Life as a Bailiff – Pt 1, A Dream Come True?

Like many British carp anglers, the thought of one day living and working in France as an Owner or Bailiff on a carp fishery has never been far from the forefront of my future thoughts and aspirations.

Four years ago, whilst on a fishing trip to France, I met Martin, one of the owners of Lillypool. He was on holiday and had Lillypool booked for himself, but he was kind enough to let my group fish the lake at very short notice after we had been badly let down by another lake we had booked.

After a really good weeks fishing and more beer than I can remember, we exchanged email addresses and telephone numbers. We would definitely keep in touch once back in the UK after having had such a good laugh all week.

lillypool french carp fishing



Fast forward three years and after numerous more holidays and trips to help on work parties and a few boozy nights out in the UK, Martin and I had become really good friends. Martin then tells me about a second lake he is thinking about opening as his second carp fishery and he’s looking for a partner to share the project. After a quick trip out to see the lake and plenty of discussions on costs, my house is up for sale. There is enough equity for a share in Martin’s new project. This could be it – the dream was getting closer!

Another year passes, two sales have fallen through and the economy in the UK is dreadful. Selling my house is going to be far from easy. The dream is fading somewhat, but I know that nobody else has bought into the share of the second lake. Maybe there are other ways and I’m still in with a chance?

lillypool french carp fishing

Martin and Richard’s new project

lillypool french carp fishing

…and again


Only a few weeks pass since the last house sale chain breaks, it’s early April 2013. I receive a call asking how my meeting with the bank had gone… In principle, I could re-mortgage to release funds. ‘Great news’, was the reaction. ‘There have been some further developments. The current Lillypool bailiff is going back to the UK in six weeks time and I was wondering if you are interested in a job’. After nearly soiling myself, I said that of course I was interested.

The next 4 weeks are somewhat hectic. If I can sort all my things in the UK, I’m moving to France!! Needless to say, I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip. The house, money, job and all, sorted! This is it – I’m moving to France on the 4th of June. The time comes and I can’t wait for the challenges that lie ahead.

Six months on, many a friend made and many a trial navigated, I have settled in nicely and am very happy here in France. The dream has most definitely become a reality. The reality though, is very far from what I had dreamt! The last six months have been a massive learning curve and far more demanding (both physically and mentally) than I could ever have imagined.

Richard Owen


7 thoughts on “Life as a Bailiff – Pt 1, A Dream Come True?

  1. Duncan de Gruchy says:

    Interesting post Richard. Like many others, I have at one time or another thought of becoming a bailiff or a lake owner of a French lake but it is a huge step to take and I admire those that have taken the plunge!

    I look forward to hearing more of your trials over the last 6 months in part 2.

  2. shane bamford says:

    well done richard, that really is a dream come true. it has always been my dream to own my own lake in france but its the financial side of things that stop me from full filling my dream. but theres always the chance to come and live and work as a bailiff in france at a lake. i have been carp fishing now for the last 10 years after swapping it for coarse and match fishing. i no real experience but been involved in fishing from about 10 years old and im nearly 38 now. i have worked as a ground worker on and off for years and i am a naturally good cook. i am a very hard worker and always keen to learn. i credit you for what you done to get where you are. i wish that i could get the chance 1 day. im always looking to see if there is anything up for offer on the net. i understand it wont be just fishing all the time. hope you have your life ahead of you doing what you love doing.

  3. Andrew Cleverly says:

    How do I find a bailiff in France

  4. Hi Andrew

    I’d suggest sending an email off to Sparsholt or similar colleges that do fishery management courses – perhaps someone graduating from here would be suitable. Otherwise you can ask around on forums such as the carpforum. Good luck.

  5. Tony Harmer says:

    Im basically looking for a job tending a carp lake doing the dalay chores cutting grass collecting fees from anglers making sure the anglers are well taken care of. Cleaning up swims and other amininaties also. Im a havit carp and cat angler and look forward to hearing from you in the future. Many Thanks Tony harmer

  6. Tony harmer says:

    I look forward to hearing from you soon. Wii some positive response.

  7. Hi Tony

    We do not know of anything available at the moment but will let you know if we hear of anything.

    Good luck in your search,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eighteen + = 22