IN THE LAND OF GIANTS @ Etang du Manoir, April 2019
ROD BIRD #TEAMSONIK
Now the last thing you want to hear from the lake owner the minute you turn up is “Yeah it’s been really slow the last couple of weeks, only one fish out…..and it was only 12lb”, well that’s what I got when I arrived, my fishing partner John nearly hit the deck……but I’ve been through it all before so I didn’t panic…honest. I mean there are so many reasons for slow periods, so the experts tell me, hot days then cold nights, lack of oxygen, easterly winds, etc, etc, etc……but to be honest they never mention the class of anglers that have been on the weeks prior to you turning up. Were they just on holiday and drinking all day and all night, loud music rocking the banks – and why not, it’s a break for most after all. What bait were they on? Did they fish to the conditions, did they fish the right spots, and how many rods were they using…and so on.
I tend to try to do things my way, I honestly don’t have a plan until I get there. Well I’ve got my bait, on this trip and I had 45kg of DNA Secret 7 Shelf Life boilies, a Norwegian container with Hemp and Maize, 2 pots of Secret 7 Hydro Spod liquid and 3 types of pop ups, Wraysbury, PB’s, Malty Milk, and that’s it – no need for 200000 pots of various pop ups and wafters etc. All the above baits I have had success with in the past therefore I was more than confident in my selection. As for rigs, I still had no idea until after the draw, which was to take place the following morning. So beer in hand we had a couple of walks around the lake until it was too dark to see, so we sat down and had a few more beers and listened.
Now we could have gone round and spoken to the anglers that were still on, but to be honest I hate the next crew coming and asking me loads of questions whilst I’m trying to pack up……plus they had blanked, so I really didn’t want to get into that.
First light saw me walking round another couple of times, where I was pleasantly surprised at the few fish I spotted. The draw was at 10am and to me it’s always a very nerve racking time, however all went well and I ended up in the Doubles with John – now this is where it all started to come together. John had seen a drone video of our swim which showed loads of carp in a weedy area to the right hand side of our peg so said he wanted to fish that side. I hope I didn’t sound too pleased when I said “OK buddy, I’ll take the left with the island”.
I’d fished this swim before and managed to catch a few carp from John’s side including a few 50lb lumps, but then again I’d also had some very large carp from the island. Now the main factor here for me was the weather, it was very cold after a warm spell and was to be cold for the next 2 to 3 days, so I decided that when I chose my spots I would leave my rods in until they produced carp. This is a very difficult thing to do as the habit of recasting every morning after perceived bite time is over, and then again at night before last light is all too easy to do …….you’ve all done it and most of you will still do it, but when it’s slow it generally means the carp aren’t really in a feeding mood. So I picked my 3 spots, decided to use Multi Rigs with a Snowman bait system, with a different pop up on each and got my rods out, with a 4th for good measure. This one was at short distance straight into a very snaggy area. I then set up my camp and sat back…………
30 hours later my 4th rod went into melt down, it was around 2.30pm, the fight on my Sonik Xtractor 10ft 3.25 was brilliant and up until this point the biggest carp I’d had on these rods was a 27lb Mirror on a local water.
I could tell from the fight that this was considerably bigger and was delighted when a stunning 42.8lb Common slipped into my VaderX 2-piece net, pressure off! After re-setting the rod, with minimum bait we took the pictures etc and slipped her back. The following morning just after a morning brew my left island rod cranked round to the right.
Now no matter what this one was going to be I was 100% confident in my 13ft 3.5lb Gravity XT rod. I could tell from the fight that it wasn’t another lump but really enjoyed the scrap from the feisty carp, I slipped my 2 piece DominatorX landing net under what turned out to be a 28lb 6oz Common. I was well chuffed now that I’d had a couple whilst others struggled to even get a liner and went through the daily routine of rods in and out at the usual times.
It was still cold so I stuck to my routine of leaving my rods until I get a run, my rod at the top of the island had a massive drop back 10 min before we were going to wind in for a BBQ with the rest of the anglers, but it came to nothing so I spent a few minutes getting about 100-150 boilies over my 4 spots and wound in. On returning from the food I got all 4 rods out and within an hour my top island rod produced my largest carp so far, a lovely scaled Mirror at 48lb 14oz, all the photos done etc I slipped her back.
I noted the air temperature had risen a fair bit and was glad to put my shorts on for the first time, but within an hour it was really cooling down as the sun went behind the trees. Now I must point out that all the fish so far had come during the day and I hadn’t had a single touch during the hours of darkness.
“My taxidermist’s gonna’ have a heart attack when he sees what I’ve brought him.”
The following morning was beautiful and warming up nicely, my buddy John got into a fantastic battle with a lump from his side of the swim, we were delighted when he slipped his net under what looked like a high 40, and were delighted when we weighed her and the scales went past the 50lb mark at 50lb 8oz and a PB for him. A nice fruity cider was had by all! After re-setting his rod it was my turn, my left island rod again went into absolute melt down, whatever had taken my bait had moved 70 yards up the island in about 5 seconds – the speed was unbelievable and after a long hard battle I was pretty sure I had one of the scrapper 30s that fight like mad, but as the battle started to slow I could feel the slow nodding that is usually associated with big carp. I got a glimpse of her a few minutes before she was ready for the net and she looked good, but how good, she slipped over the net cord and as we peered in she looked to be a high 40 at most, it wasn’t until I slipped my SK-TEK weighsling under her to get her from the water and went to lift her…..the line from Jaws came to my lips “My taxidermist’s gonna’ have a heart attack when he sees what I’ve brought him.” She was like a block of lead – the scales went round to 60lb 05oz – a new 60 for the lake. I was over the moon to say the least as it had been many years since I last had a carp of this quality. Pictures done, fish back and rod back out, time for more fruity cider me thinks.
It had been a very warm day and for the first time it stayed warm when the sun was going down, this triggered me into action and decided to reset all of my rods, hoping for night time bites. As it turned out it was a stroke of genius, at 1.30am my snaggy Xtractor rod burst into life and after a good fight in the dark I landed a stunning 50lb 05oz Mirror, a new 50 for the lake. I had the pleasure of getting to name her, I named her Sophie after my Granddaughter. I got my rod back out hoping for more action and within the hour the same rod was away again this time she was a very hard fighting Mirror at 39lb 13oz. I couldn’t believe it, 5 nights without a bite then as soon as the temperature rose they were on it.
Friday is always a strange day for me when I’m away, I want to get rid of as much gear as I can but really want to keep fishing hard, but it was absolutely roasting so a slow day passed with nothing really happening, except John managed a 19lb Mirror from a close snag, all essentials were to hand the rest of the gear was in the van, we had a take away pizza and a few beers were drank as we mused over our week, John with a new PB, and I’d had the trip of a lifetime with 1 x 20, 1 x 30, 2 x 40, 1 x 50 and 1 x 60, what a week…..but it wasn’t over.
At 1.30am…..again the snaggy rod gave 3 beeps, on close inspection it was clear there was a fish on, however it was right in the snag, there was nothing for it, I had to get the boat out, I reeled out to the snag and I could hear the fish on the surface right in there, I plunged the rod as deep into the water as I could and managed to move her some, she shot out, went round the boat and back into the snag, this was a titanic battle, so much so I had a real wobble and almost went in, but managed to keep my footing and slipped my net under her…..I was over the moon, once on dry land she weighed an impressive 41lb 11oz Mirror, we slipped her back and had a quick beer whilst I reset the rod. I mentioned the full moon and the chance of another Common – well they love a full moon don’t they? Time for bed and get some sleep before the long drive the following morning, well that was the plan. At around 3am my middle island rod was away, ripped from my slumber to the hardest fighting fish I’ve ever had on, it was doing 50 to 60 yard runs for the best part of 20 minutes, I eventually got her under control and slipped the net under her, and yes she was a Common, and what a Common, the biggest in the lake at 56lb 07oz, what a way to end the week.
We left Etang du Manoir in high spirits and look forward to September when we will be back again. I was shocked and stunned that I’d only used 12kg of boilies all week……………but as I said at the beginning I fish my way and it tends to work.