Got to be in it to win it By Keith “TeaLeaf” Henley

For all my years in fishing, the last 10 or so of those in carp fishing, I have never had the urge to fish in France. I always used to say to myself “…there’s plenty of fish to catch in the UK”. I always thought the only time I would go abroad is if I had the chance to fish the Ebro or a lads holiday fishing came about. Well I was invited by a group and suddenly the urge to give it a try was in me. I started getting that excited feeling about doing it. Unfortunately after only a few weeks the trip was cancelled, but I still had that passion to go. I scanned the internet looking for a venue, nothing big, just somewhere. Two days later I received an amazing Facebook notification…….I had won a lake for a week for myself and up to three other anglers of my choice in a like and share competition!

The planning of this little adventure began and before long, 6 months later in fact, this new little adventure and passion became reality.

After several diversions, and scaring a poor Skoda driver which we assumed was also on the same diversion route, we arrived at the Tunnel and on time for our train…..or so we thought. As we passed through border control we were directed into the swab test station causing us to miss our train. The next train was an hour later!

We made the later train, and all managed a quick snooze through the tunnel. We left Calais following the Sat Nav of a phone heading in the direction of Paris. Approximately 1 hour into the journey we became engulfed by a snow storm slowing us down to a crawl behind the traffic in front as nobody was risking driving on the fresh snow in the outside lanes.

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After what seemed an age, the road cleared and we continued to follow the plotted route on the phone. We were then on the edge of Paris, well, the snow traffic was much more free flowing!

Eventually we broke free from the city traffic and continued our journey south west towards Limoges. Our arrival time was looking respectable at 1.30pm, only one and a half hours behind schedule. Alas another snow storm around  2 hours from our destination, which we finally arrived at around 3pm, 4 hours later than our intended journey.

We were welcomed by Martin and Troy, who manage the small 3 acre or so lake, and we were shown around and advised tactics that had recently been fruitful. By now we were all a little zombified with almost no sleep and our setting up time seemed incredibly long once we had picked our swims from a hat.

In the end 2 of my rods where lets say “pub chucked” but with some of the lake information advised taken into account just so the lines were wet. Our evening meal arrived and we then settled down in our bivvies after a couple of beers/ciders. The chalet became a central point for us all during the day and evening, somewhere for us to chew the curd so to speak. There are no snags in the lake so this is perfectly safe for the fish and as all the swims are on the same side of the lake they are all in close proximity to the chalet.

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I was awoken by my right hand rod. This had been chucked towards the Monk (a water outlet construction) on the other bank where apparently there was a deeper hole that the fish like to sit in when its cold. The bait was the new XXX White pop ups from CC Moore soaked in Hybrid Tackles Eye Cloud “Krilla”. This changes the white to a pale pink bait with added attraction of the Eye Cloud. This had been cast out in a solid pva bag of XXX bag mix. The take was good and line was being taken, I lifted into the fish and tightened the clutch. The fish turned and seemed to race towards me as I was frantically winding the reel to keep it in my control. The fight was strong under the rod and I soon discovered that this wasn’t a carp. It was a Diamond Back sturgeon, the only one in the lake, and it eventually was in my Landing net. This amazing prehistoric creature weighed in at 21lb exactly and I slipped it back into the lake gently. This is my first ever sturgeon and can now completely understand why people like to fish for them.

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The sun was soon to rise, we all were up and active by 8am. Matt dropped 2 fish from the same spot and we all sat debating why and looking at his rigs for answers. The weather was lovely today a complete contrast to our journey to the lake and the sun had us all in good spirit. However, there was no more action for the rest of the day until late afternoon when Roger managed to catch one of only approximately half dozen small stockies that live in the lake. We didn’t weigh the little gem and guessed it at around 6lb.

A cold night entailed and again we were all up reasonably early the next morning. Roger had managed to snare another one and as we prepared for the photos Matt managed to get one in the net as well. A nice 33lb 8oz for Roger and 35lb 8oz for Matt, both new carp PB’s.

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That afternoon at around 2pm my right hand rod screamed to life…..I was at last into another fish, again it made a dash towards me and I just managed to keep a tight enough line to guide it around the aerator in my swim.

Martin and Troy where down at the lake chatting with us before hand, and I suddenly heard Troy shout “its the big common!”……well let me tell you, that made the fight a whole lot harder and with great care thereafter the big girl “Heather” was in my net. The other rig that was also in her gob was removed with mine and the photos then began after she weighed my scales around to 54lb 8oz……a true chunk and PB carp for me!

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I just cannot describe in words the frame this fish has. With the fast growing fish in Barn View Lake I believe she could be a Future 70lber as she is still relatively young according to Troy.

My rig for the capture was simple. I used a Hybrid Tackle Juggernaut leader with 4oz lead. My hook length was a test material, Andrew from Hybrid had sent me it to test on my trip, it is currently known to me as Juggernaut braid at the time of writing this. An extra strong braid developed for fishing on the continent, it has a special protective layer on there for abrasision resistence.My hook of choice has to be there Armohawk wide gapes that are on test and was in a size 6. This is then tied hair rig style with my XXX White Eye Cloud “Krilla” pop up tight to the shank of the hook (so short hair) and weighted with the Pure Filth putty at my desired pop up height which in this case was around 1.5 inches.

That evening was even colder, and it dipped to -5 degrees, but I didn’t care, the buzz of my capture would keep me warm.

I was awoken by my right hand rod again at 2am which was being fished on the edge of the hole still. My rig was still simple but changed very slightly from before to Hybrid Tackles Juggernaut leader with 4oz lead and I now used the Konda coated braid to create a multi-rig on a size 6 Armohawk Chod hook with a bait screw, for easy bait changes, all weighted perfectly again withthe Pure Filth Putty.

A great fight with another named fish soon ended with it in my net and then into my retainer after clearing all the ice from the bankside equipment and mat.

Spud” is truly an odd ball. The very recognisable fish bounced my scales to 28lb 15oz and pictures of the football with fins were taken in what began to be a nice morning weather wise.

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The bites and signs of fish disappeared once again and only Roger managed to capture a couple more by the end of Friday. He managed a 25lb mirror Wednesday morning and another PB 37lb 12oz mirror Friday morning. Poor Garf had missed a run early in the week one night and hadn’t had any luck since then. He was not doing anything wrong and we all tried to help including Troy and Martin to get him a fish he so deserved.

Both Martin and Troy were shocked how the lake had seemed to switch off for our visit, we all agreed it was due to the indescribable erratic weather we had. We had all worked really hard for the fish we had caught through he week.

Our last morning arrived so quickly and my bivvy was packed by first light and most of my gear was waiting to be loaded into the hire van. This Saturday morning felt different somehow, birds were fluttering around and even insects filled the air. This was something we had not seen all week. Typically in true fashion it seemed we had timed our visit a week to early and firstly Rogers alarm sounded……after a tough battle, and both of us at one point wondering if he had the giant 95lb cat fish on the end of his line, he banked a gorgeous 40lb 8oz mirror. He then told me he had caught our friend the Sturgeon in the night too.

We put his capture into a retainer to rest while we prepared for his photos, suddenly Matt was in! Another battle took place and Matt was rewarded with a 48lb 13oz mirror…..a brace of 40’s and once again new PB’s for the lads!

One by one we went for our pre-journey home showers for that final pack down that we all hate. As I reached my swim my right hand rod once again was playing a Delkim tune. I lifted and wound frantically as the fish had once again made a run towards me. I soon caught back up with it and a really good battle ended with a 26lber on the bank, thanks to Troy doing some video footage with my camera for me whilst I landed the fish.

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This fish was also caught on the Hybrid Tackle Multi-Rig setup with the same XXX White Eye Cloud “Krilla” pop up combination.

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It was a hard but still very enjoyable time at Barn View Lake and I will definitely be going back within the next couple of years….perhaps in the summer or early autumn for a week next time to get the lake in its full bloom. Barn View Lake is a great venue for up to 4 anglers and I highly recommend it. Martin and Troy who manage the lake, in between their boilie rolling business, are very helpful and very good hosts for the lake. They have plenty of story’s to tell that will amuse the anglers for hours.

I will be working on the latest video(s) of this little adventure as soon as possible so keep an eye out on my social media pages or subscribe to my YouTube channel to see them once they are finished. Unfortunately, because of the weather, I didn’t do lots of filming but there is some good capture footage to keep you angling viewers entertained I think.

Tight lines all….Choddy in the margin and all that jazz.

TeaLeaf.

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KEITH

Categories: Articles, Uncategorized

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