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When an opportunity knocks!

Posted by Pat Gillett on 23 May 2019 |

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PIC 1I have just come back from a weeks fishing on a lake in the Champagne region of France. In 20 years of travelling to France, it was by far the worse weather I have seen in May.

When we arrived at around 10.30 am on the Saturday morning the temperature was just 2 Degrees C and felt a lot colder with the heavy rain and bitter Northerly wind. The lake was approximately 10 acres with fishing from one bank only and a quick run out with the marker rod showed that there was a maximum depth of no more than 4 feet. Hardly ideal for the weather conditions we would be faced with.

The sun came out briefly so I started to set up camp at around 4 pm (I was on the windward end of the lake). Whilst in the process of doing this I noticed a carp just pop his head out. It wasn't a big show, but thinking there were not going to be many opportunities for the week I quickly set up a couple of rods with small 1 oz leads and 10 mm Rahja Spice bottom baits, balanced with a 10 mm pop up. To these were attached tiny mesh bags of crumbed up boilies and the mixed mini pellet. The rods were then placed either side of where I had seen the fish show.


Small baits, always my 'go to' when scratching for a bite!

Just 10 minutes later and one of the rods was away with a nice slow run. After a prolonged battle through the various thick beds of Canadian pond weed a stunning looking common carp was gracing the mesh of the landing net. It was obviously a big fish, and took the scales around to 52 lb 8 oz. Really underlining the importance of making the most of every opportunity and once again showing the pulling power of the Rahja Spice. The bait had only been in the water for 10 minutes and had produced possibly the lakes biggest resident!


Stunning fish - opportunity taken.


Sulking in the weed after being released!

How many anglers would have just carried on setting up camp?

Not casting to that fish (thinking 'oh well – we have got all week'). It always surprises me the amount of anglers that don't cast to showing fish! It is something I always do and sometimes can make the difference between success and failure on your fishing session.

How many anglers today actually carry 1 oz leads when carp fishing?

Casting a 3 oz lead on it's head would have surely scared the fish to death. It always pays to carry a variety of leads to cope with any given situation. Carp fishing isn't all about casting and spodding at 100 yard plus.


My set up.

The week proved very tricky as I thought it would be after reading feedback, such as 6 anglers blanking for the week and with the weather conditions we had on such a shallow lake. The staging I started fishing on was white over for 2 mornings.


Overnight Frost

That was followed by torrential rain all day Wednesday and Thursday which included a thunder storm that stuck around for ages. I packed up on Friday morning as the majority of the gear was dry and there was more heavy rain forecast to come in Friday afternoon. The warmest day we had was only 14 Degrees C, but most of the time the temperature was in single figures.


Torrential rain

I did manage to winkle out another 8 carp during the week, with fish to just over 30 lbs. One of the lads had 5 carp for the week, whilst the 2 other guys blanked apart from a few tench.

It was the hardest week I have had in France for many years, I blanked on 3 of the 6 nights I fished. This made me even more happy that I had made the most of the opportunity that had presented itself so early in the week.

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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