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4 December, 2023 | Carp | Angler Blogs | Articles

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Adam Whittington: Trophy Hunting at Moulin Du Mee

Adam Whittington and best mate Andy head to France’s Moulin Du Mee to take on its massive carp in a friendly competition of bank vs bank. Do our dynamic duo scoop up the silverware by the end of the week? Read on to find out…

 

Adam says: 

A few weeks before heading to France for my annual pilgrimage, I become obsessive about the weather forecast for the scheduled venue and, 14 days prior to the trip things go up a gear.

The BBC forecast lets you see two weeks ahead, so it becomes a daily rollercoaster of optimism, should thundery westerlies be on the cards, to abject misery if there’s dramatic temperature drops or high pressure easterlies due.

This year, the forecast was cruel. The week prior to our arrival had daytime temperatures up to 30 degrees and a comfortable 16 degrees at night. Our first night was due to be three degrees! A massive change in temperature, combined with clear skies and biting east winds was also predicted just to seal our fate.

Each glance at my phone would be greeted with more mumbled cursing and a slowly shaken head. My girlfriend, as usual, cut to heart of the matter and gave me a stern reminder that no matter what the weather brings, I’ll still be going to the lake, the rods still get cast out and every effort will be made to land a monster.

Why then, should I give myself a daily beating up over a weather forecast? They don’t get it – watching the weather is part of the bigger picture, just as waiting in lines for the ferry is part of the whole immersive experience – I bloody love French trips!

It’s a trek to get there, but one I always enjoy. The roads are smooth and generally congestion free, and the vastness of the views sets the tone for adventures to come. Many hours later, with a hundred wind farms and numerous vending machine coffees behind us the roads become smaller, cars become rarer and eventually a piece of blue – our piece of blue – twinkles at us from between the poker straight lines of poplars that guard the banks.

Lines of Poplars…

First job, above all, is to meet up with our old mates Jim and his son Jimmy for a cup of tea and debrief on the goings on both on and off the lake. Great people, with a fabulous outlook on how to run the perfect set up for carp anglers.

After chewing the fat for an hour, I was ready to head for the lake like an impatient greyhound waiting for the start of a race. My long term fishing partner, Andy Camo, had more sloth-like ideas and readily accepted another cup of tea much to my disgust. Not wanting to seem ungrateful, I sipped a second tea as well whilst thinking of all the terrible things I could call him later. Pod user, folder of reel handles and, most offensive of all – mallet wielder, being the pick of the insults. And stuff about his mum of course.

Tea finally dispatched, we arrived on our bank to unload the car and chase some giants. The lake has basically two long banks that taper to a point in the shallows, with the deepest water being along the dam wall at the other end of the wedge. Typical estate-lake set up, covering fourteen acres in total. We rotate positions on the lake in the interests of fairness, and this October saw me pitching my camp in the shallows, whilst Andy commanded the deeper areas nearer the dam.

From previous experience, the swim choices rarely see an equal distribution of fish. They tend to move from area to area, leaving the anglers with a feast or famine situation. I’m sure we’ve all been there, when the carp are having a party elsewhere and you have to sit on your hands and pray to the carp gods they see fit to visit your swim.

We saw signs of fish straight away – great swathes of bubbles popping up over much of the lake. With a greatly improved forecast as well, things were looking good.

It had been unseasonably warm the previous week and this clearly suited the carp. Whilst the shallows themselves seemed the only area devoid of carp, the area directly in front of me had signs of feeding fish, which increased the urgency as I tied on baits and prepared PVA bags.

No need to attract carp – they were already present, so I opted just to use just a bag of crumbled CompleX-T with pellet and half a handful of disced baits. Getting the baits to the fish without spooking them would be the tough part and I elected to place baits about a rod length away from where the carp remained fizzing away in style.

First bait in, rod laid on the deck and out with the second bait.

I was using a bait boat as stealthily as I could, cutting the motor before drifting onto the spots and letting the boat drift away slightly before steaming for home. Second rod laid on the floor next to the other, and rod number three was on its way out, when I saw the line pick up on the first rod, my back-lead rising to the surface as the tension increased.

That’ll be a bite then! Solid and slow was my first reaction as I initially felt the carp. Andy helped me with the logistical issue that I was now playing the fish under the bait boat carrying my third bait.

We managed somehow, with just the odd grumpy comment from Andy mentioning there were fish bubbling in his swim, whilst he was playing ghillie in mine. That’s payback for the second cup of tea, was my initial thought, followed by a need to give him a celebratory hug when he scooped up a very sizeable mirror some minutes later.

A very sizeable mirror to kick things off!

Once the fabulous fish of 56lb 4oz was safely returned we cracked on and worked as a team to get Andy’s rods out and thoughts turned to dinner. There’s friendly competition between the rival pairs on each bank and by dawn we were in a fabulous position as Andy landed another mega mirror of 53lb 13oz during the dark hours and I’d snuck out a 36lb 8oz just before dawn.

The night-time silence in the valley is so absolute, it’s as if a thick, soundproof blanket has been laid over you and is slightly disorientating as a result.

The first walk outside after a heavy fall of snow is sometimes the same, when all traffic has halted and the land has a sound-deadening coat on it. I’m not a jumpy individual, but the beep of a Delkim at times like this can be like a cattle prod to the senses. To provide a little balance, it’s the type of lake that most definitely isn’t a runs water and when a bite comes, the end result is a potential giant.

Full daylight on the first morning saw a definite migration from the fish as they headed towards the main body of deeper water further up the lake.

The second night dropped properly cold for the first time that Autumn, which shoved the fish further still towards the deeps. This didn’t bode well for me and our old mate Chris on the far bank, but Andy and his opposite number Doc, were treated to a fabulous display of fizzing, rolling and crashing for the next few days.

Andy definitely made the most of it…

Andy definitely made the most of it on our bank, landing some real crackers including a forty pound common that fought like a tuna on steroids and a mid-thirty with huge sergeant-style scales on its shoulder.

With no option to move, I played the waiting game and held on to the fact that the very biggest carp in this, and many other lakes, seem to act with a little more independence and are often caught by the guy who has just the one, rather than someone hauling. I know, I know, clutching at straws!

A whole week living in a bivvy gives you a tangible feeling of being part of the lake, noting it’s mood changes whilst squabbling coots by day, and owls by night provide a soundtrack to the ever-changing picture in front of you, the only constant being the permanent halo of canvas that frames this familiar scene.

Red squirrels call this valley home and they seem to get slightly bolder with each day, sensing no threat from the fragrant, farting beasts that make their temporary homes in green lakeside shelters.

In the early hours of my fifth night, after another day with very few clues in my area, the tip pulled down towards the back-lead and held there… The fish felt heavy from the off and plodded about in a restrained way before just about squeezing into the net.

The head-torch revealed a common of immense proportions and Andy did the honours with an old original fish known as ‘Crinkle Tail’ – a rare visitor to the bank, making the capture feel even more special.

The weight turned out to be 67lb 8oz and Andy took immaculate night time pictures – he’s written before on the site about photography and I learn something every time I see him wield a camera.

Daylight didn’t unfortunately reveal more fish in my area, perhaps reinforcing the theory about the giants acting as loners.

Andy and Doc remained in pole position in the deeps, with carp the size of bungalows crashing theatrically in front of them on a regular basis. Whilst runs were not frequent, the odd fish kept falling to deep water traps and feeding activity seemed to occur at all times of night and day.

On our last full day, fish returned to the shallows and it was great for the soul to finally see the odd show and patch of fizz. There weren’t many, but after long periods of nothing it felt like Christmas!

I was up early after a decent sleep and threw myself into chasing the bubblers around, being proactive and trying to see patterns of movement so I could find that magic formula of putting a bait where they are going to be, rather than fish at them already in residence.

Three hours of chasing and one finally made a mistake and once again I had the brilliant feeling of hooped over rod and ticking clutch. A 42lb 14oz mirror was the very welcome result and proved to be my last action of the week.

Chasing the bubblers…

 

Andy had most definitely not finished doing what he does and woke me in the early hours to state he had a mirror that “might be massive”…

This does beg the question why he didn’t simply look at it with his eyes because, as soon as I saw the fish it was most definitely massive and, as he unhooked it I noted you could chuck a cricket ball into that huge mouth.

We carefully weighed the great fish at 72lb 4oz. Staggering to see these fabulous giants, and a testament to the quality of the lake.

‘Might be massive…’

 

Long before we arrived at the lake this year, Andy and I had been shown photos of a staggering looking linear from the lake and had chatted excitedly about the prospect of seeing it on the bank.

Instead of letting me get my beauty sleep prior to the mega drive home, Andy woke me yet again with the news that the great fish was his at 53lb 14oz. A truly fabulous set of carp for the vet this trip and one which deserved the crown he was later to wear.

Deserves a crown…

There was a trophy at stake amongst the opposing bank pairs, which would be rewarded to the pair with the biggest mirror and common combined. Whilst Chris and the Doc had some fine carp, this was a solid win with a combined weight of our two fish at 139lb 12oz.

Winners!

Even as we drove out of that idyllic valley, talk turned to next year, trophies to defend and adventures to come!

-Adam

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