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Articles about MolyneuxA Summary of our Trip to France
Jun 2014 by Tim Hayes
Socks with sandals, one broken rod, Plonker of the Day, Only fools and horses, Top Cat, Tea Cosy, Teabag, Wogan, Sleepy, Thunder & lightning, food piled high, stunning lake, easy journey, ‘Dad!!!!!’, gear stuffed in, too much stuff,’ Bermondsey’ vocab! Wally & Helen, Rudi & Mabel and a couple of Carp……
Watties Danglers, a group of like minded and ultra professional Carp Catchers, set off on May 17th on a much anticipated journey to Molyneux Carp Lake in Normandy, France.
When I say much anticipated, it was like a two year old at Christmas for the weeks leading up to departure, loss of sleep, loss of appetite (not so sure about that for Big Frank and his double double) and questions about bait, rigs, weather, even down to what T-shirt to wear on the journey out, oh yeah, we were ultra prepared and professional…..matching T shirts saw to that.
Meeting at the Eurostar terminal at Folkestone at 4am on Saturday, we were all keen to go, and it was great to meet up again. Frankie had designated himself as trip documentary maker, so on turning up he had camera and mike swinging from his neck, although what caught the eye most was the stunning TFG plastic sandals and socks and shorts combination, clearly it had been dark when he set off in the morning…..but he would have the last word on that little fashion ensemble over the coming days.
Folkestone at that time of the morning is like a queue at the Five lakes Carp show……lots of sad blokes in head to toe realtree with eyes full of wonder muttering ‘smashed it’ under their breath……unfortunately we fitted in quite nicely.
Quick trip under the Channel and we were off and running, driving towards Rouen at full pelt, with the plan to grab a coffee after an hours drive.
Our guide for the drive down was Phil the Taxi, Dad! Or Sleepy, by the end of the week he would answer to any of these, but only if you shouted very loudly….Phil has mastered the art of selective hearing……3am in the morning shouting for help with a fish from 20 yards no chance, at 6pm the sound of Helen opening a bottle of white he could hear that from half a mile away. Phil also has a lovely camera.
Ryan, a lovely lad who clearly had prepared well for the trip, did get a little confused when we stopped for Coffee, by thanking the bewildered checkout girl with a loud and confident ‘Danke’…..he looked really pleased with himself until his error was subtly pointed out……….dummkopf!
By way of a local supermarket for a quick stock up on essentials……French Monster munch equivalent for Frankie, we eventually arrived at the lake.
We were overexcited to say the least, we were about to pull the wrapping from the presents, we were actually here, all the banter all the chat, we were now here.
Our host for the week, Mr Wally Gibb, he of the cool hat, arrived to open the gate and in we ploughed, and on parking up we were met by the glamorous side of the Hosting team, the pink haired and always smiling Helen………a wizard in the kitchen, a dab hand with a cork and an angel with the tumble dryer.
A few brews later and we were off for a tour of the lake.
Like the rest of the Realtree gang who book trips like this, we had all pored over the website and studied the catch reports, drooled over Redmire type swims and pictures of chunks…..now we were actually here, it was real. Leading up to the trip there had been some banter and psychological war games over who wanted what swim, we all had an idea of where we wanted to fish, all imagining our choice would be the one and they would be crawling up our lines.
After the walk around, and some further mind games, Wally oversaw the draw. Tim came out first, very controversial as for weeks before he had wound the others up about a ‘bung’ to Wally to fix the draw………but as we will see first in the draw is not always best. Tim chose Jack’s swim and Kevin decided to fish that with him, plenty of room for two Bivvies, plus Kevin was Tim’s designated coffee bitch for the week. Ryan came up next and chose the Double, Phil then took Social 2, Paul the Lodge and finally Frankie with Stones.
Like the Whacky Racers we were in the cars and off to our swim’s in a cloud of dust, bursting to get lines in the water.
The weather was warm and sunny, not many fish showing, but with 45 fish caught the week before and 95 the week before that, we were hopeful of catching a few.
To be honest we were all secretly hoping to have a fish by Saturday tea time, however that was not to be, with the highlight on Saturday being a magnificent Lasagne and chips served up by Helen. Saturday night passed quietly.
Refreshed Sunday morning after a bountiful fry up, we set about further exploring our swims and working out game plans for the week…….markers came out, we leaded, we felt about, we made notes, we recorded distances, we did everything but catch a carp during Sunday.
The palatial Lodge swim, with Paul the tea cosy, was first to produce, a lovely 32Ilb mirror falling to a pub chuck to the Island……sorry falling to a clinically cast lead that landed 6.2 inches off the bar where the silt met the gravel…….. well done Paul we were off the mark.
Thankfully, old Sleepy managed to stay awake after dinner on Sunday, just long enough to hear his buzzers go, probably over the noise of the Only fools and horses intro music, and he was into a fish. Like the Buses he curses at when he’s dodging the tax man in his cab, no sooner had he landed a nice 20, his other rod launched off and he soon had a small double in the net as well.
By now, the Carp were starting to engage in their yearly amorous activities, lots of courting going on around the lake, they were smashing into each other in the margins and it was clear that some spawning had started. Not to mind, there were still other fish to be caught.
But not that night.
Down in Jack’s swim Tim and Kev were doing the old buzzer tango…..jumping up at every beep, up down, but no clear run or take….Tim had a drop back to the left hand Island but hit only thin air. I said thin air not thin hair Kev, stop being so touchy.
Monday morning, the gang were once again revitalized via the magic of H’s frying pan, the odd shower was taken and off we set again.
At this stage it is worth mentioning the famed yellow T-shirt, the Plonker of the Day award…….this was presented each evening to the individual who had messed up best that day, or had mistakenly opened up to a friend and confidant about an historical misdemanour, that of course got shared amongst the group to much ribbing and banter.
Kev was the first winner, and as luck and skill would have it he went onto being the outright winner having worn the yellow shirt a magical three times. His first triumph was due to a classic childhood tale of home tattooing, that convinced us all that Kev had a Dragons head the size of a plate tattooed on his arse, only for it to turn out to be a tiny blue blob the size of a grain of rice on his calf. However, he has a tattoo so he is hard.
Kev would win it a second time for turning a lovely two piece Greys rod into a less lovely three piece. He then completed a fine hat –trick with his world famous vanishing baiting needle trick. Fine work Kevlar.
The weather cooled but the fish still seemed hot to go, it was like Friday night at grab a granny night down the Marlow rooms….lots of young inexperienced males chasing after older and often much larger females, often a bit more advanced in age, and often without success. And the fish were all doing it without Fosters goggles.
Monday was to see Frank lose one close to the net, and of course it goes without saying it was the biggest lump in there, it was huge, honestly, oh my god………yeah right Frankie, get over it. If you use them broom handles you will bump the odd fish.
Monday nights dinner was another highlight, homemade chicken goujons with chips and salad…..may sound straightforward, but after a hard days blanking, this was a meal from the gods…..Thank you H.
Early Tuesday Morning and the lake was resounding to the noise of multiple buzzers, it was like a disco out there, we had cracked it……well not actually, but Ryan had his first fish to get off the mark, and it was to prove to be the first of many. His lucky pub chuck’s would prove to be very lucky indeed. By the end of the week even Wally was calling him Golden balls.
All becomes a bit blurry after that point, so apologies if the next instalments below are not 100% chronologically accurate…..Frank look it up on google mate.
Coming into Wednesday, we were all still buoyant, the mood was good….great food kept on coming, the showers were hot and we were having a crack.
Kev had got off the mark with a 32.2 mirror, taken an 3am in Jack’s swim, casting to the H block marker. Kev decided to get wet with the fish…..let me re-word that, Kev stripped down to his boxers and gripped the fish tightly and prepared to enter…….what I mean is Kev got in the water with the fish. The best bit being Kev’s very poor taste in underwear, no shape, poor pattern, not very flattering at all, poor fish could not get out of their quick enough.
Once Kev had returned the fish, he thought it best to have a quick tidy up, which took the best part of the next two hours, but at least he put the kettle on and his bivvy did look peachy clean.
Ryan must have caught another one by now, the Double swim was holding a lot of fish, plus there were fish showing to his right in the Barn swim’s water, which Ryan was also exploiting as it was free. Ryan fished a mix of T1 and Poacher Tiger & Maple boilies, and fish were coming to both. Ryan was fishing well and also getting very wet, for each PB be it a mirror or common he got the bucket treatment…he would run out of dry clothes by end of the week.
He landed a fine 32.2 mirror to match Kev’s earlier specimen, and they were now tied for the biggest fish, it was all getting very interesting.
Frankie in his David Attenborough film documentary role, had set himself the task of filming every fish, bless him. He’s a big lad and not built for vigorous exercise, and after a few days the laps of the lake were taking their toll….we don’t think the full chest waders helped much. Luckily he was able to keep up his protein intake via multiple bags of monster munch, which did eventually lead to a crisis when he ran out……luckily Phil was awake long enough to drive to the local supermarche to replenish supplies. Crisis over.
Frankie now got in on the action, he caught his favourite species, the moggy of the lake. A little 13 pounder got him out of bed and was the start of Phil’s very selective hearing ‘Dad!!!!’ Frank shouted to Phil, his Dad, who was 30 metres away in Social 2, Tim and Kev heard it in Jack’s swim, Ryan heard it in the Double, but not Phil, Phil slept through it even with Frankie added some other words, words that apparently are very commonly heard around Bermondsey, but maybe less common in Normandy at 3am in the morning. Phil slept well, and eventually Frankie tamed the monster moggy all by himself.
Frankie would go onto have a bigger Cat later in the week, a nice fish of 37.8, top man, or should I say Top Cat.
Fish were coming thick and fast to Ryan now, he was casting with his eyes shut, left handed, from the shower block, he kept catching, often with two fish in the net at a time. He kept feeding the bait, kept them interested and the Delkims kept screaming. Fish were a mixture of low doubles and twenties, the big girls weren’t coming out to play, but eventually he crafted another 30 from the swim. Ryan would finish the week top rod on 18 fish.
From the Stones swim Frankie was being creative, and donning his waders he was now able to cast down into Ryan’s swim, sorry correction , he was able to cast into open water that happened to be metres away from Ryan’s spot, and he did start to pick the off fish up from there. Crafty.
With everyone off the mark, pressure was on Tim to get off the block, and with Jack’s swim going quiet as the temperature dropped, he opted for a move into the Boat swim….moving with the help of the car was not too bad and by end of Wednesday he was fishing again and hoping to angle one out.
The lodge swim produced a small cat for Paul on Wednesday night – Paul also won the prize for largest bivvy, it was hard to tell the lodge and bivvy apart, massive, clearly where he held his stash of haribo and biscuits.
Frankie was now fishing a new spot further out then he had fished earlier in the week, he had found a spot at 95 yards and baited heavily and it started to produce for him, eventually providing a French PB for him, which was fantastic as it meant we got to soak him…..Phil even woke up for this one which was great.
This fish went 32.8 putting Frank in the lead for largest fish of the week, he was looking very pleased with himself. So pleased, later that day he decided to demonstrate his unique casting style to Wally….launching one into space from a wet wooden platform lead to a one off break dance routine that resulted in Frankie in and out the lake in the blink of an eye………………apparently he styled it out well and to this day Wally now thinks that is how Frankie always casts. Top Cat.
Whilst on Frankie, as well as team documentarian he also established himself as team entertainer, and many a minute were whiled away over dinner with his amazing going down the stair routine and the best of all, man in a lift….a must see if you get a chance.
Kevlar also managed to pull himself away from his kettle to land another one, again from the H block which he was baiting heavily by now, unfortunately no pants on show this time.
Thursday night is worth a mention purely for the Chicken and Mushroom pie, very nice. It was touch and go at one stage apparently as H now had a new cooker to contend with, but the cooking gods stayed with her and she delivered again.
Thursday night saw thunder and lightning with torrential rain, just after dinner, it lashed it down, but of course our bunch all scurried back to rods and bivvy’s to sit it out.
Thursday am at 5.30 Tim had what he had been waiting for all week, thinking they were broken, one of his buzzers went into meltdown and he actually had a fish on……………30 seconds later he did not as the hook had pulled, oh my, how he laughed and giggled at this funny business that is carp angling.
Friday came around very quickly, last day was here and we were all prepared to smash it now, to go that extra mile to catch that fish of a lifetime…..after a leisurely fry up we returned to our rods and continued to angle. Ryan continued to catch, not much action for the rest of the group.
A bit of tidying up was the order of the day, get things ready for the off on Saturday.
Friday dinner was burger night, and spirits were high as we reflected on our week. Not as many fish as we had expected, and none of the bigger ones, and some were struggling, however there was always the last night to go and we all agreed we had enjoyed a great week, we set off back to the rods with dreams of a final whack off….sorry whacker, a big fish.
At just gone midnight Tim yet again had the opportunity to laugh and reflect on this piscatorial activity we pursue for pleasure, as having enjoyed a tight line with a carp for just over a minute, the hook pulled. Oh pyjamas, Tim cried, what a flip that is, nevermind, not to worry, no Carp for me this week.
The group convened for the final breakfast and the first Watties Danglers trophy presentation. Wally performed the honours with the aid of his beautiful assistant, H.
- Tiddler of the week to Phil.
- Largest fish of the week to Frank.
- Smashed it award for most fish to Ryan.
And no sooner was that done, and we were gone, back into the crammed motors, now smelling of fish, damp pants and decaying bait.
But not before one important job had been done, no not drying Tim’s tears, no, not waking Phil up, the really important job we knew we had to do. We booked again for next year!! Of course we did, we want more, we loved it, we are coming back.
We want more of Helen’s food, we want Wally’s chat and banter, we want to sit and enjoy the beautiful lake, we want to have a laugh and some giggles, and we want some more Carp….we have unfinished business and we will be back to Smash it in 2015.
Remember Frankie’s sandal and socks? Treat yourself man, go for it, what a comfort high. By Monday we were all in croc’s and socks and boy, foot heaven.
For more information on Molyneux follow the link - Carp fishing in France