Andy Bradnock: French Carp Fishing Part 2

A short tale of friendship and a French carp fishing trip to remember… Andy Bradnock’s first web article is a reflection of just how good carp fishing with mates can be!

Andy says…

There are 3 of us (part 2)

So I left you on a Sunday in deepest France, a sixty to the good and full of fine victuals. It was at this point in the week that we realised there may be something wrong with Adam.

I have known the man for more than 20 years and have managed to write a whole book on all the things that are wrong with him. These range from when he was born in the high street in Kendal (his first blanket being a copy of the daily mirror), right the way through to his hair dyeing years and loss of all bowel control. However, this latest manifestation of illness involved lots of snot, coughing and ‘I’m poorly’ moaning. It looked like he had managed to catch himself yet another bout of Covid. He is quite the Covid sponge and despite being fully vaccinated has managed to contract the disease five times. Fortunately, we had the doc with us who sorted out some meds to bring his temperature down and stop him moaning quite so much. The real issue that concerned me was am I going to catch it, and considering I had spent a night in a cabin and a car ride through France with Typhoid Mary the odds were against me.

The Monday morning dawn was lovely, all reds and golds with not a breath of wind. I love first light with a tea in hand, and the lake was quiet and peaceful apart from the snoring from the far bank. The two of them sounded like boars truffle hunting in a bucket of egg yolks and that was over 160m away. The fish in Moulin seem to show heavily at night and less so at first light but patches of bubbles all over the swim elicited that air of expectation which is impossible to explain to a non-angler but its mere mention will bring a smile to a fellow piscator’s face.

I was halfway through my second mug of tea contemplating waking Adam so he could make me a bacon sandwich when a slow trundling take occurred on my right hand rod. The next bit was as farcical as always. First, get out of my boots, jump into my chesties and calmly walk to the rods, then deal with the fish trying to steal my hook bait. However, the reality with a Delkim getting more insistent by the second had me chucking tea everywhere falling over, swearing with feet half in, half out of my incalcitrant chesties and losing a valiant battle trying to pull them up. As a side note, the ingenious brain of Mr Tom Bankes came up with using cut down plant pots wedged into the tops of folded down chesties. This holds them open making a speedy ingress easier. Why it is beyond the wit of man to make the boots of chesties firm enough to stay open is beyond me. Tom has always been publicity shy but has recently written a book (well actually three, if you know him that is entirely what you would expect. He never does things by halves.) that I thought was one of the best angling reads for years. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Anyway, soon enough I am rod in hand yelling ‘beard on’, stumbling and splashing through the silt doing battle with a 31lb mirror that ended up in my net with very little histrionics.

After a 6am battle with the chesties, a crisp 31-pounder was netted!

The rest of the day passed fairly uneventfully on the fishing front for me but while walking back to the car to collect the ingredients for the chicken and asparagus risotto that was to be that night’s dinner, I disturbed a pine martin. It was in the hedge line behind the lake and made across the field and straight into a small copse of trees. It was an amazing sight. These things happen so quickly it is impossible to get a photograph. I have tried in the past and ended up wasting the moment, so I just stared at the rapidly disappearing bouncing arse of this impressive creature.

After dinner I was sat alone, I’d packed the snot factory back to his own swim when the second take of the day at 21.00 resulted in a high-backed 34lb mirror.

A cracking 34 was fish number 2

This was our last action of the day so we enjoyed an undisturbed slumber. Tuesday morning arrived and passed without incidence the first carp action was to the doc on the opposite bank. He was off his rods talking to Jim on the dam wall when his buzzer screamed into life. The tea in my mug began to vibrate a’la Jurassic Park, as best part of 90-stone of doctor thundered down the bank towards his offending rod.

That was the only action of the morning, however as the afternoon progressed the activity over my right rod increased where a few fish looked to be feeding quite hard. A huge fish poked its nose out in amongst the increasing waves as I squeaked and squealed in excitement. Finally at 13.00 the rod pulled up tight and I was again doing battle with a slow moving plodding fish that was trying to explore the dam wall a 100m away. I have a few photographs of playing this fish in ideal conditions as the warm westerly wind had picked up and the clouds had formed the classic ‘Simpsons’ sky.

That classic ‘Simpsons’ sky

Again this fish decided a slow tour of the lake was the order of the day but did nothing unexpected. It was slowly coming closer when around 30m from us it sort of rolled/sloshed over onto its back and a Labrador sized old gnarled and wrinkly head with my hooklink running into its mouth came out of the water. After a little more wallowing and grunting my nets man stopped coughing just long enough to do a quick sweep and stab netting of what looked to be a giant.

It turned out to be a fish we had been talking to Jimmy about that goes over 70lb in the spring then spawns out to 55lb and then slowly climbs back up. This time she weighed in at 61lb of wrinkly perfection. Adam then managed to take what is just about my favourite photo of any carp I have ever caught. Its wrinkles captured perfectly looking every ounce of its weight.

What a fish! Wrinkles at 61lb

That feeling as a giant swims off is such a strange sensation. Why? What is it about simply catching a fish that seems to still the soul? It makes no sense but no matter how often it happens you want more. It is the most addictive of drugs.

We spent the rest of the day preparing for the coming night. This year’s feeding times had been completely different to last year where all but a few bites had been in darkness. This year most bites seemed to be in daylight. By this stage we still hadn’t thoroughly appreciated this. We always try to keep disturbance to a minimum generally but definitely during potential bite times. It always amazes me seeing people baiting and re-doing rods at first or last light when they should be sitting on their hands waiting for a bite.

I had slaved over a hot stove and created a Spaghetti Bolognese that an Italian Nona would be proud of. However, Adam was really suffering with his head terribles and we had pretty well emptied our entire emergency pharmacy into him by this point. This made my cooking fairly redundant as he picked and sneezed his way through dinner only managing a small amount. Before long he was back in his sleeping bag feeling terrible and I was left alone with just a book for company.

It hadn’t been dark for long when there was suddenly a shout of ‘beard on’ from sick note’s swim. At this point in the story a previous encounter earlier in the week comes into play. Now on his best day describing Adam as ‘fighting a fish’ is a little like describing a 90 year old toothless granny as ‘devouring’ a trifle. There is usually a lot of grunting, twisting and standing on one leg. It is more like a Pilate’s session than playing a fish.

Playing a fish or performing palates?

So… Earlier in the week he had a fish on for best part of a month and during the fight had skilfully managed to keep his rod poker straight and did more moaning and grumbling than a moustachioed German porn star who had just popped round to fix a leaky washing machine. Eventually bored with being in the lake, a common of not the giant proportions I had been reliably told that he was attached to slid over the net cord.

So it’s to this backdrop that in the dark 20m out in the lake, the still surface only illuminated by the red glow of a head torch, a pair of giggling childish 50 year old men patiently waited for a fish to come within netting range. Numerous comments of ‘does that rod bend’ were only answered by chestie muffled farts and occasional grunts. I was fully expecting another moderately fighting thirty to finally come into view probably in an hour’s time. To my surprise suddenly the patch of water in front of me illuminated by the beam of my head torch was filled with a substantial amount of carp flesh. The trudge back to shore was difficult for me as my progress was hampered by the 63lb resident in the net.

‘Sick Note’ with a ridiculous carp of 63lb!

At this point I have to make a public apology to Adam as the photos of this magnificent fish are not as good as they should be. His camera started to play up and mine did not like the low light conditions we were shooting in. He may have to take a year off work due to the emotional damage caused.

So it’s Tuesday night we have all caught some giants and we aren’t even halfway through our week and there is everything to play for…

Missed Part 1? Read it here.

The post Andy Bradnock: French Carp Fishing Part 2 appeared first on Dynamite Baits.

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Andy Bradnock: French Carp Fishing Part 2
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