Catch Report – 28 March 2021

14 Big Carp to 56lb 06oz.

It has been so long since I have had to write a catch report that I almost don’t know where to start, but thankfully it includes some Big Carp.

2 local lads on the lake this week for a few days of rest and recuperation away from the turmoil of the COVID rat-race. To make things even better Jon-Jon was here to celebrate his 65th birthday, happy birthday Jon-Jon.

2 nicer lads you could not meet I am sure, totally chilled out, all they wanted to do was enjoy the peace and quiet, and if a carp or two were to make a showing then that would be the icing on their cake.

I am sure that we can all appreciate that attitude, having been locked up for so long just the opportunity to escape it all would be a pleasure. Helen and I have certainly enjoyed some company, it has felt so strange to have someone to talk to other than each other.

The weather has not been the best for carp fishing, it has been as high as 20C during the afternoons with the lake taking on the power of the sun and increasing in temperature everyday, but then it has been freezing cold at night with a frost every morning which was taking the water temperature back down.

Big carp do not like that.

The lads chipped away at things though and ended up with seven fish each so a bit of a draw in numbers.

Jon-Jon managed 7 with his best going to 39lb so he was more than happy :

Vince on the other hand also managed to find 7 but for some reason he was into a bigger stamp of fish, he had a couple of nice 40s but was over the moon when he landed “Only1” who weighed in at 55lb 08oz and gave Vince a new PB and the Big Fish Award :

Imagine his surprise when he located “Uncle Harry” at 56lb 06oz and reset his PB a notch higher :

You only have to take a look at those pictures to appreciate that the fish have benefitted from lock-down and they are in immaculate condition.

All-in-all it has been a great result for the first session of the season, and the way things are developing it may be the only one for some weeks to come. The final tally was :

Zero Babies, Zero Doubles, 1 @ 28lb, 1 @ 29lb, 1 @ 32lb, 3 @ 34lb, 1 @ 36lb, 2 @ 37lb, 1 @ 39lb, 1 @ 40lb, 1 @ 44lb, 1 @ 55lb, and 1 @ 56lb

If you add up the pounds and all of the ounces that equates to 14 fish with an average weight of 38lb 04oz. Perfect !!

We were due to host Andrew Baily and his group this week but unfortunately that session has become the latest victim of COVID and it looks like the big carp will have to carry on enjoying the tranquillity of lock-down.

Helen and I are concentrating our efforts on a couple of other projects at the moment so I will update you on those as they develop.

Until my next report take care, and stay safe.

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1st sessions of the season – 2021

Well it comes as no great surprise when I report that the first week of the season has proven to be our first COVID statistic of the season and was cancelled.

Having been previously cancelled last season and rebooked for this season I was hoping to be hosting Dad’s Army this week but despite the overall situation improving things have not moved fast enough.

The weather has been fair to mild and the big carp are showing themselves all over the lake, The Boys would have loved it :

Unfortunately, events have conspired against them and they were unable to get here.

I was due to be meeting and greeting Stuart and his group today for the second session of the season but they have become the second statistic and the lake goes unfished for another week.

The COVID situation is improving across the whole of Europe and in particular the UK, so much so that France has put the UK back onto its good-boy list and has reopened the border.

However, with the UK government not planning to allow foreign travel much before May things are still looking doubtful for many.

I have 2 local lads on the lake commencing the 20th of March so we should see some fish on the bank soon.

Everyone else is just keeping fingers crossed and hoping that the situation improves at a much quicker rate.

European countries are desperate to get their tourists back as so many of them rely massively on tourism as a major contributor to their nations’ GDP. As an example, I was reading the other day that British tourists alone spent 18 Billion euros in Spain during 2019 ( the last full year of normal stats). Imagine how much was spent by British tourists across the whole of the EU.

It is no wonder then that so many European countries are ignoring the EU dictates and have decided to open up for brit tourists by the 1st of May, if not before.

The vaccination programme in France has started at a much slower rate than it did in the UK but it is now starting to pick up a bit of momentum. As at today around 5million have had one dose and a couple of million have had 2 where required. Most importantly, the rate of vaccinations has increased and on some days this week there has been over a quarter of a million jabs administered.

The French health authorities have just approved the Johnson vaccine so when that comes on-line there will be 4 different vaccines doing the rounds and the numbers of inoculations should increase even faster.

There are plenty of rumours going around about the need for vaccine passports to move around the EU or to enter from a non-EU country but nothing concrete as yet. There is plenty of speculation about many other subjects, one in particular is the ability to bring boilies with you on a fishing trip.

As and when I hear anything specific about those issues I will of course let you know.

In the interim I hope that you all stay safe and well and Helen and I look forward to seeing some of you soon.

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February SITREP 2021

Another month has slipped by in what feels like the blink of an eye, Helen and I are keeping ourselves so busy that the time just flies by. Unfortunately we are not doing anything particularly pleasant as our work at this time of year is generally based on grounds maintenance. That translates into “hard graft”.

On a positive note it is nice to see that Spring has arrived, well it has here ! The daffodils are in full bloom, the butterflies are out, there is frog spawn in the ponds, the ducks are making nests around the lake, the weather is warming up and I am working without a coat on, the midges are hatching so the fish are feeding, and yesterday I saw my first damselfly. If that is not Spring then I do not know what is.

In my previous life I used to base the seasons on the astronomical calendar like most people do, which would traditionally see Spring arrive on the solstice in March, but then I was never close enough to nature to actually see it happen.

Since I have become a country boy I notice everything around me and I take my direction from Mother Nature, it is impossible to put a date on the arrival of Spring but I now prefer the Meteorological version, so in my little world Spring officially arrives tomorrow. Lovely !!

I realise now that I have made one serious mistake this last year and that was to not keep up with some of the strimming around the place, and in particular, around my Dam. I normally rip it down to the ground every Winter and then give it a Spring trim and sometimes a late-Summer trim, well COVID upset my routine last year and this last week or two I have been paying the price.

Last year I never did the Spring and Summer trims and did not get around to my Winter cut-back until now. A trim of the Dam would take me 2 very casual afternoon sessions and is relatively light work, this cut back has just taken me 7 full afternoons of back-breaking graft which I never wish to have to repeat.

At the start the brambles were 10 feet tall in places, the gorse bushes, broom, and heather were as thick as they could be, there were acacia trees sprouting up everywhere, it was going to be tough :

Apart from the final tidy-up I have just about finished and it does look a lot better. It was desperately in need of some TLC :

All I need now is a week off to recover, swinging a 10kg strimmer around for hours at a time has made me ache from my neck down to my pelvis, and working on a 45 degree hill for hours at a time has made me ache from my toes up to my pelvis, all-in-all, I ACHE, everywhere.

I must be getting old !!

The removal of the trees beyond the Far-Bank continues at a pace and we are now taking out the massive oak trees, there is light streaming in to places that have not seen the Sun for decades, and as a consequence it will be a totally different environment over the next decade or 2 while we wait for the new trees to take hold.

What I have realised is that it will mean that many of you will have to adapt your fishing to the new tree line. For those of you that do not understand that I will try to explain.

Many anglers make meticulous notes about each swim in order that when they return to a place for another session they can simply refer to their notes, one of the things they take note of is the tree line opposite themselves. During the day they can see exactly where they are fishing to and all they have to do is “clip-up” to ensure their distance is accurate, but at night it is a different matter, and the only thing that stands out is the tree line, so during the day they associate a point on the tree line to the direction in which they wish to cast and at night they can just cast at the same point on the tree line.

If they remember to clip-up then it is a very simple process to ensure that they are fishing to the correct spots, even if it is pitch black.

I know, I know. I can hear you all shouting “just buy a bait boat” and if it happens to have GPS navigation then all the easier. Well, many of us still like to do things the old-fashioned way, it might be more difficult but it provides satisfaction knowing that you can use what Mother Nature provides.

Lets get back to the tree line. The following photos will show you how the tree line has changed so far, look closely :

Swim 2, before :

Swim 2, after :

Swim 4, before :

Swim 4, after :

There will be a few more changes made before the job is complete but you can see what I mean.

As for the fishing, COVID continues to dictate the rules to everyone at the moment and although things do appear to be improving events have not moved fast enough for the start of the season. Most groups are hanging out to the bitter end but most bookings in March have now been cancelled and I am already getting a few rumblings about April.

I do have a couple of local lads on in March so I may yet be able to produce the first catch report of the season, I will obviously let you know how that develops, it would be nice to see a few fish on the bank.

Till then , take care, stay safe, and enjoy the Spring.

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January SITREP 2021

Where has the month gone ? It doesn’t feel like 5 minutes since we were celebrating the New Year and tomorrow is the 1st of February, at this rate it will soon be Christmas !!

The weather has been pretty crappy really, generally damp and dank but not bad enough to keep me indoors so I have persisted with the outdoor jobs. Not nice for fishing though !

The area around the lake is just about ready for the start of the season, that is if we ever get to start it, as a consequence I have been concentrating my effort closer to home. The apple trees remain a priority as I still have a few year’s of pruning to do to get them back to a healthy state.

This is the second year of major surgery on the trees with plenty more thinning and shaping cuts. The intent is to reduce them to a much more manageable size and shape, it all looks a bit drastic but it is absolutely necessary if I want them to outlive me.

Once the annual pruning was complete I then improvised a fence around the whole area and put the Mark-1 grass cutters to work :

Perfect solution all round really. Helen is happy because the horses have a couple of weeks on fresh(ish) grass and when she poo-picks all she has to do is drop it all around the base of the apple trees, shame we can’t train the horses to deliver it directly !! The horses are obviously happy to be on relatively good pasture. I am happy because I will not have to cut that patch of grass until the Summer. And my apple trees are happy because they are all getting a good dose of manure.

Everyone’s a winner.

The main reason I look after the apple trees so well is because I now have another new job title: Chief Cider Brewer. I can assure you all that it tastes as good as it looks :

On the occasional days that Helen and I had to spend indoors due to the weather we put the time to good use and went through the process of submitting our applications to remain in France post BREXIT, I say “we” but if the truth be told Helen did all of the hard work and I just nodded and grunted when appropriate.

The process was actually quite simple as it was all on-line and we never doubted for a minute that we would not qualify as we have been resident for 9 years now.

The only complicated bit was finding all of the supporting documentation and scanning it in to the computer and creating a file, etc. Definitely a Helen job, I will stick to cutting up trees, much easier.

Anyway, job done. We now have a certificate to put in our passports to say that the application has gone through and we are now just a case-number. At some point we will be called forward to The Prefecture to have our photos and fingerprints taken but when that will be we do not know.

The next big job was preparing the Summer pasture for the horses. It is much too wet to use in the Winter but because it has never been on the priority list there has been a tendency to ignore the fact that the hedgerow was encroaching on to the field and each year the grassed area was getting smaller and smaller.

Time to bite-the-bullet and sort it out.

It is about 600 metres around the perimeter of this field so it was quite a daunting task to say the least :

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I knew that behind the undergrowth there was a stream and a wire fence, all I had to do was find it and return the field to its original dimensions. There could only be one plan; start at one end and just keep going.

This was after the first 100 metres, I had to cut back 6-7 metres of trees and bramble, most of it was just hacked down and left on the ground to be hacked up finer by one of the ride-ons, but all of the tree growth had to be piled up and processed :

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The bigger stuff just needed to be taken away and piled up somewhere dry and at some point through the Summer I will cut it up ready to use on the log-burner in the house.

The thinner stuff is simply recycled through the chipper :

Then we use most of it as bedding for the horses

And any left over goes as a top dressing for Helen’s outdoor riding school. That’s recycling in its simplest form !

I am already planning ahead for next Winter when hopefully I will get the original wire fence reinstated and can leave the horses to graze right up to the stream’s edge. They will enjoy that.

Other than that we continue to do battle with COVID. It is impacting massively on my extended family at the moment with 2 very recent fatalities and many of them isolating.

From a business perspective it is also not good, restrictions seem to be changing almost on a daily basis and no one knows what the situation will be in the next week let alone the next couple of months.

The majority of our guests booked on this season have decided to ride things out and hope for the best but unfortunately a few at the start of the season have resigned themselves to being unable to travel and as a consequence March is all but cancelled.

We do have one cancellation which may well be possible to refill and that is the week commencing the 19th of June, if that takes your fancy then please get in touch.

Next month I expect will be much the same routine although we are due to light a couple of big fires and I must start servicing some of the machinery, my tractor groans at me now every time I start it up.

If anything of great interest happens I will let you all know in my next SITREP at the end of February.

Till then take care and stay safe.

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Frozen Solid – January 2021

My lake freezes over most Winters and this year is certainly no exception but this is the first time that I have ever looked at it from this angle. I thought I would share these photos with you all as they show up something very interesting.

Here is the whole lake, frozen solid, and covered in a light dusting of snow :

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Now here is the interesting bit, take note of all of those little round circles. On further investigation they have proven to be ground water springs.

The under-ground water is bubbling up and thawing the lake water and it’s surface.

What is interesting about that I can hear some of you asking !!

Well, apparently, the average temperature of underground water is around 10-15 degrees Celsius, and if it comes from really deep down, i.e. 50meters, it can be as much as 25 degrees Celsius.

All of the springs on our property that come up on land normally continue to flow through to May, and even as late as June, no doubt depending on the volume of rain, the temperature, etc.

I must therefore draw the conclusion that if the land based springs are still flowing in June then the lake based ones will be also.

If you are fishing in March or April, or even May, when the lake water temperature is still relatively low then it stands to reason that there must be warm spots where the springs continue to flow.

Now, everyone knows that much of the Big-Carp activity is driven by water temperature, I therefore suspect that the warm spots will directly affect the carp, and or, also affect the food supply that the carp rely on.

I do not know any of this for sure, I am just hypothesising, if there is anyone out there who can advise me correctly I would love to hear from you.

From an anglers perspective, especially one who is always looking for a feature to fish to then it might just be worth taking note of the locations of some of these warm spots and you can try them out if you are coming here in the Spring.

To that end take a look at the following photos.

Swims 1 and 2 :

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Swims 3 and 4 :

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Swims 5 and 6 :

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Please feel free to come back at me on this one as I would be interested to hear other ideas.

Either way, for those of you who are always looking for an edge you have nothing to lose by giving my theory a try.

Be lucky.

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December SITREP – 2020

I am so glad to see the back of 2020 that December has passed in a bit of a blur really.

We have had a period of nothing-weather, some dry but some wet, some cold and some warm, some mega storms but some perfectly tranquil days, but the highlight was Christmas Day, Helen and I were sat in the conservatory opening our presents and it was snowing outside, that made my day !!

I made a very conscious decision this year that I was not going to work from Xmas Eve through to New Year’s Eve, and with the exception of a couple of guilt trips to the gym I have been quite successful.

Although my waistline has paid the price, something that I am sure to regret when everything returns to normal tomorrow.

I was expecting to work New Year’s day because of opening the 2023 calendar at midnight, lots of people had expressed their intent to book for 2023 and I must admit that you did not let me down, in fact it took me through to the 2nd of January to sort out all of the inquiries.

As a result of that herculean effort I can inform you that 2023 is almost fully booked and I only have 8 weeks left.

The plan for December was simple really, if it rained I worked inside, and if it was dry I would work outside.

We had sufficient rain to force me to finish the decorating in the lounge, it is a job that I have been working on piecemeal for more than a year and it was long over due completion.

The problem with it was phycological, the room was like living in a cave and it was all due to the ceiling, it is quite low and the beams were black, combined with typically small windows it was very dark :

In reality I had been putting it off because I was dreading having to paint that ceiling. The big beams are hundreds of years old and would have been treated with tar as a preservative, I don’t know if any of you have had the task of painting one but they take several coats of oil-based paint just to seal the tar in before you can slap on a coat of emulsion.

Several days of moaning and groaning and the job was eventually finished and it has made such a difference, it is one of those things that is “transforming”. The room is now higher, bigger, and brighter, so much so that I wish I had finished it before :

The choice of job outside was easy; trees, trees or trees, cutting them down or cutting them up.

We have already had a few new casualties due to this year’s storms so they have had to be sorted out, and we have at long last made a start on the large section of forest beyond the far bank, the bit that you are looking at when you are fishing.

We have had to hire in some help with this project, one man and the right machine can do in 1 day what it would take 100 men with chainsaws, these next shots show you what has been achieved in one week :

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It looks a bit like a bomb site but it is a lot more organised than it might appear.

This project has been on the “to-do-list” for several years but it was brought to a head a year or so ago when a couple of our giant oak trees ended up falling over into the neighbour’s cow-fields, something had to be done otherwise it was going to be an ongoing problem.

This is going to be an ongoing project I am sure so for now we have ensured that the line between us and the neighbour has been cleared and there will not be any more urgent issues :

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That is most of the firs and all of the smaller deciduous trees down, we are keeping thousands of the baby trees intact so there should be an almost instantaneous regrowth.

The next phase is to get a couple of Bucherons in who will take down all of the big oak trees with chainsaws, then it will be a case of getting it all picked up and moved out to the road where it can all be collected and processed. That requires another man with another machine.

It may take some considerable time but my intention is to create a track through that section of forest for Helen to extend her horse riding routes and for our guests to walk if they wish. It will also form the start of my trim-trail, another part of my master-plan.

Here is a view of the lake that none of you will have seen before :

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January will no doubt continue along the same line as December, and somewhere along that line I must try to find time to further progress my golf course, I will report in at the end of the month and let you know how things are developing.

Till then Helen and I hope that you all have a great start to the New Year and we are looking forward to hosting some of you when the season eventually gets going.

Take care and stay safe.

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2023 Availability Update

The calendar for the 2023 season was opened this morning and as expected I have been inundated with inquiries.

Most people got the period that they were after, several had to settle for their second or even their third options, but, most unfortunately, I have had to disappoint several groups as their preferred dates were already taken.

Assuming that everyone who has reserved a session goes on to confirm their booking that will leave me with just thirteen weeks remaining for the whole of the 2023 season, they are as follows :

April

Fully booked

May

Fully booked

June

The 10th, the 17th and the 24th

July

The 1st, the 22nd and the 29th

August

The 5th and the 26th

September

The 2nd, the 9th, and the 30th

October

The 7th and the 14th

November

Fully booked

If the above dates are not appropriate for you and your group please feel free to share this information with anyone who you think may be interested.

Finally I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy New Year and all the very best of luck for 2021.

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The 2023 Season

Just a reminder that the calendar for the 2023 season will be open from midnight on the 31st of December, that is midnight French time or 11pm UK time on the 31st of December.

Please do not submit your applications before the calendar is open.

All applications must be submitted by e-mail to my main account which is :

moulindegraf@hotmail.co.uk

Please do not submit applications through other social media platforms such as Facebook.

I will deal with each application in turn as they are received by my computer.

If you do have flexibility with dates please list your dates in order of your preference, if I am unable to allocate your first preference I will allocate your second, or third, etc.

If you do want multiple dates or consecutive dates please ensure that you make that clear in your e-mail.

I will reply to all applications before close of play on the 1st of January.

The first date available is week commencing the 1st of April and the final week available is week commencing the 28th of October.

If you do have questions regarding the 2023 season then please feel free to ask them at your earliest convenience.

Meanwhile have a great Xmas and a very happy New Year.

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November SITREP – 2020

The cabins have been closed up, all of the kit has been moved in to dry storage in the barn, and the lake is suddenly looking somewhat lonely, it is always a sad time of the year.

On the plus side the weather has been great, generally dry and sunny, with afternoon temperatures routinely hitting the mid-20s, as a consequence I have got loads done.

Winter made a very sudden arrival on the 1st of December and it was as if someone had flicked a switch, since then it has been cold and wet so it was a very good job that I decided to crack-on with the outside stuff all through November.

The tall, heavily grassed, areas have all been cut back, all of the fallen trees have been reduced to fire wood for the house, over-hanging branches have been removed, in fact the only big job left to do around the lake is strimming the Dam, and I am not looking forward to that :

The good weather just kept on going throughout the month so I decided to take advantage of it and have a concentrated effort at progressing my golf course. Most of you will know that I have the majority of it cut-in and I have been making improvements to it, on and off, for the last couple of years.

Now is the time to start getting serious with it and to start to improve the greens specifically, to that end I have purchased a new toy :

This little beast scarifies and aerates, and when I did the first of my greens I was amazed at how much moss it ripped out, so much so that I had to take it away by the trailer full.

On closer inspection I decided to do the same green again, and then again for the 3rd time. The moss just kept on coming. What I hoped was going to be a concentrated effort for a week or 2 has now become a massive effort which will have to be spread over a month or 2, weather permitting.

Before I started this little exercise I thought that my greens were progressing quite well, I thought that the grass was improving and I could actually putt a ball on them, how wrong I was, I was obviously putting on moss, but now it looks as though they have been destroyed :

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In one way I suppose they have as there is very little grass left, but I will keep them moss free over the winter and then treat them with some feed and weed in the spring followed by a top dressing of best quality grass seed specificaly for bowling greens and putting greens, hopefully by this time next year I should have quality greens to putt on.

Overall the course is taking shape :

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Normally at this time of the year I am making arrangements to net my front stock pond with a view to adding a couple of fresh stockies to the main lake, well this year I have made the decision not to bother, netting that is. I have decided that I am going to find a little time for myself and I am going to fish for them. That will also be spread over the next couple of months so I will keep you posted on my progress.

The long-range weather forecast is not good so I have turned my attention to some inside jobs, I have promised Helen that I will finish decorating our lounge in time for Xmas and once that is done I must take a look at the main bedroom in the Gite, it is in desperate need of a coat of paint.

I will post a December SITREP at some point but it might be a few days late as I will be busy sorting out the 2023 bookings on New Year’s day.

The COVID-19 situation in France is improving all the time so there is light at the end of the tunnel, providing people behave themselves over Xmas and New Year. Fingers crossed it will be taken a little more serious over this holiday period and we will not get a 3rd wave. 1000s have died in France over the last few months and most of that was because everyone insisted on going on their summer holiday in August.

Hopefully travel restrictions will be lifted in time for next season and we look forward to hosting our first groups in March.

Meanwhile have a good Xmas and New Year, and stay safe.

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Availability Update as at 29 November 2020

I am being inundated with inquiries for next season and it appears that it is a consequence of Covid-19 Vaccines being available next year, or so we all hope.

Unfortunately, this potential for freedom is making everyone feel as though everything starts afresh next year and fisheries will be re-opening with a completely free calendar, everyone wants the same weeks with the Easter and May Bank Holiday periods being exceptionally popular.

My other problem is with people who are still expecting the 2023 calendar to open on the 1st of December and are already making inquiries and applications.

As I have previously explained the 2023 calendar will be opened at midnight on the 31st of December/1st of January.

That is midnight my time so that will be 11pm on the 31st of December UK time.

In order to be as fair as possible to everyone, applications for 2023 will be dealt with in the order they are received by my computer, if you do have alternate dates please list them all on the one e-mail in your order of preference, if your first date has already been taken I will automatically deal with your second preference.

Please ensure you submit your 2023 application by e-mail to my main account :

moulindegraf@hotmail.co.uk

Please do not submit them via Facebook or any other form of social media, bookings are only taken via my main e-mail account.

If I do receive any cancellations for next year then I will post them on this site but at the moment availability is as follows :

2021

March the 6th only (first week of the season)

2022

August the 13th

October the 22nd and the 29th (last week of the season)

2023

Dates will be available from midnight on the 31st of December 2020, 11pm UK time.

The season will run from the 1st of April through to the 4th of November.

Please do not submit an application for 2023 on the 1st of December or at any other time before the calendar opens as it will not be valid when the calendar does open on the 1st of January.

I do hope that those of you who are looking for venues next season find somewhere good to go.

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Catch Report Summary – 2020

The first thing to say is ; “What a Bloody Awful Season”.

Good to get that off my chest !!

In an ordinary season I would now be reporting some fantastic results, a combination of effort from around 100 anglers, having caught thousands of big carp, and some amazing stats.

Well, unfortunately, this season’s catch report summary is on a much smaller scale. We have still operated around our usual 32 week season but courtesy of COVID-19 we have only managed to get 11 individual groups of guests on the lake.

As well as a couple of non-angling guests those eleven groups have comprised; 2 groups of 4 anglers, 5 groups of 2 anglers, and 4 groups of 1 angler.

Mmmmmm, can a group of 1 be called a group ?

Either way. That is a grand total of 22 anglers.

Those 22 anglers have caught a total of 336 big carp between them with a combined weight of 11,565.7lb.

That included 169 individual fish with most of those being caught twice, that means that I have over 100 fish that have not been caught at all this season.

I have had several fish caught for the first time since 2018 and there has even been one which was caught for the very first time this season since we stocked it in 2012.

Amazing really.

Those of you blessed with fast brains will have already worked out the averages but for those of you less-blessed, like myself, the calculator tells me that :

The average catch per angler per week was 15.27 fish, and the average weight per fish was 34.42lb.

The good news is that the average catch rate has gone up from just over 12 fish in 2019 to just over 15 in 2020. The bad news is that 15 will be the new target in 2021 for those that want to claim an average week.

The average weight is reduced from just over 38lb in 2019 to 34lb in 2020. There are many reasons for that; one being that we did not get to report on the big spring catches with pre-spawn weight fish, another is that most of the catch reports are post-spawn fish in the summer when they are at their lightest, and also I have four home grown fish in the main lake which have survived the normal cull and they have made multiple showings this season all weighing in at the 18-19lb mark.

See ! Stats ! You can make them say whatever you want really.

One good bit of news is that I can report that no one has dry-netted again this season, although that has been tested once or twice with the smallest catch being 1.

The Top-Rod award for 2020 goes to Andy Kirk with his individual tally of 39 lovely big carp :

The Big-Fish award goes to Steve Poole who landed the best of this year’s sessions at 65lb :

All in all, not a bad season, considering the issues, I suppose it could have been worse!!

Lets hope next season turns out better. So far everyone is reporting that they have found holiday insurance to cover them for cancellations due to COVID so that is good news.

I have 30 groups booked in next season with just a couple of weeks R&R in the middle to give the fish a break, that is considerably more than a normal season so this time next year I should be reporting some massive figures.

I will only be posting once a month throughout the Winter as nothing terribly exciting happens so I will post an update at the end of the month.

Till then take care and stay safe.

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Catch Report – 08 November 2020

A little touch of Winter arrived at Le Moulin this week to coincide with the final session of the season, and although the early mornings were very frosty and a little uncomfortable it was not going to ruin the fishing :

16 Big Carp to 51lb 04oz

What was going to make the fishing very difficult was the sudden appearance of anglers on the bank after this extended period of total silence.

Lee and Martyn settled straight in to swims 5 and 6 because that is where all the fish were, that is also where the fish have been showing for the last several weeks, and the deep water is exactly where you would expect to find the fish at this time of the year as the water temperature starts to drop.

Sounds great in theory but it did not work out like that in practise.

No sooner had the lads set up and got rods in the water the big carp were out of there and they made a bee-line for the other end of the lake.

Because the fishing is normally very light at Le Moulin I warn everyone that they have to keep the bank-side noise to an absolute minimum or the fish will just move away, particularly walking and stamping around, as the big carp feel that as a vibration through the water and they are hard-wired to recognise any vibration as a potential threat to life.

Well this week, after such a long period of total silence around the lake, it was like flicking a switch, and the fish were away.

This resulted in Martyn on swim 6 not having so much as a sniff of a fish for days, and Lee on swim 5 having to run his bait boat all the way down to swim 2 to find any action at all.

Having caught fish from swim 2 (whilst fishing swim 5) Lee decided that it would be easier to get amongst them so he made the move to swim 2, the Lads did not know at the time but this was going to be of benefit to Martyn.

I explained to Martyn that with Lee now causing a disturbance in swim 2 the fish would soon move out and they only had one direction in which to go.

Sure enough, Lee had his first fish almost straight away, that was enough for them and they moved again, this time only as far as swim 4, it was as if they had settled for a middle ground between the 2 anglers.

Lee decided to follow the fish and subsequently moved up to swim 4, the fish now had a choice, they could stay where they were, go back down to the shallows, or they could head for deeper water, luckily for Martyn they chose the latter and suddenly Martyn was in to fish.

The downside for Martyn was that he only had 3 days of his session to go, and it was cold, moral was at a low, and he was suffering from that feeling of being at the wrong end of a bad session. We have all been there when all you want to do is pack up and go home.

Thankfully he is made of stronger stuff, he persevered, and ended up with 6 lovely big carp with his best going to 44lb 08oz :

Lee had certainly chased the fish around and kept them on the move, and thankfully it paid dividends as his catch increased to a total of 10 fish to 51lb 04oz :

This is Titan, our most recent new 50, an absolutely stunning Common. We have not seen Titan since August 2019 when he came out to Ryan who weighed him in at 39lb 08oz, and his previous best was when Geoff caught him in the April of 2019 and weighed him in at 41lb 04oz.

It just goes to show how well they can develop if they have a long rest, 51lb 04oz, stunning !!

The final tally for Lee and Martyn was :

Zero Babies, zero doubles, 1 @ 20lb, 1 @ 24lb, 1 @ 31lb, 2 @ 32lb, 2 @ 33lb, 1 @ 35lb, 1 @ 37lb, 1 @ 39lb, 3 @ 40lb, 1 @ 42lb, 1 @ 44lb, and 1 at 51lb 04oz.

We won’t be seeing the Lads next year as they could not get in but we look forward to seeing them again in 2022.

Next week I will be posting the stats for the whole season as I normally do so if you are interested in that then watch this space.

Until then, take care and stay safe.

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SITREP – 01 November 2020

Nothing good to report I’m afraid, the situation here in France with regards to COVID-19 continues to deteriorate as it does in the UK, but then this was inevitable once everyone decided that it was safe to go outside and mingle.

Helen and I have taken the decision to work from home, I can’t think of a safer place to be.

Despite not having any guests on the lake the work around Le Moulin is relentless so we are cracking on with it as normal and just trying to keep a low profile.

We have moved the horses from their summer pasture up to their winter pasture and we have already managed to get their summer pasture serviced. Not that that amounts to much really, but we have cut-back the hedgerows and chain harrowed the grass which effectively aerates it and spreads the manure and the mole hills, then we over-seeded the bare patches. Now we just leave it to rest through the winter and the grass will make fantastic horse feed again come the spring.

One bonus of having no one around the lake is that I have started the winter maintenance schedule ahead of time. Ordinarily I would not start work on the lake until the middle of November but I have already completed a couple of jobs and it is only the first of the month. You might recognise these :

From this :

To this :

And from this :

To this :

Being able to start early has proven to be a bonus really as we are having to open a month ahead of schedule next season, consequently I am under pressure to get things done a bit quicker than is normal.

This is not something that we planned deliberately but we have tried to accommodate groups who have seen their holidays cancelled this year. Being fully booked we had little option other than extend the season at the beginning and at the end.

I would have started to lower the lake level already but we actually have a couple of anglers on the lake this week. They managed to get out of the UK before the French lock-down came in to effect but they will be the last guests of the season. At least this means that I might have a catch report to write by the end of the week.

I popped out to the Bricomarche on Wednesday for a few bits and bobs to further my DIY projects and I was amazed at the number of UK plated cars in the shop carparks, particularly at the Intermarche, it was the busiest I have seen it since the hight of the Summer.

The number of brit holiday makers was surprising, no doubt they all decided to have one last hurrah for the mid-term school holidays and travel before all of the lockdowns came in to effect.

Technically, if they conform to the new restrictions they will not be able to travel back to the UK but I suppose that the authorities will have little choice but to let them all go home, after all, they did let them in.

The French lockdown is in place until the 1st of December but given the state of the number of new cases and subsequent deaths I have a sneaky feeling that things are going to remain very difficult for some considerable time yet.

Needless to say if there is ever some good news I will let you know, but for now, keep your heads down and stay safe.

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Availability Update – 25 October 2020

No anglers on the lake again this week hence no catch report, and apart from cutting grass and strimming there really is nothing of note to report on, so I have decided to post an availability update.

I posted a COVID-19 Statement a couple of weeks ago and mentioned that I was going to write to everyone with a booking for next season and ask them to confirm their intent to either continue with their booking or to cancel. Well that exercise is now complete and I am pleased to say that I have had replies from over 50% of you and everyone is being very understanding and supportive.

So far there has only been one cancellation but interestingly I am getting numerous comments from people to say that they have managed to update their travel insurance to include cancellations as a result of COVID-19.

I am still waiting on replies from over 40% of next season’s guests so there may be more weeks that become available. If that is the case I will post them on here.

Recently I have been inundated with inquiries for next season, so many that I can only assume that everyone is expecting to be able to travel next year. Time will tell on that.

What is new is the number of inquiries about Xmas and New Year holidays, just to remind everyone we do not open over the winter, it is essential that the fish are allowed to rest, beef-up, and re-condition over the winter in order that they can cope properly with spawning, and the fishing, during the following season.

The following weeks are now available :

2021

March the 6th ( first week of the season )

2022

October the 22nd and the 29th ( last week of the season )

2023

The calendar for 2023 will be opened at midnight on the 31st of December 2020, that is European time, so it will be opened at 2300hours or 11pm on the 31st of December UK time.

Several UK based guests missed out on their preferred dates last year as a result of this confusion.

Remember there is always a rush for places when the calendar opens so to try and be fair to everyone I operate by some very strict rules. They are :

I will only take bookings by e-mail via my main account; moulindegraf@hotmail.co.uk

Any booking inquiries left as comments on my Blog or as comments and messages on my Facebook pages, via the contact form on my web-site, or on any of my alternate e-mail accounts will be dealt with last.

I deal with each e-mail in order that my computer receives them on my main account. Many of them will show the exact same time of being sent but obviously computers can allocate places by the thousandths of a second.

If you have more than one date please list your dates in order of preference, if your first date is not available I will allocate your second or third, etc.

If you want to book 2 weeks or more on either separate or consecutive dates please make that absolutely clear in your e-mail.

E-mails submitted before the correct time will be put to the rear of the queue.

End of Rules.

As is my normal practise I will endeavour to deal with all of your inquiries by close of play on New Year’s Day (hangover permitting) and I will reply to you all on the same day.

All bookings will be held for 7 days allowing time for people to submit booking forms, deposits, etc. Any booking not confirmed within the 7days will be deemed to have been cancelled.

On a more general note, Helen and I officially become Old Age Pensioners in 2022 and 2023 respectively and will be entitled to our pensions, for what they are worth !!!

As a consequence we have made a very conscious decision to slow things down just a little. Obviously the day-to-day work around Le Moulin will have to continue so we have decided to reduce the number of sessions available.

To that end there will only be 20 weeks available for the 2023 season and the same for subsequent seasons.

The season will still operate from the last Saturday in March through to the last Saturday in October, to allow people to pick their preferred dates, but once the first 20 weeks have been taken the calendar will close.

If that is not clear please contact me before the 31st of December with your questions.

If you are not intending to holiday with us in 2023 but you know of someone who might want to please share this information as you wish.

Meanwhile keep your heads down and stay safe.

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Weekly Report – 18 October 2020

Another quiet session around the lake this week without an angler in sight, bit of a shame really as the weather has been half-right and the fish are still very active.

I did end last week’s report with a comment about there still being 3 chances to get some catch reports in before the end of the season, well, talk about “Tempting Fate”, I should have kept schtum ! COVID continues to take it’s toll and another 2 sessions have been cancelled, only one chance left now and that isn’t for another fortnight.

It may well have have been quiet around the lake but that has not been the case around the house:

Our eldest daughter Amy managed to organise a visit for her and Cailen so we have been kept on our toes to say the least. This is them on their way over courtesy of a COVID-friendly Ryanair flight.

We were all a little concerned about them travelling but Amy assured us that everything went very well, there were not many people on board the flight nor around the airports so she said that she felt safer than she would if she was shopping at Tesco.

Most of you will know that nothing stands still around Le Moulin for more than a few seconds and just because our Grandson was visiting we were not going to make any exceptions, the show must go on.

5 minutes after arrival Caillen had a re-introduction to The Boys as they needed their evening walk :

And to the horses as they needed to be moved back to their evening pasture :

Thankfully, Cailen is fearless around animals and they seem to find him fascinating, maybe it is because they don’t get to see any small people and they wonder why he is the size that he is. Either way it is a great combination and it makes life very easy all round.

The following morning he quickly learnt that if you feed animals then there is a by-product which needs sorting out, but once again he was keen to get his hands dirty and do his bit ;

That wheel barrow came in handy more than once, here he is collecting acorns ready to seed an area of fir trees which we are about to have harvested and then re-planted with oak trees.

It is a little project that Helen and I are working on and we are going to try and do it using mother nature alone.

Getting rid of 10 acres of fir tree will also help with the water quality in the lake as the needles that fir trees drop are notoriously acidic and it all leaches down through the soil.

In amongst all of Cailen’s tasks he even found time to help with the final batch of Cider :

It might be a while before I can teach him to drink it but at least now he knows how it is bottled.

The cider processing has gone quite well and I have now have 162 pints of the stuff simmering away, the proof of the pudding will be in the tasting of course so needless to say I am looking forward to that part, roll on Xmas.

Back to total peace and quiet next week and needless to say there will not be a catch report next weekend. Having no anglers to look after I plan to bring some of the annual maintenance forward and make a start on some of the jobs that I would normally leave until November and December.

Helen moved the horses today in to their Winter field so that also means that there are plenty of jobs that need doing around their Summer field.

Decisions ! Decisions !

Till next weekend, be careful and stay safe.

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