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France. Hi all of fishing lovers, Today’s post is “France”. Hopefully this article is helpful for you, all fishing lovers.


As a change from methods & tactics I thought I would share some of the fishing I have done on holiday in France. I am talking about family holidays, not specific fishing trips.  

We have been going to France almost every year for the last thirty years and it would be around twenty five years ago that I started to take some tackle. Initially space was limited as we had five of us in the car (wife, two children and my mother plus self). But I managed to cram in a pole, feeder rod, landing net and a four litre ice cream tub with tackle in.

At the time we were using a campsite in the Vendee region (half way down and left as you look at the map). The campsite had three lakes that the brochure reported held some carp. It was in the grounds of an old chateau and the three lakes had been made by damming a small stream. I soon discovered that the middle lake contained carp averaging two pound. It was fairly simple fishing but I discovered one odd thing about the carp. They would often refuse to take a whole grain of corn.

The lake wasn’t too deep and a scattering of corn would produce bubbles around the float and eventually a bite. I had some very relaxing afternoons by that lake. The corn thing was strange though. One year I had forgotten about this and on arrival headed off to the lake for a couple of hours before dinner. I returned frustrated and fishless. It was only that night that I remembered that the previous year I could only get bites using half a grain. I had to cut the grain of corn in half with scissors. Next morning and with half a grain as hookbait I caught a few.

I guess that as the lake would be fished by occasional anglers using fairly crude tackle and corn as the main bait that the carp had wised up to a whole grain being dangerous. They probably worked out that once a grain had been ragged by the small roach & rudd in the lake it was safe to eat.

Another set of lakes I fish regularly is on the route down to Nantes from Rennes in a town called Nozay. The town has created a country park with one large lake for swimming & boating and then three smaller lakes for fishing. It has clean toilets and plenty of car parking plus picnic tables. For us it ideally located as a spot to break our drive and have lunch. I also get the chance to have two to three hours fishing.

The results can be surprising. I never seem to catch the same thing regularly. On one occasion, following a thunder storm I had two tench that must have been between four and five pound. Other times I can struggle for a bite in three hours. 2012 and all I could catch was four inch catfish, each one fatter than the last as they gorged on my groundbait. I get the occasional roach and very rare skimmer and then 2013 a near four pound bream.
All in all though a pleasant spot to rest and have a picnic.

Now that the children have departed I can take a bit more gear and thus have a small seatbox (Badger, cost £40.50 from Ultimate Direct) which is useful as not all the banks are level. We now use a campsite just outside the seaside town of St Jean De Monts, still in the Vendee. The site doesn’t have any lakes but I have discovered three spots within a thirty minute drive, each offers something different.
Ten minutes from the site is a lake on the outskirts of the town itself. The lake sits about a hundred yards behind the beach and is used to teach young children to sail. It has no facilities but is close enough for a short session. To start with I would fish this lake from the one comfortable spot I could find, a small area of sand where the lake dropped off to around 12 foot very quickly.

 I would catch small carp to around 2lb, skimmers and the odd roach – and the occasional blank. Though I once had a tremendous struggle with what turned out to be a sturgeon (sterlet?) of around three pound. Just like a barbel it took a devil’s own job to prise it from the bottom, particularly on light elastic (four solid as I recall).

Then one day my favourite spot was taken so I had to find an alternative. Luckily the council had improved some of the banks and I found a spot next to some trees. The difference in what I was then catching was huge. Instead of the odd small silver and small carp I now found myself battling carp to double figures. I wasn’t prepared for this and did get broken a couple of times before beefing up the tackle and landing one of eleven pounds. My latest surprise from this lake has been a grass carp “l’amour blanc” in French (white love?).

My second spot is a drain. The land in this part of the Vendee is flat like the fens and criss crossed with small drainage ditches running to larger channels. I have found a decent place to fish at a town called Sallertain around a twenty minute drive from the camp. There is a picnic area beside the drain and a nearby car park has just had new toilets built.

Picnic area is on the right bank

 The drain itself contains skimmers and small carp that resemble F1s (cralusso?), biggest I have had is around 2lb. Strangely I can catch them on maggot but they will not look at corn. Simplest method is to cast a cage feeder across the 20 yard wide drain to within a couple of yards of the far bank. Pretty soon the tip goes round. The skimmers tend to hug the near bank. It seems very difficult to catch down the middle.

Last is another country park around thirty minutes away in Bourgneuf en Retz. I first noticed the lakes when driving back towards Nantes at the end of a holiday. The next year we took a trip out and found the park complete with clean toilets, picnic tables and most of all people fishing. In all we discovered three huge lakes, two with well defined footpaths around. The third disappeared into a wooded valley with no paths. Over the years I have discovered that the first lake contains lots of skimmers to around two pound, though in 2014 the fish were noticeably bigger averaging 2 1/2, small catfish, small tench and some carp, biggest I have had being four pound but I get those rarely. This is an extremely comfortable spot for both myself and my wife. As long as we have good weather I can fish and The Boss can sit behind doing her sewing. A stop for a picnic lunch and all in all a relaxing day.
My normal approach on the feeder is to fish the Method with a home-made fishmeal type groundbait (check out my Bits & Bobs post for the recipe), corn on the hook.  I know the lake well enough now that I can predict that as long as I get four casts on the same spot the tip will go round on the fourth.  And bites are normally unmissable and self hooking.  On the pole I just feed the same groundbait and fish corn or worm section.  The skimmers tend to be smaller on the pole but I will get some decent roach and the occasional tench and catfish.
A typical Beauvoir skimmer.  One old Frenchman even gave me a recipe!

But I did get a surprise one day. I normally fish with a feeder rod and pole. Bites on the feeder while solid will not rip the rod from the rest and the baitrunner is free anyway. One day however the tip went round, stayed round and the baitrunner started to give line all be it slowly. I unshipped the pole and picked up the rod to feel a heavy resistance, obviously something large, mobile but not really fighting. The fish kited from right to left and all the time I gained line on what felt like a sack. Eventually the fish surfaced to reveal a zander I estimated at around 15lb. With no landing net big enough but the lake only 18 inches deep at the edge I took off my sandals and cradled the fish out of the water, still no fight whatsoever. It was neatly hooked below the jaw. A couple of photos and back into the lake.


One other possible surprise, though I have yet to hook one, is the occasional sighting of a turtle.

So nothing startling most of the time but some nice relaxing fishing with no pressure in pleasant surroundings. I take a very simple approach with corn being the main bait. I do take some maggots. Best way of keeping them I have found is to put half a pint in a 1 pint box and then fill the box with flour. Kept in the fridge they last two weeks. I think the flour excludes oxygen hence the maggots don’t advance as quickly as in an empty box. On days I go out I transfer enough for hookers to a small pot and leave the rest in the fridge. I also take my home-made groundbait.

But it isn’t always sunny

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