14.05.15

Perfect prep for a Euro trip - Marc Cavaciuti

How quickly time flies - it felt like only days ago we were booking up our holiday. Now it was ten grown men giggling like children in an empty Dover car park full of anticipation for what was sure to be a trip to remember.

Months and months passed of us pestering each other on our holiday WhatsApp group about our long overdue French trip to Crystal Waters, a place that has built up an exceptional big fish list over the last few years. The homework was done, the van loaded and as we waited to be collected I for one couldn't wait to be peering into the crystal-clear depths of a lake that holds fish to over 70lb.

Holiday carp fishing isn't cheap and fishing has too many variables for any outcome to be set in stone. Just like when fishing at home, NOTHING beats being prepared, however when you’re in a different country you can't just disappear to a tackle shop.

There are, however, things that you can put into place to reduce the risk of a wasted trip. Here are some "rules" that I like to stick to, hopefully they'll be of some use to you!


RULE 1: PICK A VENUE THAT SUITS

So you've seen the leviathans your lake holds in catalogues, online and in magazines - your mouth is watering! Before you ring up and part with your hard earned cash, do your research.

The internet is a powerful tool - the carp forums can be very hit or miss but YouTube will give you a great insight. We all like to test ourselves but pick a venue that suits your angling ability. A week is a long time to be sat watching dolphins flop out at 160 yards knowing at best that you've never fished beyond 60 yards back at home - fish to your strengths and pick your venue to suit them.


RULE 2: DO YOUR HOMEWORK

So the venue is booked and paid for, now for the wait that seems to go on forever, use this time to nail everything down. Like rule 1, there is information out there on nearly everything if you want to find it. Google Earth is a massive edge, it can show the shallows, bars, the distances to any islands - it really is a great tool.

Are any swims hotter than the others? What info does a Google search bring? What are the forums saying? Anyone been from your Facebook friends? French venues can differ massively to lakes we have at home, some house snags like sunken farmhouses and others are full of the mischievous bait robbing
poisson chat catfish and crayfish.

How much end tackle am I likely to get through? Is my line strong enough? Am I going to be casting long distances? Am I prepared?? Bring spare spools of line, bring spare spods, enough leads and PVA. It will only be a trip of a lifetime if you are ready for it - spend your money wisely and double/treble up on items that are going to be used. Do your homework and be prepared!!


RULE 3: BAIT CHOICE

Bait choice is a huge piece of the puzzle and should not be overlooked.
What is the situation with nuisance species? 12mm baits won't last long if it's full of roach and bream. What sort of range do you anticipate fishing? Does your venue have bait freezers so you can keep your bait fresh?

For my trip I took with me Sticky Baits Krill, for the simple reason that I have 100% faith in it and if I'm away for a week and the bites are slow, I want to be sat behind something I have faith in. Remember, just because you are in France it doesn’t mean it will be non-stop action!

Hearing about some bream, I opted to take with me 45kgs of 20mm baits, not only are these easy to bait with but due to their size they also make great chop baits and offer variation – but more on this later.


RULE 4 - PREPARE FOR THE SWIM DRAW

This is the part where, more often than not, mistakes are made due to the excitement. Most French holidays the bailiffs will be there to give you a guided tour of the lake - this is the chance to hear about the swims, the features and what's occurred the previous week. Use this information wisely and don't be afraid to ask questions: "Are there any out-and-out big fish swims?" is my favourite.

Take a pen and paper with you and mark out you swim choices, number one to X - don't leave this to memory! A few French stubbies back at the lodge and you'll have forgotten!

If you are seeing fish then others are seeing them too, and if your perceived hot area is surrounded by swims ask yourself how will they respond to 12 lines being cast out around them? What effect will the marker floats and spods being thrashed at them have?

It may seem a gamble, but it could pay off to set up away from them. Remember that French fish are as pressured - if not more pressured now than most lakes at home with ten anglers with three rods each for the best part of eight months a year. Play the game and fish cute - I always try and pick a swim with a lot of water and options.


RULE 5 - KNOW WHAT'S IN FRONT OF YOU

Chances are you are exhausted from travel, so once in your swim use this time wisely - set up your home allowing yourself plenty of room to allow for casting and taking in a good view of your part of the lake.

Don't rush to get fishing - it seems mental as it's what you came for but I like to spend a few hours mapping out my swim. I'd be gutted to lose a fish of a lifetime on an underwater snag I didn't know existed, or miss out on the ten-bites-a-night plateau simply because I was rushing. Plan ahead and plan for the nights. On my trip the spot I was fishing was at 132 yards beneath an over hanging tree on an island, but the spot itself, although tight, was big enough for two rods.

I love fishing two rods tight on one heavily baited spot, if I get a bite then another rod is still sitting pretty and I have a chance of another quick bite. However, due to the spots tight nature I didn't want to recast in the darkness.

The trick I deployed was to fish another spot (my after dark re-chuck spot) It was measured to the same 33 wraps and was fished on an area of fine gravel and sand towards a telegraph pole in the horizon. I baited this spot with 5kg a day, just the same way as the island spot. If I had a take during darkness then I'd simply re-wrap up and fish over this spot, with both rods if needed.

This trick worked a treat; my casting pattern was unaffected, hitting the clip with the same force time and time again. This re-chuck spot has the added benefit of being rested throughout the day with no baited rigs, allowing any grazing fish to visit the spot and feed confidently. If fished correctly you really can get both spots within your swim fishing.


RULE 6: LIKE CARP ONLY BIGGER!

Rig talk: do not over complicate it! Remember, these are big fish with big mouths and big appetites - you will get chances! The last few feet must be strong enough to land whatever it is you are lucky enough to hook.

In my experience abroad I have always faired well with snowmen rigs. Our venue was crystal clear and it was evident that they loved a fluoro-tipped snowman, they were definitely sight feeding during our stay.

Danny's IQ D-rig in 15lb incorporating a size 4 Krank fished to a hybrid lead lip and 4oz lead was too much for the fish to deal with. Due to the distance I was fishing, I had to whittle down the 20mm bottom bait to be able to hit my spots in very windy conditions.

These rigs were fished over a daily helping of 5kg of my krill mush. I allowed whole and half baits made with the Korda Kutter to be washed out in lake water with added sea salt and krill powder, until the baits became soft enough to mush by hand.

Having seen fish feed in clear water and the clouding up effect they cause, I always try and emulate this response. In the past I have spodded out clay from the lakes margins, however on this trip I added more cloudy liquid krill to the mix to form a hanging flavour trail over the spots in my swim.

It certainly seemed to do the trick as I managed six bites during my week stay that actually occurred whilst spodding out at midday - a time I usually write off as being unproductive!

Most importantly, remember that you are on holiday. Enjoy yourself - the fish will come, enjoy the moments with your friends, fish strong and fish safe.

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