After waxing lyrical about the start of spring in my last post things have really moved on and today we have enjoyed temperatures of over 25 c. It really has been T shirt weather and with the clouds of midges, the drone of bumble bee’s and the sight of myriads of butterfly we could be forgiven for thinking that we were in early summer rather than early spring. The frogs and toads are paired off and mating around the lake and we are now seeing the arrival of the terns several weeks earlier than usual and the grebes (3 x pairs) are already looking for nesting sites around the lakes. The terns arrived in a great flock that spent and hour or so squabbling and then departed leaving just our regular pair ( I like to think that they are our regulars anyway) to fish happily away off the dam where the fry are holed up. The cranes continue to fly over in great skeins on their long journey north and can be heard calling to each other from at least a mile away. We had lots pass over whilst we worked around the lake today and would imagine that they will be the last we will see and hear until their return in autumn. Considering the first of them were to be seen heading north a good month earlier than other years it was a pleasant surprise to hear them pass over today.The carp are becoming more and more active with plenty of crashing and rolling being evident but this morning I watched several carp bubbling away just a few metres from ‘Deliverance’. Another batch of maize was cooked up today and we will also be feeding with pellet whilst the weather is so warm and in another week I will be including a good helping of boilies in the feed.
Lotttie and I have now completed the clearing of the dam and have moved around to the little stalking bay at the end of the dam where we have strimmed, chopped, cut and burnt a goodly amount of unwanted foliage, dead tree’s, fallen branches, brambles and last years marsh grass. The bonfire has been roaring away for a couple of days now and another day will see this area finished for another year. Jimmy has been busy re- building a couple of the swims and has now completed ‘Zippies’ where, what was a little, rather sad ‘day swim’ has now been transformed into a five star swim that I am sure will be in great demand this year. As a consequence we will now be closing the dam swim which has become surplus to requirements. Tomorrow will be a time of path building along the ‘Château bank’ and once that is completed we will be putting the finishing touches to the ‘Home bank’ with another clearance of the margins followed by repairing paths and laying fresh gravel on the swims. Happy days indeed !!
Our first tern to arrive enjoying some productive fishing.
It is great to see a carp bubbling away – a good sign that they are feeding hard already at this early time in the year.
A late flight of cranes over the lake.
A couple of pictures of the re-built ‘Zippies Pit’.
After the very wet winter we have now been blessed with a wonderful early spring. Hopefully this is the start of spring proper and not a false promise but nevertheless the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the carp are showing all over the lake so all is well with the world !! We have been busily working in shirt sleeves and enjoying the warmth of the sun of our backs and with the ground starting to dry out we are hoping that Le Moulin du Mee will be in good shape for the arrival of our first guests in a little over two weeks time. Jimmy is in the process of re-building ‘Zippies Pit’ and ‘The Steps’ swims and now that he has the new fronts in place we can start to raise the water level once more. We always keep the level down in the winter to make working around the lake easier so it will be good to see the levels rise to maximum for the start of the season. The carp seem quite happy with the lower water level and spend a good deal of time in the shallows despite the water being no more than a couple of feet deep in places. This evening Jimmy put a big helping of cooked maize out into Etang du Mee and found dozens of carp feeding happily away in water that barely covered their backs. I am working on the path that runs from the dam to the little bridge on the ‘Home Bank’ and replacing timber edging where needed in readiness for a fresh covering of gravel. Lottie and I have also been cutting back all the undergrowth on the dam as well as pruning back the willows along the hedgerow. It is always a task that I find difficult as I do love the look of the dam when the margin plants are head high, and the hedge even higher, giving a sense of seclusion when I fish here whereas now everything looks bare and open. In a couple of months all will be well again but until then I will probably fish elsewhere on the lake. The track along the ‘Château Bank’ is going to be a major task as the winters deluge has left the path in a pretty poor state. Walking up to Poppy’s from this bank is impossible at the moment due to deep muddy ruts and standing water. We are planning to re-lay the paths before the season opens but need a good week of warm, dry weather to ease the problem somewhat before we start. I have no doubt that by the start of the season all will be well but at the moment it is a bit of a mess if I am totally honest !
We are seeing more and more carp crashing and rolling on both lakes as temperatures climb and accordingly have upped the level of feed we are putting out. Yesterday we spread three bins full of cooked maize into Poppy’s lake and the carp were onto it within minutes of it hitting the water. Likewise, when we put the maize into the main lake this afternoon we were soon seeing carp activity all over the area’s that we had fed. I say that we were seeing the carp but in my case I mostly hear them and then turn around, just in time to see the ripples spreading, whereas everyone else seems to see the carp jumping. I stood chatting to Sophie yesterday when there was a huge crash in the lake behind me that Sophie told me was a large (very large) peach coloured mirror carp. I must take her word for it because once again all I saw was the lake ‘rocking’ in the sun. Jimmy also disturbed a lot of carp feeding between the dam and the island and judging by the bow waves as they sped away many of them were really big girls. So, all is looking good for the start of the season and I may, just may, get my rods out at the weekend !!
I have included a few pictures that I took this evening.
Jimmy feeding the carp on the main lake.
Work in progress on ‘The Steps’.
The ‘stripped’ dam !
See that the weeping willows are starting to come into leaf and the buds are about to burst on the cherry tree.
The weather has been notably mild of late with several warm sunny days and then a return to wet but mild conditions. The lakes are alive with striking pike and rolling carp and the tree’s are slowly coming into bud. The birds are behaving like we are in mid April rather than February and we now have several nightingales singing happily away after dark. Yesterday we had butterfly’s in the garden but sadly I am afraid they will find food hard to come by. Even the early flowers and blossom have not yet appeared however the warm temperatures have encouraged the wildlife to think that spring has arrived !
The last couple of days has seen plenty of work being done around Etang du Mee and despite the sodden state of the land we are still chipping away at our list of jobs. Jimmy is continuing to hard-core the track along the Château bank so that cars can be taken all the way to Poppy’s Lake and I have been beavering away on the Home Bank where the paths are dearly needing some attention. We have also been cooking up maize every couple of days and both lakes are being well fed a couple of times a week. Today was the turn of Etang du Mee and whilst we spread three dustbins full over the lake we took the opportunity to take a run up into the shallows. Imagine our surprise when we could see stirred up silt where dozens of carp were feeding. I expected perhaps the odd fish but certainly not the amount we did come across. The wind was blowing from the south so the water was very choppy at the shallow end however we could still see big bow waves forming as big fish were startled by the arrival of the boat. Even in water no more than a couple of foot deep the carp were feeding hard which was a bit of a shock as I had been putting wheat and boilies out from the dam for a couple of days and was convinced the carp were in the deeper water. Shows how much I know !!
The outlook is for mild but wet weather to continue for the next week or so. Obviously the carp are enjoying the conditions but spare a thought for us struggling away in the wet and mud as we toil to prepare things for our first guests. I am sure you are full of sympathy !!! Happy days.
The weather that has gripped western Europe this winter has given this corner of France plenty of rain, plenty of wind and very mild winter temperatures. Yesterday we were suffering yet another deluge of rain with the sandbags out to protect the cottage from flooding and the mill-race pouring with such force that it was almost reaching the road. Today the sun is shining, the air is balmy and the birds are singing merrily away as though spring had arrived. Last night we heard a nightingale which would have arrived from Africa at least 6 weeks earlier than usual and the cranes can be seen and heard flying to their breeding grounds in Scandinavia many weeks before we normally would expect them. As I type this post I have the window open and from the level of bird song you could easily think we were in mid April rather than mid February. When I walked around the lakes this morning the ground was sodden and the stream had broken its banks in several places whilst the ground was littered with the debris from recent storms. Amongst all of that we had the tree’s showing the first signs of bud, spring plants growing strongly and we were also blessed with the sight of our first red squirrel of the year. The pike have become very active in recent days, having a last feed prior to spawning, and the occasional carp is to be seen rolling out in the middle of the lake over the maize and pellet that we are putting out a couple of times a week. If the weather continues in this vein we may not have our winter tasks completed but we should certainly see some big fish banked early on so that is something to look forward to. Regarding our winter work we have been hampered by not just the conditions but also by a constant flow of mishaps with our machinery. The digger is still out of action (although Jimmy is working hard to sort it out) our brush cutter is awaiting a new part and two of our three chain saws are needing repair ! We are still slashing and burning but our path building will have to wait for the ground to dry out somewhat before we can get started. Jimmy is busily re-building ‘Zippy’s’ and ‘Steps’ swims whilst the rain takes a break and I continue to feed Lottie’s bonfire with fallen branches and tree’s that I have cut down so all being well the first anglers will arrive to a respectable fishery once more. If not then I can always blame the weather !!!
After the euphoria of arriving home in almost springlike conditions the reality of mid February weather has finally dawned on us. I walked around both lakes this morning with a gale raging and the rain stinging my face and found the whole experience bracing, but also somewhat depressing. Those of you that enjoy the summer sunshine and verdant greenery of le Moulin du Mee would be shocked as to just how miserable the place can be after months of rain and wind. There are tree’s lying where the wind and wet ground have beaten them into submission and fallen branches are to be seen everywhere, making the tracks impassable and the lakeside looking as though it had been neglected for many years. Our winter work is once more well behind schedule and until the ground dries out much of what we need to do will have to be put on hold. We have ordered all our new hardcore and gravel so that at least the swims and paths will be renewed before our first anglers arrive and next week Lottie and I will be back clearing the bankside debris and trying to make the place respectable once more. The best thing about that sort of work is the marvellous bonfires that we have burning as we work so at least we can dry out and warm up whenever we take a break. On the plus side the carp will be enjoying the conditions with plenty of oxygen being whipped up by the the wave action and temperatures that are really very mild for the time of year. There is no doubt that the fish will have been able to feed almost constantly throughout the winter and we suspect that unless we have a late cold snap spawning could be very early this year. Jimmy and Sophie spent an hour fishing Poppy’s Lake last week and caught several large doubles that looked in stunning condition and as fat as can be. Whether that is due to a winter spent feeding or the early development of spawn is difficult to know but it certainly gives us confidence that the early weeks of the season could well throw up some special fish. All being well I will be dusting off the old cane rods for a dabble before the season gets under way and hope to bank my first 50 on a cane rod and centrepin reel ! Oh to be old !!! Happy days.
Lottie and I arrived back today and were greeted by the sight of the lakes bathed in warm sunshine and the first of the spring buds giving the tree’s just a hint that spring is round the corner. Very welcome, after spending a month trying to keep dry in the old country. Jimmy and Sophie have been working hard on the millhouse and we are hoping that we will have the shop set up in the old millroom sometime this spring. From tomorrow we will be back working around the lakes and if the weather remains mild I might even be tempted to put a rods out ! Watch this space.
Speaking to Jimmy it would seem that the mild conditions have kicked off the carps ‘spring’ feeding and in response plenty of pellet has been finding its way into both lakes in recent weeks. The water has taken on the cloudy look that would indicate that the bloodworm are taking a bashing and fish are to be seen topping and rolling all over both lakes which is really unusual in early February. It is with some trepidation that we await spring proper as a winter such as the one we are experiencing can have both good and bad impacts on the carp. On the plus side the carp are likely to be well rounded, and grown on from a winter of feeding rather than lying up however the downside is that we really need a good cold spell to kill off parasite larva, etc. Having said that we could still experience snow and ice in the coming weeks so April is anticipated as possibly the most exciting start to a new season we have yet had. With so many of last years 40′s likely to be breaking the 50lb barrier this spring and the real big girls could be at new record weights and our first 70lb mirror a real possibility. Lots to look forward to this year and with just 6 weeks to go before opening the excitement mounts !!!
Anyway, lots of work to get stuck into so keep an eye on the blog to see how we are progressing.
The lake has never been so quiet; yes you’ve guessed it Jim is away! Jim and Charlotte are visiting family in the UK, so me and Jimmy are attempting to get as much done before they get back. At the moment we are working In the Cellar where we are removing parts of the old mill in the hopes we can restore them and with a bit of luck and a lot of hard work save the original ceiling beams. This is where the shop will go, presuming it doesn’t all fall down on us.
Despite the rain both lakes are looking beautiful, with several large carp showing off today and giving the grebes a scare. Unfortunately I haven’t got Jims knack of catching the carp on camera but here’s some pics of the lake and the boys enjoying themselves, the home bank Is looking particularly good after Jim and Charlottes clearing work.
Happy New Year,
Lowering a very heavy cog.
Well, just when we thought things were really going well disaster struck. Jimmy was busily digging out the area adjacent to ‘Deliverance’ and I was traipsing through thick mud in order to cut down and remove the tree’s on the island when the plough blade on the front of the digger detached itself from the body !! Jimmy and I spent several hours trying to extract the blade from the mud so that it could be secured. Eventually we managed to patch it up but it will be a big welding job before the machine is back to full operational condition again.
With the water level in the lake almost 3ft down everything takes on a rather sad look. After the gales and heavy rain that we experienced over the Christmas period the tree’s have now completely shed their leaves along with many branches which litter the muddy margins, making the place look rather unloved and unkempt. This evening we did enjoy a rare hour of sunshine to brighten up our day and we also saw several carp jumping in the middle of the lake. I actually saw three carp in total, a brace of smaller fish but one really good common that took on a golden hue in the evening light. I must say that it is strange to be seeing carp so active at this time of year and only goes to illustrate just how mild the weather is. As usual we have continued feeding the fish and with the milder conditions have even included several sacks of pellet in the mix. I have also been soaking and feeding wheat along with the cooked maize.Besides adding a little variation to the carps diet wheat also contributes a few vitamins that the maize lacks.
One thing that has pleased me this year is how little litter we are finding. The swims have been left in a good clean condition which I would expect but we also have found hardly any litter at all round the lakes. Usually, once the greenery dies back, we find all sorts of discarded packets, cartons and drinks cans and even have come across bottles that were just thrown into the bushes. It goes to prove that these days our anglers (most of them regulars) take as much pride in the fishery as we so ! Thanks, is all I can say to that.
Anyway, a few pictures for you.
Repairing the digger.
Jimmy digging out in front of ‘Deliverance’ so that the causeway can be created to the island.
And to prove that I get my hands dirty on occasion -
And picture of the demolished pergola – result of the Christmas blow !!
Finally I thought I would show you some of the many egrets that overwinter at LMDM.
The freezing conditions of a few days ago have been swept away by high winds, rain and temperatures well into double figures. Last night saw the demise of yet another pergola, this time the one behind the mill house that was in various pieces this morning with the cover flapping in the wind rather like a big blue sail. Lots of branches have come down all around the lakes so it would seem that our post Christmas work will entail a lot more clearing and burning to get things ship shape once more. The milder weather has encouraged the carp to start showing and Lottie and I stood watching several good fish head and shouldering around the island. Strange that they should be active in this area as with the lake level now a couple of feet down the depth around the island will be no more than 2 or 3 ft at most. Just off the dam we have had a huge amount of predator activity in recent days with at least 15 pike (well we presume they were pike) striking at the fry continuously with a good dozen strikes taking place at the same time. Very unusual if the culprits were pike as they usually hunt alone and I have never before witnessed so many hunting together in one place. With the water level now a good bit lower the egrets and heron are visiting us in large numbers and this morning there were at least 20 to be seen around the margins with another four egrets sitting in the tree on the island. The ducks, tern and occasional kingfisher are to be seen daily with last years fry taking a real beating from them throughout the day. What with the pike being so active below and rafts of waterfowl hunting them from above I expect the amount of fry to be significantly reduced by the spring. All for the good.
Anyway, can I take this opportunity to wish all of our anglers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from us all at Le Moulin du Mee.
See you in 2014.
I have just been sorting out our bookings for next year and as usual there have been some lads dropping out so I have listed below the spare places available for next year.
March 29th – 3 places
April 12th – whole week available
August 16th – 4 places
November 8th – whole week available.
Poppy’s is still available for much of the year at the moment also.
I would also like Philip Bates to contact me as he has 3 places booked for July 5th week and I have not heard from him since initial booking. Thanks.