At 23 Bruno Simond is one of the youngest lake owners in France. As a dedicated carp angler from a young age he has committed a huge amount of time and effort into developing his skills as both an angler and fishery manager.
I had the pleasure of spending some time on the bank with Bruno, to delve under the surface of his journey and find out what led him to create one of the most promising exclusive-booking carp lakes in the country.
It’s an often over-used cliché to say that someone has an old head on young shoulders but Bruno Simond certainly fits that bill.
What he lacks in years he more than makes up for in drive and focus and I find myself sitting on the banks of a lake that he has dedicated the last two years of his life in creating.
Deux Iles is a secluded, exclusive booking lake, tucked away in the Normandy countryside. It’s been in the hands of Bruno’s family since his grandfather dug the lake and it is also the place where his lifelong love of angling was first discovered.
“My grandfather dug a number of lakes in this area around 50 years ago and kept this one in the family. So I started fishing with my father here at the age of five or six originally for pike and rudd.”
Inevitably though as time passed Bruno, like many other anglers, wanted to discover other species, including carp.
“When I was around 10 years old a friend of my grandfather gave me an old rod pod and some carp rods and I first started to fish for carp here.”
“I was so excited to be given the gear, so my carp fishing began and I caught my first one from this lake.”
These early encounters with the carp quickly developed his obsession, but it wasn’t just the catching that appealed to Bruno.
“I liked that carp fishing required more than just the fishing gear and you had to bring the kit to stay outside, it was an adventure.”
Carp lakes in France are not exactly in short supply so this young man’s sense of adventure and desire to take on a bigger challenge had him dreaming about some of the bigger public waters.
“I wanted a challenge and bigger fish. All the big public lakes in France are difficult. Not living close to them means you can’t just go and take a look at where the wind is coming from or where the carp are, but they are capable of delivering huge carp of over 80lbs.”
“The big lakes are very challenging and in a week you may only get one run, but there is a good chance it could be your personal best. That’s what I like about them so much.”
“It’s always great to fish with friends on these lakes. We stick all the stuff in the boat and go and find a wild, overgrown island and head out for a week or two. It’s very tranquil and nice to get away from other people.”
I enquire into how productive his big fish adventures have been and am greeted with a surprising response.
“I’ve not done that well so far. Having started fishing the big lakes over the last three years I’ve not had a big one yet, my biggest is only 50lb.”
His response astounds me and there is no sense that he is being boastful about his achievements to date. Clearly the bar is set somewhat higher than most with Bruno, as I can’t imagine too many anglers (myself included) being disappointed at having caught a 50lb carp.
We turn the conversation back to his own lake and it becomes clear that Bruno’s journey into establishing Deux Iles wasn’t always immediate.
In fact it was a desire to improve his English that inspired him on the path towards being a lake owner.
“After I left school I decided that I wanted to improve my level of English so looked at opportunities of working in England.
“Because I love fishing I thought to myself that I should contact businesses involved in fishing so I emailed lots of lakes but they all said no.”
One man that didn’t say no however was Tony Campbell.
The owner of a fish farm based on the south coast in England, he offered Bruno a position alongside students of the well renowned Sparsholt College, to work on the fish farm, gaining experience with both his language skills and fish management.
Tony’s business also has the unique prospect of a fish farm over in the USA, which is a bio-secure site where he grows stock from his original UK strains in the more amenable climate before returning them to the UK to be stocked in lakes across the country.
Bruno was obviously interested in having the opportunity to gain experience of living and working in the States, but never brought the subject up until a few months into his time with Tony, when he was offered the chance to go.
“I heard Tony speaking to other guys on the fish farm about his set up over in the USA and I thought to myself that I would love the chance to work over there.
“I didn’t ask him but when I was away on holiday with my father, Tony emailed me to offer me the chance to go and work at his USA farm, but with just two weeks to get organised!”
“I had to quickly check that my passport was ok but two weeks later I went over and it was amazing!”
During his time with Tony he began to realise that his ambition was to work with carp.
“All the time I was in England I was thinking about how I could work with carp when I returned home and, after six months, I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
“My family’s lake is next to the very famous lake called Molyneux which is promoted by Angling Lines. Wally, who runs the lake, was very encouraging and helped me to realise that I could turn our lake into a carp fishery.”
So from his earlier beginnings as a fisherman to his experience of the commercial side of the carp fishing industry in the USA and UK, Bruno returned home armed with knowledge and enthusiasm and decided to commit to turning the lake into what it is today.
“I’ve learned so much and it has helped me create this place. It is very special to say that.”
“I have built this place because I love carp fishing and I would like to see my carp grow very well.”
The lake is living proof that a dream can become a reality, but it’s not just dreaming that has helped him to create his water.
Hundreds of hours of hard work have gone into creating Deux Iles and the misconception that being a lake owner is a relaxing and tranquil way of life is quickly dispelled.
“I can’t count how many hours it has taken in the last two years to get to where we are today. I have had to do so much work to build the lake.
“I’ve also had lots of help from friends to develop the cabins, tracks and all the other areas of the lake that I couldn’t do on my own.
“I hope though that over time it will become mature and beautiful, just like Molyneux.”
It’s clear to see that his vision will become a reality before too long.
After such a huge effort for someone of a relatively tender age he could be forgiven for resting on his laurels. However I suspect there is more a lot more drive in this young man so I question him about what he hopes he can achieve in the future.
“I would like to make sure I improve the lake over the years and maybe, one day, open another lake or even get into fish farming over here in France.”
His time with Tony has certainly got his enquiring mind thinking about some unusual possibilities.
“I have thought about opening a fish farm here in France and sell British carp to the French!”
“Everyone over here produces carp that go across to be stocked in English lakes because they are bigger, but why not the other way around?!”
It’s not something I’d ever thought to consider so when I ask whether he feels that it would be viable for the carp to grow as big, he is quite confident that they would thrive.
“I don’t think it’s because the fish are born in England that they wouldn’t grow as big as French carp.
“I’m sure in France that with the weather they would grow very big and there aren’t many fish farms in France that produce carp as stunning as the linears and fully scaled mirrors in England.”
His vision sounds ambitious but, given his determination, I wouldn’t bet against it becoming a reality in a few years time.
I conclude our chat by asking him about his own fishing ambitions.
Inevitably his devotion to establishing the lake has taken its toll on his personal fishing time but he clearly has the drive to continue on his own angling adventure.
“I wouldn’t want to crowd the anglers on my own lake whilst they are enjoying their holiday so I would think that after I have checked on them each day I can still continue to enjoy my own fishing time on other lakes in the area.”
So Bruno’s journey has come full circle.
From the young boy that was first inspired to fish almost 20 years ago, he has allowed a dream to develop that has seen him return to where he first fell in love with the sport.
He has repaid that love in the form of hard work and vision to enable other anglers to come an experience his own little piece of French carp fishing heaven.
Having been privileged to experience it myself, I can certainly say that all his effort has been well worth it.
For more information about Deux Iles and how to book the lake, click here to view the Deux Iles venue page.