Words and pictures by Pat Gillett:

I have just got back from a week’s social in France with my non-fishing kid brother David. He wanted to see what all the fuss was about fishing in France. I was his gillie for the week, finding clear spots, placing the baits etc. I must have done a decent job has by Tuesday he was already asking me ‘where are we going next year?’

We travelled down on the Friday and stopped in a lovely little campsite right by the side of the River Marne in Epernay. It was obvious from the brown colour and the height of the river that France had, had a very wet spring like the one we have just had. This became even more apparent when we got to the lake and found that the water level was actually coming over the front of the stagings.

The lake was very weedy at our end and was very much uniform in depth ranging from 7 1/2 feet to 9 feet in depth. It had steep margins that just fell straight off to about 8 feet. On arrival I spent a couple of hours leading about and marking the lines for the first night. Whenever I get to a new water I never put much bait in on the first night and this was to be no different has I put no more than 40 boilies over any of the rods. I put 2 rods each in open water and one rod each to the far margin at the bottom of the shelf. Baits were a mixture of the Quest Rahja Spice and Magnum White Boilies. The first night produced 2 upper doubles to my far margin rod but nothing to any of the other rods.

The next day saw me out in the boat, trying to find any obvious feeding spots in amongst the weed. I found what looked like a ‘dinner plate’ for a carp on David’s right hand side and 2 good looking spots to my far left margin. These 3 rods produced consistently for us all week, although it was most noticeable that 99% of my bites came between 10.30pm and 4.00am whereas 99% of my brothers bites came during the hours of daylight. I fed pretty lightly due to the conditions, adding about 60 to 80 mixed sized boiles along with half a dozen handfuls of pellet and pigeon conditioner after each run. I continued with the open water rods all week for both of us (if the open water kicks off you can get some really big hits), but they never really got going, I only had one fish on mine all week and I think David had three on his. It was a case of making sure to get back on the same clear patches on the bottom of the marginal shelf to ‘build’ these spots up to keep the fish coming.

There were fish in open water – but they wouldn’t feed!

One thing I must comment on was the incessant noise from the frogs during the week, I have never  heard anything like it, am a light sleeper anyway, but this racket made sleep pretty much impossible, in fact I have been back home 3 days now and am still getting over it LOL!

It wasn’t just the frogs that were noisy – one of our other visitors.

The weather was really hot until Thursday, the fish were more interested in grouping up and following each other about (early stages of spawning)than feeding hard, in fact

A male common shedding milt.

three of the male commons we had were shedding milt on the mat.

But by being sensible and not over feeding we still managed to put a reasonable catch together. David finishing with 10 carp to 35lb 10oz and me with 17 carp to 36lb 4oz. To put things into perspective the other 2 anglers on the lake had 10 carp between, so it shows the conditions were tricky.

My biggest of the week at 36lb 4oz

Rig wise, I used my version of Shaun’s combi-link with the hair’s fished KD style. For this I use 19lb Seagaur Flourocarbon and 25lb Kryston Supersilk.

David’s biggest at 35lb 10oz

On the bait front 3 of our fish fell to Magnum White with the other 24 falling to the ever reliable Rahja Spice.

Pic 6 –    The biggest of some nice commons at 29lb 8oz

It was a really enjoyable chilled out week, and it was great to spend some quality time with my brother. It also brought home to me how when

The biggest of some nice commons at 29lb 8oz

you have been fishing for many years, you can start to take the fish you catch ‘for granted’. By this I mean that by spending a week with someone who doesn’t fish you can see their reaction to the size of the fish you are catching and I could see that at times David was ‘blown away’ by the sheer physical size of the carp he was catching. I was worried before the trip that he may get bored spending a whole week on the bank, but he loved every minute of it and was fed up (big time) on the Friday when it was time to pack up.

Now I’ve just got to come up with a good venue for next year!


Pat Gillett


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