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Articles about Mas Bas Lotus LakeSomething a bit special!
May 2003 by Mark Parker
(This article first appeared in the July edition of "Improve Your Coarse Fishing" and is reproduced with kind permission)
At first it felt like we'd never get here. Originally booked to fly with Buzz, they get bought-out by Ryan Air, then Ryan Air promptly cancel our flight - marvellous! Then by pure luck I get a cancellation and better still - it's for four. I couldn't help thinking is it worth all this effort? But, as I stood on the balcony of our villa, looking out over the lotus garden, watching 2lb roach and rudd skitter, hither and dither on the surface I knew it was more than worth it.
|We arrived at Mas Bas in blazing hot sunlight; the sun's beams gently toasting our surroundings. After a quick beer with our hosts, Gilles and Lesley, we got to work setting up the rods. Mas Bas does for carp fishing, what Lourdes does for lepers and cripples? The sheer beauty of the place can knock you sideways, cleansing you from your normal waking life and immersing, almost baptising your soul in nature. Lucky for us the French have realised that rather than barbecuing carp, the English will pay good money to catch them. In this respect more and more fisheries like Mas Bas are springing up, although few offer as much tranquillity.||
With the rods set-up and the lake plumbed, it was revealed that our bank margin was seven feet in depth, with the lake gently slopping up to four feet on the opposite side some 100 yards away. To this end, my first rig was a zig-rig, set at three foot with a Heathrow Bait Services Indian Spice 14mm pop-up as bait. The other rig was constructed with Gardner Tackle's Super Skin hook length, an Incizor hook and completed with a Heathrow Strawberry Dream 14mm bottom bait and a 12mm Choc 'o' malt pop-up. Both of these where pumped out around 80 yards at either end of a large raft of lily pads. Andy (Mr. Pie) Botterill, my best friend and fishing companion adopted a similar approach, with the exception of an Ultimate Baits Tiger nut boilie on one rod, and a HBS strawberry and chocolate on the other. The first rod he placed mid lake, over a baited area of Tiger nuts, the other to his left, hard under a tree on the opposite bank.
As a bit of fun, and also to serve as a distraction, Mr. Pie also brought his Black Magic 2 carp pole. Fishing at five metres over a bed of brown crumb mixed with a bottle of Sensas hemp oil and Sensas tutti-fruitti sweetcorn, the float buried with-in ten minutes of being in the swim. A deep olive flanked and primrose yellow bellied tench taking the double corn hookbait. Another couple of tench and a bream of some 6lb came in the next hour before the combination of bright sunshine and heat put the fish off feeding.
A further four fish-less hours followed. However, far from being bored, the simple pleasure of merely sitting by the water listening to the crickets chirp and watching swallows diving in the dying light of the oncoming sunset was enough to melt the heart of even the most hardened of city dwellers into an appreciation of the countryside. If it weren't for the soft breeze whispering in from the south, delicately rippling the lakes surface, you would have thought you were looking at a painting atop a chocolate box. Nothing disturbed the peace and tranquillity of the scene; nothing except the loud sound of splashing as Mr. Pie repositioned his two baits!
Day two brought a very early start- 4.30am to be precise. We were looking to catch the dawn but also wanted the baits to be in position long before that dawn broke. Changing our original plan slightly, abandoning the zig-rig for Strawberry Dream and Choc 'o' malt snowman rigs. These two baits critically balanced themselves perfectly, negating the need for rig putty or shot. Armed with fresh baits, the rigs were hurled into the bitumen black pre-dawn to hopefully await leviathan. Mr. Pie also deviated slightly, rather than loose feed, he PVA bagged a handful of tiger nut boilies with some Ultimate Bait's tiger nut juice and presented this in his mid-lake swim.
At 6.07am Mr. Pie's alarm broke the silence, screaming like a banshee giving a positive indication of the first carp of the trip. A beautiful mirror carp with a handful of scales along both sides of its dorsal fin. After 10 minutes of sleep fuelled madness, one of us forgetting his headlamp, (no names Pie!), it was netted, weighed at 21lb 4 oz, photographed and slipped back.
Sitting back to enjoy the sunrise and a well-earned cuppa, Mr. Pie took up his pole line again. Half an hour later the new day was well underway. "Fish on", shouted Pie, "no, make that a big fish on, my 20 elastic has just bottomed out!" 25 minutes later the elastic was still at full stretch with the pole at 90 degrees, creaking like an old pirate ship. If this wasn't chaotic enough, my right-hand rod roared off. "Liz... Liz... LIZ!" Mr. Pie screamed for he knew that his partner was up and about in the kitchen. "We need some pictures taking, we've both got fish on!"
|My fish put up a spirited scrap but was no match for my 3lb-test curve rod. At 16lb 7oz it was a fin perfect common - sadly equalling my personal best. Bugger! Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Pie was starting to win his fight and had managed to get the carp's head up. Moving out onto the precarious pontoon close to our swim, I netted the fish and carefully made my way back to the bank. "My god, it's huge!" exclaimed Pie, and indeed it was, tipping the scale at an impressive 30lb 2oz.||
Similar to the previous day the bites slowed and eventually stopped as the cloud cover that we had enjoyed was burnt off. Revealing a balmy, tropical day, typical to the south of France. The good thing, if there is a good side to high pressure and red-hot sunshine when you're fishing was a cooling breeze that came in putting a three-inch ripple over the water's surface. Hopefully adding some much-needed oxygen into the algae-green water. Time to reel in, in order to see what the area has to offer. This would also keep our respective other halves happy as they were extremely fed-up of talk about boilies, rigs, carp, where to cast and what rigs to use.
Arriving back at Mas Bas at around 6.30pm the day was starting to cool, much more conducive to carp fishing. But oh no, disaster! While we were out, the dog that lives on-site had managed to claw open my kilo bag of Richworth Bio-plex Dumbell boilies and devour the lot. It had also managed to have a good go at the tiger nut boilies as well, before deciding that it was full!
"Looks like we'll be using Heathrow Baits for the rest of the time," I said.
Baiting up with the now old-faithful strawberry and chocolate snowman presentation, the rigs were recast to their respective areas as the single or be it double hookbait approach seemed to be working. Similar to the pervious night the fish were refusing to show themselves and the only ones that did show were spawning. And as we all know, a carp with sex on its mind will not be on the feed. With a storm brewing and another run of tench and bream I was beginning to think that Mas Bas was not going to give up it inhabitants easily. Upon taking the water temperature is when we discovered why the carp weren't feeding aggressively; it was 24oC! A little on the warm side you might say. With barely any action for the rest of the night I decided to retire back to the villa. And with far too much Kronenburg coursing through my veins, a good night's sleep seeming to out weight the chance of catching a carp.
|The following morning it was back up at 5am to catch the dawn feed. The pervious nights storm threat failing to materialise, and with not a breath of wind in the air the lake as flat as the world before Columbus. A small deviation in the plan again however. This time I cast one rod around 100 yards to the edge of a very large lily patch, one that dominated the entire bottom corner of the lake. The second bait was launched again around the 100-yard mark, to the far bank margins, between two small lily beds. True to its current form, the bait had only been in the water around about 20 minutes when my left-hand rod roared off this time. With a quick hop, step and jump I was on the rod, a hefty strike to take out the stretch in the mono and the fish was on. Having never caught a big carp before, only big pike I wasn't sure what to expect from the fight. Unlike a pike, it sadly didn't go berserk at all. There were a few big lunges as the rod bent into its fighting curve but after that the rest was a little disappointing. Less like a fish and more like dragging an open umbrella through the water I only knew that it was a big fish, at this point I didn't know how big?|
Two minutes later we got our answer as Mr. Pie kindly slipped the net under it and the fish was mine. Looking at the thickset, broad-shouldered mirror laying in the net, "that's got to be a high 20," I said, "maybe even a thirty?" Once in the weigh sling the scales flew round to 28lb 8oz, not quite my dream 30, but a very admirable fish. None the worse for her ordeal, she was returned to the water where she swam away strongly, giving the pair of us a good soaking in the process. This I didn't mind, especially as I had just beaten my personal best by some 11lb!
As was becoming the common theme, as soon as the dawn broke the fish activity died off. Then at around 9am the gods stopped smiling on us and the heavens literally opened. With thunder rolling and lightning flashing, the rain stopped play as they say in cricketing circles. There was also no way that I was going to stand with 13 feet of wet, electricity conducting carbon in my hand. All we could do was wait.
Sadly the storm ran all that day, stopping sometime in the middle of the night. On Sunday morning we awoke to a totally different day. The weather had brought in a cold front, the air temperature dropping to 16 degrees. This caused the lake to steam like a Turkish bath, the haze rising thickly, dancing over the surface of the water. It almost seemed to resemble the ghosts of past anglers, prancing and cavorting in front of us. Maybe they had come to mock or to try and offer advice and encouragement - who could tell. All I knew was the air pressure was through the roof, the water temperature was very high and the fish refused to feed.
Some while later, sitting back and looking over the lake I got to thinking, although we had caught only five carp on the trip, I had experienced things that most people would never know in their lifetime. Both Pie and myself had smashed our PB's. Although his was all the more special as it had come on the pole. A feat that could stand as a record in it's on right. And even with all the ups and downs of the week- the fish, the rain, the early mornings, the lack of sleep and the raging hangovers. I now knew what the
French mean by the term 'C'est la vie', or 'such is life', as this was the kind of life that one could never tire of.