A hint of spring !!

After weeks of rain, rain and heavy rain we finally had a couple of days of sunshine at Le Moulin du Mee. Very welcome it was too and the wildlife suddenly became active after weeks of staying quiet and unseen. Whilst working around the lake we saw skeins of cranes flying over us on their way north along with a solitary osprey that flew over the lakes several times before moving on again. Whether it managed to grab a snack I am not sure but it was a blessing to see all the same. It is no coincidence that the raising of spirits that a sunny day gives us as we work is echoed by the myriad of wild birds who break into song in celebration of the end of winter !!! A magical brief moment in time which proved to be a false promise of spring and was soon followed by snow accompanied by temperatures low enough to give a lid of ice to both lakes. As I write we have somewhat milder conditions once more along with rain so although we are managing to get some work done it is becoming a struggle due to the standing water and mud…………..such is the lot of a lake owner in winter ! lol

It is noticeable that the carp have gone very quiet, in fact even the roach and pike are not performing so water temperatures would indicate that feeding is at best sporadic, therefore we are not feeding heavily as we would normally do. Even on Poppy’s Lake showing fish are a rarity at the moment but I imagine that the moment the water moves up a degree or two in temperature we will be back to seeing showing fish everywhere. A lot of feed has being going into this lake when conditions allow so we are expecting spring weights to be at an all time high.

On the subject of weights I am excited at the prospect that this year will see a great many of our carp moving up into the next weight bracket. Looking at the catch reports for 2017 you will notice that our heaviest ever spawning, along with a two month heatwave, saw average weights level out but fail to really move along. We always will experience a weight drop after spawning but within a month the carp will be back to their best and happily on the munch for the rest of the season. This failed to happen in 2017 due to the heatwave and drought that saw water temperatures rise to over 30c at one point. In fact the temperature became so high that we lost a good head of big pike who, as a cold water species, found conditions too much for them. As for the carp, well in the main they spent much of the summer feeding on naturals that they can digest easily when conditions are against them. The result of all this was a pretty poor back end to the season and the fish, although in stunning condition, not showing the sort of weight gains we would expect. However, we did have a great many carp just hovering below the next weight bracket and I have no doubt that this spring will see them break through in grand fashion. There should be more 50lb plus fish in the lake in 2018 than ever before and our average weight is likely to be well into the 40’s. Of the 60’s we have 3 or 4 that were close to breaking the 70lb barrier in a poor growth year so they should certainly be there or thereabouts by April. I think that we can assume that the big mirror known as ‘Drop Scale’ has now demised. We cannot be certain but we did find the remains of a couple of fish under the tree’s this winter and one of them was of a good size. It was difficult to be sure owing to that there was little more than a skeleton to go by but I believe that it was the old girl so we must move on and see where our next 70lb+ fish will come from. Cut Tail and Crinkle Tail, two of the big commons should certainly be over 70lb by spring and as many of you will know there are several other big commons that could well be up there this year. We had at least half a dozen different mirrors weigh in at 65lb or above in 2017 so there again a good growth spurt and they should be knocking at the door as well. It is always a lottery to guess how things will pan out in any season with however so long as the weather gods smile kindly on us I think that 2018 will be rather special. Fingers crossed.

With all that to look forward to you can I remind anyone interested that I still have 4 places for w/c June 2 available due to a cancellation.

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A sunny day !

Since our return to Le Moulin du Mee just before Christmas the weather has been pretty awful. We have had rain almost constantly with just the odd period of scudding cloud and an occasional glimpse of blue sky before the return of the rain. The lake surroundings are saturated and as walk around the banks are slippery with wet leaves and mud. Fallen branches and general tree debris litter the land, a result of the storm force winds that we experienced a week or so ago. I suppose each year see’s similar periods of wet weather pay us a visit but it is always a time when spirits are low and work around the lakes seems a toil rather than the fun that we have in sunnier times. Well, today was rather a special one for us with the arrival of the sun ! We awoke to clear sky’s and a gradual warming up of the day as the sun rose and smiled down on us whilst we worked. Lottie and I spent the day clearing the dam and splitting the iris that are planted all along the dam edge. It was good honest work made all the more special by the myriad of birds that have suddenly started singing again after the mid winter silence. They are already looking for mates and many will be nesting in just a few weeks time. In fact the kingfishers will be having their first brood next month, the first of up to three that they have each year. They can be seen and heard constantly throughout the day as they swiftly fly up and down the lake edge. They each have their favourite fishing spot and with an abundance of fry they are finding easy pickings when it is feeding time. We have put out feeders for the birds with sunflower seeds attracting a good many different little chaps constantly throughout the day. This afternoon we sat with a cup of tea watching blue tits, great tits and black caps constantly raiding the feeders. They are almost tame and will feed just a couple of feet away from us. The pike are also very active and besides the constant boils and swirls we are seeing occasional pike completely clear the water as they hunt. I always believed that pike were solitary hunters however we are seeing packs of them tearing into the fry and roach along the dam. At one point this afternoon there were six separate pike operating within an area no bigger than a squash court. Jimmy also spread four dustbins full of cooked maize out in the main lake this afternoon and the carp appeared to be onto it very quickly. We saw one very big mirror carp roll three times over one patch of maize, followed by a much smaller one that actually cleared the water a couple of times. Very strange behaviour at this time of year. Jimmy also saw a the swirl and huge bow wave of a carp that was no more than 30m out from Gingers Patch. He said that it must have been one of the big girls judging by the amount of water it disturbed. It is good to see the fish moving around today as there has been very little activity on the main lake for a week or two now. In contrast Poppy’s Lake seems to be in holiday mood with lots of carp crashing around most days. It is strange how the fish in one lake will be very quiet whilst just a few yards away the other lake is full of activity. As old as I get I will never fully understand what makes carp tick !!

Anyway, the sunshine was a welcome treat today as the forecast is for more rain starting tomorrow. Rain is very much needed after the drought of 2017, I know, however I cannot help myself wishing for a glimpse or two of the sun once in a while.

A new year approaches.

Christmas is now done and dusted and the New Year is almost upon us as I write. Always a time of year that is full of expectation with the season past now a distant memory and the coming season beckoning, full of promise and with hopes of some good times to come. The weather has been rather wet and windy for a week or so now and as you would expect the land around the lakes look damp and dismal with a plethora of fallen branches and piles of damp leaves. We have kept a board out of the vidange so that the rising water level will flow through the lake and run over the vidange point for a few weeks, ensuring a good turnover of water, thus leaving the lake fresh and healthy for the months ahead. As is usual in midwinter the predators in the lake are extremely active and swirls, crashes and sprays of silver fry are evident throughout the day. This year we have a lot of gulls on the lake as well as the usual waterfowl and the egrets are now with us in good numbers. The herons are sharing their time between the lake margins and the fields that surround us. A diet of fish, worms and mice keeps them well fed at this time of year. With the rain, that has been with us for some weeks now, freshening the lakes, we are seeing a notable change in water color. Gone is the suspended silt and algae leaving the water looking like it has been polished. Fresh and clean after a summer of drought and low water, very nice. The carp are no longer active on the main lake with just a very occasional fish showing when conditions are warmer. Poppy’s Lake however is continuing to be very active with carp swirling and crashing out on a regular basis. Poppy’s fish do not appear to enjoy a winters rest but stay actively feeding in all but the very coldest conditions. It is good to know that the regular winter feeding programme that we carry out is not going to waste. Once the new years celebrations are out of the way the work around the lakes will start in earnest. No major programmes planned this year but the general cutting back and tidying up certainly eats up the time. However hard we work in January and February will still finish up with a last minute panic to ensure all is ready for our first anglers. So, the next few weeks will be spent brush cutting, leaf clearing and burning. I love the burning part and consider that winter work is always cheered up by a roaring bonfire. Happy days.

Finally may the team at Le Moulin du Mee wish you all a very happy New Year.

Back at LMDM and all is well !

Arrived home after a good night crossing from Portsmouth to Caen. A good trip that would be ideal for many of our anglers as with time for a couple of drinks, a bite to eat and then a kip in your cabin and arrival times perfectly for around 6am leaving an easy 4hr drive to the lake…Perfik ! We got to Portsmouth with around 4 hrs to spare so drove inland to a village called Southwick where had a pint in the two lovely pubs with a candlelit carol service in the local church sandwiched in between. Lovely !
Back at LMDM and with the sun shining all looked good however a walk round the lakes illustrated just how strong the winds had been in our absence. The ground was strewn with fallen branches and on the dam a very large branch was hanging down from one of the willows and will need the tree surgeon to sort it out. Other than that all is well with the water clearing nicely and rising slowly, in fact far more slowly than I expected. Chatting to Jimmy it would seem that much of the heavy rain has been soaking straight through the parched land into the aquifers rather than running off into the lakes. We will need a lot more of the wet stuff between now and the start of the season but with a ten day forecast of rain, more rain and lots of rain things are coming together nicely.
Happy days.

This afternoon Jimmy put out 4 dustbins full of cooked maize into the main lake. Lots of pike were moving however interspersed amongst them was the occasional carp which were probably encouraged to feed in the warm sunshine that bathed the lake all day. On Poppy’s the fish are still moving well and have been fed constantly since the end of the season. We will continue feeding heavily whilst the weather is mild with maize and wheat making up the bulk of the feed. When the freezing temperatures arrive we slow or stop feeding both lakes and then begin the feeding of pellet and boilies in the run up to the start of the season. This regime has done us proud over the years and the carp always are looking superb when our first anglers partake in some fishing. Poppy’s lake is especially exciting as growth rates amongst the young carp that we stocked is proving exceptional now that we have established a years round feeding programme. We were perhaps a bit lax in the early days as the high stock in this lake were exhausting the natural food available earlier in the season than we expected. Growth rates were much lower than expected however with the heavy feeding that now takes place we are seeing extraordinary growth rates. Happy days indeed.

 

Cold and wet !

The weather has turned colder with heavy rain at times along with a bone chilling wind. Much of the work in felling and logging a good many tree’s has now been almost completed thanks to the helps of the lads in the work parties. Having said that we do still have a couple of poplar trunks to cut up behind Island and Sanctuary swims. Water levels are now rising with the long awaited rain and we will allow the lake to fill totally before gradually reducing and filling once again in late winter. We like to do all we can to encourage a changeover in water during the wetter winter period thus ensuring that the season opens with water levels perfect and water quality at its best. It really is quite strange to walk around the lake without seeing anglers ensconced in the swims and it is noticeable that once the banks are empty the carp start showing very close in. Along the dam we have had a lot of earth and gravel slipping into the lake as we change over the soil in the long iris trench. Judging by the huge vortex’s and boils very close to the dam it is evident that carp have moved in to feed on worms and other bugs that will have been in the debris that has slipped into the lake. The pike and perch are also very active in the colder conditions and doing a good job in reducing the fry numbers we have from a heavy spawning year. I always feel that early winter is the bleakest time of all with leaf debris everywhere and the tree’s seemingly dripping constantly with the rain and mist that greets us most mornings. As winter progresses we work to clear the hangover from autumn and once we reach the coldest of months,January and February, the lake once again looks at its best in the cold crisp conditions. We are now beginning the winter feed programme for both lakes and have purchased a petrol water pump to help fill the cooking barrels where the maize is prepared. We have decided to up the quantities of feed this winter to encourage the carp to feed on our offerings rather than becoming preoccupied on naturals. At times this season we have suffered from the richness of the lake with carp happily feeding away without the need to consume anglers bait. Hopefully by feeding heavily over winter plus adding another 25 carp from Poppy’s Lake we will encourage the carp to be a little more reliant on anglers bait. We will see.

Seasons end – 2017

We have come to the end of a very unusual season which saw some fabulous catches, some poor weeks and a heatwave that was the longest and driest in our part of France in living memory. We also had what was perhaps our most successful spawning since we have owned the lakes resulting in the carp exhibiting a dramatic weight drop immediately after however despite that had all the carp looking in fantastic condition. With the added patches of weed that were a feature of the main lake this year the carp were able to spawn away from the tree line and as a result did themselves very little damage. It is always good from a lake owners perspective to see your carp well spawned out but without the lifted scales and abrasions that are often a factor to be contended with at this time of year.

Oxygen levels were also something that we had to keep an eye on constantly and I am pleased to say that the new aeration system enabled us to maintain excellent dissolved oxygen levels throughout the year. Owing to the extended hot dry period we decided to keep the aeration running 24/7 for most of the year and I believe it was a major factor in us being able to avoid any major problems. The aspect that we had no control over was water temperature which soared throughout the summer reaching 30c at times. And when you consider that this temperature was taken at 4ft down off the dam you can imagine that the surface temperature would have been even higher. The effect of this was that the carp were sluggish and happy to graze on naturals for much of the summer making fishing rather more difficult than normal. On a sad note the extreme water temperature caused us to lose a good portion of our large pike as well as the big sturgeon. Never good to lose fish and we are thankful that the carp weathered the conditions without loss.

On the brightside our ambition to be a venue offering every angler a realistic chance of a 50 has been realised with 126 carp of over 50lb being caught in 2017. Of those we also had 22 carp of over 60lb banked. The heavy spawning mentioned earlier held our totals back somewhat as we had a large amount of upper 40’s banked in the summer that should have, and would have been 50’s in normal conditions. The prospects for 2018 are superb with so many carp on the verge of breaking into the next weight category giving us realistic expectations a host of new 50’s and 60’s come the spring opening. We also have several carp that will be into the 70’s by spring which will be an added bonus for the fishing. Talking about 70’s it is fair and honest to say that the ‘drop scale’ mirror that was our biggest carp of 2016 is no longer with us. I feel sure that over the winter will will find the carcass of this big girl somewhere amongst the overhanging tree’s and will report should it happen. This particular fish reached a high of almost 74lb at one point but, in fairness, never had the frame to go much higher. After its last capture late in 2016 it dropped dramatically in weight and was obviously not in the best of health. A sad loss for us.

That being said one aspect of our carp growth that is becoming very apparent is that many of the really long, big framed carp that we have are now starting to show their true potential. These are fish that could easily add 10-15lb to their weight and still look nicely proportioned. It will be a very interesting season in 2018 if all our hopes are realised. The only worry is that we will experience another long dry summer which is always a recipe for harder fishing. Hopefully not and all will be well.

Finally a big thank you to our anglers, most of them regulars and friends, who have enjoyed the highs and lows of 2017 with us. We all look forward to seeing you again in 2018 when the fish will be bigger than ever, the sun will shine and gentle spells of rain will help keep conditions just right for a grand weeks fishing.

Work party week.

After a very wet Saturday and Sunday the weather has changed to very cold with clear starry nights and murky morning with mist rising from the lake at dawn and staying with us until mid morning when the sunshine burns its way through. Terrible fishing weather but wonderful for working so the lads have been very busy. We have had our tree surgeon friend felling poplars from behind the cottage whilst Ian, Leee, John and Simon assist Jimmy in clearing, burning and splitting the trunks and branches. Earlier in the week we had several tons of limestone chippings taken by boat and used to build up the area’s in front of Zippies and Gingers swims to facilitate easy handling of big carp. These were the only swims with margin depths that made photographing fish in the water pretty much a no go when water levels are at their highest. With the work that the lads have carried out it should be possible to both handle fish and photograph fish in the water on all swims in 2018. This afternoon we finished early enough for the chaps to spend an hour fishing Poppy’s lake before dinner and a good session it turned out to be with 5 fish banked in a very short time. Best of the bunch was a 30lb mirror to Lee.

Find below some pictures of the lads working plus a bonus of several pictures taken by Jason, the tree surgeon from the top of the poplars. Certainly a different view of the lake and surroundings.

I will be writing a review of the 2017 season in the next few days to keep and eye out for it.

Seasons End.

Our final two weeks at Le Moulin du Mee have been pretty tough for the anglers with carp being quite actively feeding but not on the anglers offerings. A week ago the lads left after a torrid week resulting in just a few fish, our worst ever week with the best being a 49lb mirror to ‘Roy Rodgers’. In fairness the lads fished hard in rapidly cooling conditions and although there were a few fish banked and a good few fish lost it was evident that the carp were unlikely to be caught in any great numbers. This week was one that saw regulars Will and Tim fish hard in damp and cold conditions where fish showed but once again proved hard to tempt. Will fished really well and imaginatively for his 4 carp leaving it until his last night to catch one of the big girls. A a tad over 59lb it was another stunning common which fought very hard before eventually being banked. Tim also fished hard and well without success until the Friday when he moved to the shallows for the day and winkled out a 36lb mirror that he cast to after seeing it show near the island. Good fishing lads.

The third member of the party was LMDM newbie Ian Jeavons who had a stunning brace of carp comprised of a 59lb mirror and a 67lb 4oz common. A great result and considering the dreadful wet and cold conditions a real bonus to break your pb for both mirror and common carp in one session.

This week we have 4 regulars here on a work party so there may be something to report from their night time fishing. I will write a season round up post in the next week or so after I have had time to reflect on a season that was very good in parts and bloody awful in others. Should be interesting.

Find below a few pictures from the last two weeks.

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The French doldrums !

I have just returned to Le Moulin du Mee to find that the last couple of weeks have followed the recent pattern of lots of showing fish but tough fishing. This malaise that is featuring at lakes all over France is very difficult to understand as from an angling point of view conditions have at times seemed just about perfect for fishing. Chatting to other lake owners the general concensus is the carp are feeding on naturals for the most part and the constant high air pressure coupled with extremely dry conditions have been the major cause of this problem. Whether that is so I don’t suppose we will ever really know however it seems as good an explanation as any so it is one that I will happily subscribe to.

On the plus side the carp that are being caught are in superb condition and for the most part fighting hard which would indicate that they are very healthy and quite happily going about their lives and ignoring the tempting offers that anglers are putting in front of them……….cussed so and so’s !!!

Well, on to the catch reports and with both weeks seeing a total catch of 17 carp apiece we can safely say that the fishing is ‘steady’ if not great. The first of the weeks saw Mark bag 8 carp including fish of 53lb, 51lb 8oz and 51lb as well as a trio of nice 40’s whilst Chris had just three carp which included fish of 67lb (common) and 54lb. Steve had six fish including mirrors of 44lb and 45lb and commons of 46lb and 47lb and we had one unlucky lad fail to catch at all. That’s fishing.

Total for the week was 1 x 60 at 67lb, 4 x 50’s, 7 x 40’s, 3 x 30’s and 2 x 20’s.

Well done to the lads, a good result in tough conditions.

The second week to report was much the same story as the previous one with once again 17 carp banked however the average size was somewhat lower. Caddy was top rod with 8 carp including fish of 51lb 8oz, 49lb 6oz and 48lb 6oz whilst Bobby had just the 3 carp topped by a cracking 51lb mirror. Graham had just a brace of fish including a best of 41lb 5oz whilst Mark managed a trio up to 48lb 4oz. Poor old Crocodile Dundee had to settle for just one smaller fish. Well, all the lads have met up with plenty of lumps here at LMDM in past years so a poorer week was perhaps due !! Well done anyway chaps.

Total for the week was 2 x 50’s, 5 x 40’s, 4 x 30’s and 6 x 20’s.

This week there has been a notable change in the weather with this morning seeing a cold north wind ruffling the surface of the lakes. Just a couple of fish banked so far but several other lost and the lads are feeling confident that the fishing will pick up. Reports from those that have hooked fish is that they are really pulling hard which means that oxygen levels must be sky high which in turn may encourage some serious feeding !!! Here’s hoping.

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