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5h 9m Caen

Articles about Alder

Wonderful Alder
Oct 2009 by Ron Key

There’s becoming a pattern to my trips to France and it usually involves a dispute between me and the sat nav and getting lost. This trip was to be no different. We had fished a few days at another Angling Lines venue Lillypool and at ten in the morning we were packed up and loaded. The sat nav was set and ready to go, and at the very first major roundabout I left at the wrong exit and missed the motorway. I expected the sat nav to recalculate as usual and get us back on the motorway as soon as possible, but we drove and drove on traffic free roads through beautiful countryside. Still no motorway but we headed east then south through the departments of Cher and Indre. We passed by Chateauroux, and then stopped for coffee and brioche in La Chartre, eventually dropping down into the department of Creuse. No traffic, no tolls and we did not loose a minute off our schedule. Arriving at remote village of Nouzerines, we then followed Angling Lines directions and we were soon pulling into the farm gate at Les Fragnes.

There are two venues at the Les Fragnes, Notaires with its gite and exclusive fishing of two small lakes closeby and Alder the newly opened lake in the valley below where we were heading. Getting out of the car was a very strange experience; I’ve yet to find a carp lake in the UK or France without some sort of background noise from traffic or aircraft. I opened the car door and there was not a sound, complete silence, so peaceful

Chris and Steph emerged from their cottage to greet us and were soon introducing us to their amazing array of llamas, alpacas, cats by the score, ducks, chickens, turkeys and dogs. I’m sure there are more but my memory fails me. Notaires and the cottages are on the top of a hill and Chris told us to drive along the track around the adjacent field then down to the lake. As I turned and the road fell away I don’t think I was prepared for the view. I fished for many years in France, visited hundreds of lakes and Alder is about as near my perfect carp lake as you could get. Around 5 acres, nestled in a natural bowl surrounded by the alders that gave it its name, thick woodland and open rolling fields. It is fed by two streams either side of the wooded point, with depths from less than a metre to nearly five, stocked with fast growing Royale hybrids and as near to a vigin lake as you could ever find. Alder has been virtually unfished. Was I excited, you bet I was.

French carp fishing As I turned and the road fell away

Chris had walked down to join us and show us around. There are two cabins at the lake, one houses the toilet and the other the kitchen facilities. They are clean but pretty basic and there is no running water, Chris delivers the water on a daily basis, and if you are very lucky some delicious very free range farm eggs. Showers are available a short walk up the hill to the farm, and a new shower block for those fishing at Alder is to be constructed in the barn. Believe me that short walk is a small price to pay.

French carp fishing
French carp fishing

The Facilities      

It was getting late and the light was starting to fade. Ken had seen some fish bubbling off and very quickly decided to fish off the centre of the dam wall. I couldn’t settle that quickly and did a quick circuit of the lake, eventually arriving at a swim that gave me access to the point at the opposite end of the lake and a large area of the open water. A few casts with the marker rod soon informed me that the water in front of me varied from 5 to 9ft deep, and was generally hard with a thin covering of silt. There was one area to my left that was 5ft, hard and rocky and clear of silt, at least that was one rod taken care of. Time to think about the others as the bivvy went up. Later that night as I sat with a glass of red I located the World Service on my radio. It didn’t last long, it was far too intrusive and I switched it off and sat watching the lake revelling in the peace and quiet.

French carp fishing
Ken quickly set up on the dam wall
French carp fishing
My swim gave me access to the point

After an uninterrupted nights sleep I walked around to see Ken. “Any Luck?” “Not a beep” was the reply and instantly the middle rod raced off. The fish fought incredibly hard in the deep water eventually kiting into the corner on Ken’s right. He pumped the rod and wound as he walked along the dam to the fish and finally netted a beautiful 19 1/2lb mirror. I unhooked the fish and as Ken place his rod back on the pod his left had rod tip pulled around and very soon another deep bodied mirror weighed in at 17lb 10oz. Excitement over, it was back to my swim for bacon and eggs. Farm fresh eggs of course. Later that morning a fish rolled in the margin. I Iobbed a Surf n Turf bottom bait complete with a pva bag of Maximum Action Pellets in the direction of the fish and very soon was rolling a 6 or 7lb grass carp into the landing net.

French carp fishing
Instantly the middle rod roared off!
French carp fishing
19lb 8oz goes back
French carp fishing
Another deep bodied mirror

The following morning at 7-30 Ken had a PB. It was an 8lb+ grass carp a species he had not caught or seen before on the bank. The heavy rain prior to our arrival had coloured the water and today it had started to clear. Throughout the night fish had been crashing under the trees adjacent to the point, so I wound in and walked around the lake and through the woods. As I approached the waters edge I could see that the clear shallow margins were stacked with carp. A twig cracked under my boot and the water erupted, branches shook and mud clouds appeared everywhere. I stayed quiet and the carp soon were back in their positions safe in the snags.

French carp fishing French carp fishing

I'm not a great fan of snag fishing and certainly would not consider sleeping while the rods are close to them. You can imagine how I felt when I finally located the fish; I had to get them out. I loose fed around a kilo of Surf n Turf boilies into the snags in a line running towards the end of the point, and then laid a line of boilies into the centre of the bay. The plan was to lure the carp into an area where I was happy to hook them. One rod went onto the end of the point then the other into the open water in the centre of the bay. The baiting process was repeated later that evening. I had a few liners in the night and then early next morning in the pouring rain the point rod flew off. There was a loud crash as the fish cleared the water and then kited into the centre of the lake. 20lb 2oz, my first carp from the lake and it was not long before the bay rod joined it. This fish stayed low in the water, plodding around in nine feet of water and taking line at will, not a frantic fight just powerful. I was glad to see it in the net three or four attempts at netting left me fearing that the hook would pull. I need not have worried; the fish was hooked securely in the middle of the bottom lip. What a fish, a fantastic deep bodied chestnut mirror, and checking the condition of its mouth I could not see any sign of it being hooked before. Sure I had landed my first Alder thirty I slipped it into the sling and the display on my scales soon stabilised at 29lb 10oz. All the fish hooked were landed and any damage that the snags could have caused avoided. Surf 'N' Turfs certainly got some pulling power.

French carp fishing
My first carp at the lake
French carp fishing
29lb 10 oz

I walked to the dam to let Ken know about the mornings’ action, but he had a battle of his own. Carp had also been showing in the margins to his right the previous day. After walking along the dam a flicking a bait under the overhanging bushes, he was easily able to throw some boilies through the branches which landed around his hookbait. A couple of beeps on his alarms the line lifted from the water and his rod started to curve. The following fight was incredible, Ken has had fish in excess of fifty pounds and he said that he had never experienced anything like it. I lost count of the number of times we thought the carp was beaten. 8, 9, or 10 times the fishes head came up and I dipped the net, and 8. 9. or 10 times it rolled and dived tearing line off his spool leaving Ken to tease it back up from the depths. This one was definitely a thirty, 35lb 2oz to be precise and absolutely fin perfect!

French carp fishing

35lb 2oz

It rained for the rest of the day, the chance you take when you fish in October. I repeated my baiting schedule on the point and in the bay twice as I had the day before. At around 1-15 in the morning I heard a couple of beeps from the point rod. I got out of my sleeping bag and watched as the line lightened slightly then stopped. I waited and nothing further happened. I held the line between my fingers and waited but could feel no movement, so I slackened off the line and went back to bed. I couldn’t get back to sleep and as I lay and listened to the fish crashing around me; the rod leapt from the buzz bars. I was on the rods in an instant but the carp was now racing towards me. I franticly wound in the slack line and eventually contacted the fish along the tree line to my right. The fish had raced almost 100 yards back towards me. Plunging the rod into the deep margin water kept my line out of the branches and a 21lb 8oz mirror was soon in the net.

French carp fishing
The rod leapt from the buzz bars
French carp fishing
21lb 7oz
French carp fishing
Ken shouted he had just had a 24-7

At eight in the morning the line tightened slightly again. This time there was no hesitation and I hit it. Fish on! This one zig zagged around in front of me as constant changes in the direction of line pressure kept it away from the submerged stump to my left. 21lb 7oz and one delighted angler. While I was playing it Ken shouted over that he had just landed a 24lb 7oz mirror. This was followed by a twelve pounder that roared around like a rally car and completely trashed Kens other rods.

This was a short visit and we were preparing for our last night at Alder. It’s a beautiful place and it had certainly fulfilled its early promise. The fish are stunning, many have never been caught and don’t react to getting hooked as you would expect. They are some of the hardest fighting fish I’ve hooked on my visits to France, and I’m sure that Ken will support that. His arms are still aching after his 35.

Most of my action had been on the baited areas around the point and one rod had produced nothing. For the last night I rebaited the shallow rocky area I had located on the first day. I used Quest Chilli Chocolate as free offerings with a chilli chocolate snowman rig. Very early the next morning a rod screamed off. I had moved the rods around on the bars for the last night, and confused and half awake thought I was playing another fish off the point. As I lifted my rod tip the line pulled into the branches to my left, big mistake! I played the fish as well as I could, and then a stroke of luck the weight of the fish pulled the line off the branch and a 19lb 6oz was soon in the net.

French carp fishing A great end to our Alder visit

As we packed away our gear Ken was telling me that he had not had any indication or heard a fish during the night. The cue for his middle rod in the deep hole in front of the dam to signal his Rahja Spice boilie had been picked up. At 23lb 8oz it was a great ending for our Alder trip. Not the last visit I hope.

French carp fishing

Ron Key

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Angling Lines, PO Box 761, CHESTERFIELD, S40 9NS
Registered at Companies House, Cardiff. Company Number 4122063

All contents © Copyright Angling Lines. All rights reserved.