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More for Less

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I have just come back from an interesting week on a lake in the Champagne Region of France, with my brother David. The weather forecast for the week and the catch reports I had been reading suggested that the week wouldn't be an easy one and that a large catch of carp was probably going to be out of the question as there had only been 3 carp caught from the whole lake on the week prior to our visit.


Blue skies and piercing sun

We had a real mixed week weather wise, the first half of the week was red hot with temperatures in the high 80's with the weather map showing it as being hotter than the South of France and Spain!


Then cold misty dawns

We then had a night where it dipped to 4 degree C and a final night of thunder storms and heavy rain.


and then thunder storms

For the first half of the week, the days were a waste of time with the only runs coming between 1 am and 7 am when it was at its coolest. But, with sensible baiting levels we managed to put quite a decent catch of fish together. We ended up with 18 carp to 47 lb 12 oz which included 3 x 40 lb plus and another 4 upper 30's plus 2 bream to just over 10 lbs. All the fish falling to the old faithful Rahja Spice, it never lets me down in France or in England for that matter.

Not a spectacular catch by French standards, but I was more than pleased when taking the weather into consideration and the fact that there were only 3 other fish caught all week by the other 2 guys on the lake.

The week once again highlighted to me the importance of getting the baiting levels right in order to keep those indicators moving when the fishing conditions are not great. Some of the amounts of bait I see anglers claiming they are using really amazes me. Just because you are in France, it doesn't mean you have to fill it in, in fact, more often than not, it can be detrimental to do this. I always 'fish for one bite at a time' and apply the baiting levels to suit this, only upping the rate of feed if the carp are really having it. Someone once made the analogy of...

“If you offer a human being a snack when he isn't really hungry, then he will probably still have a pick at it. Offer him a 3 course meal when he feels the same way and he will more than likely ignore it completely”. I can't remember who wrote that, but it is something I always remember when faced with tough fishing conditions, when I feel the fish really won't be eating much.

I was only putting around 20 x 10 mm and 20 x 15 mm Rahja Spice boilies with a couple of handfuls of pellet and pigeon mix around each rod.


Doesn't look like much does it? Especially when it is spread and not tight!

This doesn't sound like a lot when you are talking about carp averaging upper twenties, but if they are not going to feeding properly, why would you want to put more out there and probably reduce your chance of a bite?

This small baiting was then left out for 24 hours if nothing happened, if the rod did produce a fish it would be topped up with the same amount again. If a bite didn't come within 24 hours, then I would place it back in the exact same spot and only apply half as much bait as previously. We kept to the same 6 spots all week and by the end of the week, each spot had produced at least one fish.


This solid fish was tempted by a tiny snack


David employed the same tactics


Small light scatterings of bait were what they wanted


The fish kept returning for a snack


It wasn't just the mirrors either, I was real pleased with this common


and the grass carp were tempted too

When I spoke about bait to the two other lads on the Thursday they had used more bait than us (we had caught 12 fish to their 1 by then) so I can only presume they had put in too much bait for the conditions we had all faced, because they certainly had fish showing in front of them.

Having a look at the catch reports for the 2 weeks since we got back, there were 5 carp caught from the whole lake, on the first week and 6 from the whole lake on the second, so once again I was more than happy with our catch of 18 carp and 2 bream!

Best Regards,
Pat Gillett

About the Author: Pat Gillett

pat gillett

I have been fishing since I was 5 years old & up to about 10 years ago I more or less fished for carp throughout the season. However, more recently I have changed my fishing to give me more variety and I believe more of a challenge. I generally fish for carp from March to October (with perhaps the odd large bream session thrown in) and from October onwards my thoughts will move on to the rivers for mainly barbel, but targeting chub or pike if I feel the conditions are too cold for the barbel. The waters I fish vary from a river which is in parts only a rod length wide to a 170 acre reservoir.

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