2017: Dan Cleary is a well-known angler in the UK with good results in all kind lakes. In 2017 he spotted a picture of a stunning, heavily-scaled fish of Le Grand Etang, Dan thought he'd like to have a go for it. Little did he know what was about to happen!
Well, where do I start with a place like Le Grand Etang, formally known as The Great Lake, in France? For people who don’t know me, the typical commercial-type venues abroad are not really my sort of thing, I prefer the more challenging venue. The public waters in Europe, and at home for that matter, are right up my street.
Le Grand is different though. It’s run as a commercial fishery, but at 69 acres, with somewhere in the region of 150 scaly carp, it starts to tick the boxes.
A photo of Kristof Dresselaerts, a Belgian angler I’ve met whilst fishing on the Belgian canals, is engrained in my mind. It's of a Le Grand Etang fish called Queeny that they used for adverts in the magazines. It was a stunning scaly fish, around the 60lb mark. This was my inspiration and so the trip was booked. I would even forego my yearly trip to the Belgium canals for 2017 in the pursuit of her!
The next problem was getting all the gear so that I could take the missus: a two-man bivvy, bedchair, sleeping bag etc. This was rapidly becoming an expensive trip!
The day finally arrived! I thought the lake was going to be fully booked (12 anglers), but to my surprise and joy, there was only going to be a group of five English anglers, plus ourselves for the entire week, this meant we were all going to get a good swim with plenty of water. Following a very quick walk along road bank of the lake and the toilet/shower block. They quickly explained the rules to us and we went off to our swims.
As for me, I’d not even seen the swim, but I had all the information I needed so far. We then hopped in the car and bounced around the back of the lake overall the potholes, along a maize field until we came to the swim. It offered a lot of water, with the wind blowing nicely into the bank, which was situated on the north-east corner of the lake.
I then got the house up and boat pumped up, so I could go out and look for spots in the weed. The lake is roughly 80% weed, so you are reduced to fishing holes in the weed generally, although there are a few clear bars. The inflatable boat is a necessary item, just to extract the fish, if you are lucky enough to get a bite, and you can, of course, use the boat to drop your rigs and baits in the exact spots too.
I planned to go out in the boat on the Saturday, then again on the Sunday, after a good night’s sleep to re-asses the spots I’d chosen. I would repeat this process again on Tuesday and Thursday, as the fish have started to become very spooky of boats. I did just that and on Sunday I re-positioned two of my four rods, as I'd found a few better areas.
I found Snowman rigs were the best hookbait option
The bait I had chosen for the trip was Dynamite Baits' Crave in 15mm and 18mm, Maize, Mixed Particles and Chilli Hemp. The complex produces their own chilli mix, so I wanted to re-produce it, but added a few bits and pieces, like whole and chopped boilies, Hemp Oil, CSL and Krill liquids. This went out on three spots, while the final spot was just boilies just to see what would produce and if I needed to respond to anything I could do so during the week.