The Inside Information – Picking Your Swim

When we decided to buy a lake in France and I began the process – stocking, clearing brambles, building swims and facilities etc – the benefits of being fishery manager seemed obvious. Spending a lot of time on the bank of beautiful Villefond with idyllic surroundings and all the fishing potential. As the lake grew from an average lake into the big fish water we have today, an unforeseen perk of the job appeared.

The perk is inside information. Most people manage at best a couple of weeks a year fishing and studying a lake. From that and then reading and talking to anglers they do their best to summarize how the fish are behaving and what tactics work best. Imagine now being able to walk around a lake full of monsters nearly every single day of the year and talking with the people fishing it along with fishing it yourself. Thanks to our customers I have a massive resource of information right on my doorstep. From beginners to the most experienced each individual angler has his / her own tactics, views and ideas.

Lac Du Villefond

I have tapped into this resource and tried to learn as much as I can to improve my own fishing and so I can pass the information onto the next angler. Couple this bottomless pit of information with a very unique lake and I am in a very unique position. The lake is has an average weight of over 40lb and very few small fish. This creates a lake where the big carp have no competition to feed, thus making them very careful; so what you have is a lake full of clever cautious carp.

Mark with a beautiful Villefond Mirror

How does this help me?

With a lake full of big clever fish, you very quickly find out what actually works for these fish and what doesn’t. Most lakes have small carp, tench or bream to compete with the bigger carp. And that is what makes it more difficult to read the bigger fish.  How do you know if a rig or bait or a particular tactic that is effective on the smaller carp, is working the same for the bigger carp unless you are catching them?  Most people would assume if you are catching carp and a big carp hasn’t come along then it’s probably because it’s not in your swim. Well what if the bigger carp were in the swim but that bit wiser and better at spotting things, ejecting rigs and getting away with not getting hooked.

Our lake has only big carp, so you can study exactly how the bigger pressured carp feed and believe me it is very different from small carp. Combine all of these things and being the fishery manager has provided me with inside knowledge.

I am not telling you just to boast but because I am going to share some of this information over the next few blogs and I am going to start from the first thing you do when you arrive at the lake, picking your swim. I will write about common mistakes made and how I would approach our lake and any other lake with the knowledge I have learnt and experience applying that knowledge to our big fish.

Okay, you have arrived at the lake and it’s time to be picking your swim…

This can affect your whole week, it can sometimes make or break your weeks fishing. I am not going to be worrying about things like how close to facilities a swim is or if it is shady or not etc etc, these are personal preferences and I am concentrating on catching big carp, the rest will be secondary.

Normally a clever angler does his homework including following our website, past catch reports & latest news, to study what swim produces what fish. Now while this is very useful and something I would recommend it does lead me onto the first mistake you can make and one I can still be guilty of occasionally falling into myself. It’s pre picking your swim, or deciding where you want to fish before hand. Sometimes this can work out but more often then not it can lead you into a mistake.

picking your swim, Villefond, big carp
One of the Villefond swims

Each week is totally different from the next and if you come up with a totally rigid plan as to where and how you fish you could end up sitting well away from the fish because they are in a different part of the lake. For example, if the weather was colder the last few weeks at Villefond the fish tend to hold up in the deeper water, but if you arrive on a hot week after a cold spell the fish are likely to head straight to the shallower water as it warms up first.

I have been guilty in the past of pre picking my swims as I know the lake so well I have an idea of where the fish normally are, but I have arrived at the lake with a swim in mind and on arrival seen signs of fish in a different part of the lake. I have stuck to my plan and ignored the signs and without doubt made fishing immediately harder for myself.

Now when I approach the lake I have a plan, I know where the fish are likely to be and what swims have been producing and I decide where I want to fish but I always try to make sure that I take the time to walk around the lake, and looking for signs of fish before I setup my gear. If I see these signs of fish now I am far more flexible in my plans and will try to adapt to the fish rather than try to convince them they want to play to the script I am writing.

The next thing which is very important in picking a swim is to consider where the other anglers you are fishing with are going to fish…

If you are one of the lucky ones who get a lake to yourself this isn’t a problem but as this is rare this is an important factor for most. Every week the fish in our lake change location and feeding spots as new people arrive – new lines, smells, and noise move the fish around.

If we have one fisherman alone on one side of the lake guaranteed a lot of the fish will have moved to the other side of the lake where there is no pressure. The same thing will happen if we have a group fishing, if an area of the lake has been not covered that’s always a good place to find the fish.

So if choosing a swim on our lake and I am fishing with someone I generally like to be spread out to cover as much water as possible. There are exceptions but generally when choosing a swim I am conscious of where other anglers are. This also has the benefit if you are not right on top of other anglers that if they are making a lot of noise or mistakes it doesn’t effect your fishing and if your quiet it can even push the fish to you.

Pick Your Swim, Villefond, Big Carp

So doing home work, watercraft and having a plan or an idea but being flexible in the application of this plan. This is how I would approach any big fish water.

Hopefully this has been of some interest and my next blog will follow shortly on how to approach the swim you have chosen.

Mark Lambert
For more information on Villefond follow the link – Carp fishing in France


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