Dave Spence: A Dream Trip to France’s Blue Dart Fishery
Nestled on the boarders of France’s Périgord-Limousin Natural Regional Park lies a carp fishing haven called Blue Dart Fishery and a few weeks ago, Dynamite’s Dave Spence and Andy Mackie had the pleasure of visiting its banks. Here’s how they got on…
There were times over the last couple of years where an overseas carping session seemed a distant dream as I’m sure many will relate, and when the immobiliser on the motor stuck on the night before, this trip was close to being exactly that! However, with gentle persuasion and some stern words, she fired up and in mid-March that dream finally became a reality with a trip to Blue Dart Fishery!
In the big scheme of things, the effect the pandemic has had on the angling industry is irrelevant, but from a personal point of view, being an angler and working in the industry, the effects have been extreme to say the least. The sudden explosion in participant numbers meant we went from 0 – 150% and I could no longer enjoy the selfish solitude I had grown accustomed to down my local syndicate as every man and his dog descended on lakes across the land. The chance of escaping overseas for my yearly pilgrimage was an absolute no go.
Fast forward to the back end of 2021 and a glimmer of hope appeared…well, it was Andy Mackie walking through my office door as he joined the business as our southern sales rep and was enjoying his first tour of our site!
Niceties exchanged, Andy clocked some of my angling pictures and so the conversation obviously digressed from factory tour to our shared passion for carp fishing!
We shared a couple of stories and I moaned about my lack of “bank time” and it was at this point we agreed to put things right!
Andy has been a part of the angling world for what sounds like forever (sorry Andy!), and it seems what or who he doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing. Formally owning and running a successful tackle shop business, Andy further extended his friends list and one person who became a good mate was a chap called Daren.
5 years ago, Daren decided the 9-5 grind in the UK wasn’t for him and he’d much rather live, with his lovely wife Mandy, next to a carp lake in France!
Covid had obviously meant that visitors to their lake, Blue Dart Carp Fishery, had been thin on the ground but this had meant that Daren had had chance to manipulate the lake and the surrounding land into his dream vision – an intimate pool of around 4-5 acres set in landscaped surroundings with a lovely cosy dwelling nestled on the Western bank overlooking the whole lake.
The lake itself is stocked with around 70 handpicked glorious specimens along with a handful of special originals, all growing plump in the balanced eco system created through sensible fishery management.
So, a date was set and my small luggage allowance proved challenging! I do like to be prepared for every eventuality, and it was a real struggle to stick within’ the weight limits for the flights… I failed miserably!
Flying to a lake was all new to me and not having all my own kit didn’t quite feel right. I needn’t have worried as Daren is an experienced carp angler and the kit (most already set up) on our arrival reflected this.
With a fridge of cold beer and a homemade vindaloo, we were more than ready for the 4 nights ahead!
Sharing “Le Grande”, a big double swim which covered most of the lake, Andy opted for the deeper dam wall area. I should have twigged at his lack of hesitation, but having seen the “alleged” weather forecast, promising positively spring like conditions, and having spied a couple of the lake’s residents in the edge on our walk round, I stood there questioning his watercraft! The shallows were all mine, and I was going to clean up!
What I had forgotten was, the weather forecast isn’t always correct, and Andy had visited Blue Chart Fishery before and knew his stuff.
With rods positioned in likely looking areas with previous form, confidence was high, but unfortunately as the hours ticked by, the weather began to turn and with the freezing NE wind, I’m glad I’d smuggled my long johns onto the plane!
At 10pm Andy’s left rod drew first blood. It had been positioned tight in the far corner of the dam wall and drew a short burst from his alarm and the dropper to pull up tight. The fight was slow and ponderous, and it was no surprise when a healthy set of shoulders breached just beyond netting range. Without too much drama, the back slapping commenced, and a satisfyingly fat French mirror was held up for its portrait. At 41lb 12oz we couldn’t have really asked for more, and after all that had gone on in the world, all was well in our bubble!
It was at this point I clocked the diabolical mess hanging from Andy’s lead clip arrangement.
How the hell had he even considered persuading a fish of such majesty to pick up his hook bait, let alone get hooked and even more remarkably landed??! I had heard whispers about some “Nora Rig”, so called due to the inclusion of an old bit of knicker elastic, but when I slapped my eyes on this “game changer” I nearly spat my tea out!
Granted, a scrap with a 40lb carp is never going to leave a rig looking brand new, but this bird’s nest was on another level!
Andy talked me through the mechanics of the rig. Being a big fan of a light running rig, I totally got the principle behind the concept, make it an absolute nightmare for the fish to get rid of, and sure enough, the hand test appeared to confirm this.
I just couldn’t get my head around the bright pink bit of screwed up elastic and the whole thing being dumped from a bait boat hopper to land in a heap on top of the lead. To “help” this arrangement, the most horrifically tied “solid” (I must use that term loosely in more ways than one!) bag, was then nicked onto the hook to apparently slow the descent of this cock up!
The thing is, when someone or something talks the talk AND walks the walk, you’d be a fool to not at least pay a little attention and when Andy held the second 40 up of the trip and the lake’s biggest common to date, following one of the lakes original true leather carp and a pristine mid 30 common, I was soon sat on the edge of my bed chair, fumbling around trying to emulate Andy’s rig tying prowess!
This wasn’t going to turn my angling upside down and angling is so much more than just a rig, but if something could give me a bit more of an edge, I’m all in!!
We were now into the second of the four nights and would you Adam and Eve it, my Nora Batty trap had been sprung. Positioned over towards the far bank in a slight depression in the lakebed, two halves of a Complex-T boilie over a light scattering of crumb and pellet were enough. Typically, this “specimen”, as pretty as it was, was soon on its way over to the stock pond in the sling and didn’t trouble the camera! Still, I was off the mark finally and my confidence in the “wonder rig” had grown slightly!!!
Andy chipped in with a couple more nice fish from the dam wall that night, the highlight being his third 40 at 44lb, and before we knew it the chickens were back in our bivvys searching for any scraps that we’d dropped through the night!
I have to say, the selection of animals around us, both semi domestic and wild, was quite entertaining; some of the cockiest hens, over friendly cat, and busiest woodpeckers I’ve ever come across!
Following two more quick succession bites to Andy’s middle and right dam wall rods mid-morning, the rest of the day was quiet, and the Friday night was, surprisingly, a fairly uneventful affair too, with just one fish early doors, again falling to Andy’s rod tucked in the right-hand corner of the dam wall. Blue Dart Fishery was being incredibly kind!
With all three of his rods now crammed in the hot zone in this corner, I was being encouraged to join the party!
Saturday morning dawned and with the odd patch of bubbles peppering the surface tight up against the wall over to the left and still nothing of note showing anywhere in the shallow half of the lake, it was time for a re-think.
Now all the fish from the deeper water had come to baits positioned 1-2 rod lengths off the wall at the bottom of the slope, but, for the first time since the afternoon of our arrival, the sun was trying to poke it’s head out and this appeared to have encouraged some fish up the marginal shelf, the bubbles literally an arm’s length out.
Discussing what we were seeing, Andy said I should go and try to stalk one, but the idea of doing battle right in the proximity of where Andy had been doing so well from didn’t sit well with me. I needed to make sure, if I were to hook something, that I could get it away from the kill zone as quickly and quietly as possible.
The next hour, encapsulated everything I love about carp fishing!
After slithering around to the wall and through the slats in the fence, I crawled to the water’s edge and eased a bank stick into the (thankfully) soft earth, the bubbles so close, I could hear them popping on the glass like surface.
My lead arrangement was then sent by water in a wide arc away from the activity and the Microcat gently plucked from the water towards the far corner of the wall. With my Complex-T Wafter baited Nora attached, I lay prone on the grass and nervously reached out over the water’s edge letting the line slide through my hand for what seemed like an age.
I don’t know what I was expecting but for them few seconds it felt like it was bottomless.
Probably exaggerated as I was subconsciously holding my breath! The line was then laid slack over the edge of the wall and up to the bank stick. I was woefully ill prepared for this situation, so had to settle for half a dozen wraps of marker elastic to hold the line in place.
The grip wasn’t quite enough, so a carefully selected piece of dry grass was slid into the loop of line like a flimsy bait stop, to hold everything in place. Out went a pinch of freshly cooked hemp and I was wriggling backwards away from the water’s edge before hopping back round to Le Grande.
Rod up in the air like I was back at home on the mighty Trent, and I’d done all I could!
Through the binoculars the bubbles continued to hit the surface in random areas up against the wall, some tantalisingly close to where I had been lay minutes before.
It must have been no more than 15 minutes before the rod top sprang back and the HD5 let out three quick bleeps. I was stood next to it when it happened, but it took me a second or two to realise that it may be a little more than my flimsy bit of grass just letting go; just maybe something had caused it…So I grabbed the rod, cranked the Okuma INC 8000’s handle like its life depended on it and hit what felt like a boulder on the bottom…which then started to kite left!
Plodding slowly around like it didn’t really know, or even care it was hooked, the weight on the end of my line gave me that feeling that only an angler can explain. I’d finally hooked a proper one and I was crossing everything in hope that the daft looking rig on the end of my line held firm.
I was grateful of the fairly uneventful tussle and as I parted the mesh for a better look, there lay an absolutely superb looking Blue Dart Fishery mirror, and one that, only the previous evening, Daren had teased us with a picture of!
Just to confirm, the hook hold was absolutely nailed on, and the outcome had been inevitable from the moment the carp had clapped eyes on my hook bait!
On the scales she went an ounce under 44 and its first time over the magical 40 mark. The trip was now complete as it only ever is when all have caught.
That brief bit of warmth had presented me with an opportunity, and as quickly as it had appeared, it slipped away again as another chilly night set in.
It wouldn’t have been right if Andy hadn’t added one more to our tally that night, and a superbly long, almost leather fighting machine of 34lb joined the gallery.
A celebratory bottle of wine for Andy and a couple of bottles of Leffe Rouge for me and it wasn’t long before it sounded like someone had fired up a Dyson in the bivvy next door!
So our lovely little stint to Blue Dart Fishery, a fabulous slice of French heaven, finally drew to a close and I for one, can’t wait to return.
It was everything I had hoped for and although the weather wasn’t exactly in my favour, I had been fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of what this lake has to offer. A broad variety of beautiful fast-growing carp, full of character. Hospitality beyond anything I’ve experienced at a French lake, or any lake for that matter and facilities that wouldn’t look out of place in any travel brochure.
I’d been a little spoilt and felt I needed to go and roll around in the cold wet mud down my local gravel pit to bring myself back down to earth!
Want to fish Blue Dart Fishery yourself? Just tap here!
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