A Lake in the Woods

It’s 5am on Saturday morning following a week’s fishing on Brie. The air is heavy and sticky and Jim gets a single bleep on his right hand rod. He’s out of his sleeping bag and standing by his rods, a second bleep and he is into the fish, a magnificent 43lb specimen. By the time that the common is on the bank lightning is flashing all around us. As soon as the fish was weighed and photographed we drew all our rods in as a massive thunder storm hit and that was the end of our week on Brie.

Jim with the biggest fish of the week at 43lb


It’s the middle of August on a Saturday morning when Jim Kelly and I arrived at the stunning location of Brie, with the temperature already in the upper twenties. The lake in the woods is around 15 acres in size with only 2 double swims, both well capable of fitting 2 bivvies and all the paraphernalia required for a week’s carp fishing in France.

A view of swim 2 from the track     A view of swim 1 from the track

It was Jim’s 1st choice of swim, so we both did our leg work well before making any decisions. After plumbing, leading and watching dozens of fish patrolling in front of swim 2, Jim made his decision and chose the left hand side of this swim. The far margins here are within easy casting range of around 70 to 80 yards and Jim chose to fish areas around the far bush lined margin. The water to the right of Swim 2 was quite weedy & talking to the owner, Paul Bachelier, revealed that this weed growth was not normal, this being the first year it had appeared.  As it caught him by surprise this year he hadn’t had time to sort it but he tells us it’ll definitely be sorted by next season.

Looking up towards the dam from swim 2 To the right of swim 2

A view down the lake from swim 1
I decided to fish swim 1 which had a larger expanse of water between my swim and the far margins, some 140 yards away. I found a lightly silted area around 102 yards in open water. This was to be my area for a baiting campaign for the week. My choice of bait was Quality Baits boilies in 18 mm Just Krill and HG All Season to tempt some of the Brie carp.

My far margins had lily pads coming out from the bank for about 10 to 15 yards then there was a weed bed just beneath the water surface for another 30 yards.  The water in front of me was averaged about four and a half feet deep and shallowed up towards the far margin. The lake bed was flat with no features and was clay lined covered with a light silt.

The swims are massive

My Hook rig

Now the rules on all the Bachelier waters, including Brie, are very strict as to the use of barbless hooks, not crimped but barbless as they come out of the packet.

Over the past few weeks I have been experimenting with some different barbless hooks and finally decided that my best option was the Smart Point SP315 in a size 4. With my adapted rig I was quietly confident in my rig set up. The set up is similar to my Ultimate pop up rig and I would be using this rig for both my bottom bait presentation along with my pop up presentation.

Smart Point SP315 Barbless hook My Ultimate barbless hook rig

My first carp graced my net at around midday on the Sunday, with the majority of fish still cruising around in the bay to the right of Jim but his indicators remained silent.

My 1st fish, 32lb 7oz, off the baited area
31lb 8oz mirror off my baited area    27lb 13oz

I kept a constant supply of boilies going in moving one of my rods onto the far margins. For this I was using a PVA bag filled with crumbed boilies and a single fluro pop up.

I caught every night on my baited area and took the odd fish during daylight hours from  the far margin and by Friday morning I had accounted for 13 carp including 4 thirties with the rest averaging 27lb, made up of mostly commons.

32lb 14oz as dusk approaches on swim 1

The barbless hooks worked a wonder, not a single fish lost, and every fish was in prime condition with not a sign of any mouth damage. I think I am becoming a convert.

28lb 11oz 28lb 10oz common, again pristine condition
Far margin caught 32lb 4oz mirror

On the Friday morning, Jim abandoned his swim after a gruelling 6 days and came down for the last night to fish swim 1, so that we could have a social. He took the right hand side of my swim and I moved my third rod back to my left. As already recounted at the beginning of this article, on Saturday morning Jim landed a pristine 43lb common, the largest carp of the week. Well done Jim.

A bit about the lake

Brie is around 15 acres and is over 80 years old. It is situated in the Champagne region of France within 4 miles of the famous Lac de Der Chantecoq. Set in the heart of a nature reserve deep in rural France, it really is a place of beauty and tranquillity, with only the sounds of the abundant wildlife to break the silence. Over half of the lake margins are lined with lily pads, making this one of the most picturesque lakes that I have visited for a long time. Just sitting and watching the water was a pleasure. Catching fish was a privilege.

Three sides of Brie are surrounded by trees and woodland with a dam at the head of the lake, which looks out to the manor house across green pastures. This is where the main facilities are situated in the outbuildings.


Here you will find a fully tiled walk in shower with 2 shower heads and an English styled toilet and sink, which are all kept immaculate. Outside the shower room is a fridge freezer and a drinking water tap. This area is also where the refuse bins are situated.

 Toilet in facility   Freezer

From the Manor house and facilities is a gravelled vehicle track that takes you down across the dam to the lake and to the rear of both swims 1 and 2. Between the two swims there is another toilet situated in the woods, English style, but is flushed with lake water from a bucket.

Toilet lakeside Track between the swims

The lake is stocked with around 150 carp made up of equal amounts of both Commons and Mirrors to 49lb. There is quite a large head of thirties and forties but the majority of the fish are around 27lb.


I definitely don’t think that we got the best out of Brie. When we arrived the carp were crashing and fizzing all over the lake, but by Sunday lunchtime high pressure had moved in and this seemed to put the carp down. By Monday the lake had changed drastically, not a sign of a fish. High pressure prevailed and Mr Carp went off the feed.

Atmospheric pressure, temperature, phases of the moon and the time of year often effect the feeding patterns of the carp… and we had the lot thrown at us!  Full moon, high temperatures, high atmospheric pressure and it was August, which is not always the best time of year to get bumper catches.  Furthermore we weren’t equipped with bait boats and they would certainly be an advantage for bait presentation to the far margins, so our results certainly don’t do justice to this magnificent lake.

Conditions made this one of our more challenging sessions to date, but Brie is a stunning lake and the carp are in fantastic condition, so it’s definitely on my “must return” list.

Paul Cooper
[email protected]

For more information on Brie follow the link – Fishing France



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