Which Lake? The Field Tester’s Role

Jim Kelly explains common issues when field-testing completely unknown lakes, and why the majority don’t make it on to the Angling Lines books…

Why Are Some Chosen And Some Not? The Selection Process

Angling Lines has a fine portfolio of lakes catering for the needs of most carp anglers, but how did the list evolve?  Is there some kind of selection process or can anyone with a French lake be placed on the list?

The usual process is that a lake owner approaches ALines and after an initial phone discussion, providing the team think a venue may have potential, one of the management team goes to meet the owner and have a good look at the lake and facilities.  Only the best lakes are selected and successful lakes have to tick numerous boxes, some of which are:

  • be in a good location
  • have a suitable stock of carp that will interest English carp anglers
  • may be¬†suitable for a family with good accommodation
  • have a good owner, someone who will be able to preserve the Angling Lines reputation

Many lakes do not make the grade and are rejected at this stage. ¬†However, if a lake appears to have potential then a pair of field testers are sent to confirm that the lake is a viable proposition… & that’s often when I enter the process.

How to create the perfect carp fishery in France

One that did make the grade – Brie

Field Testing

You may think that field testing is a wonderful thing to do and sometimes you would be correct.  However, when arriving at the lake it is often like having a blank canvas as there are so many unknowns.

For example, what are the stocking levels? ¬†Some owners exaggerate both the stocking density and the size of the fish. ¬†Hence gauging bait, baiting levels and location can be hit and miss to say the least. ¬†Other considerations include issues such as are nuisance species present e.g. crayfish or poisson chat? ¬†Sometimes we’ve been¬†told that that there are none only to arrive and find that in fact there are loads! ¬†We’ve arrived at lakes where all the facilities are supposed to be complete and they haven‚Äôt even been started! ¬†And of course, there is always the pressure to catch. ¬†One cannot really relax until a few fish have been caught.

So although it is a wonderful thing to do, because sometimes you can fish an absolute gem, on other occasions things can be difficult to say the least.

Field testing is a fact finding mission and depending on the findings, the lake could be:

  • rejected as not suitable for an angling holiday
  • accepted, but there are some problems that need to be rectified before customers¬†arrive
  • accepted, but things that could cause difficulties are put in the lake write-up e.g. crayfish are present or a bait boat is essential etc.
  • accepted because it is perfect!
How to make a successful carp fishing lake

My idea of the perfect lake

Here’s a few things we’ve found in the past¬†and potential fixes:

  • Nuisance species such as Poisson chat or crayfish; unfortunately we’ve turned up at venues where we have been categorically informed there are no chats or crayfish only to find that they are abundant – but that’s our job – we go to ensure there are no nasty surprises for you. ¬†We now go prepared even when told there are none. ¬† Providing they are known about they are not normally a major problem and Angling Lines have produced an informative video to help anglers combat the problem (you can watch it here). ¬†I personally use 22mm heavy Arma mesh.
  • The venue is more like a bomb site than a fishing lake! ¬†Obviously this can usually be put right. ¬†A lake that fell into this category was taken on due to its stunning location and the size of the carp, otherwise it would have been rejected. The owner was given a list of¬†steps necessary to bring it up to standard.
How to make a successful carp fishing lake


  • The owner has a very inflated opinion of the size of the fish or the stocking density. ¬†I remember fishing one lake and struggling and at the end of the week the owner said ‚ÄúI thought I needed to stock it‚ÄĚ! ¬† On another lake the dam had breached and the vast majority of fish had been lost. ¬†Again we didn‚Äôt know about it until the end of the week. ¬†These lakes were stocked and now contain a good head of large fish. ¬†Other lakes are so over stocked the fish are stunted and the lake needs netting and the stock thinning out.
How to create the perfect carp fishing lake

One of only five fish caught from one of the lakes that needed stocking

So as you would imagine¬†not all lakes make it onto Angling Lines‚Äô books and the rejection rate is probably around 80% at¬†the first phone call, 50% at the first visit and then a further 20% at the Field Testing stage… and that translates to 8 out of a 100!

The most important aspects are the owner, the lake setting and the location, as most other things can be changed or improved.

Our job is to help the Angling Lines management team make an informed decision about the commercial viability of a venue¬†& to make you, the angler, aware of any problems so you can go prepared. ¬†We always highlight issues¬†in¬†our¬†write-ups so you can prepare and then fish well. ¬†That’s why it is so important to read the blurb about a venue before visiting. ¬†However, it’s realised that if you don‚Äôt read the write-ups you’ll probably not be reading this either!

Jim Kelly, Angling Lines Field Tester

[email protected]


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