Masterclass inspires brace of 60s

Carpa-Sens, a complex of lakes located south west of Paris, was the location chosen for 2014’s Masterclass film on tackling commercials in France, and also the scene of Cheshire carper Richie Barlow’s recent and unforgettable session…

Richie's trip to Carpa Sens culminated in this 66lb mirror

Richie's other 60-pounder at 63lb

“I first became aware of this venue after watching the Masterclass 1 DVD in 2014 and I was hooked there and then” Richie told us. “But I thought that I would never get on there now it’s been on the DVD. How wrong I was, I put Carpasens into the search bar and up came their website - the lake we chose was Le Prunet.

“I got in contact with Olivier, the owner, and for 245 euros each we were booked on. One point to make is that you can book your pegs and not get stressed out by a draw, and you can also turn up later with your peg sorted. The lake itself is a 45-acre mature gravel pit – it’s a beautiful blue green colour and packed with naturals and massive catfish to 200lb, carp to mid-70s plus many other species to ridiculous sizes.

“The drive was around four hours from Calais with a rest stop thrown in. This trip was to be our second, the first on producing two mirrors at 50lb-plus and four at 40lb-plus and six around 30lb. The pegs we had booked were 1 and 2 - both doubles. These were the pegs on the DVD and we started to put a plan together, watching the DVD again and again, getting as much info as we could.

“I fish the left of peg 2 and my mate Steve fished the right. Going back to the DVD, Danny fished at 23 wraps and a foot to the bushes and 26 wraps to open water, so we used as much info as we could get - if it’s good enough for Danny, then that's our starting point too. I cast my marker up the margin and had a walk up to put some bait in and have a look to see how close I could get in to the bushes. I got to the cut back and nearly fell over - there were around 20 massive bream spawning, there was also a huge catfish and six of the biggest carp I have ever seen.

“I was testing a new baits from Aqua Dynamix, the Deliverz, so I broke some up and threw it in and the carp were on it straight away. I went back and deposited my rods to my chosen spots and put about 25 baits over each, as I always think about how much the previous anglers threw in before they left!

“The first night was quiet but I got some much-needed sleep and at around 9am I had my first run of the week. After ten knee shaking minuets the net went under a cracking 32lb mirror, we were off the mark! Just a point to look at - when we bring our rods back, we always check our hook points. For some reason they never come back as sharp as they went out.

“For this trip I was going to use the new Korda Dark Matter braid in 20lb. I like the stiffness of the braid, and it sinks like a stone. I had tested it before I went out and was casting 120 + yards with an anti tangle sleeve and no issues. I coupled this with a barbless size 6 Wide Gape as it is a barbless-only rule at Carpa-Sens. This was finished with shrink tube, a wafter and Dark Matter putty plugging the hole to get the balance right - it’s a confidence thing, I think.

“After being bothered by the bream for a period, my luck changed with a take on one of the outside rods. I thought a was attached to the ferry back to Dover, but after 50 mins and numerous soakings, in the sling lay a 49lb 8oz sturgeon. A good tip: if you do catch one, pull it straight into the sling it is safer for the fish and it will not get tangled in you net.”

“The following morning around 5.30am I had a couple of bleeps, as I walked to the rods it turned into a steady take but as I lifted the rod. all hell broke loose as it flat rodded me and nearly pulled me in. The knees went to jelly and Steve, who was trying to keep my calm, netted it first time.

“I was a wreck but Steve and Dave did the biz getting it from the net to the sling safely and the moment of truth - 66lb on the button. Somebody wake me up! We got the photos done quickly and broke out the carp care kit - it is so important we look after these amazing creatures as they are not only a photo in a book but also Olivier's livelihood.

“Two days later the same rod was away again and the fight was a repeat of the 66 capture, but Steve kept saying that it looked like a good 70-pounder, not helpful I might add! He netted it again first time and when he put it on the scales it went 63lb 2oz - what a beast.

“Olivier informed us that it was the fish on the front of the Korda DVD, so I finished where it all started, as it was the last carp I caught that week. I don't want to be too greedy, but I still want one of those commons as the 66 and the 63 were two of the fish I saw early in the week and put at mid 50s!

“So to finish off, can I say a massive thank you to Olivier for allowing us anglers from across Europe to fish such a beautiful place and to Danny and the guys at Korda for producing the tackle to make our dreams come true.”

The Masterclass 1 episode is available on this website – just use the tabs above to find the Tackling Commercial Lakes In France film – and you can find out more about the various lakes at Carpa-Sens via http://www.carpa-sens.com

The other side of Richie's 66-pounder

The same fish also starred in 2014's Masterclass 1 DVD, available to watch on this website