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It's A Fifty!

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Last Updated: 29th August 2012

It was a few years ago that I saw Lake Saint Croix for the first time. So, last year my lovely wife and I went for a recce trip to find some info about the area. During our road trip I discovered two, new, unknown venues, one of which I was very curious about.

In early August I set off for Lake Saint Croix, the plan being to fish five days on the lake and at the same time bait up some spots at one of the unknown lakes nearby. On arrival at the unknown lake to bait up I chatted with some of the local anglers, but none of them offered up any useful information for me, perhaps they were playing their cards close to their chests.

Night fishing is not allowed on Lake Saint Croix, so we decided to sleep in the van for the first night.

By 4am I was already in the boat on my way to the swim and, as luck would have it, the first guy I passed was the guarde de pêche! He ask me if I had been fishing during the night, but after explaining that I’d slept in the van and was just on my way to the swim he seemed satisfied and let me on my way.

With Lake Saint Croix being a public lake I only had a small window in which to make the most of the fishing. By midday the place would be busy with sunbathers and swimmers, the peaceful silence would be over and the fishing ruined for the rest of the day.

Each of the five days played out the same, with an early start and then a dry net being packed back into the boat by early afternoon. I did meet a friendly local angler who explained that Lake Saint Croix is notoriously difficult because the carp are very nomadic and with the lake, which is in fact a reservoir, being seven miles long and two miles wide, finding the carp in just five days was never going to be easy. Spending five days at one of France’s largest reservoirs has allowed me to gather a mass of information about the place and its carp, and I already have the dates booked for a return trip next year. I would dearly love to catch a carp from this water.

I had been using the free time in the afternoons to go and bait up the unknown, ‘secret lake’ as I called it. It’s a two-hour round trip in the van, and with time to kill in the afternoons it seemed like a good plan, especially as I had decided to fish there on my way back from Lake Saint Croix.

Arriving at the ‘secret lake’ I couldn’t see any other anglers, perfect for completing my plan. During the week it is forbidden to fish the lake at night so, with it starting to get dark I baited up with 5kg of 16mm Club Mix boilies spread over an area 5m2. I cast each of my three rods to the area, clipped them up and wound them in all ready for putting back out first thing in the morning with minimum disturbance.

My setup comprised a Weed Effect leader, inline lead and a size 6 Stronghold 101s hook with a  snowman hook bait made from a Club Mix bottom bait and Top Bannana pop-up.

By first light I could hear fish crashing over the bait and make out the odd dark shape in the gloomy, half light. The three rods were out in no time at all and confidence was sky high.

The kettle hadn’t even had a chance to boil to make the first tea of the day when my right hand rod ripped off, with a 17lb mirror being the culprit. A good start, but I did wonder whether catching so quickly meant that all of the bait I’d put out the previous evening had already been eaten.

Very quickly I recast the rod and scattered another kilo of Club Mix around the area using a throwing stick. An hour later I was in again, this time landing a mirror of 27lb. By the evening I’d landed five carp, the biggest being a mirror of 29lb. As the sun set I spread another 5kg of Club Mix boilies around the area in preparation for the following day.

Action was far slower on day two, with the first take coming at midday. However, with that first fish being a 32lb 4oz, two-tone mirror it looked as if the bigger fish had moved in.

What followed was one of the craziest things I’ve experienced in my fishing career. I always have rigs tied up, baited and standing soaked in Big Shot Liquid so that I can get a rod back out and fishing immediately after catching. On attaching a new rig and flicking it back to the area, I didn’t even have a change to put the rod on the rest as the line was ripped from my hand as I sank it. The culprit was a 30lb mirror!

A couple of hours later the left-hand rod let out a couple of bleeps as the tip slowly started bending around to the right. A slow, heavy fight ensured for the next half an hour until finally, with my wife assisting with the net, a large mirror finally slid over the net cord. Peering into the net I was speechless. A lovely, old, scaly mirror of 51lb 2oz was mine; a new PB on a public lake in France.

Three more carp followed suit that evening, all much smaller than the fifty, but with action hotting up I had to pack up and leave, as the 12-hour drive home had to be completed in time for me to get back to work. In the three days on the ‘secret lake’ I landed 15 carp to 51lb. A great result considering I had been told it wasn’t an easy lake. One thing’s for sure… I will be back.

I’ll keep you all posted.

Alain Servaes