Angler’s Mail editor Tim Knight (pictured with a 41-pounder caught during a stunning sunset) explains how he picked what proved to be the ideal place for a fishing holiday in France.

EVER tried finding a holiday where you’ll get enough good fishing in, and the non-angler/s with you are equally well catered for? It isn’t always easy to get the balance right!

I could put my holidays into roughly three categories:

  • Fun times where hoped-for fishing did not happen… for whatever reason.
  • Full-on fab fishing and beers with mates in Ireland, Denmark, Holland etc.
  • Forgettable breaks, alright at the time but firmly at the back of the memory.

This spring I trawled the internet to find a perfect blend for a week away in late June, far from the crazy concrete city I work in and the lively seaside town I live in.

Sun plus a pool or nearby coast would be vital for the missus. Fishing – quality fish and nobody else around, for me. A few local places of interest and places to eat would be handy so we felt we’d been abroad!

Anglers World Holidays have so many quality fishing countries covered if you want to start by looking at one website. I’ve booked with them before, and can recommend their service. Angler’s Mail magazine adverts and Where To Fish section showcase all kinds of interesting UK locations for a fishing break – as editor I see so many places featured that I fancy visiting!

But having independently booked cross-Channel trips to rural France several times, that was my first choice this time. Nothing opens when you expect – the French do things their way – but the country’s a winner for most British anglers, if you ask me. It has hidden treasures that, if you’re nosey like me, you’ll want to find – and the variety France offers can keep you going back.

mas bas scene

 

After several evenings surfing the web I stumbled on Mas Bas (main house, pool and lake pictured above). It’s 23rd on the list of 35 Angling Lines venues alphabetically, and the furthest down on Angling Lines’ map due to its southerly location.

If you want sun, travelling so far south (in this case well over 500 miles from the ferry) is a safer bet than say Normandy or Brittany where there’s a greater number of good specialist fishing venues, many run by and largely for UK anglers.

So, this place topped the short-list…

Sun? Tick!

Swimming pool? Tick – a real bonus!

Quality fish and not just carp? Tick!

Nobody else around? Tick… I saw you could get the main lake exclusively, and the venue’s been low on bookings anyway for reasons I’m not entirely sure of. I sense the competitive French fishing holiday market has been slower since the recession his angling.

French farmer English exile Gilles and Sharon were welcoming hosts. Don't be scared of the language barrier - you're never far away from someone who speaks reasonable English in France.

Gilles and Sharon were welcoming hosts. Don’t be scared of the language barrier – you’re never far away from someone who speaks reasonable English in France.

And without a long boring holiday diary, to the week I’ve just enjoyed…

Aside from nearly crashing twice – in a torrential deluge and at one of too many roundabouts (shouldn’t have set the Sat Nav to ‘Avoid toll roads’) – me and the other half had a blissful, relaxing escape.

As with any foreign venue, it can help if you can get some basic communication with the owners when you arrive. In this case there were no worries at all – the farmer Gilles could not only speak decent English but he speaks the international language of angling too, and his equally welcoming partner Sharon hails from the good old East End of London town.

zander

I didn’t have so much luck with predators, barring this zander – and an eel.

Of 34 chunky carp that I landed, almost half were the lake’s ‘original’ commons, some of which were at Mas Bas when it was formerly a family-run restaurant with a swimming lake.

A couple of grass carp, and a few other species including a zander, came by design too. Many grassies and most bream were removed by Gilles in January as they annoyed some carp addicts. He also put a new 50-plusser in as a venue with a 50 – or increasingly a 60 or 70 lb trophy fish – is now on many UK anglers French ‘tick box’.

My biggest mirrors, 41 lb 4 oz and 43 lb 13 oz, arrived early in the week – first in the evening and second when I re-started the next morning! Those proved to be the best times – breakfast and dinner time – as daytime temperatures soared to a sweltering 35 Celsius. And with this being a trip with a partner who only very occasionally fishes, I didn’t fish all night, instead sleeping at sensible times, in a proper bed!

I’m no ultracult carp angler, and rarely set my stall out for bigger ones back home. A mid-20 is a big fish near where I live, so lots of big 20s and some bigger ones suited me just fine. Most fell to Dynamite Crave 20mm boilies with a regular scattering of boilies or pellets, with simple 3 oz leads on safety clips and standard carp gear.  Nothing beyond what would catch on most English waters.

A 36-pounder took this French garlic!

A 36-pounder took this French garlic!

One fish, just under 30 lb, took a scrap of boilie under a pole float with 5 lb line and size 14 down the edge. That arm-aching battle was a lesson to step up!

I even had a 36-pounder on raw French garlic. Yes, a hair-rigged peeled single clove! I’ve heard people allude to the magical powers of this stinky stuff, beyond a bit of garlic salt or oil in cheesepaste for chub, so it was fun to prove it works in its naked form.

Given I was in a ‘what the hell’ holiday mood, I tried a hair-rigged prune off a tree too – they look just like 20mm boilies. It brought a run eventually, but the fish came off. Next time, eh?

So this picturesque, well-run venue totally fitted the original holiday brief. Spot-on, and we want to go back. Before this sounds like an advert, I did pay for my holiday. And I’ll enjoy seeking my next one whenever that may be!

43 lb 13 oz and a new PB - one of many highlights in South West France that made a nine-hour drive after a four-hour ferry crossing worthwhile.

43 lb 13 oz and a new PB – one of many highlights in South West France that made Tim’s nine-hour drive after a four-hour ferry crossing worthwhile.

 

NEXT WEEK: tips on how YOU can find the perfect fishing holiday for yourself – and for whoever is going away with you!

 

Meanwhile if you have any holiday venue recommendations or great memories, perhaps a highly amusing story from a fishing trip abroad, do drop me an email to: tim_knight@ipcmedia.com

 

LIKE OF THE WEEKthumbsup
WHILE I was driving back from France I heard Drennan Team England won match fishing’s  2014 European Championships. We’ve flopped at football, tennis and cricket so far this summer but  anglers are showing form. Well done to the whole squad – again! There were  interesting stories behind this triumph, and for England teams – see next Tuesday’s Angler’s Mail magazine for special reports.

DISLIKE OF THE WEEK
thumbsdown
THE Environment Agency nabbed 965 people out of 13,000 checked for rod licence offences during May. That’s a shockingly high proportion. Better news though in this week’s Angler’s Mail as dodgers are being named and shamed on a new list!

 

 

 

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