Hot weather but slow fishing !

The week just past saw Big Al and the boys fishing in simmering heat for much of the week with temperatures reaching the high 30’s on many days. After the previous week being cold and wet we expected the increasing temperatures to really help the fishing but it was not to be. A week of big carp in appalling weather had also seen water temperatures drop by 5c over the seven days, to a low of just 19c on the changeover day of Saturday. The following days saw the water temperature rise once again to 26c by the Thursday which gives you some idea of the scorching weather experienced all week. Carp were to be seen rolling over the baited area’s on a regular basis and quite a few hook pulls also added to the frustration so the fish that were banked were a welcome relief from the heat and were hard earned by the lads. Big Al had a handful of fish and ‘Crusher’ also managed a few with a best of the week being his 46lb mirror. Strangely we are still seeing some of the smaller carp turning up which is a constant surprise to me as up to a few weeks ago we were averaging more 50’s than 20’s !!! It would seem that the stock level was a good bit higher than I realised with many of the ‘pasties’ that remained after the last netting now being grown to the low 20’s. It augers well for the future but I do like to see a good helping of the big girls showing up in the catches as well each week. Anyway, the week was a great success despite the extreme heat and everyone contributed to the fun and laughter and spirits remained high although catch rates remained low. We had ‘Coco the Killer’ (aka Martin) making friends with the shrews, Nigel (Uncle Festus to us all) fished gamely on all week and kept all concerned entertained with his stories of fishing in the 1920’s when he was a mere lad and ‘Crusher’ worked hard for his fish (although his ‘school report’ would have read ”Could have done better”) and brother Stephen, along with his partner Sarsons Sue, also managed to get a bend in his rod during the week !! I was worried about ‘Sick note’ Brian who fished all alone in the shallows without success and was on suicide watch for much of the time but I am pleased to say that he survived the week so all ended well. Interestingly when Brian was packing up I took him for a boat ride in the area’s where he had been fishing and we spooked a great many carp that appeared to be grazing on either bait or naturals in good numbers. That has been a strange feature of this season with many instances of carp seen feeding but seemingly showing little interest in anglers bait. Anyway, thanks to all for making the week a success in spite of the hard fishing and a special thanks to Carol for keeping Big Al on a tight leash all week. Not many fish but Happy days all the same.

This week has started with dropping temperatures and a good helping of rain but the fishing remains slow. This morning I walked round the lake at 6 am and was astonished to see so many fish bubbling but from the dry mats it would seem that baits remained untouched for the most part. I will update you as the week unfolds and hopefully have some more fish to report. Watch this space.

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Summary of a wet week !

The lads this week have endured some seriously wet weather that started when they arrived and continued through until Saturday morning so I was pleased as punch with the results they achieved. As the first week of fishing after our oxygen crash of a few weeks ago we were unsure as to how the week would develop so it was a pleasant surprise the finish the week with some cracking fish banked and the lake looking it’s best once more. The total bag for the session was 39 fish comprised of 34 carp and 5 sturgeon. From the off it was evident that the carp had spawned heavily in recent weeks and with thin flanks and lower weights in evidence the average size was lower than earlier in the season but there were still some big girls landed and all the fish were in stunning condition. Top of the list must be Andy’s capture of the ‘Drop Scale’ mirror at 66lb 10oz closely followed by Keith’s wonderful brace of commons at 62lb and 58lb 8oz. Final tally was 2 x 60’s, 2 x 50’s, 6 x 40’s 16 x 30’s, 8 x 20’s and the 5 sturgeon up to 46lb which in the cold wet conditions was a catch that the lads can feel proud of. Keith had a fabulous week and used his experience gained from his many previous visits to amass a bag of 23 carp including a 60 and a brace of 50’s. Jim managed to catch 9 carp up to 46lb from the main lake and also christened his new cane rods in Poppy’s lake with carp into the low 20’s (as did Andy I must add). Our new lads struggled with the tough conditions but kept cheerful and both managed to get a bend in their rods. Dave have three lovely commons up to 39lb and young Liam soldiered on game-fully and finally bagged a sturgeon to save his week. In fairness it was a tough baptism for Dave and Liam with appalling weather and rapidly cooling lake temperatures meaning that the carp were keeping to the deeper water rather than the shallows where they were fishing. This morning the water temperature was 19c due to the amount of cold rain water that has brought it down from 26c where it was a week ago. Poor conditions for the carp as well as the anglers ! All in all it was a week that I was well pleased with with some great carp banked and lots of laughs and fun at mealtimes to take our minds of the constant rain. Well done all.

This week has also started slowly with Saturday night seeing the rain arrive again after a few hours of dry weather and since then a torrent of cold water has cooled that lake further so it is no surprise that the week is starting slowly. A couple fish have been banked so far with a best of 46lb but with warmer conditions set to arrive today we have high hopes that the week will pick up in the coming days.

After our recent problems we have now installed two more aerator’s and will be monitoring oxygen levels several times each day to ensure that all remains well with the lake whatever the weather. The other benefit of having more aerator’s is being able to boost oxygen levels when it is on the low side thus encouraging the carp to feed with a little more enthusiasm. It seems that carp digest food far better in raised oxygen levels than when it is on the low side, something that I was not aware of ! As our casualties were all caught in the shallows where they were gathered to spawn we have decided to install a mobile aerator in the shallows during the spawning period next year which should help the carp complete their breeding cycle with fewer problems. This business has many lessons to teach us about carp and carp welfare and we now feel that the knowledge gained from recent events will help us develop the fishery to be even better in the coming years. Happy days once again !!

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Last night magic !

The last night of the week was still and quiet with little happening expect for the sight of two of our big commons being banked by Keith Williams. He firstly had the ‘Crinkle Tail’ common at 58lb 8oz followed a couple of hours later with ‘Cut Tail’ at 62lb. The fish were in great condition and totally spawned out. Both could be a good 4lb or 5lb heavier by September time which really is an  exciting thought and in the case of ‘Cut Tail’ we could be seeing her challenging the long gone ‘Saddleback common’ for biggest common in the lake by next spring. Happy days indeed.

‘The ‘Crinkle Tail common’ at 58lb 8oz.

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The ‘Cut Tail common’ at 62lb.
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Rain, rain, rain !!! Oh, and a few nice carp as well.

This must be the wettest July week we have ever known since moving to France and temperatures have certainly been far from warm. This evening I have been round to see some of the lads and they are all well wrapped up in waterproofs or already in their sleeping bag whereas we would normally expect T shirts and shorts to be the dress code for a July evening. Having said that the carp are steadily being caught with just over 30 being banked so far. Already this evening Jim has added a 30lb mirror to his tally and Keith a 42lb mirror so with a 60, a brace of 50’s and lots of 30’s and 20’s we are very pleased at the way the week is unfolding. Dave bagged a couple of stunning common carp last night at 33lb and 39lb and Keith had another four fish including a second mirror of 52lb whilst Jim had another brace of 30’s. All the carp are in great condition and looking very well spawned out resulting in lowered weights and indicating that prior to the oxygen crash there must have been some very serious spawning going on. We now have our two new aerators in position so with a total of three aerators to call on when needed we feel that we can avoid any more disasters such as we recently experienced.

Dave and his brace of commons.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother stunning mirror for Keith.

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Our two likely lads from East Anglia, Smiler Jim and Andy Pandy have recently spent an absolute fortune to each have a pair of custom made Chapman split cane rods built. Stunning works of art these rods and I must confess to feeling a little green around the gills when I first laid eyes on them. Anyway, despite the weather the intrepid duo spent the day fishing Poppy’s lake in traditional ‘old school’ style. With the rods accompanied with Mitchell 300 reels’ Optonic alarms and even an old Heron bite alarm that you oldies will well remember. The lads did well !! Some nice fish into the 20’s gave the new rods a good work out and it was great to see the wonderful battle curves that only cane rods can give. Great stuff !

The lads in action.

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And the Head Bailiff kept an eye on Jim._DSC8786 (1024x685)



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Windy days and rainy nights !

With weather is presently more like March than mid July is no surprise that the carp are playing hard to catch. So many fish can be seen moving that it seems likely that they are feeding mainly on naturals and just occasionally being tempted by the anglers offerings. Nonetheless we have still seen some nice fish banked with Andy’s 66lb 10oz being the pick of the bunch, however this afternoon Keith Williams had a double run that eventually produced a brace of mirrors of 42lb and 52lb. That brings Keith’s catch so far to 10 carp, with four of them coming today, and ‘Smiler Jim’ has also added to his catch with mirrors of 36lb and 46lb, bringing his tally to 6 carp. Andy is still just on the one carp but has also bagged a brace of sturgeon up to 46lb whilst Dave is now off the mark with a 25 lb mirror. Liam is fishing the shallows and despite a good many fish showing in the area is still to get a bend in his rod but I feel it is just a matter of time before he starts catching. All in all we are pleased with 18 carp and a brace of sturgeon by Wednesday and still expect some more good fish to be banked before the weeks end. One very pleasing thing is the superb condition of the carp we are seeing. It would appear that our recent problems have had no effect of the bulk of the stock which augers well for the remainder of the season.The conditions are set to settle down from tomorrow onwards which will be a great help so we are confident that the fishing will step up a peg or two in the coming day or so.

Keith in action and with a few of his latest carp.

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IMG_3836 (1024x576)And Smiler Jim with a couple from last night.

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Andy bags the ‘Drop Scale’ mirror at 66lb 10oz.

Things have certainly settled down now with plenty of fish showing even though the fishing is slowish. This afternoon we had a call to say that our old friend ‘Andy Pandy’ had just netted the ‘Drop Scale’ mirror at 66lb 10oz. She showed the signs of having spawned already which would account for the weight dropping a little but other than that she was as fat and healthy as ever. Well done Andy !

Other fish banked are six for Keith Williams including a cracking common of 44lb and three for ‘Smiler Jim’ up to 43lb, this one a mirror. Jim also has managed to bank a couple of good pike that took his fluoro pop ups, one on his brand new Chapman split cane rod, and Andy has had a sturgeon at 46lb.

The lake is looking in fine fettle once more and with the many kingfishers flitting about, a mating pair of grebes back in residence and the regular showing of feeding carp I am at last relaxing back into the swing of things. With the amount of carp activity now evident I think it is just a matter of time before things really take off with the key being some settled weather. So far this week we have had torrential rain, thunder storms, some hot sunshine and a chilly cloudy period although the forecast is for more settled warm weather by the latter part of the week.

Andy and the ‘Drop Scale’ mirror.

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Andy again, this time with his 46lb sturgeon.

IMG_7147 (1024x683)Keith and a 44lb common.

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Jim and his 42lb mirror.

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And it’s Smiler again, this time christening his Chapman rod with a scrapping pike.

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The carp are back on song !

A late start saw 4 carp being banked last night with a brace apiece to ‘Smiler Jim’ and Keith Williams. Lots of activity was apparent with carp rolling and crashing out all over the lake and although it may a day or two for the fishing to settle into any sort of pattern is it good to see that the fish appear fully recovered from their recent stress. Work is going on to wire in the two new aerators along to the far end of the dam and dissolved oxygen readings are now looking to be back to normal after the crisis of the last couple of weeks. I hope to have more good news to report as the week unfolds.

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It better day at Le Moulin du Mee

After 48 hrs of travelling to the UK and back we now have two new aerators being wired in by Jimmy and a top-notch oxygen meter. Readings taken all over the lake show good levels of dissolved oxygen and feeding fish to be found in all area’s. Tomorrow see’s the arrival of our first anglers since the oxygen crash and we are holding our breath to see how things pan out during the week. With hot weather with us at the moment and rain and storms forecast for the next few days the fishing is likely to be as changeable as the weather but settling down as the week progresses. I will update you on progress as the week unfolds.

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Where we are now.

I have been sitting by the lake this evening and all looks tranquil and perfect. Kingfishers are everywhere, fry are cascading out of the lake as the pike chase them and the occasional carp can be seen head and tailing and we even have a grebe back in residence. Who would know of the problems that beset the fishery in recent days and who could guess how close we came to a total disaster?

We have had a glimpse of a fishery owners hell and have been so very fortunate to have survived as a fishery and in turn have learnt some hard lessons to take with us in to the future. I have now had the chance to evaluate the consequences of the disastrous crash in oxygen levels that we suffered and the resulting fish losses. I will try and make some sense of the event in this post with consequences detailed as well as the lessons learnt.

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first and that must be the total fish losses that occurred. The total is 63 carp dead !! Sizes are (thankfully) of a much lower average than we could have hoped for in the circumstances but the total still includes fish that have grown on to good size in our lake and will be much missed. I am most surprised at the number of smaller carp that were lost as to be totally honest I wasn’t aware that we had such numbers of smaller fish in the lake. There were 21 carp under 20lb, 18 between 20 and 30lb, 17 between 30 and 40lb and 7 over 40lb including one mirror of 58lb. Strangely, of the 100+ commons in the lake we only lost one and that was around 7lb !! Perhaps the commons are a tougher proposition than the mirrors but it would have been hard indeed if some of the know big commons had succumbed to the problem. Before the loss we had a stock of approx. 385 carp in the lake that we were aware of but it is obvious that there are also a number of grown on smaller fish that I have not included so it would seem that we started with a carp stock in excess of 400. With the losses incurred we still will have in excess of 300 big carp in Etang du Mee which an average size that will now be well in excess of 40lb.

The problem we experienced illustrates just how important environmental issues are to the welfare of the carp and in particular, the very real danger of an oxygen crash occurring when an algae or daphnia bloom is killed off by the arrival of a sudden electrical storm. This is exactly what happened at Le Moulin du Mee where I believe we were suffering from reduced oxygen (resulting in the slow fishing) for a couple of weeks before the crisis occurred. We had large numbers of carp gathered together and stressed out already with spawning problems when the storms brought about an algae die off and resulting de-oxygenation of the water. The fact that carp need higher oxygen levels to successfully spawn will also contribute to the problems that we having seen in recent years, with high pressure weather systems dominating the later spring months.

Having come through such an experience we are now taking measures to ensure there is never a repeat. As I write we are arranging for two large paddle aerators to be installed alongside our existing air injector system and will also have ordered a top draw dissolved oxygen meter so that we can monitor the situation several times a day. As well as the monitoring of the oxygen levels the new set up will also enable us to aerate the water far more effectively when conditions are poor thus ensuring the carp are more likely to feed on anglers bait rather than just grazing on the more easily digested naturals.

We were always considering netting the main lake this winter to assess overall stocks and reduce the biomass. Well, this loss of stock has done the job for us and I suppose I can take some comfort from the fact that growth levels of the remaining carp will now be able to flourish with the reduced competition for food. We remain a ‘big fish’ fishery however I have often stated that it is far more important to me that we can maintain good catch rates of 40lb+ carp rather than be an out an out ‘big fish water’. As the season progresses we will have a better idea as to how things will evolve and if it proves necessary I will add some young fish to the lake during the winter to ensure that catch rates are maintained. Only time will tell.

I would like to add that the last couple of weeks has been a terrible time for the family and I am so very grateful as to how well Jimmy, Lottie and Sophie coped with a situation that could have had a life changing impact on our future at Le Moulin du Mee. With me being away in Norway (fishing) I could do no more than watch the situation evolve with no way of helping. Thankfully the family pulled together and I returned to find that the situation was finally under control. I would also like to convey my sincere thanks to the anglers that were with us as the crisis unfolded and who were so supportive to Jimmy and the girls. Thanks so much lads.

One final thing that I would add is that I have several other lake owner friends who in my absence have been so very supportive. Dave of Etang Marolles, Mark of Etang le Fays, Keith of Moorlands and George of Etang Rendezvous have all taken the trouble to pick up the phone and offer advice and encouragement at a time when it was sorely needed. Thanks fellah’s.

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Back to work !!! Not a good time had by Jimmy and the girls.

I have just returned to Le Moulin du Mee after my Norway fishing trip and am now getting to grips with the problems that Jimmy and the girls have been coping with.

It would seem that weather conditions and spawning have come together to give us an oxygen crash and subsequent fish losses. The saddest thing of all is that although the big girls have escaped unscathed we have lost a number of carp that have been with us since the opening of the venue in 2006. If there is a plus side to such a tragedy it is that losses are within manageable numbers and consist of mainly the smaller stock that were in the process of spawning when the oxygen crash occurred. I am in the process of going through details with Jimmy, having arrived home only a couple of hours ago, but one thing that does surprise me is how many doubles and twenty’s were included in the casualties as I had no idea that they were in the lake in any numbers. Several 40’s have been lost (just a handful) and one 50 but other than that the main body of the larger fish seem to have weathered the crisis better than their smaller brethren. I will post full details in due course but am hopeful that next week will see things back to some degree of normality.

My sincere apologies to the lads that had to miss out on their visit this week but in the circumstances it was better for both the carp and the anglers that the lake was given a break so that things could settle down once more.


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