I, unfortunately, must open this blog on a very sad note as my brother-in-law, Ben has sadly passed away after a long battle with the Coronavirus. Ben spent 8 weeks in intensive care but just could not fight off the damaging effects. I considered Ben to be a friend, having spent some of his early years in Australia he spoke good English, so we could always put the world to right. Ben and I often fished together but we also travelled a fair bit over the last few years with our respected partners. Ben’s knowledge of travel around Europe was second to none as he spent many years as a truck driver, meaning he always knew his way and never got lost.
Whenever Ben and my wife’s sister Margret came to visit us in France, Ben and I would always go fishing together and over the last few years, we have caught some decent fish! It was only last year when I took Ben to one of my favourite spots, where we found some carp feeding. We set about stalking a carp and we could see the carp picking up the free offerings but managing to avoid our baited hooks. Nevertheless, just as it approached dark, a fish picked up my bait. I will never forget the surprise on Ben’s face as he witnessed the power of a big carp at close quarters. Ben was obliged to take the net and he took some nice pictures of a mid-thirty carp that we had both spotted and caught together.
In memory of Ben, last week I decided I would return to this exact spot and try for a carp in his honour. On my arrival at the infamous spot I could see, just like before, carp feeding on some free bait that I had put in just a few hours before. In less than an hour, I had a screaming run and hit what felt like a good fish, the result was a 28lb common. The fish did not have a single scale out of place, I feel a fitting tribute to Ben. How I wish he could have been there to see this fish and have a celebratory drink like we had just a few months before.
Additionally, I decided the fishing shelter at our house needed a permanent tribute to Ben, so I set about finding a suitable piece of wood to carve and create a wall plaque to tribute my angling friend. A piece of wood from the old weirs from the river, I spent several hours preparing the wood before carving the words and giving it a wax and polish. It is a fitting tribute to my friend Ben and I will miss him, his humour, his knowledge and his great company. Ben is gone but never forgotten.
My quest continues for a big river carp in France, and I have cycled many miles since the easing of some of the lockdown restrictions in this pursuit. With a combination of no rain, no boat traffic and the river being closed for the passage of boats (other than essential workboats), the river is very clear at the minute. In the summer, I usually see as many as ten boats a day on the river, with lockdown we have only seen 3 this year so far! The benefit of such clear water is that it is now possible to find fish feeding much easier. I came across several groups of carp lazing in the sun and by keeping low, with no sudden movements it is possible to get very close to these feeding fish. You just need a good pair of polaroid glasses to take the experience to another level.
With the fish found and a few spots baited, I observed that in daylight the fish showed absolutely no interest but as the light started to fade their actions changed. The fish became more active and started to visit the baited spot. Within minutes I had a fish take the bait and I had a pleasing mid 20s common carp in the net.
With no more action that evening, I returned to the spot the next day and the shoal had gone. I fed the spot and moved on, strangely all the 5 spots I have been watching and feeding that did have a group of fish feeding had suddenly become devoid of fish! I can only think that the fish had switched to spawning mode and feeding becomes the last thing on their mind. A week later and as of yet, I haven’t seen a carp on any of my spots or in fact anywhere else on the river. I suspect they have spawned and are now in recovery mood before returning to their normal routine. The river remains clear so I will keep feeding and watching until I find them.
Other than river carp, I have not fished for much else but I did a couple of short feeder sessions in the garden (the body of water on my property) which resulted in a few silverfish and small barbel. We certainly need some rain out here in France, as does most of Europe as the river levels are very low for the fish.
On a lighter note, the glorious 16th of June is just around the corner! The return of the UK river season is much anticipated by river anglers, with all that’s happened over the last few months I am sure it’s being looked forward to by more than ever! As many look forward to the peace and solitude of a riverbank miles from anywhere or anyone, I would get all that tackle ready to hit the riverbanks first thing! Remember, tight lines to anyone venturing out over the first few days of the season and do not forget if you need tackle that most of Angling Direct retail stores will be open for normal operating services from Monday 15th June (check the Covid-19 updates page for more information). Until then there are a few AD shops offering a call and collect service. A simple phone call to order what you need and a trip to the store to the collection point to pick it up or shop online!
Please remember we are still at risk from Coronavirus, so look after yourselves and stay safe whilst out at the bank or when out grabbing some tackle essentials.
Until my next fishing venture - Ade Kiddell