Saturday, 16 May 2009


I was accompanied on this first pro trip by Roger Coombs, Nick Hughes and Tony Cinicola. The overnight crossing was calm and we arrived at the cottage mid morning.

Tony and Nick in the kitchen, Roger is banned from here!

Friday 1st May

After settling in we were soon on our way to the Bon Repos Abbey stretch, in retrospect this perhaps was my first mistake.(did not take long did I ? ) When we passed earlier on our way down there was not a soul about but by the time we were an hour into the session the world and their wives and children were on the towpath. A canoe or two plus a boat, added to bright sunshine made the going tough. We had a bit of encouragement when Roger had 4 bream of around 2lbs in fairly quicktime but it just got tougher. Roger did not add to this . Tony had 1 bream and lost a couple. Nick had 3 roach and I had 1 bream and a hybrid. Not the start we hoped for but the bream were there as we all had a few liners . I was annoyed with myself as I should have avoided this stretch on a bank holiday as it is popular with tourists .

Above Roger and his catch. below disturbance!

Sat 2nd May

The weather was perfect for fishing with a light southwesterly wind blowing upstream . Unfortunately Nick was not in good shape at all. We all did our best to make Nick's swim as comfortable as possible .I was concerned to see floating grass cuttings coming down the river as a lock had been opened somewhere,We all set up feeder rods .I was optimistic that these conditions would see a few fish caught today. In fact the grass cuttings where nothing like the problem we thought. Bingo! 2nd cast I had good hybrid. Nick was really struggling with his back so he was not fishing all the time.After an hour I had a good bream but could not add to it. I wandered down to see the others .Tony had started to catch and had 4 bream but Roger was blanking as was Nick but in fairness Nick could hardly fish. To quote Victor Meldrew , I don't bloody believe it. a boat appeared and not a small one. A lady walking the towpath beside it. Although these people were extremely pleasant and stopped for a chat Tony just stopped getting bites or liners.Time ticked on and I just could not raise a bite and I could see Nick had gone back to the van. A walk down to see Tony perked me up a bit, he had begun catching regularly and now had 9 . Roger still was biteless . Because I had been struggling to such an extent I had fined down to a 20 & 08 looking for roach and I was getting a few twitches and nudges now but not really bites I could strike at . Nick & Roger turned up for a chat and I was just explaining that I could not work out what was happening when the tip dropped gently back and I was into a lump. Gently I coaxed it to the net. I immediately changed back to a 14 & 014 and next cast was into another. I had 6 more in quicktime but while the light was good I needed to do some recording and take some photos . Tony had 14 now but Roger was still blanking as was Nick .I offered them my swim but they both came down to watch Tony . I took a few action shots as Tony finished with 18 bream. When I went back I had 2 more while packing up so I ended with 11. While we loaded the van bream were rolling all over the place even in Nicks swim, much to his annoyance. I think Tony may have put a really big weight together had it not been for the boat. Boats are fairly rare on this stretch so the fish reacted badly and he lost a lot of time.

Top. Nick struggles. Below. Tony with part of his catch

Sun 3rd May

A nasty northeasterly wind had sprung up overnight and despite Nick insisting he would sit today out we all decided that we would sort out a venue with very flat banks. I suggested Valvert which is a lake just outside Noyal Pontivy. The lake has weeded up a bit in recent years but there were lots of fish moving and this has been a very consistent venue over the years .We were a bit restricted but we found a pontoon for Nick . Tony and I opted for the pole while Nick just fished a waggler close in. Roger the splodger was having none of this so the Valvert skimmers were introduced to flying plastic. We all started catching straight away, mostly small fish with the odd skimmer to 1 1/2 lbs . I was pleased that Nick was catching a few and enjoying it. Roger lost a real lump which he thought may have been a carp. Tony was catching well but struggling with the wind. He had been forced to fish well out because of the margin weed. I had even worse problems with the weed as the wind had blown scum and algae all over my swim and I was forced to move. Roger was getting the odd good skimmer now and by the time we packed up everyone had a reasonable day. Roger had about 12lbs, Nick around 8lbs , I may have made 10lbs and Tony some 17lbs. The lake can fish much better than this but it wasn't bad. The wind was vile and Tony remarked that he felt he could have doubled his weight if it had calmed down. Roger lost a few decent fish in the weed and Nick was not fully fit yet.

Nick and Tony with their fish

Mon 4th May

Roger had said he wanted to try a stretch of river below St Nicholas des Eaux. This is a stretch of the Blavet that I am not familiar with. We had fished it last year and caught a few bream above the bridge but a local told us the best stretch was below the bridge. The weather was glorious, maybe not perfect fishing weather but 20c+ and sunny. Further good news was that Nick's back was getting better, so in beautiful surroundings we sat down to fish. The 1st thing we noticed was the depth . 15ft minimum. I wasn't as concerned about this as the others but the truth is after several hours none of us had a bite so we packed up. On the far bank is a hermitage where a monk spent years in isolation, we did consider leaving Roger here until he caught a bream. The previous evening we had seen a lot of roach moving above Neulliac bridge so we had a few hours up there, by now an unpleasant northerly wind had sprung up. The only one to catch was Tony who had a few bleak on the pole. Well this was the low point for me. As I packed up I wondered why there had been so many fish moving the previous evening and this evening, nothing. I walked upstream about 300yds and there were roach moving all over the place, I counted 50+ rises in less than 10 mins. Spawning ? who knows I hadn't caught one to ask!

Above Roger begins an epic blank. below. He was nearly sent here!

Tues 5th may

Tuesday was my designated day off and after yesterdays disaster I was sorely tempted
to go fishing to try to get things back on track.I reluctantly concluded that I would have to get some maintenance done on the cottage or hideout as Roger always calls it.The team were very keen to get back to Gohaze so it didn't really make much difference if I went or not.I dropped everyone off but was a bit concerned about the weather as it was still hot and bright.An earlier finish was asked for so the team could get back for the footie.The swims fished nothing like as well as Saturday.Roger had a bream 1st chuck and alas nothing else . Tony and Nick had three apiece. Sorry no fish photos as the had returned their catch.

The " Hideout "

Wed 5th May

After a good start things are becoming a little more difficult now . We are all agreed that the main problem is the bright sunshine and clear water. We think that colour and flow would be a bonus . My experience of the area told me that the canal Nantes a Brest at Josselin might be a good bet as there is a little boat activity here and that could produce that vital bit of colour due to lock movement. It's a 40min drive but when we arrived the canal looked sock on with both pace and colour. Then the downside! Steep banks have now been reinforced with boulders to stop bank erosion and we just couldn't find 4 comfortable swims together . We searched upstream and down, but nothing. This was possibly the most frustrating time for me. The day was ticking on by now so we reluctantly left Josselin for Ploermel and the huge Lac au Duc. I have fished this lake 4 or 5 times and it has been full of skimmers and roach but I have failed to locate the bigger fish. It is very popular with the French for pike and zander. Access here is restricted but we had some luck and found a super area with easy walks and shade from the sun. I guess fortune favours the persistent and we were all into fish fairly quickly. Nick had a super afternoons fishing and weighed 25lbs + of skimmers on the waggler.Tony had 13lbs+ mostly after switching from feeder to pole. Roger and I fished the feeder and bigger baits looking for the bigger fish that must surely be in a lake this size. We failed to get these bigger fish but had a few skimmers. I had the last hour on the pole and it was one a chuck. We packed up early to watch the 2nd half of the footie and I think I set off one of the few speed cameras in Brittany on the way back. Could be an expensive day but I wasn't going half as fast as that dramatic injury time goal!

Above Tony and Nick survey Lac au Duc.

Thursday 6th May

This trip has flown by and this is the last fishing day. We have caught enough fish to call it a success but have not really bagged up. The crew have been brilliant and we have had lots of laughs. On this last day I really hoped we would come good and although it had to be a non fishing day for me I was quite happy to do the run to Lac au Duc. The crew decided that we would have a look at a lake at Glomel but despite gaining good access my fishing instincts told me not the place today. The lake is clear and shallow and with that sun beating down and no fish moving it just didn't seem right. In the memory bank was a nearby lake at Mael Carhaix. I was relieved when the crew liked the look of this one. There was a funny incident involving parking when we arrived but you will have to talk to those involved for more details. I dropped them off and returned to the hideout. After a couple of hours I phoned Roger and things were not going well. Roger had a bream and a skimmer on the feeder. But the others were blanking. I offered to come and move them but they said they were comfortable and would persevere. I rang later and things had improved , now they were all catching. Good! Tony had a bream + skimmers for 15lbs + Roger delighted in giving this upstart a good thrashing with bream + skimmers for 23lb+ Nick slid his skimmers back without weighing and conceded.Nick also said he had seen a carp that he estimated at 25lbs plus. I will have a look at this venue again.

Roger and Tony with their fish.

Friday 7th May.

Well it's back to blighty, bit of a rough crossing back. Just remains to say thank you to the crew, great laughs and not a harsh word between us all week. My job was made a lot easier because of your help.