Forces C.A.R.P. recently headed to Lac Baleine in the Champagne region of France. They took four wounded veterans to continue their journey into carp angling, and assist in their own individual recovery from physical and mental injuries and illnesses. The week was the culmination of this year’s programmes, and the guys were able to hone the skills and develop the knowledge they acquired on a week-long venture, where making friendships and enjoying respite were also on the cards.
On arrival at the venue, they were greeted with temperatures of 37°, but the guys were undeterred, and those assisting for the week set straight to work. They unloaded a mountain of equipment and bait, and set up the swims for a week of carp-angling fun. The temperatures made conditions difficult throughout the week, both physically for the guys and for the fishing as the heat continued, but in true British fashion, the banter and camaraderie was soon in full swing. The first fish fell to project founder Simon, who landed a mirror of 23lb 8oz early Monday morning, which instantly lifted the mood in the group.
All the guys were fishing hard and doing all they could to tempt fish into their landing nets, and by Tuesday morning there were two new PBs. Jonathan landed a mirror of 28lb 13oz, and then Jason landed his new PB of 29lb 12oz. The effort was starting to pay off.
On Wednesday the group took a day off from angling and visited the City of Reims and the Museum of the Surrender, the official place where Germany surrendered World War Two, which was a surreal and enjoyable experience. As dawn broke on Thursday morning, Jason smashed his PB with a cracking mirror carp of 42lb on the nose, caught from spots he had worked hard on all week. He had been baiting up with maize, which Lac Baleine owner, Phil Gregory, had given the group to maximise their chances of catching his quarry.
With four fish being landed by Thursday, Mark and Paul still had to get their accounts going, and in the early hours of Friday morning, Mark landed a new PB common of 26lb 10oz. Again, the capture brought the group together, and the bonds made between the group throughout the week were evident as they celebrated each capture and willed each other to catch. Unfortunately for Paul, it wasn’t to be on the fish front, but the whole trip and experience was of huge benefit to a guy who, only a couple of months ago, could only dream of visiting France because of mobility issues, let alone spend a week fishing there. The group left at the crack of dawn, after landing five fish to 42lb between them. Friendships and bonds were made, and experience and knowledge was gained, which these four wounded heroes would take away with them from what was a superb week at a fantastic venue.
Thanks go to the small team of helpers, Richard Share, Kev Gourley and Lindsay Williams, who drove, cooked and assisted throughout the week and made the trip a success, and also to Phil Gregory, the owner of Lac Baleine, for the use of his superb venue. Also a huge thank you to Marc Dalton, the on-site bailiff, whose knowledge and help was invaluable in testing conditions.
For many of us, carp angling is a relaxing hobby, and a way of getting away from the daily grin. For these wounded veterans, carp angling is a recovery tool and hobby that changes their lives, so to everyone who has supported Forces C.A.R.P. to date, we can’t thank you enough. Our 2017 dates will be published in due course, and anyone who knows someone who was wounded or injured, either physically or mentally, as a result of service in the armed forces, can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org