Lac St Cassien 2013

04/08/13 – I arrived at my destination of Fayence located in the south of France no more then ten minutes from the famous Lac St Cassien on Friday 2nd August 2013. This is the first time back to the lake for over three years and after re-eading my trusty Steve Briggs Cassien & Beyond bible I have decided to take a different approach to previous years. I am yet to catch a fish from Cassien but have not yet had the time to really concentrate on the fishing. My holiday to Fayence is a family holiday with my son Jack, daughter Freya and my other half Danielle. I have allocated three full days to fish the lake and so I must not waste a minute and try to get it spot on. My target on every trip to this magnificent part of the world has always been to catch a Cassien carp and I hope by the end of this blog I would have successfully achieved this dream.

I bought a few kilos of dry tiger nuts to use in the shallower water as these are ignored by the dreadful Poisson chat that not only obliterate baits in depths up to 40ft but twists and turn your rigs rendering them useless. Not to put all my eggs in one basket I only wanted to fish one of my three rods on tigernuts, the others would be fished with boilies. Due to the amount of space left in the car I planned to purchase my bait once in Fayence at Decathlon. I had a work colleague the speaks fluent French call up the Decathlon in Grasse and ask if boilies were available. He was advised that they would be in stock from Friday which was perfect based on our arrival date. I purchased 13kg of boilies from Decathlon in Grasse. 10kg 20mm Scopex baits and 3kg 20mm Tutti Fruity baits. I would have preferred to have used a better quality bait but these seem good enough for the job and are fairly hard. I will air dry a few for hook baits that will hopefully ensure the Poisson chat don’t break them down.

In 2010 I bought a boat to fish lac St Cassien that I left where we were staying at my aunties villa. I am happy to report it is still here and in perfect condition. Because of the health and safety concerns with fishing from a boat once a fish is hooked I also bought a lift jacket from Decathlon. I also had a echo sounder that I picked up from EBay. An echo sounder is vital at Cassien to show the depth of water and fish holding features.

06/08/13 – I purchased my fishing permit from the E Le clerk located of the main road running to Lac St Cassien adjacent to the large E Le clerk Supermarket. I am only fishing for three days only and so purchased a license for 30 euro. With this I can fish for a week on Cassien (only days as nights are banned during the summer months). I also prepared and cooked my tiger nuts for my shallow rigs which I will explain in more detail later in this blog.

07/08/13 – Today I have prepared all rods using a verity of rigs to cover all bases. A thunder storm is rolling in as I write this so depending on the weather in the morning the fishing may have to wait until Thursday. As I have no outboard for the boat it would be near impossible to reach the swims in the west arm and would not be safe to try. To overcome the issues related to snags of that are numerous in Cassien I have attached table tennis balls threaded with cut down straws on the main line. These are free to run up the line to a float stop and bead positioned approximately 14ft from the rig. This will hold the line mid water above the tree stump snags that can pose big problems when playing a hooked fish.

09/08/13 – Today I did my first session of this year on St Cassien. I was up at 4.30 and set of for the lake to get in position before light. After having a look for fish from an area close to the famous and iconic Lac St Cassien bridge I decided to fish a swim located in the west arm called Mathilde that translated to English is Mathilde!!!. The west arm is the smallest and shallowest arm on the lake but can hold a reasonable number of fish particularly in the summer months. Please note that if you wish to fish the west arm please stay away from the reserve located at the end of the arm. It is marked with pale white buoys that are clearly visible. In the spring this is where the carp head for their yearly spawning sessions but if caught fishing by the jar din you will be given a hefty fine and all you kit taken away.

Although I did not see any fish that morning I was confident that the swim Mathilde could produce a fish. It offered a large expanse of water that effectively funnels the lake to a thin channel of approximately 300 yards. If I had seen some fish movement when scanning the lake in the morning I would have moved onto the fish but all I had in my armoury was logical thinking and luck. I figured that fish could not avoid this channel to reach the west arm and of course leave the west arm.

I rowed my H marker out with the boat and sonar looking at the water depth and topographic features of the rocky stump littered lake bed. At approximately 80 yards the water depth hit 13ft and following a couple of bumps with the lead from the H marker a firm sandy section of lake bed was identified. I baited this area with a few kilos of boilies and tiger nuts. I cast two rods out to where I had baited up, fifteen yards apart both tied with un-stripped coated snakeskin rigs, 3oz gripper leads and the hair baited with three tiger nuts. The other rod was fished with a hinged stiff rig baited with two hardened hi visual pop ups with a scattering of free baits around the area. All the rigs were tied to size two Curve Shank Korda hooks and fished on a simple lead clip systems. Each rod was complete with the home made buoyancy aid as mentioned above to help keep the main line of the snaggy lake bed. To overcome any possible cut offs from the fresh water mussel that line the dead tree stumps on the lake bed I attached snag leaders to each rod. Korda Armo Cord in 50lb breaking strain seemed suitable for the job and so I tied six metres to each rod, tied directly to the main line with a double uni knot in a neat presentation that allows the knot to pass uninterrupted through the rod rings.\

The weather conditions were dreadful in the morning with cold winds and heavy downpours. Eventually it brightened up and the typical south of France conditions returned with highs reaching 38 degrees. The day quickly passed with only a few beeps to keep it interesting. I don’t think it helped to have people diving of pedalos and picking up your H marker in mid water amazed at what it was. We actually had a group of kids on a pedalo pick the marker out the water after we explained via shouting that it is our fishing float. Some people just don’t understand but the lake is public and for everyone to enjoy so you just have to put up with it. I cannot wait to begin my next session in a couple of days and hopefully one of my rods will bend into some Cassien action.

11/08/13 – In order to get the best out of our fishing on Cassien early mornings were necessary and we set of to the lake at 5am. I had wanted to fish a swim named Kevin Ellis named after the captor of a huge 76lb mirror from Cassien in 1986 but this is a popular swim and I was not sure if we would get in it. Luckily for us it was free this morning and so we settled in for yet another session. The swim offers a large area of water situated halfway down the west arm. The depth was considerable and dropped of to 40ft but came up in areas to 25ft. I positioned two baits in 40ft of water baited with tigers and boilies and one rod was position in 20ft of water 18ft behind a reed bed. My dad cast a rod 30 yards to over the reed beds with a boilie on in shallow water.

Once the rods were in position we sat down and admired the lake when out popped a huge carp bang on my baited areas. My heart started to go as I was sure there would be more and they were possibly feeding on my baits. I waited for the rod to shoot off but it stayed lifeless and no more fish showed.

My dads rod was bouncing around constantly with small Poisson chat smashing into his bait. He managed a small bream and recast. Following the next cast his rod began to bounce again. He lifted into a fish and believed he was snagged when all of a sudden hell broke loose. The water exploded and a underwater power house surged for safety. With line peeling of his tightly set clutch we jumped into the boat military style and head out to sea. The fish battled hard for fifteen minutes until all his energy was drained and we managed to raised him to the surface. With anticipation we glared into the bright blue depths of Cassien, waiting to see the unknown beast. As the leader became visible we caught a glimpse of a fish and it looked big, but then as it neared the surface its streamline body and flat shaped head confirmed it not to be a carp but a catfish. I tried to net its first time but failed miserably and as I missed the fish I sent the boat into a spin causing some panic. Second time was a charm and the beast slipped in. We rowed back to the bank and weighed the cat at 32lb and a new personal best for my dad. Although not our intended quarry it was a great achievement for my dad and was exciting to say the least.

With the day drawing to a close I was adamant that the evening would be the time for another run. It was at approximately 5.30pm when my middle rod rattled of and I struck into a fish. As my dad prepared the boat we again set sail for an ultimate battle this time with me holding the rod. I was shaking trying to stay calm but this was made difficult by a wasp that would not leave me head. The fish began to surge and take us further out when …….slack. It was gone. I bowed my head and sighed as I believed I had lost a Cassien carp. On closer inspection of my rig it had frayed through 50lb armo leader and so I began to believe it could be a large pike or catfish. The fraying was extensive ruling out the possibility of a carp. This gave me some comfort in loosing what could be possibly be the fish of my dreams.

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