The week in brief summary.

Weights, funny moments, Night vision goggles, Jeff the Banker, Pike, Simon stealing Phil’s badge, Dragonfly, snake, monster rats and fighter jets plus a few good fish. ( Oh, and garlic gobs)

The journey down began on a sour note with Marc and Bill finding themselves stuck in a supposedly 10-minute set of roadworks for the best part of 3 hours, consequently missing the ferry crossing at 5am from Dover. The mood was soon lifted, with the group settling down to a hearty English breakfast on the ferry except Phil, whom had succumbed to tiredness and fallen asleep.

This provided an easy target to amuse ourselves with over the remainder of the 90 minute ferry crossing to Calais; the theft of his recently purchased magnetic GB sticker! We arrived at our destination la Fritterie in the Champagne region of France around 12.30 and after a brief stop for supplies drew pegs when Mark and Bill arrived. They had encountered even more exasperating delays. Mark chose peg 1, Phil peg 2, Martin and Neil peg 4, me and Tim (dad) peg 5, Simon peg 8 and Bill peg 10

I finally set up at 4pm in hot sunshine. Peg 5 was a corner swim with a large line of reeds running up the left bank to peg 4. This is where I focused my attention, placing 2 of my three rods along the line of reeds over a small bed of particle, maize and boilie. My third rod was placed in open water. After just 2 hours of fishing my left-hand rod ripped off and I was rewarded with a 21lb 8oz-mirror carp. A good start to the trip as it took nearly three days to land a fish last time in France. Early Sunday morning around 3am I landed my second fish, a mirror carp which tipped the scales at 22lb 8oz.

It was 8am Sunday morning that my dad poached his first fish, a 23lb 8oz common off my rods. Meanwhile I was oblivious to my dad’s catch enjoying a hot shower. Tim was now on a roll and landed his second fish later in the day, a 24lb common carp, surprisingly on his own rod this time. Not to be outdone I landed a third fish around 3am, a 24lb 12oz mirror carp. Unfortunately this turned out to be the most productive 24hours of the entire trip, as the north-easterly wind became more apparent.

It was quite strange how dead the lake became on Tuesday with very few fish topping and very little movement. Fishing conditions still seemed perfect and everyone remained optimistic. This was a quiet time for all 8 anglers and only a few fish came out, including a 25lb12oz mirror caught late on at 11.30pm by Tim.

Nothing was caught between my dad and me on Wednesday and Thursday and although disappointing, this gave us time to reflect on our time spent here so far. Surprisingly for such a large area of open water there was very little bird life except for the resident kingfisher and the occasional heron. However, several tawny owls could be heard each night with one taking up residence a few metres above the bivvy, perched upon an overhanging branch. With the majority of the week’s weather comprising of hot sunshine, the sky at night was usually crystal clear. This, combined with very little light pollution provided fantastic viewing of the night sky with the Milky Way clear to be seen. I tried the night vision monocular and realised how good it really is – watched the nocturnal rats at work stealing the boilies.

On Thursday we all reeled in and feasted on a large banquet meal including mushrooms topped with a mixture of finely chopped garlic bulbs(yes garlic bulbs), onion and butter many pizzas and garlic bread. The food was wonderful although there was so much garlic it burnt the inside of my mouth. Plenty of intoxicating liquids quickly turned the event into a very enjoyable evening and set the scene for a very productive nights fishing

The fishless spell was finally broken at 3am Friday morning, and what a fish it was. A scale perfect 40lb 9oz common a personal best by almost 8 pounds. What a beauty!!

Dad landed another good looking 20lb+ mirror and was hopeful of a PB before going home. I decided to give him a good chance I would circumnavigate the lake and handball the rig to the unreachable bank of reeds where we reckon a lot of the big carp were loitering.This was not easy as you can guess and it needed Dad to cast out to me about 80 yards - first go too wide but right distance second go wizzed past my head and hit the trees! 20 mins later back on track and I successfully put the boilie in a deep swim 4 yards out from the reeds – a full bucket of boilies went in around the bait.
On Saturday morning possibly 4 am ish we had a screamer on the above rod; Dad hit into it and was connected. Could this be the one? Oh dear, off it came but at least the effort had worked.
The last run came on my rod and at 7am and I caught a cracking PB mirror of 39lb not a bad way to round off the week.
Although Dad didn’t get a PB this time he still caught plenty of mid 20lbers and enjoyed the week.

Robbie Hudson,
La Fritterie--- 2009