Terry Bell Lands a French 45lb Mirror

Terry Bell Lands a French 45lb Mirror

A few weeks back my wife surprised me by announcing that I was to be going with a friend to Heron Lake on the Abbey Lakes complex in France. I had heard of the venue but knew nothing about it so I scoured the Internet to get as much information as I could.

On arrival Steve (the bailiff) gave us our key fob for the gate and said, ” You guys are on Heron Lake, which is the hardest lake on the complex!” We weren’t due to go on the lake until 8am the following morning (Saturday) but we were given permission to fish the night on Frog Lake (another lake on the venue).

Rather than get all the gear out for this overnight session I just fished two rods with matching rigs consisting of Inline Stonze weights sliding on the line and a coated braid hooklink finished with a size 6 Gripz hook attached KD style. The bait chosen was Crave boilies so I was fishing very much as I would at home.

mirror frog

In the morning just before packing up I had a small mirror carp that scrapped better than its size suggested! I didn’t weigh it but it was around 12lb.

After hurriedly throwing everything into the car, we drove through the gate and round the lake to a swim we liked the look of when we had walked around the previous evening.

There were a few fish to be seen on top just along from us in open water but we were interested in the bay which would mean nobody could interfere with our fishing or cast near us. On looking in the corner by the sluice we saw easily 10 carp from 20lb to 40lb right in the edge and that was us: decision confirmed.

I set up in the left corner which was a bit of a poke hole that involved wading to the rods (and casting towards that sluice) and Darren was to my right fishing in open water.  I had a few casts about and found areas of silt that felt good so rather than throw everything at them on the first night, I decided to just fish boilies on helicopter rigs.

By using fairly flat Stonze I could be sure that they wouldn’t plug into the silt and the nature of the rig itself guaranteed a good presentation. The rules on this complex are to use barbed hooks but I continued with the size 6 Gripz hooks which, although seem quite small for big French fish, I was more than confident in their ability.

I opted to use double 18mm Crave bottom baits which is something I have never done before but somehow seemed appropriate. I put two rods a couple of rod lengths apart; one down towards the sluice but out into the lake a little and the other along the margin that runs out at a right angle to my left then scattered around 50 Crave boilies around the whole area. The third rod was fished to a tree line opposite me again with the Crave scattered along the margin.

I had my first run at 02.10 in the morning on the middle rod to the left margin but the fish came off as it got near. I was gutted knowing that chances would be few and far between and those words were still etched in my mind “this is the hardest lake on the complex”.

I looked at the rig and I felt that maybe lengthening the hair would help to hook any other fish that took my bait so with the change made I waded out and made the cast in the dark to my spot hitting the clip perfectly and then scattered another 50 or so Crave boilies around the whole area.
At 03.30 I was woken by a run on the the recast rod and I landed a 29lb 12 oz mirror carp.

29lb 12oz (1)

I was up at 04.30 to look for shows at first light and was sitting on the edge of my bed with my waders on waiting for action and at 04.50 I got it when unbelievably the same rod was off again, this time the culprit being a 31lb 8oz mirror carp!

31lb 8oz (1)

That was the last of the action for the night but following the same tactics I had another run the next evening. This fish (another mirror) weighed 21lb 8oz.

21lb 8oz RESIZED

The next morning I was again in my waders watching the water and at 07.00 the middle rod rattled off and I got another mirror in the net. Just as I had unhooked it in the net, the bobbin on the left hand rod pulled up and I lifted into a fish that sadly was off straight away. The one in the net was weighed at 28lb 10oz

28lb 10oz (1)
After this flurry of activity the fish backed off of the pressure and the weather took a turn for the worse. We had extremely heavy rain showers, thunder and strong winds. Each morning I was up at 04.30 without fail watching the water for signs but there were none which I think was mostly down to the weather. The whole complex had been fishing very hard all week with no fish caught on two of the lakes and Heron had only done 10 fish between 7 anglers, so I was delighted to have had 6 runs and landed 4 fish!

For the next three days the only highlight was Darren coming to see me in my bivvy and slipping in the mud landing on his back right infront of me (I somehow managed to suppress my laughter!!).

On Wednesday I decided that I needed to up my game. I had been fishing really well but with no action since Monday morning, so I had to do something. The scattered boilie approach had worked to begin with but the fish weren’t impressed any more so I needed to feed them. I mixed Bloodworm and Maggot Crush Groundbait with two sizes of Coarse Pellets, Gammarus Shrimp, Daphnia, Waterfly and Bloodworm from the Dried Naturals range, and some Jungle and Crave boilies (whole and crumbed).

This mix was put into balls and dispatched with a Spomb for accuracy to a new silty area I had found next to a gravel bar but slightly deeper.
Waking in the morning to static bobbins was the straw that broke the camels back and the decision was that we had to move.
After walking the lake (all 35 acres) we saw a few discreet shows in the waves going into the windward bank so we moved in hoping for a change in our luck. I moulded a large method ball around a large Inline Stonze weight and waded it along the margin and placed it on a sandy patch under a tree. One more rod was fishing the method due to the amount of weed Infront of us and my other rod was fished with the helicopter rig as before.
Again by morning no fish had made an appearance and we were stumped. At breakfast one of the other people fishing the lake said they had been using solid PVA bags of Pellets with a small bright pop up to good effect.

After breakfast and a shower we returned to the swim feeling refreshed and set about putting some rigs together. I made up short supple hook links with Size 6 Gripz hooks and 10mm Almond Vice Flarze (fluorescent pop-ups) and medium inline Stonze. These were put into solid PVA bags with Coarse Pellets and cast to the edge of the marginal shelf in the bay to our left.

I was midway through spombing Crave boilies and Coarse Pellets to a silty area behind a weed bed in the middle when my rod to the left pulled up tight and bent round. I dropped the spod rod to the ground and started to play a powerful fish in from the corner of the bay. It had kited into the tree line down to my left but thankfully I was still in my waders so I got in the water and applied side strain whilst dipping the rod below the surface. As the fish neared I commented that it was only small, which Darren quickly corrected me on. It was a common by far larger than I realised at first. As I drew it in Darren netted it first go and we began guessing the weight we thought it would go. I was convinced it was a mid thirty but Darren thought forty.
On the scales it spun the needle to 48lb 8oz so once the sling was accounted for we settled on a weight of 45lb. Absolutely blown away!

45lb common (2)
Going into the last night, we only fished two rods each because we didn’t want too many lines in the bay but I gave control of all the rods to Darren as he still had failed to catch anything and I had landed five from seven runs.

All rods were now on the same method that brought me the common and at 08.30 with everything packed up except the rods and half an hour till we needed to go, the left hand rod received a steady take and Darren was into a fish! After a short but spirited fight taking him under a tree, a stunning linear was netted and weighed at 25lb. Not the biggest but I think it was the best looker of the trip.

Darren 25lb (1) resized feature
We had a great time and angled very well to catch what we did, working tirelessly at all times of the day and night but the results were certainly worthwhile!

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