Kontinental Success - Elliott Gray

I recently ventured over to the famous Gigantica lake in France, joining Danny and a group of friends during one of their yearly week-long trips. I was there to film the grading of the Gigantica stock fish, which Dan has reared on from eggs, and had the opportunity to sling the rods out too.

I arrived on the Monday but didn’t fish the first night. Up until that point I had never fished the venue, despite working for Dan and the other lads journeying there regularly. I’ll be honest, the fishing abroad has never really interested me and what time I have is generally spent in the UK. The thought of going abroad and having easy access to a load of big fish doesn’t appeal to me. However, I was well aware of quite how impressive the carp in the lake are, and many of them are extremely hard to catch so they’re hard earned, which added fuel to the fire. In a nutshell, anything from around 20-55lb is going to be a scaley beast, fit for Oxford, and all the bigger fish are pristine, leathery old mirrors.

After hearing some of the fish showing on the Tuesday evening, the want to get some rods in the water soon grew. Some of the shows I heard that night were quite simply ridiculous and I can honestly say that I’ve never heard anything like it. I acted quickly and got some rods out in the closest swim to where the fish were present, I couldn’t get right on them but I felt close enough.

Unfortunately, nothing occurred that first. I spent the second night in the same swim and cast out in the dark after dinner. The fish were still nearby but during the night they showed longer and beyond me, at around 130 yards, not ideal but there were odd ones close by too. The fish were showing in real numbers and by the end of the second night, which also resulted in nothing, I began to wonder how catchable they were. The lake is deep, over 20-foot in most places, and I have fished venues in the past where the carp show a hell of a lot after dark, over deep water. Nine times out of ten, the only way I have found them catchable is on zigs. I’m not talking about a few shows here and there, I’m talking 100 shows plus, far too regularly for them to be dropping down. Plenty of us had fish showing on or near us and no one was catching, which wasn’t a coincidence in my eyes. Zigs would have been the obvious choice but I was only fishing at night and there was far too much sediment in the water for them to be effective, within minutes the lines would look like string. I’ve never found zigging in murky water to be very effective at all anyway, and like I said, the Gigantica carp are no fools.

The Apache (Steve Cliff) caught a 25-pounder during the day from an area off the front of a snaggy, tree-lined area of the lake, but so far that was all that had been out. I decided to simply stick to my guns and hope that eventually something would drop down over one of the areas during one of the remaining two nights. As before, I cast the rods out after dinner at around 10pm and then jumped in the bag. There was a full moon in the sky and the nights were clear and cold, so the bag was the safest place to be. I lay there listening to monsters jumping, again, until around 2am when I realized that they were clearly stacked up in the swim to my left, known as The Tree Line. I had heard so many shows in that zone that I simply had to move and quickly folded down my kit and got round there. The moon was a great help and with not too much trouble I had two rigs in position. Typically, I never saw a single show after that and they began boshing out in front of the swim I had left. It was gone 3am by this point and rather than move back, I sat tight hoping they would return – they didn’t.

I mentioned that I been faced with the ‘crazy showing syndrome’ before on deeper waters that I’ve fshed and often I have found the edges are by far the best place to attempt catching them off of the bottom. My thinking is that they’re off the bottom but will travel into the edges, and are targetable at certain distances down the shelf but not so much at the bottom of it. The swim I had moved into offered a very snaggy margin with slightly shallow water that that of the open water. This was enough for me to stay put and I got all the rods clipped up and baited the margin just before it got dark, and then wondered round for dinner, ready for a return later on. I should thank Mark at Baitworks for lending me some of his bait as I actually ran out of the bait I brought along with me, so without him I’d have had no boilies at all!

I had been casting out in the dark all week and this meant that I was unable to watch my rigs in flight, ensuring that they don’t tangle. I started off using chods rigs but later switched to bottom baits. I wanted to know that my rigs were going to tangle though, and when trying to get so extremely tight to the trees on the far side, all I wanted to worry about was hitting the clip right. Using the rig shown enabled me to concentrate solely on the cast, the rig simply wasn’t going to tangle. The stiff hook link would make sure of that and the offset shape of the hook would help wind the barbless hook home, and keep it there. With the intensity of the snags, I would need a rig that would hook the fish solidly and I was hoping that it would do just that.

The rods went out smoothly at 10pm that night, with very satisfy and hard drops on all three. The night was bright and I sat watching for a while before noticing how few fish were showing in comparison to the previous nights. This filled me with joy and I went to sleep confident that someone would be catching during the night. To my delight, it was one of my rods that produced the fish and after a rather intense battle I slipped the net under a lovely 35lb 8oz linear. The fish was hooked a good two-inches back and I couldn’t help but smile as I slipped the hook out – a lovely way to round off a cool week at the lake.

Elliott Gray