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Carp Fishing in France
What Should I Take?
We get lots of first time carpers in France asking questions about what gear one should take for a trip to France. Many have never done more than a weekend on their local lake prior to booking a holiday and are somewhat at a loss as to what to include and what to leave behind.
It has to be said some people go well over the top bringing gazebos, gas barbecues, and so on. But if it makes for an enjoyable holiday and you have room in the car..... then great!!!
This is really the crux. All the gear seems to take up tons of space. Three or four anglers in a Vauxhall Astra and you don't have much space left for the tackle. Some kind of van seems to be the first choice for the more experienced carpers..... bought or hired (make sure you are allowed to leave the UK with it though.)
We've covered tackle for France before, and a lot depends on where you are going to fish. Most of the time your standard UK tackle is more than enough to fish the lakes in France. If you are going to one of the big French lakes or rivers you might want to step up your gear a bit. I use 3lb Bruce Ashby Mirage rods, Diawa Emblem reels with bait runner conversions and 15lb Big Game line. Other than rods reels and buzzers and tackle bag which will be the same as short stay, comfort is important when you're out for a week - being uncomfortable or wet can turn a good holiday into a nightmare. You can be unlucky even in July the weather can turn bad .... I once spent a week in July at the Orient Forest (5000 acre lake) during continual rain where I ended up wearing as many clothes as a winter trip!
This is my gear for a week's session in France ....
- A good bivvy with enough room for your gear - preferably a 2 man for one angler. A dome is the best choice as they are big and pack up small, I have a Hutchy Apotheosis 2man. Get some good tent pegs and mallet. Try to avoid sharing a bivvy as it is always cramped.
- Bedchair and sleeping bag...... a day chair is useful too for sitting out during the day. (I have a Chub Cassien bed and Fishrite duvet bag and a cheap old chair). I also use one of the new Trakker Gortex lined blankets, either instead of the sleeping bag in summer of on top of it in cold conditions.
- A small folding fishing bedside table for all my bits and pieces .... pop ups, phone, keys glasses at night etc.
- A small night light in the bivvy ... for reading, rig tying etc. I don't like big bright torches though ... plus a Petzel Tikka head lamp, spare batteries and bulbs. Take spare batteries for your buzzers and anything else that has them. The Tikka is good as it is small and comfortable and you can sleep with it on.
- Camera + flash + 400asa neg film and spare batteries.
- Coleman double burner (brilliant) + cooking gear in a plastic crate with lid, easy to pack and always ready. Includes:
a) MSR (or similar) set of 3 camping pans (all pack into each other).
b)Aladdin insulated cup x 2 (so you can make tea for visitors)
c) Plastic plates and unbreakable wine glasses & Whistling Kettle (a must for a real carper).
d) Extra unleaded in a fuel bottle for stove. (Or gas canisters if you have gas)
e) Full set of cutlery, spatula, cork screw (you are in France after all), tin opener. I always have a Swiss Army knife and Leatherman tool also ... always indispensable.
f) Stainless frying pan.
g) Washing up gear, soap, sponge/scourer, dish brush (useful) and tea-towel.
h) Cooking oil, salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar, sugar, tea, coffee and long life milk etc. I love to cook when out fishing so my cooking crate has bits and bobs you probably won't need, like salad dishes, chopping boards, colander, plastic wash basin etc.... depends how you like your food. I often eat tinned stuff on an overnighter but a whole week? - no way!
i) I often take a few of those instant barbecues, brilliant for doing steaks, chops, burgers etc ... (can't get them easily in France though). If you like English breakfasts, take bacon, sausages and beans with you as you can't get them in France.
j) A folding camp table is very useful, but not essential Folding Army shovel..... (in case there are no loos) + loo paper and anti-bacterial lotion (found in Boots) - good if you can't wash your hands and stops you getting Weils disease at the water side (should be in all anglers bags at home or abroad). If I don't have a spade or access to loos I always burn the loo paper...(sorry for the gory details).
k) Pack of cigarette lighters or waterproof matches. I have a lighter in virtually every pocket. As I don't smoke I'm always looking for the bloody things.
- Waterproofs, or even better an army poncho about £20 from a surplus store ... makes fishing in the rain easier and bearable. Sun cream and after sun, oh! and your shades too - it may even be sunny! Anti Mosquito lotion and Repellent Spirals (a must)
- Waders are not always needed but can save your session on some venues, but wellies are probably a good idea just in case. I always have a pair of flip-flops by my bed so I can get out and hit a run in the night without getting wet feet.
- One change of clothes is all I take, so I can have a shower if possible and wash my hair before returning home, I'm not one of these anglers that washes and shaves every day while fishing, but I like to freshen up before I go home if there is a shower available. Also I've often fallen in or dived in after a snagged fish ... you usually see me sitting in my undies with my clothes draped over the bushes in this case!!!!!
- Make sure you have your insurance green card, your car log book, driving licence and I strongly recommend some kind of personal & breakdown recovery and repatriation insurance. It doesn't cost too much, and you'll probably not need it, but have a crash in France without it and you'll be in difficulty..... It happened to two of our customers last year..... AA 5 Star or RAC etc.... Don't forget your E111 in case you get sick. I always have a basic first aid kit in my car anyway, but take iodine and plasters etc in case you get a hook in your finger. You can buy car First Aid kits in Boots. Also a good road map of France.
- Take jump leads and make sure you car is in good nick and serviced. You'll be amazed how many people come to France without any of the above. You'll only be able to use a Visa or MasterCard here - your Switch or Charge card won't be accepted. You can draw cash from most hole in the wall dispensers. As I said I'm a fan of the plastic crates you can get in hardware stores - they are tough, very practical and big enough to pack all your gear into. I have one for the cooking gear & one for food. I have my favourite convenience foods for fishing but you are in France so try some of the local pâtés, cheeses, and wines