Fight night in Brittany

Brittany Mill Lake


My trips abroad for this series have been tiring and rewarding, many miles have been crossed, so many that my old van is on her last legs. I thought I was going to lose it as the garage doors behind the old rust bucket after a recent MOT. I was pleased when the van doctor informed me that she is ill but we can save her at a cost of over £300 and the best treatment that money can get, the old dear is worth every penny, trout pellet smell maggots and all.
Brittany Mill – This left me a dilemma as I’ had intentions of fishing a commercial lake in France over the period. Not wanting a small problem like no transport get in the way, an all-inclusive trip would have to be organised. A thorough search through the pages of the fishing magazines was essential to reduce the options. Anyhow I was tired of driving and fancied something a bit different. I was hoping to write an feature that would have you on the edge of your bedchair, similar to a book that you cannot put down, however don’t have that ability therefore will put pen to paper in the same manner that I do on a monthly basis; the selected lake needs little introduction as its been on the Euro carp fishing scene for many years. The complex had an overhaul in recent years and has expanded, the number of lakes and carp stock, ascetics and all inclusive holiday package has been improved. Andrea the lady of the lake, was keen to highlight some the and after photos, and should say that the owners have conducted some major improvements in many areas.

All inclusive carp fishing package at Brittany Mill lakes in France

The all inclusive carp package I selected can be described as fly, provide and pick up pick up, the flight is pre arranged, collected by the venue owner from Dinard airport taken to the lakes, the bivvy is waiting assembled and tackle placed ready for fishing. All I took was 3 reels, alarms, bobbins, sleeping sac, rigs bag and changes of camouflage clothing, everything else was onsite.

Brittany mill swims features

The lake is over 300 years of age therefore had plenty time to mature. It is surrounded by mixed forest of the conifer types. Some extend from the margins releasing fruits into the lake; I watched carp on several occasions rooting the bottom. Quite possible feasting on natures larder i.e. seeds and nuts from the trees.
The lake itself is shaped like a dog bone and 12 acres in size, a little larger than some venues that Ive been to of comparable acreage stated by lake owners.
Theei are 12 well spaced swims, each of those are strategically placed to give the carp angler plenty of water with features to cast to, without encroaching on other anglers. Some areas lend themselves to a bit of stalking.

Othe weather changed time for some stalking

Throughout these artciles Ive worked at find the right tactics for each lake, when the approach, tactics and location are right, carp will come: I was catching on average 2 over thirty per 24 hours while fishing at at the shallow end, but couldnt help thinking It could be better. 48 hours into the trip my mind was wandering to previous stalking sessions, creeping through the undergrowth with a lob on, I do enjoy these tactics. Swim jumping and stalking has got many advantages: it is good for location due to visiting a many swims, it’s probably the exciting of tactics and it can be very productive in the UK and in France.
So here I is with stalk on thee brain, camoul was adorned and 2 of the rods prepared, I set off in the boat towards several areas that had been seen as posible good stalking spots. This delicate approach was adopted, lying low down, creeping like a stick insect approaching the prey. As I sneeked into position I looked through the foliage and saw carp uprooting brown silt. Not wishing to move incase of spooking them a worm was slowly lowered into place. Carp tails dimpled the surface layers as they dug their heads in search of natural food, and slowly closing on my lobworm. The bait was too much of a temptation for them to ignore, the makeshift float slid through the surface, heart felt as if it were in my mouth, I struck only to miss, a wasted chance! I had mucked up and had yanked the hook from the fishes mouth.
I had to give myself a dig in the rib cage for the failed effort, I moved back to safe area under the trees, waiting for them to come back. And they did, but this this time closer in to the lilies at the right of me, just out of reach of with the float. An alternate tactic consisted of maple 8 crushed in a bag and a small maple bottom bait on the hair. This was cast to the sides of the decaying lilly pads and slack lined. I sat out of view and out of mind, the spool churned as a good carp bow waved through the lilies, my rod took on a battle curve and she was landed. The scales settled at 36 lb 2 oz of pretty mirror carp and a fish that would not have been landed had I not taken the chance to do a bit of stalking.

The Brittany Mill carp were on the move

There number of carp in this area seemed to be increasing, more than in the swim were we were bivvied, a quick gathering of the fishing tackle and we were in position in the new swim with 3 rods apeice. Shortly after arrival my left alarm sounded a slow take, the signs of a pretty good fish, the fight tested the provided rods to the max. As the carp was netted I estimated it to be approximately 45 lb. The scales told different as the big mirror carp settled the Reuben needle at 41 4 oz, not as big as first thought but a welcome 40.
The swim disturbance gave me an opportunity to re-cast towards the carp that were showing within metres of the far damn embankment. 30 minutes passed and Andrea the owner’s wife delivered the food. Within a few minutes of her leaving another run was hit, lady luck was with me as a 44 lb mirror was phtographed.

The sun sets on carp fishing in france

As the sun set I managed to land the 4th good carp of that day, a 33.6 lb mirror.
The sun glistened its final goodbyes of that day, and had a feeing the night was going to be productive. I sat on the chair reminiscing about the day’s events, at the same time one of the rods fished close to the damn let out bleep, my eyes focused on the buzzer, then came a second and third bleep. Pretty strange I thought, as most of the runs were slow, ponderous but hittable, this was slightly different. I lifted the rod and it was nearly wrenched out of my my hands, the clutch slipped as the animal on the end was intent on striping over 100 yds of line. I was powerless and starting to loose control, my suspicions geared towards catfish, it was too heavy and ponderous to be a carp.
Somtimes it sulked on the lake bed like stubborn immovable animal, only the heaviest pressure could get it mobile. I was not letting it regain energy by giving it a breather. Each time it moved it would power up the lake taking 50 yds of line. 50 minutes passed and I was wondering if the size 6 barbless would hold out. After what seemed like an age, the catfish was glimpsed within several yards of the bank, maximum pressure was applied and moggy came close to the 50 inch landing net. There was no normal netting for this beast; it was more like a slide/scoop to get its body in the net.
As I was unhooking it, the owner arrived to give a helping hand. Neither of us had big enough scales to weigh it; therefore suggested we use the owners bathroom scales, long shot but it may work! The idea was to stand on the bathroom scales with the catfish in my arms, then we could take my body weight from the total! I stood on the scales the people lifted the catfish into my arms, as the weight of the catfish was released my legs began to buckle from the strain. The total weight was read out , I rather hoped the helpers would take the fish from my arms as quick as possible. No luck, they insisted on many happy snaps of me developing what felt like a hernia! After calculations a weight of 87 lb was agreed, a PB catfish on carp rods and tactics.

Fight night – big carp and something I wernt expecting

Just half an hour after the monster moggy, line was leaving the the baitrunner at an incredible speed. This time connected to the quary I was chasing, a short heavy fight and a nice mirror of 45 lb 12 oz the third over 40 within several hours. I was now silently hoping I could relax into my sleeping bag and have a well earned rest. I was just starting to watch the back of my eyelids when the alarm woke me up and was into another fish, it didn’t feel that big. Only 20 yards from the bank all hell broke loose and the fish turned turned to take 150 yards of line from my reel. We both stood in awe, with nothing I could do but watch the spool in disbelief, the only animal I had hooked with as much power was a cow, that’s another story! By now I could see the base of the spool and had no other choice but to climb in the boat and clamp down hard. This animal towed the 12 foot boat towards the top of the lake, then turned towards the dinghy, causing me to wind as fast as possible to regain control. nearly an hour passed and my body was shaking due to the previous catfish and big carp and now 55 minutes of this thing! I didnt have any choice but to hand the fishing rod to Shep, I needed some recovery time. The next hour or so we passed the rod to each other til this huge head of a sturgeon called Mervin went head first in the mesh of the landing net. The battle had been 2 hours and the sturgean was landed from a bank 200 yards away from where it was hooked. Once again the fish was far to heavy to be conventially weighed, the lake owner told us that it was stocked at 72 lb! No way was I going to climb onto the bathroom scales for a second time! You can see why it fight night! Within several hours we had several mid 30s, 3 carp over 40 lbs, a moggy of 87 lbs and sturgeon of approximately 70 lbs!
Only two days after Shep had a take from one of his open water rods, as he bent into the fish, 70 lb of shear tearor lept from the the depths, Mervin that damn sturgeon was about to put in another appearance. All told the fight was similar to the previous encounter, but not as long. After only one hour and fifteen minutes of lake tour it’s head slide in the bottom of the landing net, what a beast!

Since this article was wrote I have been informed that the lake has changed hands and the new owners have opened other nearby lakes, I did enjoy my Brittany mill session.

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