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Articles about Old OaksThe Old Oaks
Mar 2006 by Paul Ashley
In November Bridget from Angling Lines Holidays asked us to pop over to France in March 2006 to fish a new water next to Laroussi near Le Mans in the Pays de la Loire region of France . The water had just been acquired by Mehdi Daho who already owns the famous Laroussi lake home to rapidly growing carp, catfish and sturgeon. I deliberated for at least five seconds before answering with a resounding "Yes!" as it would be a great opportunity to fish for previously uncaught carp.
Old Oaks is a five acre 34 year old gravel pit previously un-fished apart from a few forays from the owner and his friends who caught original naturally stocked fish to 27lb. Over the winter of 2005/2006 the water has received a stocking of 92 carp to 40lb +, 16 grass carp to 40lb+ and 2 catfish to 44lb The fishing is on one bank with five swims allowing plenty of water per angler.
I had chosen my good friend Darrin Hornby to accompany me on our seven day trip, who fishes at my syndicate lakes in Cambridgeshire, who having had a bad year in 2005 with no fish would appreciate a run or two! The trip started out with a 1.30am load of my car and a drive down to Dover to catch the 5am ferry to Calais . Having got to Calais it was just a case of following the road directions sent by Bridget down to Le Mans (we did not get lost once) and having stopped just once on the way for a natural break it took us four and a half hours. It can be quicker to get to Old Oaks via Caen but the longer ferry times (overnight crossings generally) make the whole travelling experience too long.
We arrived at Mehdi's house bang on midday on 25 th and after a tour of the lake in the pouring rain were set up in our swims by 3.30pm . Due to the very wet period that France has experienced the water level within the lake had risen by two foot and was very full. I opted to commence my attack of the water in swim one which gave full access to the corner of the lake with overhanging tree features and small gravel/silt patches to fish to. Darrin opted for swim two and was fishing to the far margins where the main overhanging tree line commenced. (Mehdi had pointed out two spots where he had caught fish before where there were holes in the gorse/over hanging trees.)
Mehdi has gone to great trouble to remove any underwater snags present with only odd small twigs present and has constructed four brand new swims (one, two, four and five) with swim three left natural.
The facilities at Old Oaks are excellent boasting a shower, toilet, wash basin, fridge and freezer. Outside of the facilities Mehdi has created a smashing social area, well shaded by an over hanging tree (with camouflaged over head light!) to gather for a beer or three with your meal. He will be installing shortly a stone built barbeque to this area (no need then to take barbecue's with you from England ).
Upon arrival you can drive around the banks of Old Oaks to drop off your tackle which is a god-send with the amount that we take and leave your car in the car parking area near the locked gate entrance.
We popped over to see Toni Pichon (a friend of Mehdi's) who was fishing swim five on the end of a southerly wind who had already caught two fish, fishing marginal areas over a bed of parti-blend and Mainline boilies. The fish were certainly on the bait as there were multiple shows in the area.
Darrin was the first to bag an English caught carp from Old Oaks on Sunday morning at a weight of 27.08lb which was a strange experience for him as he has not fished mono Mainline for many years and was concerned that he was not in direct contact to the fish. Darrin followed up on Sunday with three further fish 29.14lb (an original fish), a 24.2lb and 26.8lb all taken from the far bank "hole" in the over hanging bushes/trees with three pieces of Enterprise plastic corn on a pop-up rig over hemp and sweetcorn. Due to the over hanging trees/bushes it was essential to use a bait boat to allow tight baiting to the side of the margin. Having had no fish myself, I opted to move into swim five where the fish were still showing after Toni had moved out.
Toni had ended up with five fish in all for the weekend with two scraper thirties (one being a common) and three twenties. I opted to put two baits on the spots that he was fishing for the night and one to new spot where the fish were showing tight to the bank in four foot of water under over hanging trees using popped up Quest Irish Cream 14mm boilies over hemp/tares and 30-40 boilies.
All our rods were quiet during Sunday night but my change of swim started to produce results with six fish on the Monday 31.8lb, 26lb, 23.02lb, 26.08lb, 25.10lb and a fish that we did not weigh of approx 3lb which was a beautiful original fish (a fish that gave an absolute screamer!). The 31.8lb was the lake record for all of four hours when Darrin banked a very fat 33.15lb mirror followed later in the day by his second fish of 25.04lb.
Whilst we both tried to get pick ups from open water spots with no results, it was evident that the fish had just woken up from their winter slumbers and were keen to patrol the far margins. They would arrive at first light in swim five and gradually move out during the day past Darrin in swim three (he moved to get a better angle on the spots within the far margin), and spend the night in front of swims one and two. I wished that I had two bivvies with me as I would have done the nights in swim one and the days in swim five !!
On Tuesday after taking a couple of fish 27.15lb and 18lb we decided to go shopping to the supermarket L'éclerc in Le Mans which is a simple ten minute drive from the lake to introduce Darrin to the delights of Merguez spicy sausages and finally to stock up with some beer! Arriving back at the lake three more fish came to our rods, a 13.8lb original to me and a 23.4lb and a 23.8lb to Darrin. Whilst most of the fish generally came out during day light hours, Darrin did pick up four fish during the week during the night.
On Wednesday Darrin picked up two fish at 24.6lb and 27lb and I had two fish of 28.4lb and 31.8lb. Darrin had changed during the course of the week his spots on the far margin and was starting to fish boilie opting for 14mm Dynamite pop-ups and M8 pop-ups.
Thursday was generally a quiet day for us all with very few fish showing but Darrin managed to pick up the best fish of the trip and current lake record of 35.8lb!
The trip seemed to go so fast and we had arrived at our penultimate day. I picked up two more fish at 30.8lb and 26.2lb and Darrin fishless. The last fish came to Darrin's rods on Saturday morning in the form of 29.12lb mirror to round off the trip. It was great to see Darrin having a good run of fish and see him smile
Again and be happy with his fishing.
We popped over to Laroussi on the way back to meet up with Mehdi to thank him for all of his help and look at the famous lake. Mehdi had just finished creating a beautiful
and very solid chestnut fence which has taken many months in creation (and will probably last thirty years!). Mehdi has a great eye for detail and is trying to create in both Old Oaks and Laroussi not only a great fishery but an experience to set his lakes apart from general French carp waters.
To round up, we believe that you would be hard pushed to find a better exclusive water than Old Oaks. We took 25 fish (13 to me and 12 to Darrin) between us during the week with water temperatures of only 4 degrees, in appallingly wet and windy conditions. Bait wise we used 3kg of boilie, 15kg of hemp and 5kg of pellet each and found pop-up hook baits were better than bottom baits.
The fish stocks have been hand chosen to provide a varied stock and with the potential for growth similar to the Laroussi fish which are currently up to 65lb in weight. Unfortunately fishing early in the year, neither the grass carp nor the catfish had woken up and it will be some lucky angler later in the year that will put these excellent 40lb plus fish onto their unhooking mats and hold them with a great smile on their face!
Our thanks go to Bridget and Mehdi for allowing us the privilege of being the first English anglers to wet a line at the Old Oaks.
We wish you luck in the future and look forward to gathering a few friends to go back to Old Oaks and fish it exclusively.