My session at the stunning Etang la Saussaie in the Champagne region of France had proved tricky so far. The Etang la Saussaie fish are not hard to locate, as they seem to like throwing themselves out of the water, and when a huge 40 pound plus carp launches itself into the air you know about it. So I knew I had plenty of fish in front of me as during the night I had laid there listening to fish crashing out in my swim and since first light I’d seen as well as heard several more. The problem was I could see them but I couldn’t catch them.
To give you a bit of background, Etang la Saussaie is a 15 acre lake with some huge carp, including one of the biggest commons in the world, an amazing fish which could well go over 90lbs in the near future. As a result Etang la Saussaie is a very popular water so it’s fair to say the fish have to cope with a fair amount of angling pressure and you have to get your tactics spot on and earn what you catch.
According to the resident bailiff, for several weeks previous the fishing had been very unpredictable and he thought the fish were preoccupied on naturals. Certainly I had active fish in front of me, but this wasn’t being transferred to action on the rods, so was there anything I could do to change my luck?
I was fishing with two friends, Dan Oates and Jason Richardson and it was the fish in front of Jase that got us thinking. Like me Jase had a lot of fish activity in front of him, but what was striking was how the fish were topping over “old” bait. Not old in the sense of had it for a long time, “going mouldy” type old, but old in the sense of how long it had been introduced into the swim. It was notable that the bulk of the topping was over bait that had been in the water for at least 24 hours. Etang Saussaie gets fished by a lot of good anglers and they are experienced fish, so could it be that late on in the season they were not risking feeding on fresh bait, we had several more days to find out.
That evening I baited several spots, but didn’t put a hook bait to them, but the following night I did.
Mid morning, after a night with no action, but more topping, I was sat there thinking my baiting up tweak hadn’t made any difference when a single bleep on the Delkim had me on my feet, just as the line came out of the clip and the Basia’s spool started to spin, I was in!
To cut a long story short I had my tactic. For the rest of the week I kept baiting areas one night and fishing them the next. We kept a bucket of washed out hook baits for when we had to recast, and gradually our tally for the week started to build. What had looked like a tough week was coming good and for me the last day was a bit special with three fish in the last 12 hours. As we drove though the gates to start our journey home I said to Jase and Dan, “I wish I had two or three more days”.
Mind you don’t we always say that!