There is loads of great fishing here in the UK but for a week or 2 each year I like to cross the channel and chance my arm with some fishing in mainland Europe. Whether it’s piking in Holland, catting in Spain or carping in France I always enjoy it and look forward to the challenge. This year it was a trip to France I had booked. Now I’ve been to France carp fishing before, the usual Stillwater style fishing on an all-inclusive basis with an organised holiday company. This time however things were different.
I’ve known Ade Kiddell a number of years; we’ve a lot of mutual friends and have met on several occasions. When I learnt via social media that he had bought a cottage with his better half in France on the banks of the River Meuse my interest was suddenly heightened. My interest rose even further when I learned he would be opening up the cottage as a B&B for anglers once he had everything in place. I kept an eye on proceedings via Facebook for a while and it soon became apparent that the fishing was nothing short of phenomenal. With catches of barbel at numbers we can only dream of here plus a good number of stunning river carp a message was soon making its way to Ade with a booking enquiry. A few messages later myself and my dad were booked in for 4 days in early September, I couldn’t wait! I would be predominantly carp fishing while dad would be barbel fishing but realistically he’d be happy with whatever came along.
The 8th of September was soon upon us and it was time for the 400 mile journey to northern France and Fumay where Ade lives. We actually left on the night of the 7th and drove through the night arriving in Fumay at 630am. The Channel crossing was very straightforward and we were even let on a train over 2 hours early as there was space. The drive through France was nice and easy which I was grateful for as I’d never driven on the right before.
Once we arrived we familiarised ourselves with the surroundings, had a cup of tea and despite being awake for in excess of 24 hours we cracked on with the fishing. Strangely neither of us felt tired and we were awake a full 39 hours before we decided to get some sleep. The first day passed uneventfully as did the first night which was quite nice as it gave us both chance to recharge the batteries and get some much needed rest. Dad had chosen to spend every night in the comfort of the cottage while I was bivvying up for the duration in the hope of a carp or 2 during the hours of darkness. A week previous to my visit fellow angler Paul Floyd had kindly offered to take some bait to France for me to pre bait with so during the week before my visit the carp were treated to 15kg of maize and 10kg of boilies. I really hoped they’d had a good feed and were used to feeding where Ade had put the bait.
As the 2nd day dawned I was treated to some stunning scenery when I woke up and with alarms having stayed silent all night I was suitably refreshed and raring to go. Me and dad don’t fish together much so today we were heading a few hundred yards downstream below a weir and lock cut to fish together. The idea being 2 rods fished between us and we would take it in turns to hit the bites therefore keeping it fair if only one rod was producing, Well it’s safe to say we had a great day with I think 15 or so barbel and the same amount of bream between us, great stuff. We packed up at 6pm and headed back to Kingfisher Maison for some of Ade’s good lady, Tjitske’ amazing food. The beauty of the cottage is you can have dinner then walk outside and fish only feet from the front door, very sociable and relaxing.
That morning I had heavily baited a margin spot with several kilos of boilies in preparation for that nights carp fishing. Come dusk I was ready and set so my rods were positioned and I sat back to await what the night might hold. Well it was an eventful night that’s for sure but not from the carp I had hoped to catch. The carp rods were regularly screaming off with fish heading for mid river and every time I thought “this time it must be a carp” only for the very familiar feel of a barbel on the other end, the carp just didn’t get a look in. In England the bream are a nuisance when river carping, in France it’s the barbel and Christ do they fight hard, even on carp gear. Was I disappointed? Truthfully a little but when your catching hard fighting barbel in stunning surroundings you can’t be disappointed for too long.
Day 3 dawned and I decided to solely concentrate on the carp and forget about my barbel rods, after all that was why I had travelled to France. Dad was happy to just fish so headed off downstream below the weir for the day while I concentrated on the areas that had regularly seen bait. My reward for my efforts was a solitary chub in the 5lb bracket, it would appear the carp just weren’t there. Maybe they had moved off due to some building work in the area, who knows. I spoke with a friend of Ade’s who is a local Frenchman and he showed me pictures of carp well into 40lbs plus numerous 20’s and 30’s, they were definitely caught in this area regularly so maybe I had just been unlucky? He was amazed I hadn’t caught as the average is at least 2-3 carp a night where I had been fishing. Did I do anything wrong? My swim choice could possibly have been better on occasions and I think had the duration of my trip been longer I’d have had more options but I can sit here all day and make excuses. The truth of the matter was I could have angled for them better and shown more focus but I was there to also spend time with my dad and when I don’t fish with him very often this was an opportunity not to be wasted.
While I toiled for the carp dad had a great day catching numerous barbel and some huge bream that he was over the moon with, fantastic!
The final day was soon upon us and once again we had a social day just sat together talking nonsense and having a laugh. The fishing was slow but in truth we didn’t mind, the company was good and we were enjoying ourselves in stunning surroundings, magic. It was soon time to pack up and get our heads down before heading home at 7am the following morning.
From start to finish we had an amazing time. The surroundings are stunning, the fishing exceptional and the hospitality show to us by Ade and Tjitske was beyond what we could have expected and was absolutely first class. The food was superb, cottage comfortable and welcoming and nothing was too much trouble. If you are looking for a relaxing fishing holiday with brilliant fishing in a lovely place I can highly recommend Ade and Tjitske’ ‘Kingfisher Maison’
Below are a my tips for making the holiday an easy one
- The French are very strict on foreigners having the correct documentation. Driving licence, copy of motor insurance, MOT and V5 are essential.
- You must also carry in the car, breathalysers, high vis vests, first aid kit, red triangle, spare bulbs, GB sticker and light deflectors for the headlamps on the car. http://www.racshop.co.uk/travel-touring/driving-in-europe/european-driving-kits.html
- Buy a French fishing licence online and print it off before you go, it costs 32 Euros plus 10 Euros for night fishing and is a must. This covers you for 7 days if you want longer there are options for that. Make sure you buy the correct licence for the region you will be fishing http://en.cartedepeche.fr/52-liste-des-cartes.htm
- Take plenty of bait and terminal tackle, leads etc. It can always be left in the car and brought home with you
- There’s loads to explore, if you have a full week take a day or 2 out to look at other areas of river in the vicinity. This is something I will be doing on my next trip.
- Make sure you have plenty of water and snacks in the car, French and Belgian motorway service stations are few and far between.
- Take maggots and a light rod, there are plenty of other species to go for that are a bit of fun