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Articles about Mas Bas Main Lake
Jun 2008 by Jamie Simpson
Set in the Garonne region of southern France, Mas Bas is a two lake complex containing carp to just under 50lb.
The larger of the two lakes is around 5 acres and the smaller just over 1 acre in size. Both contain fish in excess of forty pounds and can be booked exclusively. The accommodation at this venue is by far the best I have ever come across during all of my trips to France, with three fully furbished cottages, sky TV swimming pools and push bikes making this the perfect venue for all the family.
Local amenities are just a short drive away with Laroque Timbaut just a few kilometres away which has a couple of patisseries, a boucherie, small supermarche, a post office and a lovely restaurant that is reasonably priced. If you prefer a larger shop at one of the main supermarche, then Agen is only around a 20 kilometre drive, this is a fairly large city and has several large supermarche, countless restaurants, Mc Donalds if you prefer this, 2 or 3 tackle shops (these however only have minimal carp tackle and bait and are not the best). The whole region is covered with vineyards and there are quite a few of the warehouse type shops especially around Cahors (70 kilometres).
The main house overlooks the main lake and is situated just right of centre on the bottom bank. This is the biggest of the cottages and it can accommodate 8 people. The lake house also has its own private swimming pool and you can cast your rods almost right outside the front door if you so wish. Showers, washing machine, dish washer, sky TV really do make this a luxurious cottage.
Lotus cottage as the name suggests is situated over looking Lotus lake and also has its own swim on the main lake should you wish to fish on each lake. Again it is kitted out with all the mod cons including sky TV and this cottage will sleep 6 people. The swimming pool for this cottage is shared with Willow cottage and is just a short 100 yard walk from the lakes.
Willow cottage again overlooks Lotus lake and has it’s own outside dining and seating area giving the perfect view over Lotus lake. Again all the facilities are present except from sky TV (a DVD player is present). This cottage will comfortably accommodate 6 people.
The venue is owned by Gilles, whose father dug the lakes over 35 years ago, and his partner Leslie who is a district nurse. Originally run as a restaurant supplied with produce from Gilles farm, it was very popular throughout the region due to its fine cuisine and its famous Lotus flower which still reside in the Lotus Lake. I have to say I have never come across such a nice couple in all of my time fishing. Gilles is always just a phone call away and will guide you to the best way to approach the venue if you are struggling.
A few weeks prior to my arrival a group were fishing the venue when one of the gentlemen took ill with pneumonia and was rushed in to hospital; Leslie stayed with the family all night ensuring they were ok and continued to assist the family for a further 3 weeks until the gentleman could return to England. It is this care and consideration that stands this venue out from anywhere I have ever fished before.
Gilles had to don his knight in shining armour outfit for me during our stay. Firstly due to unseasonable bad weather the brook at the side of Willow cottage overflowed and flooded the kitchen. Gilles came out immediately (around 11.30pm) and returned every hour during the night to ensure it didn’t happen again.
Later in the week I had problems with my car where an electronic problem meant that it had no use of the accelerator. Gilles accompanied me to the nearest Renault Garage and translated the problem to the mechanic. This however didn’t cure the problem the first time and the same lack of an accelerator returned before we had even got back to the cottage. The following morning we returned the car the garage and whilst on route I managed to fall foul of the gendarmerie (police). Apparently I had failed to come to a complete stop at a junction and due to this had broken the law. Gilles managed to talk them into letting me off by telling them I was an English moron who had no idea where I was or what I was doing (or something along those lines). On the Sunday afternoon Gilles even phoned to check I had got home alright, what more can I say - a true gentleman.
If you don’t want the long drive down from Calais, then it is possible to fly down to several airports in the area. Bergerac, Bordeaux and Toulouse airports are all within a 1 hour drive of the venue. These flights can cost as little as £10 each way plus taxes.
Tackle can be hired for the week if you either can’t fit it all in or would rather fly with just your terminal tackle. Brand new 3.25lb Fox rods, Daiwa Emcast Advanced reels, Fox alarms, rod pods, bed chairs, bivvy’s, unhooking mats, scales and slings are all available.
Bait can also be purchased onsite. This includes tiger nuts, hemp, pellets and Quest Baits boilies. The venue currently stocks Rahja Spice, Fruity Trifle and Smokey Fish in either frozen or shelflife versions. Pop ups glugs and dips are also available. There really is no need to take much gear with you.
As previously noted there are 2 swimming pools on site which are maintained daily, there are several push bikes that can be used for free giving you and your family the opportunity to do a spot of sight seeing without having to use the car. Trust me this is such a beautiful area that you would much rather use the bikes anyway. With a large grassed area adjacent to the pool used by both Lotus and Willow cottages, there is plenty of room for badminton, volleyball or whatever else takes your fancy.
There are numerous restaurants in the area and can range from around 15 - 100 euros per head depending on how flush you are. I was fortunate enough to go to the abattoir for lunch with Gilles on the Thursday of my stay and I can whole heartedly recommend it. We both had a large Steak and chips with a lovely bottle of red wine for around 70 euros.
Agen has a 10 pin bowling alley just down the road from the Geant Casino Supermarche, if you fancy something a bit different. Again the region is famous for its wine and with vineyards situated almost everywhere, it is well worth arranging to visit one or two.
Having hopefully whetted your appetite for the venue I will now try to give the account of my week at this venue.
I knocked off work at 1 pm on the Friday afternoon. It had been a particularly difficult week due to it being our shutdown period and with me being responsible for the organising and running of our Maintenance team, shutdowns are generally when we get to do our planned Maintenance work. It had rained heavily most of the week which had disrupted our plans immensely. I really was ready for the break and although daunted by the long drive ahead of me, I was still excited about attempting to catch carp from another different water. Home in a flash and with the car loaded I was off to pick my co-driver Lawrence up from Wollaton. 3pm and we were on the M1 and heading south, luckily I had anticipated a busy rush hour on the M25 so the delays didn’t hinder us in making the 8.30pm ferry. Off the ferry at 11pm French time and after an hour I decided it was time for a break, so we pulled into one of the aire (rest areas) on the A1 for the night. Awake and back on the move around 5am with a slightly painful neck from the most uncomfortable sleeping position imaginable and we were hurtling towards Paris in an attempt to beat the rush hour on the peripherie. We just about made it although we were held up for a few minutes by a car that hadn’t been able to decide whether or not he wanted to leave the road so he had just drove straight into the concrete barrier and had left more bits of car on the road than Lewis Hamilton did in the Canadian Grand Prix.
South of Paris and on past Orleans down to pick up my wife Claire, my son Lucas and mother-in-law Carol from Limoges airport. To say we arrived early is a bit of an understatement, we now had to kill 4 hours before their flight arrived. Fortunately Lawrence had just purchased the latest all singing all dancing sat nav from Tom Tom, which unbelievably even takes you to the nearest McDonalds. Well it would be rude not to check that it actually works so lunch at McDonalds it was.
Once we had picked the rest of our entourage up it was another 3 hour drive down to Mas Bas. This may seem a long drive and it is but by breaking it up it doesn’t feel all that long at all. We arrived at around 6pm and after unloading the car of all the luggage, Claire and Lawrence nipped off to the local Supermarche to get a few essential supplies.
Our home for the week was Willow cottage. The ground floor consists of the Kitchen / dining area, a bedroom with double bed and en-suite bathroom, with the washing machine adjacent to this.
First floor consists of a large bathroom and shower, living room with TV and bedroom with 2 single beds. The top floor also has 2 single beds.
I decided that after such a long time on the road I wouldn’t even attempt to fish until the following day, so after a couple of glasses of red wine I was out for the count. Unfortunately for everyone else the rain outside was that bad that the brook burst its banks and flooded the kitchen. Gilles saved the day though and soon had the brook patched up and kitchen cleared.
First Night Success
Sunday morning and although the rain had ceased for now dark clouds were still all around the valley. I had a good walk around the lake and decided that I would fish from nearest the cottage, part of this was because of the amount of water it commanded, but to be honest the main reason was because it was closer to everyone and it was a family holiday after all. I decided to fish my left hand rod to some lily pads straight out in front, my middle rod was placed where the dirty water was gushing in from the main lake and my right hand rod was just positioned down the bank from the middle rod tight to an overhanging tree that had a few branches in the water.
I was fortunate enough to bump into Craig Lea-Hair who had been fishing Lotus the week prior to my visit and had stayed another week so as to have a crack at the main lake. He informed me that he had found Lotus tough and had managed just 1 fish for the week.
Undaunted by this though I felt confident that my tactics would work fine. I had total confidence in both my bait and my rigs so why wouldn’t I be confident.
Whilst chatting, Craig had a cracking run on his right hand rod and I had actually spotted the fish bolt before his alarm signalled the take. It wasn’t long before a decent sized fish was wallowing around in the margin in front of him. I could see it was a good fish and once he said his current pb was just short of 30lb I knew he was about to break his pb by quite a few pounds. I obliged with the net and Craig hauled it up. A lucky guess by me stating it was around 42lb as it settled on the scales at 42lb 8oz. A cracking looking fish that anyone would be more than happy to catch. Well done mate, well angled all week.
Around 11pm that evening and my left hander was away on Questbaits LiverB8. A feisty battle followed before a 20lb 6oz common lay an the mat. Unfortunately Lucas was long in bed by this time so missed out on his dad landing his prize. First light on the Monday morning and the middle rod was away. Unfortunately this fish shed the rig in the pads. Should I have given it a bit more stick? Should I have changed the rig to something a bit heavier? I don’t know but I don’t think it was a particularly big fish anyway.
Assessing the situation
My confidence was high, I had caught one and lost one on the first nights fishing. This is the time when I usually start building my plan as I feel I am understanding what is happening in front of me. Traps set again the following night and this time the right hander produces a common around 16 or so pounds. Then later in the night the middle rod is away again. This time a damned Coypew had managed to get the rig tangled in its foot. Now having had weils disease I can assure you I take every reasonable precaution to avoid coming into close contact with rodents where possible. Anyway this blooming thing is jumping around all over the place and causing a right commotion. This problem was soon dealt with although this had now ruined any chance of further action on that rod for the night.
I decided to keep trickling the bait into a few likely spots with the view to picking a few fish off during the days. All my action had come during the night and at first light so I wanted to try and maximise my time. I had agreed that I wouldn’t fish every night and that I would go sight seeing during some of the days, so I thought that prebaiting a few spots and then dropping a bait on the spot for an hour or so would be a productive approach.
Rain Rain Everywhere
As the week progressed the weather continued to cause problems, we had thunder storms each afternoon / evening until Wednesday and with Gilles having to keep adjusting the dam on Lotus to stop it from overflowing, the water level was up and down by over a foot during the week with unseasonable cold water being flushed through. The water was dirty until Wednesday which also made spotting fish difficult and I am sure unsettled them, after all this is the south of France in June and it is supposed to be scorching hot.
Wednesday afternoon and with the sun out for the first time we were straight in the pool. Lucas absolutely loves splashing around and although the water was a little on the cool side he still loved every minute of it especially throwing his toys in and me having to keep fetching them back.
During Wednesday morning we nipped into Agen for a trip to the supermarche and for lunch. On the way back the car started playing up where I had no acceleration and the car would surge between 2 and 3 thousand rev’s, I’d had this problem previously in England 6 months prior to this but believed it had been cured. Gilles offered to come with me to the local Renault garage where I could get it looked at.
The Renault mechanic reset the computer which controls the faulty part and I was away, he didn’t even charge me. Half way back to the cottage though and the fault had returned. Gilles offered to go back to the garage with me on the Thursday morning and try to get it put right. We set off for Agen at about 9am and left the car with the mechanic whilst Gilles showed me one of the tackle shops in Agen and also the river Garonne that he sometimes fishes. The river was well up and the current was immense. A daunting sight for anyone hoping to catch some of its carp. We stopped off for lunch and I helped Gilles pick up some supplies from a local hardware store before we headed back to the cottage. Gilles had contacted them during the day and they said the car would be ready the following morning, so an anxious night would be had hoping they could get it sorted before Saturday’s drive home. Leslie picked me up at 9am on the Friday to pick it back up, Unfortunately they had not been able to cure the fault completely, but had completely re programmed the computer and the mechanic seemed optimistic it would get me home alright, blow me he never even charged me for all the work and effort he had put in to fixing it. This really would be a different story in this country where they would probably charge £150 just to put it on a ramp.
The session unfolds
Unfortunately what with problems with my car, the weather conditions and it being more a family holiday, my fishing suffered and I never got amongst the bigger fish of Lotus lake, which has three fish over 40lb. I lost a couple of fish though so maybe I had a chance at one of them during my stay. There was an abundance of natural food for them to gorge themselves on during my stay as well with baby frogs, fry and a plethora of insect hatches that maybe put them on the naturals more than my bait during the week. The water level going up and down probably didn’t help either, all that said though I feel it now owes me and I will be going back to exact my revenge on the place in the not too distant future.
Carp Off The Top
For all those cynics out there that believe you don’t catch carp off the surface in France take a look at a couple of the fish caught off the top by Craig Lea-Hair and his family during the week. I was asked recently whether I knew anywhere in France that you could catch them off the top and at the time I said no, and was also sceptical of being able to catch them off the top myself. If asked again though I can honestly say, get yourself to Mas Bas. How many people would have even tried and put the effort in to go and stalk these fish off the surface. Again top angling Craig and well done to the girls for their catches.
Mas Bas is certainly the most professional and best run holiday venue for the whole family to visit where a new PB is a very real possibility for a lot of anglers. The area is absolutely beautiful and the owners are two of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet.
I would class the difficulty as moderate at Mas Bas, and although I struggled I put most of this down to the adverse conditions of the week. I will certainly be going back there in a couple of years, when Lucas is a bit bigger and can appreciate it more.
The tackle hire and close proximity to a fairly large city are also appealing as are the numerous vineyards in the region.