Taking Your Chances
A poor draw means Briggsy has to grind out a result.
There are lots of waters in the world that I would still like to fish given the chance and the well-known French venue Etang les Teillatts was certainly on that list, so when the chance came around I didn’t hesitate.
Like many of the waters across the Channel that have built up a reputation over the years, Teillatts tends to be fully booked all the time, especially during the most productive periods. Unlike waters such as Rainbow where you book certain swims in advance, Teillatts works on a draw system at the start of each week, and with 13 anglers you really need to come out quite early. Unfortunately, I picked number 12, which didn’t leave much of a choice. I went for a swim called the Inlet because it was close to my mate Tom, whose birthday it was that week, and none of the remaining choices looked any better! I’ve never been a fan of drawing for swims, as it can make or break a trip before you’ve even got the rods out. I knew it was going to be a struggle at best, but I’ve been in that situation before and I’ve learned over the years that you never know what can happen. By all accounts the fish tend to move around the lake through the course of a week and, even if they didn’t hold up in front of me, there was at least a good chance that they would pass through at some stage.
A scan with the echo sounder showed that the area was fairly featureless and deep with a flat lake bed averaging 16 to 18 feet. I didn’t have much water to go at and, frustratingly, I knew there was a bar running across the lake that was just outside my water. My initial thoughts were to put a reasonable spread of bait out in the deep water and sit on it for the week, and also try the margins on one rod as they were at least some sort of feature. I baited one central area with about five kilos of 4G Squid and placed two rods on that, and one down the marginal shelf with less in the way of freebies, and hoped that it would bring me a fish at some stage.
That first evening the heavens opened and a hailstorm was followed by torrential rain that didn’t really stop for the entire week! As expected, it was a slow start for me, but there were good fish out around the lake. Tom was just to my left and had a really nice bay to his left. There were clearly carp in there and he soon had a couple on the bank.
The best bit of news I had came when the resident bailiff, Jake, said that he wasn’t going to fish and I could put one rod across to the area in front of his base, which was really in a narrow little strip of water in between Tom and the guy fishing opposite. It looked a bit tight, but I’d been given the okay to do it and that was good enough for me! In fact right in that area was a hump that rose up to 11ft, so at last I had some sort of feature to fish to – things were looking up!
We were having a problem with liners (in reality they were more than likely fish towing tackle), and the rigs were being pulled out of position. To try and combat that I switched over to heavier 8oz Tractor leads to hold position better and I also changed over to my heavier Slap Head indicators so that, even on a fairly tight line, there was still a little drop on the indicator that would give me more of a warning when something was happening. Although it didn’t stop those occurrences from happening, it did at least stop the rigs being pulled around.
One morning late in the week Tom said that he was going to take one rod around in the bay and fish there for the day and I could join him with one rod if I wanted. It was a nice offer and maybe my best chance of some action, so I quickly reeled in all my rods. I also had a plan to try and make the most of it. Both our swims would be free of lines for the day and I know how quickly carp can react when lines are taken out from an area. I went out to my spots in the boat and I dropped a handful or two of Key Stabilised just off of the baited areas. I hadn’t used it so far and I liked the idea of trying something different later, and I know that the Key can work instantly too.
It was a nice day in the bay and we saw fish, but unfortunately didn’t catch any. Later that evening we wandered back to base to get the rods back out. I did it as quickly and quietly as possible. It must have only been 10 minutes or so later and I was chatting to Tom when I saw one of the Slap Heads drop back to the floor. The line was slack and I wound furiously until everything went solid. Sure enough a thump on the other end told me all I needed to know: I was into a fish at last. It was a really strong battle that went on for over 20 minutes, but eventually a lovely plump mirror slid over the net cord – relief or what? We all thought it was bigger than it was, but at 50¾lb it was a real sight for sore eyes! I always say that to get a fish over 40lb is a good result, so to get a fifty made all of the effort worthwhile.
We all hope for a trip to remember when we head across the Channel, but the reality is that sometimes things don’t go to plan and it can be a lot tougher than we’d expected. At times like those it’s not easy to fish at your best all week, but on any trip there are likely to be chances and, no matter how small they are, it’s important to make the most of them. This was certainly one of my tougher sessions, but I came away with a result that I would be happy with anywhere. Maybe it was luck, maybe it was the change of bait, or even the extra effort in baiting the spots before I went off for the day, but it ended up with a good fish on the bank and I could go home with a smile on my face.