Live report winter session at Vallee Lake 1!

In the week before Christmas Jasper Arntz and I are playing with the idea to plan a short session in France between Christmas and newyear's eve. The weather is okay, the temperature of the water is actually pretty high, 7°C and on top of that, our new destination Vallee Lake 1 is screaming for a field test. Even though the session in December was everything but representative, it allows us to have a fairly good impression of the lake.
The night of Boxing day we leave around 5 o'clock from Tiel towards Vallee Lake, after a short and good journey without any traffic jams, we are way before 10 o'clock in front of the gate. A little time later Mark, the owner, welcomes us here. With daytemperatures between 5-10°C it is pretty chilly, but both for us as the fish is is all pretty okay. We decide to leave the water as much as possible for the first day, and we use the baitboat to move our rigs and bait to the spots which Mark advised. Because we have to work next to our session, we pick swim 6 & 8, which are in front of Carpers Cabin. This way we have power available for the laptops, and we have the comfort of a cabin when it is really chilly during the day.
Off course we sleep at the rods: on the other side at swim 6 there are a lot of obstacles and because of the fact that the fish only feeds during the night, it is important to be as fast as possible to the rods to block the fish. After a nice dinner, a movie and talking about our tactics for Wednesday, we are going to sleep early and we enter our sleeping bags: Hopefully tonight will start the party!
This session we use 5 Litres big white maggots, a dozen cans of sweetcorn and 10kg 16mm Grainbaits Naturals as bait, the boilies we only use broken. All 3 kinds of bait are used: the maggots on a Korda Maggot Clip, the corn on a string together with a popup fake corn and the boilies together with a half yellow Pineapple popup to make the hookbait visually attractive.

Update Wintersession Vallee Lake 1: Wednesday evening

Writing an update without catching any fish is pretty tough, but I give it a try. Our first night passed without any bites, we did saw the weather change, from sunny and dry to rainy and windy. The wind gained power and is blowing towards us. This is very hopeful!
Although the use of a boat is normally prohibited, and only allowed when a fish is stuck., Mark gave us permission to use a boat during this session. With the help of a depthmeter we try to get a good image of the bottom and its structure. This is also to inform other anglers in the future. Jasper and I are floating on the water for a couple of hours on and around our spots and we find some interesting differences in depth: holes of almost 4 meter deep and very shallow plateaus of not even 1 meter. Several weed beds and some long gravel banks. The possibilities are huge and this is what makes it so hard in Winter. Where can we find the fish?
Jasper chooses to spread his chances and positions his rods between the island and swim 9. Not even 5 meters out of the island it is already 3,5 meters deep, this is the spot for his right handed rod. The middle rod is placed behind a plateau about 60 meters out of our swim, from swim 8, it is towards the big Hook Lodge. The left hand rod is placed on the edge of a deep hole, almost 4 meters of water and the deepest spot we could find in our section.
The other side of the lake, and the corner at swim 6 are remarkable deep straight from the margins. At some places over 3 meters of water, and right in the middle, there are some clear, shallow plateaus and sand/gravel plates. Because of the low temperature of the water and the wind that is blowing in that corner, I decide to place my rods to the deeper sides: a combination of sweet corn and crushed Grainbaits Natural boilies have to do the job tonight. Unfortunately no bites this far, but we keep trying. Fishing in the winter is keep to continue, we have 2 night left, and we assume we will get a bite. It would be wonderful to catch one of the bigger fish of the water during a freezing December session!

Update wintersession Vallee Lake 1: Thursday evening

After a pretty fierce night with a lot of showers and a turning wind from East to West we woke up without a bite on Thursday morning. The high-pressure area that will arrive the upcoming days will not bring any good, and to be honest, we have lost faith in our spots after 2 nights without fish. After inspecting our spot with the boat and a viewbucket we see our spots untouched. Only on one spot the bait is partly gone, and this is the spot where we have seen some coots diving. Bad news: no fish in this section, or we don't get them to feed. With only one night left there is nothing left than moving. Swim 9, here we come!
Like somebody is watching us from above, the clouds gather while we move and the wind increases in force. Wet to the bone, some moments later we are moved. We don't have any time to lose: together in the boat and find some spots with the tips of Mark kept in mind, feed and fish! Around 3 o'clock in the afternoon everything is in place again, we have a lot of faith on these new spots. At swim 9 there are a lot of differences in depth as well. Jasper is fishing a deep hole towards the island and he had found a nice clean plateau. I will do with a bank of 1,5meter steep to about 2,4 meters, a hard gravel plate and the bank on the other side in front of swim 4. Because we can use the biggest part of the water from swim 9, we try to be outside as much as possible in between the showers to search for some carp activity. Unfortunately without any result, but this isn't really weird in December!

Update Wintersession Vallee Lake1: Friday afternoon

When we are just totally settled at swim 9, the weather is even getting worse than during the day. The wind increases to 8-9bft. And it is really raining cats and dogs. Jasper makes a cynical remark: The only thing we miss is a thunderstorm. We didn't get a thunderstorm, instead we got a bloody hard bite in the middle of all this stormy weather. My middle bitealarm gave 2 beeps, when I arrived at the rods, I saw some light bending of the tip. Strike it! After a slow fight, and getting soaked for the second time today, I am able to land a remarkable coloured yellow mirror carp. This one is 37lb, what a winter fish!
After returning the fish, we re-bait the rod with some corn on the hair and some white maggots on the hook. In spite of the storm, we are determined to put out the rod again, and after some messing, we finally get the rod on the same spot as it was before. Not that much later, around 2 o'clock at night, a bite on the same rod. This time it is Jaspers turn, who manages to catch a 27lb mirror carp. Yes, we both have caught fish! Unfortunately the rest of the night nothing happens anymore and the storm is over. We fish until the end of the session and leave in the beginning of the evening back to The Netherlands.
Looking back on this session, in the beginning we have made the wrong choice considering the swim, and we have fished 2 sport where (after 2 nights) no fish was feeding. The open water at swim 9 was a better choice, but also on only one rod. Because of the low temperature of the water of about 6°C we can carefully conclude that the fish has gathered for winter and isn't very energetic. We should have spent more time locating the fish, but that is all talking afterwards. We have enjoyed the 3 nights at Vallee Lake 1, and we are impressed by the beautiful facilities, the beautiful location and nature (even in winter) and most of all the challenging stock. Because of the short travel distance from The Netherlands and Belgium the water is perfectly suitable for a short session. Perfect for a midweek or a weekend fishing. We have made 1 deal: We'll be back!
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