UPDATE 2018 - FISHING WITH TONY AT GONE FISHIN' IN THE SUNNY LOT ET GARONNE
My view on fishing can be summed up by the grandfather in “Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China” (by Jung Chang) when he says “Not for the fish do I go fishing”. The sense of that is that you don’t need to catch fish to enjoy the experience, because there is always a lot going on around you.
The lake at Gone Fishin’ is one of those places – but with the added bonus that you WILL catch fish! You’ll see kingfishers, pond skaters by the thousand, dragonflies in all colours, shapes and sizes, ducks, coots, a pair of hares and even – on my last morning – a coypu nonchalantly swimming past, not 6 feet away. And all that before I get to the fishing!
Take a walk round the lake in early morning, or at dusk, and you will appreciate just how many fish there are. From the dimples of small fish on the surface through to large carp leaping out and belly flopping back in to the water, and in between those two extremes the starbursts of small fish leaping away as predators (probably black bass) attack them. Probably my favourite sight, though, was when several carp poked their heads more or less vertically out of the water, choreographed as if to make a picture of a Cornish stargazey pie (Google it to see what I mean!). And if you tread carefully you’ll see a few carp rooting around in the margins, slurping up morsels of food. Magical!
So, how did my fishing go? Well, I only fished short sessions, mainly early and late, and managed to catch 19.5 carp (I will explain shortly). The only time I didn’t hook a fish was when I tried lure fishing for black bass. I’d never caught one before – and I still haven’t! My research told me that fishing an imitation floating frog was a good summer bait for bass so I bought one to bring along. It really did a fine impression of the live amphibian as I jerked it back across the surface, its legs flexing gracefully like the real McCoy. I really thought it demanded, nay shouted for, attention, but sadly the black bass thought otherwise.
In 5 other sessions I caught 5, 6, 3, 1 and 4 carp by both straight legering and waggler fishing. The best weighed 5.1kg (11lb 4oz) and they were all in fine condition – fit enough to pull my string! I only fished 3 spots – both picnic table spots and where the steps and red sign are along the roadside bank. Hemp and corn on the waggler produced fish, but mainly the smaller ones (2 to 5lb). The bigger fish fell to hair rigged boilies and carp pellets. If I were to fish again I think I would concentrate on the red sign swim – there were plenty of carp about, because of the tree cover, I think. So there you have it – 19 carp.
But what about the half a carp, you may ask? When we first arrived Alan and Jen said the carp were very lively and a few people had had their rods pulled in. Cockily, and supremely full of confidence, I proclaimed that that had never happened to me and that I had a fool proof system attached to my fishing chair – never let me down, I said. And that was how it was during the week – the rod end would whack round before I casually picked up the rod to play and land my fish. Then on Friday morning the front part of my system broke. No problem, I thought, as I went for my final two hours fishing in the afternoon. I was waggler fishing and just held the rod all the time – for an hour and quarter without any indication of interest from a fish. Inevitably, I decided to make a change to my set-up and put the rod down just for a second while I sorted out the stuff to change. Whoosh! The rod was pulled straight in to the water. I was about to jump in after it, but realised I had my phone in my pocket. My most serious concern was how to explain the situation to Alan and Jen! That carp took the mickey out of me mercilessly. It zoomed to all three corners of the lake, before deciding to cruise slowly past in front of me, rod in tow, from right to left and back again – and several times!
Eventually it seemed to settle near the left corner and only 20 yards from the bank. So I started to change in to my swimming shorts and, just at the most revealing moment, my wife walked up and demanded to know why I was in flagrante delicto!! Nevertheless, I slid serpent-like into the water near the rod, skilfully putting my right leg through a loop of tree root. Once extricated, I slowly – stealthily – swam towards the static rod. Six inches away and the carp knew I was there – the rod butt moved about a foot before shooting off at high speed across the lake. That was enough for the night – or at least it was when I finally got back up the bank!
All’s well that ends well, though. The next morning I got the rod back by snagging it by casting a lead weight over it and, after three attempts, got it in to the bank. Everything was intact, including the hook, so the carp was safe and happy. I was happy – I’d got my gear back (and I’m claiming half a carp!). My wife, Jacky, was happy because she could tell all her friends back home. Alan and Jen were happy because they could reinforce their tale of caution to the next guests, but mainly because they seemed to find it amusing, for some reason!