FL09June - Page 77



In Search of Monster Carp
at me and thought, he needs help, this
bloke. I was so stressed out; it was a
nightmare, and I said, “I just need to
head towards Lyon,” and he pointed
me in the right direction.
So we got out of Paris at last, and it
took us two days to drive down. I
thought we were never going to get
there, and as we got closer, I didn’t
know the right turning to come off for
the lake. We came off the motorway at
Cannes, which was this place where
all the film stars went, and the area
was just unbelievable. I had gone
from Dartford to Cannes, and the difference was just mind-blowing; all of
a sudden you were driving past palm
trees and these big boats in the harbour. The sun was beating down;
there were all these women walking
about like film stars, and there was
me in my mark III Cortina, but it was
fantastic, and I loved it. We gradually
worked our way through all these little roads, and we knew we were getting close to the lake. I just remember
driving round this little bend in the
road and all of a sudden, there was
Cassien, and it was just a fantastic
sight; it was the best sight I had ever
seen in my life. I had seen loads of
pictures, but I never realised it was
actually going to look like that in real
life. The water just stretched off into
the distance, all blue and clear, and
the hillsides were green and wooded
trees. I just stopped the car, looked
out and thought, wow, this is fantastic. We drove round the mountain
roads, which was probably the best
way to see Cassien. You can come
straight in off the motorway at one
end, or you can drive round all the little mountain roads at the other end.
Anyway, we drove round the mountain roads, and it was a real atmospheric way to see it for the first time.
So we drove all the way round, and
came down to this restaurant, Chez
Pierre’s, which was the famous
restaurant where carp anglers went.
There were three other ones, but
Chez Pierre’s was the carp angler’s
restaurant, and he was the one who
welcomed the carp anglers, obviously
because they spent loads of money;
he was a bit shrewd, old Pierre.
So we pulled in there, and Pierre
was such a lovely guy; he came out
and sort of welcomed us in. He was
always on the lookout for English or
Germans, because he knew we didn’t
speak a word of French. I had picked
Cassien was so much bigger than anything I’d fished before, but I used simple
logic to find a good area in the vast north arm.
up what I did speak at school, which
wasn’t a lot, but he was ready to welcome us, bring us in, and take plenty
of money off us. But it was great – all
of a sudden I had driven to the other
side of Europe, and there was a
friendly face, which was just what you
needed when you got there. It was
the first time I had ever been out of
the country, and of course you feel a
little bit strange, so Pierre was a
friendly face, which was just what we
wanted. We had a meal and a few
drinks, and we didn’t really know
where we were going to fish or anything like that. I mean, the lake was
massive, compared to what we were
fishing back then; I think it’s something like 1200 acres. I’ve fished
waters much bigger than that since,
but it was the first big water I had
seen. I do remember at the time, the
people I spoke to had said different
things about Cassien. They all said
there’s plenty of features in the south
arm, the west arm is the one you
really want to have a go at, but keep
away from the north arm because it’s
really deep, really big. They didn’t
think the carp ever went in the north
arm because it was too deep and they
wouldn’t feed there. But I‘ve always
liked to do things against the trend,
and I always used to like to prove
things, so I said I wanted to catch one
up the north arm – daft really.
So we hired a pedalo, went down
the west arm first and had a look, and
I thought yeah, this is alright, this will
do if we can’t find anything else. Then
we went up the north arm, and I
remember taking a marker rod with
me. We stopped half way up the north
arm on the right hand side, cast out
this marker float, and I got fed up with
waiting for it to hit the bottom. I cast
out and it was just dropping and
dropping, and in the end, the line was
straight down off the rod tip. I mean,
it’s about 100ft deep out there, and I
thought Christ Almighty, I know what
they mean. I looked around, but a
marker float was obviously out of the
question, as it would take you a week
to find a decent spot. Looking around
at the surrounding hills, the side we
were on went straight off like a cliff
into the water, but the other side
shelved off a lot shallower; the banks
were a lot flatter, so it made sense
that the features under the water
would be a lot shallower as well. So
we went across to the other side, and
I remember seeing two green umbrellas as we were going across further
down the bank. There was no one
around really, except these two green
umbrellas, and a couple of other people around the lake, but we came to
this little sandy beach and it felt like
Robinson Crusoe. I mean we were
miles away from civilization on this
little sandy beach; there was no one
else going to bother you, and we were
like marooned. Once we were there,
that was it, and I thought we could be
miles from any fish, but it’s a good
place to chuck a rod out to start with.
So I got my rods together and the
Honey Yucatans, which were still the
baits, and I chucked them out. After
taking two days to drive down there, I
thought to myself, I’m knackered, so I
had better turn my alarms up a bit so
FREE LINE 77

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