In a time when it can be challenging to find new and exciting lakes in the UK due to
advances in technology such as Google maps and social media, more and more anglers are
venturing across the channel to France in search of adventure. If it is
your first time on a fishing trip to France, as with all fishing trips, preparation will be critical to
your success and enjoyment.
Selecting the lake
If it is your first time in carp fishing in France you may want to opt for one of the many holiday
lakes which usually offer week long stays. Websites such as Dream Carp Holidays which list
a wide variety of carp lakes across France will save you time on your research. Probably the
number one factor in having a great trip is to select a lake that suits your style and ability of
fishing. What is meant by this is, if you usually fish at up 60 yards in the UK, it would be
unwise to fish a venue in France where the majority of the fish are caught at 120 yards. Of
course, it may not be always possible to know where the fish will be on your visit, however
there are certain things you can do to help. For instance, perhaps consider fishing lakes that
are under 10 acres, there are hundreds of lakes in France and a lake of 5 to 6 acres is ideal
for a group of 3 or 4 friends. Make sure to read the latest catch reports and check out the
social media pages for the lake as this may tell you where the fishing are being caught from.
If you are concerned that the fish may be getting caught at a greater range than you are
comfortable at casting then see if the venue allows for bait boats as this will help.
If you don’t fancy fishing a holiday lake, then why not get a permit from the Carte de Peche
and explore some of the many public lakes available. Google maps will be an invaluable tool
to help you locate the lakes and you can cross reference them against the map on the Carte
de Peche website to check if they are covered by the permit. Be careful to check whether
night fishing is permitted as it is not always allowed on public lakes.
What tackle to take
The carp in France in general grow slightly larger than their UK counterparts due to the marginally warmer climate. It’s not uncommon for holiday lakes to 40, 50 and even 60lb carp present in good numbers. With this in mind it is recommended that you beef up your tackle.
This does not mean that you need to go out and buy a whole new set up. But you should at least take with you some stronger terminal tackle. Take some size 2 and 4 hooks, minimum strength 15lb mainline and some 25lb plus hooklink material. The last thing you want is to hook your PB carp only to not have strong enough tackle to land it.
Be aware of the crayfish
Like the UK, crayfish in some lakes in France are a big problem. If crayfish are present in the lake you are fishing then you will have a few options at your disposal to combat them depending on the severity of the interference with your hookbait. One option is to re-cast every couple hours and put a fresh hookbait on if required. However, if you would rather a bit more comfort that you are ‘fishing’ then other options are to use plastic baits or to shrink wrap your boilies to protect them.
What size bivvy to take
Most fishing holidays run from Saturday to Saturday and for many of us this will be the longest session we will have fished. It’s therefore very important that you have enough space for yourself and for all your kit. 2 man bivvies are perfect for week long trips as you should have ample room for all your kit. If you only have a one man bivvy, if there are a few of you going then a good option is rent out a separate shelter for cooking in and storage. Not only will this provide the extra space for your kit, but it’s a great place to socialise in. The weather in France can be similar to the UK, especially in the northern regions, so an undercover social area is a fantastic piece of kit to take.
Make sure you bring enough clothes
A week is a long time to fish and if you are not comfortable you are not going to enjoy yourself and if you are not enjoying yourself then you will probably not fish at your best. Make sure you therefore pack plenty of clothes including a good set of waterproofs. As stated earlier, the weather in France can be very changeable so making sure you can stay warm and dry is essential.
What tactics to adopt
The carp in France, believe it or not, behave just the same as the carp in England. We have
already said at the start of this article to choose a venue that suits the style of carp fishing
that you are used to. The same goes for rigs, stick to what you know and what you have
confidence in. Just because you are fishing in a new country for bigger carp, does not mean
you need to be using the latest fandango rig that you have never tried before.
The other important factors to consider, is how to approach swim choice and baiting
strategy. For swim choice you can go one of two ways. You are there for a week so it is
normal for the carp to be mobile especially if you are going in the warmer months. So you
can choose a swim and opt for the ‘bait and wait’ strategy. If you are drawing for swims then
sometimes swim choice is limited in any case so you may have to wait for the carp to show
up. The other choice is to select a swim based on carp location. As you would do in the UK
on a short trip keep lapping and scanning the lake until you locate where the carp are.
When it comes to bait, especially on popular lakes, the chances are you will have arrived
after the previous anglers are left and you will not know where they fished and how much
bait they put in. On your first couple of days you should not pile the bait in. Consider fishing
singles or PVA bags and see how the fish react. If you are allowed to use a bait boat then
the same applies, a small offering is recommended. If you start catching, then this is the time
to start to increase your bait application.
Above all, if it is your first trip to France then enjoy yourself. It is a beautiful country to visit
with an abundance of carp lakes, many of which still hold the unknown to get your pulse
racing. A large number of the lakes are run by English couples, so you don’t even need to
worry about not speaking French!