Carp fishing in Belgium – My first visit to Lac Terte was in 2000 when it was pretty much unknown to the majority of UK anglers, since then it has become recognized as one of the best carp waters in Belgium. I have spent a number of sessions upon its banks in search of its larger residents. However due to a computer hard drive crash I have managed to lose most of my digital photographs of the venue! Yes, I should have backed them up, lesson learnt. In order to write this article that has been requested by a number of anglers, I must adapt improvise and overcome and put my graphics design skills to test. After tearing down the house in search of photographs I have managed to rescue a few pics, just enough for this piece.
Due to the diversity of its character, explaining the approach is best done through graphical diagrams, they paint a much better picture in regards to the recommended approach than that of words alone.
Lac Terte is situated in southern Belgium near the town of Mons, close to the French border and only 1 hour 40 minutes drive from the port of Calais. It was a working gravel pit covering over 50 acres with depths to over 50 ft. In places the steep margins drop to more than 10 metres (30 ft), not a gradual slope but a cliff i.e. one step forward and you are swimming in Lac Terte in over 30 ft of the wet stuff! Due to this I do not recommend that you wear any type of waders or clothing that will cause a burden if you were to loose your footing, its not a safe place to get drunk if you are that way inclined!
In the words of angling lines in a recent paragraph within the worldwide column, “Lac Terte will win no prizes for beauty.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, it is a large deep rectangular hole in the ground with gravel workings covering one third of it and carp anglers of all nationalities dotted along the remainder. Especially so during the summer months, when bivies of all colours can be seen along the straight level banks for many hundreds of metres. In my opinion its character may not be suitable for the majority of UK anglers, unless you are experienced in fishing fairly large deep lakes and are aware of the methods to employ on such venues. Alternately you can read the remainder of this article and be fully prepared should you wish to accept the challenge?
That said it is not a difficult venue, with the right approach it can be quite easy, the difficulty comes in the psychology of the angler. Mental preparation is advised, you are not visiting a picturesque lake, you are not fishing 5 -15 foot of water and you will be fishing in a regimental manner. Upon setting eyes upon it you may feel inclined to move to the much more scenic etang Rue situated several hundred metres along the road (ran by the same person and agency). However you are likely to catch bigger carp from Terte than its neighbouring cousin.
I have not exactly sung its praises within this introduction, so why am I writing about it and what has it got to offer? How about carp to 66 lb and growing! At least 40 over 40 lbs and over a thousand 20-40 lb fish! I think you will agree that it is enough to wet anyone’s appetite. It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a lake that contains as many big fish as this one places oneself in the beholder category!
The route from France to Belgium is a drive through rather than a stop check and there are no tolls on route due to the majority of the journey being on the northern motorway that parallels the Belgium/French border. Both Angling Lines and Angling Solutions take reservations for this lake and is suitable for a long weekend or holiday sessions due to its geographical location, southern Belgium.
Lac Terte facilities
I am unaware of any changes since my last visit; the facilities are basic, consisting of a wooden shack bank side café and toilets. However a new brick watering hole was planned in 2004. Due to not visiting the lake since early last year I am unsure whether it is complete and open to anglers, if not then you still have those eerie thunder boxes to contend with, hold your nose!
The local town is a five-minute drive and has a multitude of small supermarkets that sell just about all you will need to stock up your cool boxes. If you, like I enjoy fast food takeaways then take note of the telephone numbers of the kebab and pizza shops, they provide bank side delivery and enough services to satisfy the heartiest of appetites!
Lac Terte swims and features and tips
Even though fishing is not allowed around the entire lake there are many swims to choose from, but as with most lakes there are some that are better than others. When standing at the entrance gates you will notice a small island on your right side, the first swim, and a producer of some big fish and hits; especially when the wind is blowing towards that end of the lake. No fishing is allowed to the left as the gravel company is still working that area. It is worth placing a bait at the base of the deep island margins as many carp hold up in the area that you cannot reach i.e. to the left of the island. The carp often follow the marginal base and into the baited area where a carefully placed trap will catch them off guard. With this in mind place some feed in the areas where it is not possible to cast or remote a baited rig, this encourages them to follow the food source to where you can present a hook bait.
The wooden fishing lodge is located 200 yards from the main entrance close to one of the bottom corner of the rectangular shaped lake. The swims near the hut can be productive in the right conditions and are especially good when a warm summer breeze is blowing towards it. The gravel bottom is not always the most productive as they do like to spend time within the warmer upper layers on hot sunny days.
The bank from the wooden lodge stretches for several hundred yards, with swims separated via white plant pots extending to the last swim. Mid way along this bank you will notice the working pontoon with gravel machines upon it. Due to the spillage and manmade steel features that are festooned to it, it is a magnet for numbers of carp. Unfortunately it is out of casting range but can be reached using a remote control boat, you will need to lock up tight as they know exactly where to find the snags.
The most productive swims are the last couple on the long bank, just before the barrier to the private gravel workings area. There are no major bars in the deep water to the front, but those that work hard at feature finding will find some gravel mounds. A remote control boat steered into the areas that are out of bounds to anglers often brings rewards (although it is not allowed to bivvy up in these areas you are allowed to remote a boat into them).
Approach to fishing deep lakes such as TETRE (Belgium)
During warm summer days the majority of its stock are within the surface layers. During these conditions an adapted zig rig often out fishes bottom baits as much as ten to one. Bottom fishing on this lake in these conditions will ensure that your baited area and rigs are up to 20 metres from feeding carp.
On warmer days they tend to patrol the warm upper thermocline; it plays an important part in the behaviour of the lake habitat. It is an area of water within the water column in which the warmer upper waters are prevented from mixing with those at a deeper level. This barrier prevents the interchange of nutrients between the two and so in a way produces two separate environments for pond creatures. I have personally witnessed the thermo layer whilst scuba diving in a deep Dutch lake. The change from warm to cold water was not as gradual as expected; it was more like warm for several feet, then a distinct line of 2 different temperatures, so distinct that I could have almost placed a ruler on the change.
During the night the thermo lowers and the fish often follow, again I have a first hand account of this due to speaking to some Dutch fire brigade divers on the same deep lake, I recall them stating that they prefer to dive an hour after dusk as the warm water thermo drops down in depth, interesting?
As soon as the sun starts to warm the water the following morning, carp return to the surface layers. Probably the reason why zig rigs are better during the day than at night. I am not saying that a zig wont catch during the night but in my experience they are far more effective once the sun has warmed the water and the carp have ventured into the upper levels.
Spring and autumn tactics
It is much more difficult to predict the feeding level within a column of water at this time of year, if you notice them crashing on warm spring days it is an indicator that they are in the upper layers. However it can also be very cold in the spring and it maybe that the deep water has taken longer to warm up than that expected on a shallower lake, consequently the fish are lying or feeding at a deeper level.
Autumn is opposite to spring, as the temperature drops towards winter they move down in depth.
Winter tips for Terte
The deep water ensures that the bottom layers retain a fairly constant temperature throughout the winter months, making it an ideal venue for a cold water session. Some good catches have been taken over the Christmas period. Bottom fishing is usually better, but by all means try other levels if it’s a little slow going. It maybe that they are stationary at a level in the lower zones, a bubble zig rig released a foot higher every hour may well find the level at which they are active.
Bubble float zig rig (see diagram)
Bubble zig rigging is an excellent method; the difficult part is finding the carps patrolling level. I suggest taking the zig rig down every hour in the summer months and letting it rise a foot or so during the winter months until you start catching. Once the right level has been found ensure you note the amount of line that was released to the productive level, or risk not knowing at which level you caught in.
Although I don’t own a remote control boat it will give you a massive edge on this venue. A carefully placed bubble zig rig combined with a hopper of crumbed white bread crumb often brings a quick result.
Alternately beds of pellets are effective in the cooler months or at the cooler times of day in the summer.
Terte arp stock and species
Since the proprietor Danielle Daumerie took the lease on the lake he has placed over 15 ton of carp into it over a several year period. These carp have gained weight much better than its neighbouring cousin, etang Rue.
An estimation is that there now swims at least 40 carp over 40 lbs with a good number over 45 lbs. Last autumn someone managed to hit it right and took over 2000 lb of carp with 19 over 45 lbs to a lake record of 66 lbs! With that said, I think you will agree that Terte is now one of the top venues in Belgium? Will a fish from Terte topple the current Belgium record?
In addition to the large stock of carp there is a healthy head of catfish, which have been landed to 100 lbs, however Danielle informs me that there are much bigger moggies present which often pick up anglers baits but are rarely landed.
Lake Rules at Lac Terte
No boats except remote control.
4 rods allowed
Barbless or micro barbed single hooks only.
Safe rigs to be used at all times.
Minimum of 12 lb line to be used.
Fish must be returned unharmed to the water ASAP.
Unhooking mats suitable for carp over 40lb must be used at all times.
Particles must be correctly prepared.
No fires, although small barbeques are tolerated.
You are free to move to any available swims throughout your stay.
No unruly behaviour. The onsite bailiffs reserve the rights to refuse fishing rights
Minimum of 14 lb line to be used.