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                                                                    Badgers holt with JO JO the target 

Badgers Holt is set in the scenic limousin region of France alongside its sister lake, Lac Serriere. Last year I decided that these two lakes would be my main focus this year with the anticipation of catching the largest residents from each at some point in the season. The lake itself is small with only two swims. The carp can be caught from any part of the lake so you need to have your eyes on the lake at all times,

Three trips in all were planned for 2016, two on Badgers Holt to take place during the spring and summer and the final trip to other lake would be arranged in November (just before the complex closes for the winter).

My first trip to Badgers Holt took place in middle May.  I was hoping that at this particular time the carp would not have spawned or in fact even begun preparations.  What I needed was for them to be all consumed with a need to feed.

I began taking note of the catch reports in April and carefully monitored the weather and what had been fed by different successful anglers before I decided my own plan of action. The water over the years has seen it all and the carp are no mugs, so in my own mind I knew what kind of rigs I was proposing to use. What I noticed in particular was that the anglers who fished the week previous did not heavily bait so I planned to do the exact opposite to encourage the fish. But I still needed to be mindful of air pressure as this has to be just right if you propose to bait heavily.

Two of us fished the lake and we agreed to swap swims halfway through the week to make the days a bit more interesting. As we were using the same bait I was not overly concerned that the fish would make preferences but as it turned out we fished as a team anyway.

The two largest fish had been caught already this year which was not unusual but unfortunately they then normally disappear until the autumn. I decided that as the weather was cool with a northerly air stream my best plan was to start baiting heavily from Sunday.  As hoped there was no sign of spawning so I set myself my normal target of seven carp for the week.

So for the first part of the week I fished on the left side of the swim where all the fish were caught the week before and where I had observed them sitting in the shallows and underneath the bushes.

Although these were promising signs I still had doubts I was in the right swim but I baited up hoping the carp would move into my area within the next 24 hours.  As the lake is only 3 acres It is possible to hold the fish in an area but only if you get the baiting right.

Firstly, I baited along the dam wall just past the monk, Secondly, in what is known as koi Corner and finally underneath some bushes on the right side of the lake. My bait choice was Mainline baits hybrid boilies 10mm mixed with 15 mm plus plenty of chops. Also mixing up Hemp soaked with Multi-stim, Hybrid stick mix liquid with maize added for a bit of colour.

My friend Chris fished two rods down towards the shallows and the other rod in open water but he put in less feed which may have reflected on the variations in the fish caught.

The first night Chris had an impressive fifty down the shallows which was a good start on this lake. I ended up with only a few liners. The next day I went around the lake and trickled some more bait in my area and I also took the time to look at the shallows where a lot of fish were lying up with the resident Koi. I put some more bait in there to help Chris and he then went on to have a couple more fish- another fifty and a forty.

I had my first carp from the far end of the lake- an upper forty-but having seen no signs of carp in that area earlier I was pleasantly surprised. In front of Chris carp were still showing themselves.  After having another walk around I advised Chris to put his rig under a bush in the shallows which were less than 3 foot deep. Within an hour Chris had a carp from that spot. Disappointingly, that night my swim was quiet.

The next day I just spent time observing and planning where to move my rigs. When Monday night came, just before dark, Chris was rewarded for his efforts again with a large carp, that turned out to be a seventy plus mirror. This beauty was caught on Mainline Hybrid and was hooked just underneath a bush which normally might get overlooked.  Amazing fish and Chris had beaten his personal best.

Tuesday Morning and the planned swap went ahead and conditions still looked good for the shallows but fish had started to show all over my original areas.  I was up and about as the sun started to rise and noticed a few fish were showing in open water but I have to say if you had not had your eyes on the water you would have missed them. They looked like small fish but I knew they were large carp just pushing their mouths or top dorsal fins out. There were also a few feeding bubbles just coming up to the surface of the water. So I started to bait up heavily under the bush and a marginal area opposite where there is a marginal shelf. I also increased the baited area but between the spots I trickled some boilies, so carp would find the bait and follow to either spot where my rigs were placed.

For the bush area the rig I used was a KD rig with a long hair baited with a 15mm bottom hybrid boilie and topped with half an essential cell popup dumbbell. The marginal shelf rig was a white Hybrid chopped popup boilie and the third rod was the same as the bush rig but fished in open water.

By the afternoon I had picked up a stocky in open water but sadly that was it until Wednesday. Then the weather changed to rain which seemed to slow things down but I by now I was beginning to get a little frustrated and decided to go for it on the bait side.  My thoughts were really to get the carp on the bait as I knew there was a lot there even though Chris had had more success in other areas.

So as Thursday arrived the wind was back pushing down to the shallows and shortly before 9am my open water rig was away and a nice conditioned mirror was caught weighing in at 49 lb.  This fish was caught over two kilo different sizes of boilies, hemp, pellet and crushed maize soaked in Multi-stim and Hybrid stick mix liquid.

My next fish was a fifty from the marginal shelf caught on the pop up.  This particular carp put up a fantastic fight.  After weighing the fish, I noticed my sling was full of digested hybrid boilie so I knew I was onto something and the fish were obviously on the munch so I decided to keep piling in the bait.

My efforts and patience were then duly rewarded and the next screaming take offered what felt like a very powerful fish.  It was a good twenty minutes before we even saw it. Frightened of losing it due to big loss earlier I felt nervous and played it cautiously and when it at last showed I could see it was a large common. I could not wait to get it in the net.  Once this was achieved, I cut the line folding the landing net and put it into the sling before lifting her out of the water. I struggled to lift her into the unhooking mat, but this was not surprising as she came in at 63lb 2 oz. Result I had just landed the biggest common in Badgers Holt.

Once the photos had been done out went the rig on the marginal shelf then to my delight all hell let loose as the bush swim gave me 7 carp in quick succession – all upper forties and another fifty.

So by Friday morning I had had 9 carp in less than 18 hours. Chris continued to do well and by the evening we had 17 carp in total and lost a couple so both of us were happy. The bush swim had gone quiet but overall we were amazed how many we took from it.  We planned an early night as we had such a long journey home but I wasn’t to get the rest I expected.  At 10 pm we both settled down when 10.30 the bush rod had a take with the bobbin sitting tight against the delkim and the rod tip just twitching.  So I struck and felt I had caught a branch or something and then it started to move and realised I had hooked something heavy.  At this point I really didn’t know what I had on the end of the line and expected if it was indeed a fish it could perhaps be an upper fifty or a sixty. Well it went in the net and at that moment I realised it was JO JO. she felt so heavy even just trying to get the net from underneath her. We both tried to lift her and she tipped the scales at an amazing 76lb 14 oz.

I was ecstatic that after my slower than expected start I had had JO JO plus the big common and 9 other large carp as well.  In the end Chris and I totalled 19 carp, with the average weight over 47 lb.

We used over 50 kilo of bait and I felt was this was the key to our success on this challenging lake.  However, a lot has to be said for the meticulous monitoring and planning we undertook in preparation for the trip to Badgers Holt.

Rig wise PB products Downforce components tied to 25lb silt jelly wire helped in making this a memorable week

Keith Williams

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