A slow start to the year.

This, our first week of the 2017 season, produced just 7 carp and a solitary sturgeon to the 3 lads that fished all week. In fairness we had a full moon, constant high pressure plus a North East wind which gave us bright sunny days and cold clear nights, not the best of conditions for carping. Despite this we still saw some wonderful fish banked including 3 of over 50lb. Steve smashed both his common and mirror pb this week with Cut Tail at 66lb 5oz and a cracking mirror at 58lb 4oz which along with a 33lb and a 27lb fish completed his week. Not bad at all. My old friend Tony bagged a cracking 54lb 14oz mirror from the shallows early in the week and then had to wait until the last night when he landed a 42lb 10oz common and a mirror of 39lb from Zippies. Derek soldiered on bravely and although he found the carp elusive he did manage a hard fighting sturgeon of 60lb. Unfortunately the 4th member of the party, poor old Laurence, was forced to fly home early due to a reoccurring illness and failed to catch in his shortened stay. A most enjoyable week was had by all despite the carp not playing ball in any quantity.

One thing that is apparent is that the bloodworm are flourishing very well in the lake and this morning Jimmy raked in an old line that was festooned bloodworm of around 1in long. There can be no doubt that part of the reason for the slow fishing this week was due to the carp feeding on naturals with bloodworm being a big part of that. As the season progresses the carp will become more attuned to anglers offerings which will help with the catches.

One finding this week that leaves me more than a little annoyed is that we found two line from last year in the lake complete with barbed hooks and one of the carp landed still had a barbed rig in its cheek from last season. Let me make it clear to all, if I find anglers breaking the rules they will be asked to leave the premises. There can be no excuse as the rules are clearly written down on the website for all to see and I also run through them with each group before their weeks fishing commences. Be warned.

On a happier note I am pleased to note that the carp are in great condition and look to be putting on weight at a good rate once more. I felt that we never saw the expected growth rates last season that we expected but this year, judging on the early fish, is looking like ‘business as usual’ and we can realistically expect a host of new 50’s and more than enough 60lb+ fish this season. Happy days !

Find below the weeks fish in slideshow format.

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Slowly does it !

Well, with bright chilly days and stark moonlit nights the high pressure system that is over us at the moment ensures that the carp are lying doggo for the most part although those that have been caught are in superb condition and fighting hard.

The 4 lads on this week, a week earlier than usual for us, are my old friends, Laurence, Tony, Derek and Steve and despite the slow fishing the week is most enjoyable with the lads full of optimism with different methods being tried each day. This afternoon Steve bagged the biggest fish so far with a stunning mirror of 58lb 5oz (anyone recognize it) and yesterday morning Tony had another fine mirror of 54lb 14oz. Steve has also had a mirror of 38lb and a common of 27lb whilst Derek was sorely battered by a sturgeon weighing in at just short of 60lb. Poor old Laurence was forced to curtail his week due to illness so we are down to just three jolly lads at the moment so lets hope they manage another decent lump or two over the next few days. One annoying issue that I will relate is that the big mirror caught today had a rig in its jaw, complete with a barbed hook ! That’s why I insist on crushed barbs and will take firm action if I find anglers breaking that rule in 2017. Be warned.

On the nature front we have had our first swallows of the year arrive, a good few weeks earlier than normal and the great crested grebes are busily showing off to their mates by performing their special dance, a lovely sight. Generally the mild winter seems to have encouraged an early mating for our wild bird population and the dawn chorus is both loud and enthusiastic as the myriad of birds declare their territory and search for a mate. The tree’s have started to burst into life with the cherry tree’s on the dam now in full blossom and the weeping willows showing that lovely green sheen as the new leaves open. We also have a great many butterfly’s around the land and the pussy willows are surrounded by a constant hum of bee’s feeding on the newly opened blossom. Happy days indeed.

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Almost there.

After being put well back in our pre-season work due to the big storm we have finally managed to break the back of things. Jimmy is busily rebuilding the little bridge on the Home Bank and I have being putting the last touches to the swim re-graveling so things are looking a lot better. I cannot remember a year when we have dealt with so much timber as this one, partly intended and partly due to the unexpected wind damage although on a lighter note we should have plenty of firewood for the next few years.

The lakes are looking good with just a shading of promise that leaves are about to open and buds are ready to explode into life so once again the expectation that spring is almost upon us certainly puts a spring (no pun intended) into the step as we work. Fortunately we have had Dave and Mark helping us out for some days this week which has made things a lot easier and they have even managed to bank a fish or two. Overnight the rods have remained in their rests with just an occasional bleep to give some hope that a carp may be in the vicinity however the changeable weather would seem to have unsettled them and accordingly the buzzers remain silent. At odd times during the day the lads have managed to fish up in the shallows and have caught several smaller fish in the 20’s plus a 30 and couple of nice 40’s and it would seem that the carp are still in winter feeding mode where bloodworm make up the majority of their diet. One fish that the lads banked coughed up so many bloodworm that they first thought that the fish was bleeding ! The sling was full of partly digested bloodworm which at first glance looked very much like blood so they can be forgiven for jumping to that conclusion. Today the weather has blessed us with warm sunshine and barely a breath of wind, great for work but perhaps not so good for fishing. The lads are now fishing through to the morning so hopefully they we bag one of two by breakfast time.

Next week we will be working hard up at Poppy’s lake where things have been neglected somewhat in the rush to have the main lake ready for the arrival of our first anglers. The carp here remain very active and should offer some spectacular sport in the coming year. I reckon that by the time we reach our 2018 season on Poppy’s we will be expecting our first 50 to put in an appearance. It is interesting to see how much the development of this lake is following the pattern seen on the main lake and after the removal of so many of the smaller fish in the autumn we are confident that we will see the same accelerated growth rates that we saw on Etang du Mee when we thinned out the stock there. Exciting times of both lake in 2017 that’s for sure.

We have now taken delivery of our Nash Monster Air cradles and first impressions are very good. The carp are kept nice and secure and with the mats being slightly higher off the ground than normal mats it should make fish handling a little easier.Time will tell.

Well, with our first party of anglers arriving in the morning I hope to be reporting some good fish banked during the next week so keep an eye on the blog for regular updates and pictures.

Happy days…our 2017 season about to commence.

 

First fish of the year…..lovely !

The weather has been atrocious for some days now with driving rain and gale force winds which has somewhat curtailed our pre-season preparation. We still have all the path renewal and swim graveling to complete and also still have some huge poplar branches in the lake awaiting removal. With the weather due to improve from tomorrow we hope to be able to spend the remainder of the week grafting at these tasks.

On a brighter note we have Dave (Crocodile Dundee) and Mark here helping out with some work and this morning Mark caught our first fish of the season, which is also Marks new common pb at 48lb 12oz. The fish was in superb condition and fought well despite the cold water which is always a great sign in early season fish. Give her another couple of weeks and this common will almost certainly be breaking the 50lb barrier. Great stuff.

Mark and his new pb common.

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Foul weather !

After my last couple of posts where I have waxed lyrical about the springlike weather we have been experiencing some pretty awful conditions. The last couple of days in particular have been dreadful with driving rain and gales battering us for a good 48 hrs. Fortunately today dawned misty and mild and with the sun breaking through mid morning we were blessed with a day warm enough for some shirt sleeve working. After doing so well with the winters tasks we are now suddenly behind with things as have just had 4 very large poplars cut down leaving us with branches, huge trunks and all the usual mess that accompanies tree felling. We have been branch clearing and log splitting and so far we have seen about 10 truck loads of split wood taken up and stacked in the woodland above Poppy’s lake. Certainly helps to keep an old man out of trouble ! On a brighter note we are seeing lots of carp jumping and rolling on the main lake and Poppy’s is just alive with feeding fish at the moment. Although the water temperature is still only about 9c things are certainly coming alive both in and around the lakes. After a couple of dreadful days when the lakes looked more like the north sea than a haven for carp and the birdlife remained tucked up in the sheltered little corners we were today blessed with warm sun shine and with the only sounds being that of crashing carp with a backdrop of vibrant birdsong. I must confess to being surprised at just how active the carp are at the moment and in response we are increasing the amount of food we are putting out in the lakes. Certainly the signs are very good for some big fish this spring !

We have now had delivery of our new slings, the Tracker XL Sanctuary ones, as well as our Nash monster air cradles. I am determined that these expensive bits of kit are looked after this season and will be policing things more closely than usual this year. For several years we have had expensive mats ruined by anglers kneeling on the walls, even when we supplied kneeling mats, and I cannot believe that there own mats are treated in the same way. So, for this year be warned……any anglers found kneeling on the mats will be shot !

Anyway, enough of all that and lets look forward to what I anticipate being a very special season for us at LMDM. We have Crocodile Dundee and Naughty Mark here to help us out for a week starting Saturday so I am sure they will be wetting a line and landing our first carp of the year….watch this space.

Glorious weather.

It has been glorious for some days now with warm sunny days and clear cool nights. The lake is really showing signs of coming alive in proper spring fashion with plenty of activity all around. The pike, some of them big fellows, are extremely active and we are also seeing the signs that perch are battering the shoals of fry and I am hoping that we will begin to see some big perch in the coming seasons. In fact I found a dead one on the dam, spiked by a heron it would seem and to much of a mouthful to be consumed. It would have been a good pound in weight when alive so all the signs are there that they are growing well in the lake. The carp continue to show with far more head and shouldering than in earlier days which indicates to me that they are settling down to feed in earnest. It is interesting that with the amount of wheat I have put out in recent days that the duck and coots are hovering around over the baited area’s without actually diving down. This is a good sign that big carp are feeding below them in numbers which is just what we like to see at this time of year. The skeins of cranes are increasing in number daily and it is a lovely sight when they circle over the lake to gather height in the obvious thermals. They start off quite low and it is surprising how quickly they manage to gain height and the sound of their calls gradually fade from pretty raucous to just a faint murmur as they climb ever higher. A nice time to be around the lakes I must say.

We have had 22 ton of chippings and 11 ton of fine gravel delivered so it is barrow and shovel work for me in the weeks ahead. Today my task is to burn the huge amount of wood that I have been cutting out along the Chateau bank and then it will be renewing the pathway. The dam and swims need a refresh of gravel so that will be done closer to the start of our season. We have the tree surgeon booked for next week to cut down a couple of the big poplars behind the proposed cooking/eating area on the Chateau bank so you can be sure that the resulting mess of branches and logs will take a good few days to completely clear. So, lots to keep us occupied in the weeks ahead, not the least the continuing of our feed program to ensure the carp are fat and healthy for our first anglers of the year. Happy days.

What a cracking day.

We have just enjoyed our warmest day of the year with constant sunshine taking the temperature up to a heady 18c.It was really a great day to work around the lake with the sound of skeins of crane flying over and the occasional carp crashing out as well as constant silvery sprays of roach being hunted by the perch and pike. We took the opportunity to put out over 50 kilo of wheat and came across puffs of silt in  many places as we disturbed feeding carp. It was especially noticeable in front of the Deliverance swim where there were a great many fish feeding just 50m out from the bank. Even close to the dam we spotted big tail patterns and considering the extra depth here the fish must have been of a good size to move so much water when they would have been at least 8ft down. This evening Lottie and I enjoyed a last cup of tea before we packed in for the day and whilst sitting on the dam we saw 5 carp crash out, all in different area’s of the lake and including one good fish that showed 3 times in the shallows at the far end of the lake. The warmer weather is certainly bringing the lake to life and gives the impression that spring is actually upon us now. The reality is soon brought home when the long range weather forecast is studied and we see that colder conditions are on the way with even the chance of a sprinkling of snow ! To be honest I have little faith in weather forecasts more than a few days ahead so although the prophesy is one of cold and doom we are just a likely to find ourselves in the middle of an early spring heatwave. We shall see.

A couple of pictures for you with the first being Jimmy out on the lake fish spotting and the second a view up from Sanctuary swim showing the newly cleared area.

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An early spring !

After the freeze up a few weeks ago we have been enjoying gradually warming weather with little rain and just the occasional blustery day. It has been a good time and we have managed to get a lot of work carried out around the main lake. All of the Home Bank has now had the vegetation cut back, branches removed and been generally tidied up. Lottie and I also spent a good few days on the stretch of bank beyond the Sanctuary swim that had been left in a ‘wild’ state and was causing problems for anglers fishing the area. Lots of the tree’s have been removed and all overhangs cut away leaving the first 50m of bank free of potential snags. It was never a snaggy area really however we did have lines get tangled in the tree’s when an angler failed to drop his rod top quickly enough. Easily done in the middle of the night and a good few carp did manage to shake the hook in this area due to line being stuck in overhanging tree limbs. On a more sour note I did recover some line and a couple of leads whilst working and I was more than a little pixxed off to see just how far up the lead clip the rubber sleeve had been wedged. There is no way a carp could have shed the lead leaving us with no more than what can be described as a ‘death rig’. I was not a happy bunny when I found them and will be chatting to all anglers to ensure that the rubber sleeves are cut down or only pushed a short way up the clip. The description of a ‘safety clip’ can be rather misunderstood and the thing is only safe if a little wisdom is used in the overall set up !

On a brighter note we are now seeing lots of fish activity on the lakes with the pike being particularly energetic in their hunting with swirls and slashes all along the dam and margins. Carp are also becoming far more active than we are used to in early February and I have seen lots of head and shouldering and some rather spectacular crashing out at times. This would lead me to believe that they are beginning to feed with more enthusiasm now that the sunshine is warming the water a tad. I will not be feeding pellet and boilies for another few weeks but I have got 6 dustbins full of wheat soaking ready to be put out in the next week or two. I am rather fond of wheat as an early season boost as it provides a good vitamin supplement as well has having wheatgerm which has long been used by knowledgeable koi keepers to help the immune system pick up in the early part of the year. All is looking good at the moment and so long as we don’t have a protracted cold spell in the next few weeks I anticipate the carp being very active come spring proper. In fact when you look down the lake on a sunny day you can see the haze of buds in all the tree’s, just ready for the spring weather to arrive and the birds are merrily singing away as if we were in April, not late winter.

I was chatting to a Brit. that has recently moved into the village, a very useful soul as he is a tree surgeon during the winter months. During the summer months he is a wildlife guide and takes parties out into the Brenne National Park (we are on the edge of it) bird spotting as well as insect and other local wildlife photographing. I found it rather interesting when he described how the bird spotters had changed in recent years. In the early days they just wanted to see the birds in their natural environment, soaking up the atmosphere, listening to the songs and just enjoying being in the countryside. The new ‘birders’ it would seem are more interested in the trophy shot. Get a picture of the crinkle tailed raspberry tit  and then move on to the next one on the list. Trophy pictures is what it is all about and the atmosphere, the love of nature and the enjoyment of just catching a sight of your quarry comes a poor second. Sounds a tad familiar doesn’t it ?

Anyway, enough of that. Today Lottie and I managed to all but finish the cutting back on the dam and should have the area cleared but tomorrow evening, then it is on to Chateau bank where we have a good couple of weeks work with cutting ailing tree’s down and generally sorting out a years worth of undergrowth and fallen branches, etc. We will also be taking advantage of our new tree surgeon and plan on removing several of the big poplar tree’s that are a little to close to swims for our liking. Two of the big ones to come down are behind the old Redmire Legends swim where the eating area is to be built. So, lots to do in the weeks ahead and I will update you on happenings and progress in the days ahead.

Back to the grind !!!

I arrived back Monday evening to find that the weather had turned a lot warmer with temperatures exceeding 15c during the day. As a consequence the lake rapidly thawed and by Tuesday morning was completely ice free. The water has that cold turquoise color at the moment, tinged just slightly by just a dusting of stirred up silt. During the cold spell we stopped feeding the main lake and will now just trickle food in until early March when pellet and boilie will be applied in increasing quantities. We are hoping that by cutting down on our usual feeding program may encourage the carp to make significant inroads into the bloodworm beds so that they are keen to move onto the anglers bait when available. We shall see !

Yesterday I enjoyed a warm day spent leaf clearing. Sounds an easy job however having a tree lined lake and land means that our leaf debris can be up to a foot thick in places. Fortunately the autumn stillness meant that relatively few leaves were blown into the lake but instead were creating a soggy mess all round the lake paths and on the swims. It was most enjoyable work considering and the warm weather made everything seem springlike, a nice change from the mid winter bleakness of recent weeks. What did surprise me was that early birdsong could be heard throughout the day which perhaps is a portent of an early spring. Let’s hope so. The lake also seems to be slowly coming alive and marauding pike were evident by the silver sprays of scattering fry and occasionally, very occasionally a carp would show. Just a slow boil in the calm water and a glimpse of a bronze flank but enough to wet the appetite for the start of the season just a few weeks away. I did see a common carp leap clear of the water and would love to report that it was a huge silver beast that erupted from the lake with its flanks shimmering in the sunlight !! Unfortunately it was not the case and the truth of the matter is that I saw perhaps the smallest common in the lake. It did leap clear of the lake but in truth looked rather dull and uninviting but – it was still a carp and where one fish is jumping there will be others moving and feeding.

The day ended with me being a tad pixxed off I must confess ! I had spent all day raking and blowing the leaves into huge piles ready to be moved, it had been warm and best of all totally still. As you can imagine, piles of leaves and wind are not a good mix so I counted myself lucky to have achieved so much in perfect conditions. I was just finishing ‘Sanctuary’ swim feeling rather pleased with myself when I became aware of just a whisper of a breeze on my cheek. I looked up and noticed the cats paws of wind spreading over the lake, gradually increasing into ripples and then waves as the wind grew in strength. Leaves were in the air and my carefully built piles were diminishing by the second as the breeze raised its hackles and became a full blown gale. After just a few minutes the wind faded and stillness returned along with the bird song and the deep red of the evening. I enjoyed nothing about that evening as wherever I looked the carefully prepared leaf piles were nicely scattered back on the paths and swims ! Guess what I am doing today ?

As you will be aware the summer months will be self catering this year with a new eating and cooking area to be built on the Chateau bank, where the swim ‘Redmire Legend’ is situated. The Home bank will have the eating area behind the house initially although we intend building another eating area between ‘Gingers Patch’ and ‘Middle Ground’ swims.The washing up area in the shower block will be operational for this season and both eating area’s will be complete with gas bbq and gas fridge.

The shop that we have intended having up and running for some time now should finally be in place by the middle of the year. It will be situated in the millhouse and along with bait, end tackle, snacks, etc we will be having a selection of Le Moulin du Mee branded polo’s and sweatshirts for sale. Sophie is handling this so you can be sure that the designs will be spot on the the quality top notch.

We are in the process of ordering new unhooking mats and and have settled on the new inflatable ones from Nash. The slings will be once again the Tracker ones that have done us so well in recent years. All will be in place ready for the start of the season.

One thing that I feel is worth mentioning is how little litter we have found whilst tidying up the swims. All credit to the type of anglers that we now enjoy seeing at LMDM  and a big thank you from me.

Poppy’s Lake is seeing a lot of food being applied and it is apparent that the big head of carp here are still feeding enthusiastically which augers well for the season ahead. With the removal of so many of the smaller carp we are anticipating some significant growth rates so although Poppy’s can still be classified as a ‘runs water’ the stamp of carp will be improving each year. Exciting times ahead for this fishery.

The weather is due to remain mild it would seem with heavy rain and gales due from later today. With both lakes now filling nicely from their springs the extra rain should ensure that we will be at top levels in a week or two. We hope to have the paths renewed and the swims freshly graveled by the end of the month. The next week or so will be for general cutting back and generally tidying up with bonfires to keep us warm and dry. A good time at the lake.