I was just looking forward to a week on the bank, just spending time
by the water was going to be great. With the nights being very cold and the days very sunny along
with a chilly Easterly breeze in my face the whole week, the fishing did prove to be hard, it was a
good job I had nt thermal boots and gloves. I was seeing reports from other lakes in the region, and
they were saying the same. We all stuck to our task, Callum had an absolute minter of a Common of
64lbs from the stalking corner, where it was shallower and catching the sun, had I made a mistake in
swim choice? The occasional smaller carp were being caught, as well as a few Tench, which were
definitely moving about. Whilst I was seeing the occasional carp in front of me, there was nothing to
really pinpoint any spots. Nevertheless, I kept putting the rods back out and waiting for something to
show me a spot to home in on. As the week progressed, the carp did start to move around the lake a
bit more. The thing is to me, I take it as it comes, I hadn’t done too much research about the lake, I
prefer to turn up and take on the challenge of what is in front of me. We had been told it would be a
tough week, I still believed I would get at least one or two chances during the week, so everything
had to be geared to just that, fish for a bite at a time, don’t go mad with the bait and keep watching
for a sign.

We had a couple of days away from the lake looking round some old haunts that I fished
in the 90’s. I plan to revisit some of these in the next year or two, so getting up to date maps of the
lakes and fishing zones, as well as prices and how to book on. It was time well spent for future trips
to this area.

It was on the 5 th night that finally I had a carp show in front of me properly in the evening time, there
was a huge swirl to my right, short of the island, I moved a rod onto it straight away, just over a
weedbed in a gully with just a few handfuls of bait around it. I sat up that night as I really felt I was
going to get a bite, Boots and coat on waiting, at just after 11pm, the rod on the new spot rattled
off, as first I thought it was a Tench bite, the indicator just rising and falling slowly. I struck anyway, I
soon realised this was no tench, probably about the same time the carp realised it was hooked! It
steamed off! Straight into a huge weedbed and it weeded solid, I was thinking I would have to go
and get Clint and get the boat out, but steady pressure saw the carp kick clear. As the carp
approached, in the torchlight I could see it was massive!! I mean really massive! I could have been
sea fishing, at first I thought it was a Common, then I realized it was a huge Grass carp, the biggest I
had ever seen. I wasn’t even sure it was going to go in the net. It had picked up another line during
the fight as well, it was all getting a bit messy, eventually it went into the net with a bit of careful
maneuvering, I let out a huge yell, more from relief than anything else I think, Tony the owner, heard
me and came out to help. I decided it was easier to cut the lines and unhook the carp in the net,
rather than try and untangle everything. Tony held the carp in the net whilst I sorted out the weigh
stuff, it went berserk again, it’s a good job Tony was holding the net otherwise it would have been
gone, net as well, as it was the net was wrecked…Once we got the carp in the Cradle, we realised the
true size of it. I had to get my 120lb scales out as the 60lb scales were bottomed! We eventually
settled on a weight of 57.5 lbs. after taking off the weight of the sling, a new PB for me, excellent.
We held the carp carefully until it was ready to swim off strongly. Then I sat and had a glass of wine
to celebrate…

Colin had a great looking 49lb Mirror on the Friday, then it was all looking as if that was it. I was up
early on the Saturday morning to start the steady pack up. As I was watching I noticed a couple of
carp show about 80 yards slightly to my left. I had been fishing a zig on one rod and kept moving it
around, trying different spots and depths during the week. I recast the zig, giving it a quick spray of
the Squid and Octopus Bait Spray (a great tactic), and continued sorting out some gear.

For some reason I felt I was going to get another bite, I can’t say why it was just a feeling, I sat by the rods for a
little while, whack! The Zig rod was off at a rate of knots. I knew I was fishing amongst some heavy
weed in that area and tried to keep pressure on the carp to keep it up in the water, surely enough
the carp weeded me solid. I had packed my boat away, so I shouted to Clint who went and got
another boat, by the time we got to the carp, it was gone…oh well…That would have been two great
carp in a difficult week, shouldn’t be greedy heh? Anyway, that was finally it, back to the packing up.
One thing I would say, we caught by fishing for one carp at a time and not going mad with the bait.
There was evidence in a couple of swims of boilies still laying around from previous trips. If the carp
are not feeding heavy, what is the point of putting loads of bait in? it doesn’t matter if you have the
greatest bait in the world. To my mind, you are just decreasing your chances more. To anyone fishing
anywhere for the first time, I would say fish for one carp at a time, rather than piling in the bait, it’s
rare these days that you can make them ‘have it.’ Especially at this time of year, in these types of
conditions. If you get a bite, then you can put more bait in. With these types of lakes, it’s about
identifying those little spots in or around weed or features where the carp are visiting. These big
carp take some catching at the best of times, so fish carefully and be patient. As I said, I always think

I will get one or two good chances in a week and work on that principle, which turned out to be the
case. It also shows that keep fishing right until the end of the trip can pay off as well.
Although the fishing had been hard, we had a great week, Tony and Julie looked after us both with
advice and also the lovey food they provided, I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I did enjoy the deserts
each day. If you want a runs water this may not be for you, but if you want a challenge, the quality
and the size of carp in here, make this worth fishing, I will definitely return for another go at some of
these big carp.
So, it’s back to reality and fishing my local headbanger for a couple of months then we can start planning our trip to Parco, whatever happens I’ll let you know how
I get on.
Catch you next time.
Take care