Angler's Mail editor Tim Knight (pictured holding a big float-caught carp while his other half Marion chills out in the pool) advises on picking the right fishing holidays for you and whoever you're going with!

WE ALL dream of finding the right place to take a holiday with top fishing on tap – be it a weekend or a fortnight or more. So how do we find it?

In a previous AM HQ blog looked at how I found and enjoyed a lakeside week with my good lady  in France, a country which will surely be on your radar if you like carp, but does have other delights.

I enjoy fishing for a bit of everything. The missus rarely fishes, but ‘gets it’. And having been on some great holidays where fishing was a low priority, sorting one out where it would obviously be front-of-mind – as we’d be staying by the water – brought different considerations.

As it turned out, the balance we thought we found did indeed work out perfectly for us.

So based upon my experiences, and those of people I talk to, below are five key questions. Ask yourself these questions when seeking the right holiday for you and your loved ones – or mates.

Get your head round these five aspects, which also apply for a holiday in the UK or other countries, and you’ll be more focused when surfing the internet and flicking through pages. Good luck!

1. Is the fishing right?

Fish weight is low on my list of priorities but it could be top of yours.

Fish weight is low on my list of priorities but it could be top of yours.

Ask yourself what you want before you start searching for venues.

Maybe a serious chance of a huge haul or a specific target-weight fish over-rides everything.

If that is 100 percent your focus this time, you’re safer going away with like-minded fishing mates if you’re able to, or go alone!

Fishing abroad can be easier but they don’t usually crawl up the rod from day one, so if a set target is in your mind it may require real dedication at the expense of a balanced holiday. If you will be going away with another person or people who aren’t fish-crazy, you may have to downscale your catch expectations from the moment you start looking to ensure they get what they want too, and don’t expect to be dangling 24-7. The word compromise springs to mind!

Wherever you go, as with any fishing trip, you’ll learn from your trip and know what to do next time to improve your catches…

2. Is everyone catered for?

Away from the lake, Tim and Marion drop into a foie gras museum in rural France. Not something you'll do back home, perhaps...

Away from the lake, Tim and Marion drop into a foie gras museum in rural France. Not something you’ll do back home, perhaps…

Some facilities, satellite TV, maybe even the luxury of a swimming pool, will ensure anyone you are with has things to do at the venue while you’re fishing.

If they love whiling away the holiday lazily in books or computer games, simply soaking in nature’s own wonderful world, or boozing and sunbathing away from a beach, this won’t be such an issue.

A few hours here and there away from the waterside, visiting an attraction or two, will not only broaden your own experience, but keep others enthused and give you something else to chat about.

3. How far is too far away?

How far are you prepared to travel? A day or more by road and sea - and road again - isn't everyone's idea of a getaway.

How far are you prepared to travel? A day or more by road and sea – and road again – isn’t everyone’s idea of a getaway.

Not only the cost of traveling, but the stress (not to mention expense) of getting there could affect your decision.

The southern-most quarter of France, for instance, involves maybe eight to 12 hours on the road after a ferry crossing – so flying then using a hire car at the other end might be a smoother option for some people in your group, or even all of you.

Breaking up that journey with an overnight stay can, however, enhance the whole experience. In France, the accommodation website Logis is useful for affordable authentic charm, but the country loves its low-cost lodge chains too.

Many excellent Northern French venues are however within three or four driving hours of popular ports, which partly explains their popularity.

4. Do you have the right gear?

I borrowed the big carp cradle you see under this fish from Mas Bas venue owner Gilles, when in France.

I borrowed the big carp cradle you see under this fish from Mas Bas venue owner Gilles, during this trip in France.

Some investments in your tackle may be needed anywhere abroad if you research the fishing, but not always.

Perhaps you can hire an item or two when you get there, possible at some French waters.

Better still, borrow for free off a mate back home, something I did with match platforms and big bait trays when going on bream and roach bag-up holidays in Ireland, Denmark and Holland.

French carping has a reputation for stepped up rods, lines and everything else.

Lots of venues are not like that – I was fine with standard English gear in France where I went recently, though I was glad to use the venue’s own giant carp cradle and weighing tripod.

5. Overall cost – what’s affordable?

You’re probably going top need to set an upper limit, an overall budget, before you start looking for your holiday, although various bills come into that.

If you drive and survive – camping/bivvying up by a water – then obviously the saving is significant. It’s certainly cheaper, in most cases, than staying in an on-site chalet/mobile home… and far cheaper than a proper cottage/house, or even a guesthouse with catering factored in.

But if you travel in a group and are spreading the cost,  real comfort won’t be so expensive.

If you're all happy to simply bivvy up, then great - it could be a bargain break!

If you’re all happy to simply bivvy up, then great – it could be a bargain break!

Some carpy venues offer a lakeside food package which is  convenient and often so substantial that you’ll put a few pounds on!

But if you are self-catering in France you’ll find food and eating out is much the same price as in UK, but better quality if you ask me.

Diesel (unlike petrol) is significantly cheaper, and wine… that’s a bargain!

Most private French stillwater venues don’t require a rod licence, but some do (I paid 30 euros in the Aquitaine region), and if you’re keen to fish a river too this will be factor.

Don’t forget too that additional insurance/breakdown cover will probably be needed, and incidentals – by law, you need to carry such extras as  a breakalyser kit and hi-viz vest if driving in France.

Now that's what anyone would call a room with a view! But if you're outside most of your waking hours, and just need a decent bed, a caravan or mobile home might fit the bill.

Now that’s what anyone would call a room with a view! This was looking out of a comfy house, but a caravan or mobile home could also enable you to wake up to this from a proper bed.

Bait is a consideration you’ll inevitably fret over wherever you go at home or abroad, and wonder about when you’re actually there too.

You may prefer to play safe and use what the venue’s fish see most of by getting it locally, if indeed they’re fished for regularly.

That will also save you room in the car (and slightly reduce fuel cost). Sackloads of latest expensive boilies isn’t vital in France, and you can always top up locally with a cheaper bulk feed like maize or pellets, if carping, or crumb/corn etc if fishing for other species.

Don’t forget too that going to any fishing venues outside of the main summer period usually means much better value.

It’s shocking how much holiday and flight/ferry prices are inflated for school holidays, hitting already cash-strapped families.

If I take a car and one passenger to France from my local port in October  it could cost me under £80 return, against £200-400 in August.

For those people lucky enough to be able to avoid peak periods, the holiday budget stretches a lot further!

  • If you’re planning a fishing holiday at home or abroad, check out the adverts in Angler’s Mail magazine. One of the major operators to many countries is Anglers World Holidays. Tim went to Mas Bas by booking with French carp fishing specialists Angling Lines.

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