France October 2010
Siege at Castle Lake 1
For some of the regular readers of the site, let me just explain why a 2009 trip didn't happen, two of the regular anglers were under threat of redundancy from there jobs and Darrell my son became a father for the third time. Still the lads were now sorted with new jobs, one changed departments and one changed company's but doing the same job and I became a Grandad, again!!!
Which of course meant that 2010 had to be a goodun!! The summer season here in Spain was well under way, Perry had to wait to build up some holiday from his new job, so it looked like it would be a late October trip. I quite like this time of the year in France as the lakes can be a lot less crowded with most anglers not wanting to book a trip at the end of October, they all seem to opt for the end of September or beginning of October. I can see why, as the lakes can fish very well at these times of the year, but if the weather holds up the end of October can be very productive too. Darrell gets a week break from teaching in Sweden at the start of November, Perry had a few days booked in New York with the missus during October so it seemed a good week to see what was available was week commencing Saturday 30th Oct to Saturday Nov 6th. So far we had me, Darrell, Perry and Steve up for it, Pete, who has been with us a few times was interested and a first for Vincey boy (Perry's brother, I always call him Vincey boy so shall carry on doing so) was also interested. That would be six in total. Pete had been to Castle lake before and had done reasonably well, it was in May a couple of years back but he also caught a good few smaller fish, but still enjoyed his week there. We checked out the website and I made a few enquiries by email to see if the week was available, it was, in fact they had no other bookings for our week. The phones between Spain, Sweden and the UK started to warm up, a bit of research on the net and we decided to book the week for the six of us. The good thing about this lake on the website is you can book the particular swim you fancy along with a view and some details about the water in front of that swim, a good bit of information if booking for this time of the year. Castle 1 is a fairly shallow but large lake (quoted at 50 acres) it does have a deep end and shallow end with 19 swims, we decided to book the swims at the deeper end of the lake, being it was this time of the year, if the weather did turn for the worse the fish could be held up in the deeper water.
The preparation for our week had to start, we had ordered some prepared particles and hemp from the lake, along with the food package and a Bic row boat. Perry had spoke to Kevin at Mainline with our order for boillies, 10kg of New Grange each, along with some dip, paste and pop ups. Baitboats had been given an overhaul and I had split mine in half and made a couple of repairs then resealed the two halves completely. Steve had ordered a couple of new batteries for his, mine and Perry's baitboats as we felt sure these would help on a big shallow lake like Castle 1. Pete had a new bivvy for his birthday, a nice present from his missus, Vincey boy had a camo suite and some new rods, Perry had splashed out on some new rods and a bit of stainless. Steve, Darrell and me just bought a 'few bits' you know the sort of things we all buy when going on a French trip that cost a fortune but never end up getting used! I had to clean all my tackle, rods reels the lot as they do get a bit abused fishing the river Ebro here in Spain and as Darrell was to fly to Spain then travel up to the lake with me, he was to use spare rods and reels of mine for the week, along with one of my bivvies. We had hired a bedchair at the lake and Darrell was to bring his alarms, pod, sleeping bag etc. I had my car serviced so did Perry and Steve, Perry was to travel with his brother (Vincey boy) and Steve was to have Pete as his passenger, They booked their ferries and everything looked good to go.
Plenty of room!!
Castle lakes are located at St Jeanvrin, which is fairly near Chateaumeillant in the Centre region of France. As already said it's a big water of about 50 acres, it has 19 swims where 11 are along one bank. Swim number one is nearest to the facilities and is at the deeper end of the lake just off the dam wall with swim 11 down in the shallowest area at the far end. Swims 12 to 18 are on the opposite bank and are pontoons situated in the reed lined margins, I believe access to these is by boat as opposed to the main bank where you can drive to every swim. The last swim is situated on the dam wall at the opposite side to swim 1, this is also accessible by car. The stock of carp consisted of both commons and mirrors of varying weights from 20's to a few over 50, the record I understand for the lake came a couple of months before our trip with a mirror at over 69lb. So there was plenty of carp to go for, there are some poisson chat present but at this time of the year they were not going to be a problem. There is also bream, pike, perch and bass present, which all grow to a large size as Ron the fishery manager had informed us.
We had decided to fish in three sets of pairs, now although we had booked swims 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 19. Ron the fishery manager had advised to fish the shallow water as opposed to the deep as some Dutch anglers had done well two weeks before we were going and better still no anglers were on the week before us or the week with us, so we had the place to ourselves. The usual draw for swims was conducted by Vincey boy (being the new boy he might as well get involved from the off) Darrell and I drew for first choice, with Steve 'n' Pete being second, that left Perry and Vincey boy last pick. Darrell fancied number 10 (this was on the advice of Ron when Darrell spoke to him on the phone the week before) that would mean I would be in 11. Steve 'n' Pete fancied the middle part of the lake, so went in 6, which isn't really a swim as it's a bit near 5 so it's used for keeping the boats in. That left the brothers grim in 19, Vincey boy liked the idea of the sun shining in the swim when we looked round the lake???
Most of the swims have beds of lilies within reach, but of course at this time of year they were well and truly on the wane as opposed to if we had been fishing during the summer, Darrell and I went out in the boat with my echo sounder to see if there was any variation in depth and type of bottom, we also wanted to check the areas by some lily pads and some marginal reeds to my left in the bottom bay. To be honest there wasn't a lot of difference where we looked or where we pushed around on the bottom, it was all a bit silty and of a uniform depth the main attractions were what was left of the lily beds and the reed fringed margins that had a few little inlets into them, this is where we were to fish. The others had been out to have a look round also and had come up with a very similar outcome to us. So that was it, a bit of baiting a few spots (four rods each are allowed) some markers put in place, baits on the rods to save time when we come back from our evening meal and off we went to get some grub.