The perfect French carp fishing holiday

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Filming for Discovery Carp Crew

By Brian Skoyles

Towards the end of last year I had a phone call from long time friend Kev Green. Kev was starting work on a new series of Carp Crew for Discovery RealTime and did I want to do a french carping double act? Kev and I have fished together a fair bit over the years, and have travelled to France for an early season holiday several times, so it didn’t take much thinking about. I said yes and we started to discuss details.


The main theme for the programme was holiday carping, rather than the “roughin-it” approach, so I immediately had a venue in mind, and I already had a week booked. Etang Meunier is one of the waters owned and run by the Miller family. It is a lovely lake, with some stunning fish. Plus there are some excellent back-up facilities, ideal for the camera crew etc. Kev had never been to Etang Meunier, but he was happy to take my word for it… So Meunier is was.

Bait plans.

Now this was harder. Not so much what, as how much? With the trip being early in the year, we couldn’t be sure how active the fish would be, so did we really go for it, and bait heavily, or did we take the cautious approach. We decided to take plenty, in case, but make our minds up, depending on the previous two weeks results, and the weather forecast on arrival.

Our baiting plan was to use a three pronged approach.

  • Boilies. We took two, Trigga Ice plus in 14’s and 18’s, and on Bill’s recommendation Trigga plus with Pineapple and N-Butyric, again in two sizes. As usual I got this well in advance and bagged it up for daily use. I always do his so I know exactly what I can use each day without the risk of running out.
  • Pellets were a mix of Trigga Ice and the pellets supplied at the lake. The reason for this mix was I really rate Trigga Ice pellets, and I also think it’s a good idea to go with what the fish are used to. A fifty-fifty mix gave us the best of both worlds.
  • Hinders French mix. I have total confidence in this mix, and wanted some with me. I soak the dry mix in evaporated milk, Multimino, and lake water. The resulting particle really clouds the water, and carp love it.
Thoughts in advance.

Our priorities were different to normal. Our main aim was to make a TV programme first, catching some fish for the cameras meant we approached the session totally differently to normal. We decided to travel out on the Friday and use the extra day to get organised. On the Saturday we got all the gear set up, baited the swim, but did not fish it. Our thinking was to give the fish a taste of our bait, but also some time to get settled and confident in the area we hope to film in. The weather was perfect, calm, sunny, and settled. As a result we baited quite heavily with a carpet of pellets, French mix, and boilies. As we watched the lake we could see odd fish topping and bubbling where we had put the bait. We really wanted to fish, but somehow we resisted, although it got harder, as the day wore on.

The team from RealTime arrived early evening, we had a beer, a walk round, and discussed the plans for the week. I didn’t sleep very well, I wanted to get fishing, and I just hoped the week would go well. Kev and I had done everything we could, we were confident in our preparation, but would the fish play… Only time would tell.

The Fishing and Filming.

Sunday dawned still and misty. Kev and I were ready to start soon after first light, and we soon had the baits out. The cameras were ready… it was down to the fish.

The sun came up over the trees, warming the lake and clearing the mist. No action on the rods. Another hour passed and I stared out over the lake. The odd fish had topped, and there had been some bubbling, but that had stopped. Was the first morning going to be a blank? I knew it was the first day of fishing, but all the negatives started to loom in my mind. Had it been too cold overnight? Had we put too much bait in for early season? Was concentrating on one area a mistake?

The weather conditions were perfect for filming, but the fish weren’t “havin” it. I’m normally a patient angler, once the traps are set, but not with cameras ready to roll! I suspect Kev was the same, and I could see him scanning the water with the binoculars.

More time passed, should I re-position, freshen up the baits? No… sit on my hands. Don’t do anything different because of the cameras.

I’m sitting there, and there’s a single bleep from the Delkim. I lean forward and watch the bobbin tighten, then it drops to the floor… a perfect drop-back. There’s a flurry of activity, Matt appears with the camera, Andrew is also on his feet. I grab the rod, take up the slack line and strike into a fish. The legs turn to jelly, as a powerful fish, makes its first run. You just know when you have a big fish on the end, and this was a big fish! Kev appears, and we go into a dialogue for the cameras. I find this hard, as I normally stay quiet when I’m playing a fish, but Kev is good at it, and keeps the prompts going. For what seemed like an age, the fish stayed deep, but gradually I start to win the tug of war, and we see, what is obviously a good fish, for the first time… I just want it in the net!

It came close a couple of times, but not close enough, but on the third go it’s in the net… sheer magic! We both cheered and shouted. No rehearsal needed, take one!… It was for real!

We stood there for a few moments, me with a big silly grin, discussing the next bit of filming, when one of my other buzzers, which we’d totally forgotten about, screamed into life. I grabbed the rod, and was into my second fish, with Kev still holding the net with the first fish in it. Another dogged fight, more knees knocking, and a second fish was in the net, and another good one at that.

We get organised and film the weighing. Fish one, 45lbs plus, and fish two, 40lbs and a couple of ounces. A brace of forties, on the first morning, in perfect filming conditions… where we chuffed? Just a little bit!

Later in the morning, Kev also got in on the action with a lovely thirty. Me, my fishing was over for the day. Andrew and Matt had a programme to film, and I had lots of close-ups to do for fill-in’s etc. I spent most of the day being word perfect in practice, and forgetting what to say the second the cameras were switched on. It looks quick and easy to make a film, believe me it isn’t! Andrew and Matt were superb professionals, and with me they needed to be.

With some great fish already on film, we could relax a bit, and the rest of the week was spent fishing in spells, and filming in others. To give you some idea in the first two days I probably fished seriously for about ten hours, but for me the highlight of the week was still to come.

I’m sitting relaxed, mid morning again, and another drop-back. An action replay of the first fish, and it looks huge in the water. I edge it close to the net. 15/20 minutes of sheer tension. I know on the programme it will be edited down to a much shorter time period, but at the time I’m not interested in the filming, I’ve seen the fish, and I just want to see Kev lift the net under this fish. It came close again, but with a swirl it was off again… Slowly, I gained the line back again, and this time… Yes!... It’s in!

That’s a serious fish… the programme has its ending… roll closing credits… Magic!

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