Overseas fishery focus | Les Lac Du Verger

This month Carpworld moves to the Champagne region in the north-east of France, famous for its sparkling white wine, and reports on a fishery complex near Vitry-Le-Francois that is very well stocked with big carp. Les Lac du Verger is a well-established complex of two mature gravel pits – Orchard Lake and Willow Lake. We asked owner Marcus Wetzl to answer a few questions about his fishing packages

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Carpworld: Where is your water located?

Marcus Wetzl: In the Champagne region, just south of Reims.

CW: What travel options are available to get to your complex –e.g. ferry ports, airports?

MW: Folkstone/Dover to Calais is the most direct route for driving. Most anglers come this way – some, from more northern parts of the UK, sail from Hull to Holland or Belgium on overnight ferries.

CW: How long does it take to reach your lakes after arriving in France?

MW: From Calais, it is an easy three and half hour drive at 65 miles per hour.

CW: What sizes are your lakes?

MW: We have two lakes on the complex – Orchard, which is fives acres and Willow at 4¾ acres.

CW: What are the stocks of carp in the lakes?

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MW: Orchard has approximately 300 carp and Willow in the region of 80.

CW: What are the biggest carp in the lakes and have you an idea of the average sizes?

MW: Willow Lake has at least 30 different fish over 50lb, including eight over 60lb and two fast-approaching 70lb. The average weight is around 45lb. Orchard lake, with around 300 carp, normally has six fish over 50lb – to mid-50s, over eighty 40s, and an average weight in the region of 35lb. Both lakes have a good mix of common and mirror carp with no crayfish or poisson-chat to worry about.

CW: What are the best type of baits to use?

MW: Good quality boilies will out-fish everything – with CC Moore doing very well in particular.

CW: How can anglers book onto the lakes?

MW: We only take either whole lake booking or complex bookings exclusively. Orchard Lake holds up to five anglers, with Willow Lake taking three anglers.

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CW: How many swims are on each lake?

MW: Orchard Lake has eight single swims, close enough together for social fishing. Willow Lake has six swims, all singles again and fairly close together. Both lakes lend themselves to stalking opportunities if so desired.

CW: Are any swims or areas of the lakes better?

MW: There are no best swims – they all have their day.

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CW: What do anglers need to bring in terms of tackle/bait etc?

MW: We supply large unhooking mats and weigh slings – do not bring your own. Anglers need to bring everything else themselves. We do hire out two-man bivvies and bedchairs if required. All pricing is available via our web site.

CW: What facilities are available – e.g. showers, toilets, fridge?

MW: Both lakes have full facilities. There is a lodge complete with a cooker, fridge freezer, microwave, toaster, kettle, toilet, shower and charging points. Anglers must bring their own pots, pans and cutlery, etc.

CW: Is there a town or village with shops nearby?

MW: Vitry Le Francois is situated just two minutes away, with numerous supermarkets, shops and takeaways, etc.

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CW: Is any there accommodation on site?

MW: We have no accommodation at present, so it’s bivvies only.

CW: Can I bring my wife (or guest)?

MW: All non-fishing guests are welcome.

CW: Is bait supplied on site?

MW: We supply prepared particles and CC Moore boilies in the form of their Odyssey XXX and Live System. No pellets are allowed and you’re only permitted to use particle supplied by ourselves.

CW: Are there any other restrictions regarding bait or baiting up?

MW: The rules can be checked on the website or anglers can phone us to discuss baits before departure.

CW: Are boats allowed and are they available on site?

MW: Boats are allowed on both lakes but bring your own life vests. They are used at the angler’s own risk.

CW: What about baitboats?

MW: Baitboats are allowed.

CW: Is there a bailiff on site or someone to contact?

MW: We have a Bailiff on site 24/7.

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CW: Any issues regarding tackle – is braid allowed, minimum breaking strains, etc?

MW: Check rules for tackle requirements. Briefly, you’re required to use a minimum of 15lb breaking strain monofilament, no braided mainlines, no leaders and micro-barbed hooks only. Rods with 3lb-plus test curve are advisable, with 3oz leads being more than enough to gain the distances required from any swim.

CW: Are carp sacks allowed?

MW: No! Absolutely no carp sacks, retainers or slings are allowed on the site.

CW: How much does it cost?

MW: All current prices are available on the website. Can I add that this season, beginning in March 2018, is our ninth season. We feel that we have taken the fishery from lowly beginnings to the thriving successful complex that it is today. We believe that one of the reasons the fishery is doing so unbelievably well, is in part due to some long term plans we set in place years ago. For example, that for the long term good of running a fishery, the fish’s health and their well-being must be the top priority. For us this includes closing the fishery every year in early November and not re-opening it again until the end of March the following year. During the close season the fish are rested completely, left alone and fed handsomely on boilies (some 800-plus kilo of CC Moore chops went in this winter), and a winter particle mix. Our carp definitely do not go hungry, nor are they hassled by any winter fishing. We also like to clear any snags during this period and put in any water treatments we may think necessary, such as Siltex or dye to combat weed, algae, etc. For us the fish come first and all other priorities come later – because as we’ve already said, without the fish, there is no fishery.

We also constantly strive to improve the lake’s surroundings and facilities, and this year we are changing the kitchen on Orchard Lake again, altering swims and re-graveling large areas of the fishery. On arrival, we want all our guests to feel like they are the first anglers to set foot here.

Sorry to harp on, but I see so many fisheries in France where money-making is the only concern; where the carp are hassled constantly, over-fished and viewed solely as a commodity to be exploited 24/7. Then, when paying guests turn up for the first week of a new season, they find a rough-looking fishery which has been hammered all winter and the carp are swimming around scared to pick up a boilie. Sometimes these carp struggle to make weight gains, maintain their weight or, in the worse case scenario, they even lose weight and eventually die. The management have a million excuses week in, week out as to why it is so slow, and continually sliding into decline. We are not like that. Rant over!

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Fishery Fact File and Contacts

Owners: Marcus and Bianca Wetzl

UK contact address: North Grove Long Lane, Fowlmere, Royston, Herts. SG8 7TG

Fishery address: Les Lacs Du Verger, Etang 87, Rue du Canal, Vitry-en-Perthois, near Vitry-Le-Francois, 51300, France

UK telephone contacts: Landline 01763 208699, Mobile 07833 098209

Email contacts: bianca@champagnecarping.com marcus@champagnecarping.com

Website: www.champagnecarping.com

Mick Clifford