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Getting Ready For a Trip to France

Getting Ready For a Trip to France

We get lots of people that come into our shop excited that they have booked a fishing trip to France. Some are heading off within the near future and others have much longer to wait. Some have booked for the first time and still have over 12 months till their trip but are so excited you can hear them getting into a bit of a panic about how much gear they need to buy or think they need to buy. This is when I step in and try and help reduce their overthinking so they can relax and enjoy their experience.


We often hear people saying they need new rods and reels, and 30lb line so they have a better chance of landing the biggest fish in the lake! There are even some that start buying bait straight away to make it easier than buying it all at once. Some talk about needing over 100 kilos of bait whilst others say 10 kilos will be enough - and they take a pick and mix of kilo bags of boilies and mix them all together. The comments are endless so I thought I’d share my process and run through how I go about fishing in France for a week.

 

I can still clearly remember the first time I went carp fishing in France. I went to a lake called Jurassica 2 and I couldn’t wait to get there, thinking of all the huge fish I was going to catch. I spoke to a couple of friends who had been going over to France for many years and the advice they gave me was to just up the strength of my end tackle. Back then on my syndicate, I was using size 6-8 hooks and 12lb line with a 20lb coated hooklink which was ESP Striptease in green. Because I had so much trust in the rigs I was using, I used the same hooklink material, but upped the size of my hooks to size 4 Nash Fang Twisters and upped my line to 15lb as I knew at the time I was going out the lake only had a few weed patches and it was quite flat so I could let the fish run. When I got out there the fishing had been slow as the carp had just finished spawning and it was very hot for the time of year. I got a bit nervous about the size of the hook as it looked bigger than what I was then used to but the owner Steve said, these French carp are feeding fish and have harder mouths so don’t worry you will get them. It wasn’t so much of the hook size as I personally don’t believe the fish can see the hook when they come into feed as their eyes are in the wrong position. Or if they did see it how do they know what it is? I was more concerned that I’d have trouble balancing the rig out to work correctly. Should I have worried? No, as I ended up having a great week mainly using 2 x 20mm boilies as my hook bait.


So what I’ve learnt over the years is to keep my fishing similar to how I fish over here but just step it up a bit. Do a bit of homework on the lake, there are plenty of places like forums on Google or other internet search sites or even on YouTube. But when getting info be sure to get the latest information you can. I know that seems like common sense but I only fished a lake a couple of years ago and some lads told me it was extremely weedy, only to find out a few weeks before I went they had treated the weed a while back and there was hardly any left in there. Also just because the lake was fishing well a few months ago, doesn’t mean it will be when you get out there.


I feel that a lot of people think that they will go to France and it will be easy and catch a lot of fish but this can be very far from the truth. You can fish all sorts of waters in France from small intimate venues to inland seas. Some of the lakes are rammed full of fish and some have a few select fish for the angler that wants a challenge and a chance at catching a special fish so do your homework before booking.


Once I know the venue I’m going to and have done some research on it I will start to get my gear together a couple of weeks before. Firstly I’ll make a checklist on my phone in my notes (if I wrote it on some paper I’d only go and lose it!). The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to mentally go through setting up my gear in my head. I start with my Bivvy which I always set up first once I know the swim I’ll be fishing and then my bivvy wrap goes next. I know some of you will be thinking, why use a winter skin unless you are fishing when it is really cold? I used it because the first time I went to France I learnt that when it gets extremely hot that second skin can help keep the temperature in your bivvy slightly cooler than without it. Also the storms you get in France can be extreme at times and that extra skin can help keep the bad weather out. Also, the wrap gives you places to store a chair or boots outside of your bivvy depending on the size of the wrap and how generous it is.


After this, in my head, I put my bed in the bivvy with a sleeping bag, pillow and chair. Then I think of my set-up, rod pod, bank sticks and buzz bars knowing that my alarms are in my tackle bag with spare batteries because unless you have standard batteries it can be a pain to try and find something different. Next, I go through placing my rod set up on my pod also noting all terminal tackle that is in my tackle bag where my alarms are. Next is landing nets, I always take two landing nets if you can use your own on the lake as I’ve been caught out before. 


Then I think of baiting the rigs so have I got all my hook baits and my bait I'm going to use as loose feed. Also, I think of how I’m getting the bait out - throwing stick, catapult or bait boat and I take all three as you never know. 


Once I’ve gone through all of the setting up of my gear and my home for the week I think of the things I will need for a comfortable stay. These are things like, lights, head torches, battery chargers and cooking gear, like pots and pans, plates, cups and utensils. Also food, drink (which I buy in France) and my clothes. Remember with your clothes to pack wet gear as well, also extra clothes because if the weather is bad and you keep getting wet it can be hard to get your clothes dry and there's nothing worse than being cold and wet. I also start making sure all batteries are changed fully for lights and my bait boat and anything else that may need it and don’t forget to charge your power pack.


 Just going back to bait, hook baits and loose feed, don’t overcomplicate it by putting in pots and pots of hook baits and different flavoured boilies. Keep it simple by just taking a couple of different coloured hook baits, I like White, washed-out pinks and yellow and I normally take about 30 kilos of boilies of the same flavour. Once you start taking different flavours and mixing them up too much you can just overdo it and confuse yourself. 


This is the way I deal with hoping I haven't forgotten anything but we all do now and then - just DON'T forget your Passport! 

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