"We sit on cowslip banks, hear the birds sing, and possess ourselves in as much quietness as these silent silver streams, which we now see glide so quietly by us"
Monday, 19 April 2010
No success but not a failure
The 11.55 night crossing from Dover to Calais was met and now it was time for a good drive through the night with three excited ten year olds in the back of the truck.
We had decided to take the scenic route to try and avoid the nightmare that is Paris. On doing this, complete with three stops and a lengthy fourth for a much needed rest as no sleep kicked in at about five in the morning!
We eventually arrived at Chapel lake at midday(ish)!! We were totally wrecked and then Tony the owner of the lake arrived to give us a tour of the venue and to tell us a little history.
Eighteen acres surrounded by woodland was now ours for the week.
Swims were chosen all in close proximity of each other for all in all it was going to be a social for us and any fish would be a bonus as we had planned that the young un's would wind in most of the takes.
One thing that didn't look too promising was the weather, some of the days were sunny but with that came cold easterly winds with temperatures dropping like a stone come the evenings/nights.
That first day went like a blurr due to tiredness, but that first tea time one of the lads had a far bank run which turned out to be a small common carp and with that sort of start we thought/expected to have a bagging week!!
A few drinks were had before we turned into the bags, but one thing that was noticeable was..... it was a dark surround.
Quiet, dark and in the middle of nowhere with only the odd squawk to be heard, if nothing else we would have a chilled week with the surroundings we had been given!
First light came and that first morning told us that warm clothing would be the order of the week.
Time had now come to go and venture out into the lake by boat to have a poke and a prod to look for some likely looking areas as the first days efforts were nothing more than pub casts that left the reels in more of a lets hope sort of way!!
The main body of the lake of which used to have a predominant river bed running through it was now six feet deep with a couple of feet of silt below it, hmmm! On boating across to the far marginal snags it soon become apparent that from a couple of rod lengths from the far bank the bottom changed from silt to gravel/sand and a rocky make up. Carp anglers are suckers for this type of area and we were to be no different.
At this point I will just say.... that maybe we'd be proved wrong?
Baits were rowed out and placed on the rests and now it was time to set three float rods up to keep the young un's happy to compete for the roach that occasionally pitted the surface. Now this little game turned out to keep me busy for most of the week due to hook losses, tangles and mega lines wrapped around the backs of spools! The boys were happy and left to their own devices most of the week, whether it was fishing, wandering off into the surroundings to find wood to whittle or just to play hide and seek (although my son Jason didn't like it much when a free roaming Shetland pony chased after him!!).
Donkey's, chicken's and even Limousin cows were roaming free and with the odd sighting of a white heron and the twit twoo from from a local owl in the far bank tree's all was well in the world.
Now, this is not the bagging up tale it could have been with just the odd run coming between us over the period of the week. Different rigs and baits were tried and by the law of sod, three days in and I was singing in the shower of which at this point I will say was pukka apart from the mad dash at the end of it to get off the cold cobbled stones with the cool air temperature.
It turned out that the rod I had set up with my lad in mind who is left handed (yes, reel handle on the wrong way!) had melted off ninety yards away!!
Although I could not see this happening when later told the story it turned out that one mate was holding the rod while another was turning the reel handle! With this sort of heath robinson affair going on, I hasten to add that a very large fish was lost about thirty yards out due to a hook pull!
Some you win, some you lose!!
Still, I was there to relax and nothing was going to faze that.
A couple of fish had to be landed by boat due to fishing tight to snags but again these only turned out to be small ones but over a few days all three lads had wound a fish in and to see them smile while holding a French carp was a picture in itself and something you or I probably never got to do when we were their age and something that will stick in their memories for ever and you never know, they might even travel down through France on their own as a trio of mad keen carp anglers simulating their fathers? Lets hope so!!
Due to the weather being so cold considering we were only about three hours from Spain, one good blow of a southerly might have been a different story for us, but it was not to be and with this we decided to head for our own shores a day earlier than planned.
But on that last morning at 4am one of the party netted what turned out to be the biggest of the trip at 36lb that slipped up on a light linked pop up rig from yes you've guessed it.....the sloppy silt in the middle of the lake! So maybe, just maybe we got the plan of attack wrong? Who knows?
If not for the chilling winds, the company was great, the lake was pretty as a postcard the region was at peace but most of all, to go camping with your son and let him be a lad with angling intent and to experience this sort of trip, well that was enough on this occasion.
We will no doubt return again one day of that I'm sure.