Andy Bradnock: French Carp Fishing Part 3
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!
There are 3 of us (part 3)
So you will be glad to hear this is the third and final part of this series of articles on our trip to Moulin du Mee. There hasn’t been this much milked from so little since Adam was let loose in an all you can milk goat farm…
He has an unhealthy attraction to ungulates with their cheeky eyes at the best of times, but later on in this story his powers of abstinence were tested to the limits. After reading my previous efforts, Adam also pointed out that, without the back story, us standing shouting ‘beard on’ at each other when we hooked one sounded a bit moronic. So this is the story.
It started when Andy and Adam were on a trip to Aldermaston on the River Kennet, barbel fishing. They were sharing this magnificent bit of river with a gang of tweed clad barbel anglers who were getting increasingly annoyed that they were blanking, whilst our intrepid duo were catching numerous be-whiskered fighting machines. Then Adam hooked another fish while a tweed was walking behind him and yelled ‘beard on’, which made this poor old fellow jump. They got more incensed as the day wore on as the children were catching, and yelling ‘beard on’ at each other constantly. This appealed to our childish sense of humour and ever since we have been using it regardless of the species we are fishing for.
So… it’s Wednesday morning, the weather is holding nicely and we are expecting further action. However, as is the usual way of things, the fish had other ideas. Nothing showed in front of us all day and no further fish were caught that morning.
As it was the middle of the week, we were due to head into the local town twelve miles away to stock up on victuals. Therefore, around midday we reeled in, showered and made ourselves slightly less disgusting than normal, then headed into civilisation.
On the way out we passed a field with two camels in it, one Dromedary and one Bactrian. The whole trip to the supermarket passed without us seeing another living soul, we were surrounded by beautiful French countryside and got to see migrating cranes and a huge hornets nest.
Halfway around the supermarket we got a message from the Doc, he had just caught the lake record mirror at 77lb. A truly immense beast, it is just a shame we didn’t get to see it in the flesh.
Fully stocked up on great tasting French victuals and a bucket of cream cakes for the Men Mountains on the far bank, we headed back to our little green domes. On the way back we stopped for a look at the camels. The Bactrian took a real shine to Adam and started to get all unnecessary and excited. We couldn’t tell if it wanted to shag him or fight him. However as Adam was getting all doughy eyed and started to fall in love, I took charge and bundled him back into the car before this love powder keg got out of hand.
Adam loves a good marrying, and I could see him wavering a little as his knee start to bend and buckle. Poor bugger hasn’t married anyone all year, so is getting withdrawal symptoms. Anyway, we arrived back at the lake with sicknote being a little lovelorn, as well as snot filled, but in possession of two fine French steaks for that nights BBQ. The Doc was like a giggling girl on prom night, and it was tears and cuddles all around when we got round to his swim to offer congrats and deliver a wheelbarrow of patisserie.
Wednesday night was again fishless for our bank and it was at this point that the Doc really pulled our pants down, as for the next couple of days he was constantly playing and landing fish after fish. He is the absolute master of building and baiting a swim and showed what can be achieved with clever bait application.
Adam was still ill and feeling pretty miserable full of Covid and didn’t really recover until the trip home. We were therefore feeling a little down on the Thursday night as we retired to our bags.
I had been fishless for 48-hours by this stage and had started to worry that my race had already been run. Friday morning dawned overcast, with a bit more chill in the air. Nothing had stirred on our side of the pond but all night Chris and the Doc had been pinging photos of giants at us – we had definitely lost the battle of the banks.
The only thing keeping us smiling was knowing what we had done to their cakes before we dropped them off…
Just after breakfast as I was trying to decide when to re-do the rods, my right hand buzzer finally burst into life. A tense ten minutes passed as I slowly teased the bait stealer towards my netsman. Finally, victory was declared and after some warmer clothing was donned, 39.12lb of chunky French mirror was held up in the rapidly chilling air.
A more relaxed holiday atmosphere returned later that morning, when Adam managed to bag another 30 as well. He is a great believer in his theory that carp can tell when you are desperate to catch. He equates it to girls on a dance floor and goats in a field avoiding you. I am not sure if he treats both scenarios the same. This is obviously all mumbo jumbo, but you try arguing with him about it and he gets all glassy eyed like a religious zealot when you tell them that the whole god thing is over-rated.
The weather continued to cool, and we broke out the Harkila wind-stopper jumpers and woolly hats.
We thought with the weather deteriorating rapidly, the afternoon was probably going to be our last chance of another bite as it was due to be still and clear overnight with temperatures dropping below freezing. Around 15.00, a slow series of bleeps from my left Delkim elicited the usual catastrophe of speed donning chesties, before battle commenced. I found myself attached to another slow moving sandbag that felt huge as we paddled through the margins.
Adam managed to re-find a huge concrete block in the margin to my left and promptly fell over it, getting a nasty shin ouchy to add to his various medical malaise. After a relatively slow and unspectacular fight we bundled a sparsely scaled royale mirror into the net. We didn’t realise how big it was in the churned up muddy water but getting it out for weighing took more effort than we were expecting. At 57.10, it made me smile like a Mackie in a cake shop.
Traditionally my wife cooks us a chilli, to freeze and take on our French trips. It was defrosting nicely in my bivvy as we had saved it for our final night. As the temperatures continued to drop we sat consuming a lovely warming chilli, discussing the prospects for the final night.
Our hopes weren’t high due to the sudden drop in temperature. However this turned out to be a fine night to be angling. Chris and the Doc both had 50’s just into dark, and the Adam managed a 36 at just after 19.00. It wasn’t until 01.30 that I had the final take of the trip – a 42lb mirror with a scaly tail root was a fitting climax to a great trip.
The morning dawned frosty but the sky was an amazing array of reds and oranges, and as we packed up we were hoping for that final take that didn’t come. We had to be off early as a local rally was due to start that morning, with all the roads in the vicinity being closed in preparation.
Therefore by 08.00, we were packed and ready to vacate. It was hugs all round and we started our drive back up the country. Chris was determined that we should stop for lunch at a McDonalds (other fast food outlets are available) halfway back to the ferry.
I had a less snotty Typhoid Mary sat next to me for another 10 hours of travel back home, so my immune system again ran the gauntlet of whatever disgusting bug he had managed to contract. I can happily report that, despite the odds, I managed to avoid being struck down with the ‘terribles’, which was a relief.
So ended one of our more successful trips to France. Not the most memorable – that was a trip to Red Hot Lakes which was utterly awful, but I managed to trick Andy into handling a bag of my poo. He hasn’t been the same since but, as they say, that is a completely different story.
I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings, and I have managed to convey the fun and camaraderie on our trips away. I think sometimes when reading about carp fishing, that it seems a hard slog and it’s all about the ‘scaly bangers’, caught at 200yds on some sort of munga, spodded onto a dinner plate. Don’t forget, we do this for fun which means different things for different people, but remember, those roses aren’t going to smell themselves.