Massive Matey makes Will's week!

Can there be any better time in the angling calendar than autumn? Surely not, especially when it comes to carp…really big carp!

With the water temperatures dropping, nature begins to play its instinctive mind games with our beloved chosen quarry, urging them to feed up ready for the cold winter months ahead. Scenes in the mornings of an autumn dawn having spent a chilly night by the lake side carp fishing can be more akin to a morning’s predator fishing rather than a species perhaps more traditionally associated with lilly pads and warm sunshine. The photograph of my reel in the frost was taken whilst there!

Add into all that the fantastic colours which seem to appear and develop on them at this time of the year and it would seem like the perfect opportunity to try to catch the fish of a lifetime. And so it was for me and a group of friends with another return trip back to Lac Les Pins in central France.

I have, during my fishing both in UK and in France, been fortunate enough to catch several large carp. One thing that this has proven to me time and time again is to not skimp on your tackle. I can assure you that large hard fighting carp will seek and find out any weakness in reel, line, end tackle, hook-link materials, knots and hooks!

If you have never caught heavy carp, do not underestimate their ability to give you a hard time whilst playing them. They often rely on their weight and make full use of it against you.

So then, to my week autumn carp fishing in France at Lac Les Pins. The venue is an English-owned and extremely well run medium sized lake of approximately 12 acres with depth of water ranging from 3 to 15 feet. It is naturally stream fed at the bay end, opening out to about 200 yards across towards the dam wall. It has six designated swims spread equally across the lake giving a range of features and water depths for all to fish to. It has a head of approximately 200 carp, both mirrors and commons, many of which are in excess of 50lb.

My swim for the week was The Bay a large expanse of water at the top of the lake with a bush and tree lined far bank and point to fish to together with an area of open water. My tactics were to fish to chosen spots on the far bank and in open water which had either showing fish or are known to produce big carp. Given that the water temperatures had begun to drop I chose to fish in water a little deeper than I would have in the summer months so I wasn’t tight up to the far bank.

My week began well with some lovely fish over the first few days, but then, on the frosty Friday evening at about 2130hrs, the night before our return to the UK my left hand alarm sounded. Even then I suspected it could be a special fish. I was fishing my reels in free spool but tightened down pretty hard as there were nearby potential snags but whatever I had hooked was managing to pull line of the reel at 90yards - and at some rate.

As soon as I picked the rod up I knew that whatever I had hooked was potentially very special. Not fast, quite the reverse; slow ponderous but very heavy, completely different in weight and power to anything I had ever hooked before. The next 20-25 minutes were that terrifying mixture of excitement, adrenaline and terror that you experience when you just know you’ve hooked something extraordinary.

Desperate to get your prize to the net yet not wanting to over exert pressure on the fish, the rig, the line or that tiny size 6 hook! Almost like a game of poker, having to balance risk against reward.

The fish stayed down, as the big ones so often do right up until it broke the surface about 6 feet from the net. As it did so, my face must have drained of colour….it was a huge, huge lake resident mirror carp called Matey. I hoped and prayed in that split second and remember saying out loud, “Please don’t come off now!”

I needn’t have worried, the net slipped under the massive fish and everything tied and linked to the end tackle had held out perfectly. Matey was placed on a carp cradle, unhooked and weighed and verified by three others as a new lake record of 82lb!!
Add to that, other fish to over 50lb and a number of 40s including a 46lb common in the week and my fishing dreams had surely come true.

My tried and tested method was a Korda Kable leadcore leader, a Korda 3oz inline running lead system attached to a Korda product-based rig completed with a size 6 barbless Kaptor curved shank hook with shrink tubing and blowback ring, all attached to 15lb Subline main line. The successful bait was a Carp Company Caviar and Cranberry based hook bait fished over several freebies mixed with pellets.

A huge and massive thanks to Christine, Barry and Colin at Lac Les Pins for yet another perfect fishing holiday and Korda for their quality tackle all of which has gone towards making this possible. I haven’t stopped smiling since.

For more information on Lac Les Pins, visit: www.carpanglersparadise.com