Perfection Guarenteed | Iain Macmillan
It’s amazing how your own angling styles change over the years. Maybe it’s an age thing, as we mature, or maybe it’s just the fact that once we try something new and discover that change isn’t so bad, we embrace it.This is certainly the case with a lot of my fishing now. The one thing I used to hate was boats, and I would only go in them as a last resort, and if someone was with me.
I think this stems from one of my summer trips to Cassien, where I misjudged the depth of the margins as I was coming into land. It was roasting hot, I had shorts and sandals on, the boat wasn’t overloaded because it was day-only fishing, so the bare essentials were with me to aid mobility.
As I glanced over the side of the boat, through my Polaroids it looked to be just a couple of feet deep. I thought it was safe to kill the engine and stick my leg over in readiness to moor the boat, as you do.In that instance I found myself underwater, with the boat almost right on top of me. I’d seriously got the depth wrong, and it was a damn sight deeper than 2ft, which iswhy I ended up in the water with the boat turned over!!
It scared me to death, it really did. Luckily, I managed to retrieve the battery and small amount of kit I had with me due to the fact that the actual depth was 5 or 6ft. That incident haunted me for years, and I give ALL water the respect it deserves.
Pascale Lake in France is one of those lakes where a boat is an absolute must.I’ve fished it a few times now, and there’s no doubt that it’s a massive edge. It gives me the confidence to extract fish from the weed in the boat, in the way I can see things, rig placement, and spots the fish have created. In fact, I much prefer fishing from a boat because I know everything is inch-perfect, which helps massively, especially when I want to leave a rod in place for anything up to3 days.
The fish there are something to behold, so it goes without saying that you really want to land every single one.It’s not an easy lake, at roughly 8-10 acres, and is pretty uniform at 9-10ft. The stock is about 90 fish, maybe a few more, but it’s the weed and the pressure that make these carp tricky to catch.
Last year’s trip was my best yet, but it didn’t start off that way. As always, I came out last in the draw. We allowed Bullet to fish from the luxury of the lodge, as the poor bugger really hadn’t been well. This left Clive, Beechy, and me to draw.I must admit to feeling very, very dejected when I came out last.I’d just like a break one year, and draw a bit higher;it’s getting bloody ridiculous.Beechy chose the swim I fancied, which is a proven area and one I’d not fished before. Clive, to my amazement, went on the middle bank, which to me seemed pretty nondescript.My mood suddenly rose, as I’d seen some fizzing around the Gate Swim on my walk around. The water was considerably cloudierthere than anywhere else, so this would be me for the duration.
As with most things in carp fishing, stealth is the key. I was meandering about on very low speed, but looking left and right, plus down at the echo sounder for clues.A few H-blocks were dropped to mark spots and I was back on dry land, brimming with confidence without causing hardly any noise.
I didn’t go mad with the bait to begin with, as you never really know what the lads from the previous week had shovelled in. This lake is a 10 or 12 bites a week sort of place, so the one bite at a time tactic is the best option for me. At the time, we were testing the new Complex-T from Dynamite, and it would be interesting to see how the fish reacted to it, as I knew it would never have been seen on the lake before. It was a brave move due to the trickiness of the lake, but if it paid off it would increase my confidence in the new bait tenfold, plus give Dynamite the feedback they required.
Saturday is always the changeover day, and it’s normally utter carnage. The fish know this, and it puts them on their guard for a while.New spots are fished from the previous week, there’s the boat traffic, the general noise from the bank; in fact, on lakes like this I don’t expect to get any sort of action for a couple of days. That was the case for this trip, and it was Monday before one of the rods pulled up tight and pinged out of the clip.
On the last couple of trips, the standard procedure was to jump straight in the boat and go after the fish because it was so weedy. This time it was moving, so I carried on playing it from the bank until I realised that the boat wouldn’t be needed to land it.After a brief bit of faffing about under the rod tips, a mega-scaly mirror of around 35lb was pictured and sent on his merry old way. More importantly, I was off the mark.
I settled well into the session, and was seeing and hearing fish at regular intervals, but I wasn’t chasing them.There’s no point in getting everything perfected on the Saturday to continually change the spots after a couple of days. It just creates more disturbance, and I’m convinced that the fish know the baits are there;it’s just a case of them being less edgy and tipping up on the spots.I love situations like this. It makes me fish harder and I make more effort than normal. It almost becomes a stalemate between me and the fish, to see who’s going to crumble first.
The next couple of bites were only small fish bythe lake’sstandards, both low-40s, but I’d now had a bite off all three spots. I upped the bait, not a stupid amount, but I knew they would happily visit each of the carefully chosen spots and eat the bait I’d given them. It was time to up the ante slightly. I also trickled some bait onto the spot and off the spot.There was no doubt they were using the tunnels through the weed, which obviously led to other spots they’d cleaned off. My plan was to get them tuned into the bait, so, a free meal just off where the rig was could be the way to buildup confidence. Judging by what happened on the Thursday morning, it worked a treat.
Big-fish Thursday is a phrase used by anglers all across Europe. Does it mean anything, and is there any truth in it? My theory is this; by Thursday, everything should be working like clockwork. You shouldn’t be changing the areas every day, as the fish should be usedto the lines being there. More importantly, they should be way more relaxed than they are on the dreaded changeover Saturday.
I’m not one for being overly obsessed by PBs, but there were fish in the lakewhich could beat my mirror and common bests. I’m not that lucky most of the time, but the thought is always in the back of my mind when I get a bite on a lake like this.
It had only been light for about an hour when the left-hand rod gave a little twitch on the bobbin.It had my attention, and I fixated on the line as it entered the lake.It slowly started torise and tightenup, and I wason it in a flash before it had any chance to pull out the clip. It was moving, which the other fish had done too.
I hadn’t been out in the boat to extract a fish from the weed; I guess it’s always nice to have a good old battle from the bank. At times, it felt like the fish was grinding to a halt in some weed, but steady pressure kept him moving towards me. It was getting close to the surface and I saw the lead clip, and then the massive flank of a huge golden common. I must admit I absolutely shit myself. Lord knows how I managed to keep it together after seeing its bulk, but I did. It then decided to dive into the marginal weed growth. Despite this not being anywhere near bad enough for him to find sanctuary, I still thought that the hook could fly out at any moment.
Everything held firm, and I netted the beast. I secured the net, and then legged it down the bank to get Beechy.He was still snoozing,and as I was reliving the tale, thereceiver went into panic mode – I’d got another bloody bite. This got the ginger prince out of his pit, but on his arrival, I was out in the boat because the fish was stuck fast.I wasn’t about to take any chances, and gentle pressure on the line soon had him popped out of the weed and bolting for freedom. It turned into a very dogged scrap, heavy and prolonged, and Iloved it
It was time to show the fish who was boss, and a big chunk of weed came up, followed by something rather sizeable. It was another monster! I tried with the outstretched neta few times, but the weed above the fish was causing me issues.Luckily for me, the weed decided to fall down to the lead clip and cover the fish’s eyes – perfect.I went for one last go with the net, and I knew it was massive because I struggled to get the weed and the fish into the folds of the 42ins net. At last it was mine, and all three of the lads were waiting in the swim on my return.
That was some moment. I had two nets full of big carp, and some order was needed, so the lads helped with the mats and scales while I just giggled. I thought the common was big, but the mirror was even bigger, and I didn’t expect the weights to be what they were.The common went 60lb 4oz, and the mirror was just over 68lb.I’d only gone and smashed both my personal bests in the space of a short feeding window. The common was amazing, just scale perfect, and such a well-proportioned carp.
The mirror was a big bruiser of a fish, which was tricky to hold due to its width. The adrenaline and sheer buzz, got me through it all. I couldn’t stop looking at the shots of the common, and even to this day, I look at it and it blows my rocks off. What a privilege to hold such an impressive fish.
The buzz of those twofish meant I didn’t get the rods back out on the spots for a few hours. I was in a bit a daze, if I’m honest, but eventually, the urge to catch another one takes over. Again, I baited the tunnel and spots just off the area on both rods, as I was sure this helped in tripping up bothof the 60s.
Nothing else materialised on the Thursday, and I wasn’t surprised. Alengthy bank battle with the common, plus a heavy boat scrap with the mirror, didn’t help the swim. It was late-afternoon on Friday when the right rod tore off,almost giving me heart failure. It was a ferocious take, and not once did it stop taking line. I was convinced it was another boat job after it ploughed through severalweedbeds. To my surprise, it just kept moving, so I kept pumping. Clive was mincing about, and had seen me into another fish. He was soon by my side with the net in hand, and it was another big one. It resulted in a clean chunk of a fish at just over 53lb.
Clive wandered off, calling me a jammy git, but I was buzzing. It isn’t very often after almost a week on the bank that I want to stay, but I just knew this action would continue. The fish were well on the bait, but I was almost out of Complex-T,so it was just aswell we were off in the morning.
I dropped the right-hander back out on the spot, but we had to be gone early in the morning, so no more bites came my way. I couldn’t help but think what might have happened if I’d stayed, but again, that’s the greed in carp anglers. Mind you, I took the positives.I had seven bites, and landed all seven. The rigs had nailed them, as had the bait and the baiting situations.
The main thing to take from this article is that if you get the opportunity to use a boat, and you can use it with stealth, then do so. It opens up a whole new world, and really does make you see things from a new dimension.It makes perfection an easy thing to achieve.
I’m back on Pascale later this year, with hopes and dreams of a few more of the incredible carp which swim in there. I bet you can tell what my plan of attack just might be.