A different kind of carp fishing holiday - John Richards
John Richards started carp fishing in 1976. Living at the time in NW London he was lucky enough to be able to fish the Colne Valley gravel pits, and in 1980 became a member of the first syndicate on the now legendary Savay Lake - fishing alongside well known carp anglers Rod Hutchinson, Albert Romp, Bob Baker, Andy Little and many others. John's UK personal bests are 37-12 common and 42-00 mirror, both taken from Colne Valley waters. During the 1990's he wrote a regular column in the Anglers Mail, and he wrote an article in Carpworld and has a chapter in the new book about the early days of Savay. John has been a regular visitor to France since 1990 - fishing many of the big fish venues in Northern France and having taken mirror carp to 57-00 and commons to 61-14. John was involved in the production of the instructional DVD "Champagne Carping" filmed in 2003. He has worked in the tackle trade for many years - working with many of the big firms. - these days he prefers keeping a low profile and just enjoying his fishing....
...I am lucky enough to spend two or more weeks a year fishing with friends on some of the drive and survive waters in France, bivvying up for the week - going primarily to these venues for the big fish that inhabit these lakes.
One problem that I have had in common with many other anglers, is that my wife has rarely come fishing with me as she dislikes camping, creepy crawlies and things that go bump in the night ! Despite this, she has been very tolerant of my disapperances in strange clothing over the years, sometimes for weeks at a time, and coming back smelling even more strange !
I think it is fair to say that the girls do need their comforts more than we do, and it was therefore of great interest to me when an aquaintance told me about the setup at Les Croix - and in 2010 I contacted Jon with a view to booking the venue for a week for myself and my wife Sally - unfortunately this was not possible as the lake was fully booked - but we fished at the nearby Les Levades and we were able to visit Les Croix and view the facilities on offer, we were sufficiently impressed to make a booking for 2011, especially as Sally had enjoyed the week of fishing with creature comforts at Les Levades, plus I now had a fully trained ghillie !
The facilities at Les Croix are superb, the quality of the gite and its fittings would exceed some 5-star hotels that I have stayed in, and include Sky TV and a small heated swimming pool complete with patio and sun loungers - no need to get up early to reserve one here though....it's all exclusively yours for the duration of your holiday !
This trip was seen as a holiday with my long suffering spouse - but with some fishing, I only fished days starting at around 6.30 AM and winding in at 6.00PM to spend some quality time relaxing in the evenings in the gite with Sally, cooking on the gas BBQ and enjoying more than a bottle or two of French red wine ! We also sampled some of Sophie's excellent culinary skills - delicious and generous meals available as required.
Having the whole lake to yourself and the gite just 30 yards from the swim is very enjoyable and relaxing, it is nice to get off the lake and relax in front of the TV in the evenings, then go back to the fishing again the next morning. I managed to bank 24 carp. All the fish fought hard and long and were in excellent condition. I didn't fish at night - I didn't need to as I caught fish every day, which makes a very pleasant change !
During the week Jon told me more about the fish stock, and his plans for the lake - around 20 carp are to be removed over the course of the coming winter, these are fish which have not grown much since stocking. There are around 35 "stockies" in the lake which are fast growing carp and the removal of the slow growers will make room for these young fish to grow on, and amongst them are some beautiful heavily scaled mirrors and deep bodied commons....
We had some very poor weather (very unusual for this time of year and this part of France) during our stay, so it is a tribute to t the venue, that when I asked Sally if we could come back in 2012, she said "yes, lets book it" !
Les Croix is more than just carp fishing in France, so if you are looking for a carp fishing holiday in France with your partner or family, with some bankside comforts, Les Croix might just be the venue you are looking for !
In 2012 John returned to Les Croix and in much warmer conditions was able to take a catch of 24 carp including 8 x 20's, 4 x 30's, 3 x 40's and 1 x 50, and Sally was finally able to enjoy the pool !