Several months ago I sent an email to French Carping UK with a request to be granted the privilege of a carp fishing trip to France on La Horre. A few weeks later, the annoying Delkim ringtone of my mobile signalled an incoming call from the said company.
Rob, one of the directors, asked, “Would you like to fish La Horre, Rod?” Let me think about that one… After all of 0.5 of a nanosecond I gave him the answer: “Yes, and I am available at short notice.”The arrangements were made, the air was punched, and a trip to the awesome venue was pencilled into my year planner. The name La Horre is Synonymous on the carp fishing grapevine with big carp, due to the number of large specimens it contains, including at least three over 67lb and an estimated 400-600 over 40lb. If that is not enough to whet your appetite, the remainder of the stock is made up of mainly upper-30s. It is without doubt a fantastic big fish venue!
All French Carping UK venues are within easy reach of Calais. A 3½-hour journey that entails following the main A26 south, past Reims then cross country, gets you to the centre of the Champagne region, a beautiful area of France that is renowned for producing big carp. As its name suggests, it is famed for the high quality bubbly produced in the region, so don’t forget the champagne glasses! My journey included a guided tour of their other venues, namely Brocard and Jonchery, and on arrival at La Horre I was shattered, but the detours were worth it. Over 20 years of fishing in France, I have come across few venues that are able to match the scenery, space between swims, and number of big carp that these lakes contain – impressive is an understatement!
At last we arrived at La Horre. I am now sitting in a swim, laptop resting on my knees typing this article. Every so often the silence is broken, a quick raise of my inquisitive eyes reveals a carp aerial display. Every so often a note is made of the areas where they are giving away their presence. The estimated weights are between 40-60lb! The water buffalos are creating quite a commotion as bow waves expand from the epicentre of the eruption. What a show of strength and I’m enjoying every minute of it, the stuff of carp anglers’ dreams.You may be interested to know that the current rules are being revised for the 2006 season and Patrice the famed bailiff has given up his position. The rules for next year have been decided upon and are sensible and not as stringent as in the past. The new bailiff is not yet known, but I am assured the selected person will speak good English (may even be from the UK). I am told the person will be friendly and possess good customer communication skills. I have been looking for a high quality venue on which to run a couple of matches next year, and La Horre has everything that is needed so I have therefore taken the liberty of reserving two separate weeks for two events during 2006. One is a pairs match to be held during the last week of August and the other the British Army Carp Classic. Further details will be available through my own site and the website of French Carping UK. Alternatively, look for the details within the pages of Angling Publications magazines in the coming months. Amenites are located at the entrance to the lake and consist of two showers, toilets and washbasins. There are several supermarkets within a 15-minute drive, including the well known Intermarche and Aldi.
A good quality mosquito net is recommended, as shallow, reed-lined lakes such as these tend to be a haven for the biting pests, especially during midsummer. The nearby hunting shop sells nets in various sizes and colours, as well as basic items of tackle.
The bailiff takes bread orders on a daily basis. There is nothing quite like a fresh baguette coated in French butter and dipped into soup, a daily snack that I have become accustomed to over the years. A selection of tackle and bait is available from the on-site house shop, including well-prepared particles and a full range of boilies. As previously stated, the fish stock is impressive with a number of carp over 60lb and at least three above 67lb. Carp between 50 and 60lb are so common that the numbers are not known. 13 x 50s and a 62 is an example of one of the many big hits from La Horre this year!
During my visit, a total of 21 carp over 40lb and many upper-30s were caught by 10 anglers. A couple of 50s were banked to a German further down the lake – I’m not sure of the swim number, but believe it was in the region of number 12. The La Horre stock has been grown on under the guidance of well-known French fish farmer Patrick Bachellier, who I had the pleasure of meeting. He is responsible for supplying many UK owned French lakes with their big fish; I am told he is the biggest fish farmer in France. A number of sturgeon were introduced a few years ago, and they are now averaging between 20 and 35lb. The current lake record mirror stands at an impressive 69lb+ and is a fish that I would be proud to cradlethe area.
The vast majority of stock is in immaculate condition. Possibly to do with the strict carp care rules that were enforced in the past. This years rules included the hooking of carp in the water on large beanie type mats. The said rule has been changed for 2006. Large unhooking mats being manufactured and to be placed in each swim. Another rule change worth mentioning is that shock leaders will be allowed under the 2006 rules, providing a run ring safe release system is incorperated. This year sees the first season of no boats and has made a big difference to the behavior of the fish. It is the first time in many years that numbers of carp have been observed within a few yards of the bank. Even though the rowing of rigs was never allowed there were always a few who ignored the rule, hence the reason boats were banned. Boats can do more harm than good as anglers strive to get a little further than their neighbours, resulting in the carp moving further out.The majority of carp during my visit came from spots under 100yds
The lake is said to cover 250 acres with only 28 anglers allowed at any one time. Swims can be booked up on reservation; if, however, you feel the need to move, ensure you clear it with the on-site bailiff first. Each swim has a stable platform designed for two anglers using three rods each. Theres at least 100yds between each swim, giving ample room to fish left and right. It is comfortable fishing without the fear of others encroaching on your spots. The anglers who had the two 50s were fishing swims in the teens, these being located close to the house. Swims 1 to 6 are furthest from the facilites and popular with english anglers. However, those in the know are aware that some of the biggest fish have been landed between 10 and 15 and these swims will be amonst my first choice on future sessions. The main feature is the old riverbed that runs approimately 80-100yds from the bank; it is a patrol route and a good place to intercept them. The abundant weedbeds can also be worth a rod, especially in the summer months, as they contain an abundance of natural food. They are literally alive with oversized water snails, a natural food larder that is a magnet to fish. The average depthis 4-6ft with the topography being fairly even. The bottom is predominantly silted; either pull back of feather the cast to ensure the lead/rig is not buried .
Conclusion the French venue – La Horre
La Horre is one of the largest commercial venues in France and may be a little intimidating to those who are accustomed to smaller lakes. As i tell the missus, dont let size put you off!- it can be easier to catch from here than from many of the smaller waters, largely due to the carp population.
Both single hookbaits and heavily baited areas worked well, and is difficult to say which worked best. Baits consisted of BCUK mixed particles/boilies, Eurotec freezer boilies/stick mix and Mainline boilies. I have no links with any of these companies, but the anglers i was fishing with were affiliated to them, so a bit of free bait came my way. Most good quaility baits will catch on any venue when placed in the right spots, and this lake is no different.
The buisness end consisted of stiff fluorocarbon of appoximately 8ins in length and a breaking strain of less than the main line. Anti-tangle tube was used due to being part of the rules for this season.
A marker, spod rod and throwing stick are invaluable. Most anglers opted for tight baited areas placed in the old riverbed. Martyn and big Ron of A&j carp tours were part of the group and fished swim 6. They followed the pyramid mass baiting approachand worked hard with the spod all week. After a couple of days the carp came across the area in numbers. It was not unusual for them to land a brace of mid-40s during the course of a night; their spod mix was doused with red venom (robin red type liquid) fromm CC Moores.
Rob and Jud from French Carping Uk varied their approach from singles to tight-baited areas, I landed a couple of carp on Robs rods whilst he answered the call of nature or when he was away photographing other anglers success! Cheers, fellas