Easter Carping in France (via the Loveboat)

I really look forward to Easter because I love chocolate eggs, however I also love carp fishing and Easter is an ideal time to squeeze in a long weekend and France is my usual destination.

Loading the car is always a chore when going on a longish session but after 90 min’s spent cramming it all in I was on the road buzzing with excitement as I always am when going on a bit of a session.

It always starts with the overnight ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge via the Loveboat as we call it. Once on board I can finally begin to unwind and after a couple or three beers it’s bedtime and up early in eagerness for the long drive into France to the venue.

The weather was not good, heavy rain for the entire 6 hour drive and two days of solid rain once we arrived. It was all delivered by gale force winds, wonderful!

Fortunately the weather pattern changed, it brought another challenge bringing frost at night but it was nice to finally emerge from the bivvy albeit into the mud bath that had swamped the swim.

It’s all about the bait:

The water temp was cold and nothing was showing so I went in cautiously even though I knew there was a good head of fish in the water. I choose to fish well stocked lakes when it’s still cold, it gives you a much better chance of a fish or two which is want you want after a long harsh winter.

Upon arrival at the lake a chat with a couple of lads who were leaving told me that the carp had switched off the feed due to the cold heavy rain that had risen the water level by over a foot in the last 48 hours!

Chilli hemp and Parti-mix mixed 50/50 along with some dead and live maggots and some crushed up Poloni boilies was all that was needed.

I fed three areas along the far margin where I had good tree coverage, all three were placed at the bottom of the shelf in about 4 feet of water, it looked like a great patrol route.


To start, each rod had a different hook bait fished on a variety of rig set ups, my main concern was the debris that may have been gathered as I imagined the winter would have felled many a branch and twig from the trees. I was testing the new Poloni balanced wafter hook baits in 14 mm. I also fished a white 10 mm pop up and the third rod was a balanced maggot rig, this is set up with a small piece of 6 mm red foam and 12 maggots attached via a needle and cotton onto a hair to which I attached a mini swivel, I thread the foam on first, and then the 12 maggots and just tie this to the mini swivel and you should have a perfectly balanced maggot rig.

As the light faded the middle rod was off and away, a 4lb Bream! Whoops not the target fish we hoped to be catching, luckily it was the only one of the session. I retied a Poloni wafter then did the 22 wraps of the rod and clipped up and recast.

In the middle of the night that same rod was off again and I landed a nice 23 lb common, the session had now began.


As the session unfolded it appeared the 14 mm Poloni wafter was definitely the preferred hook bait and all 3 rods were soon fishing it. I even gave my mate a handful and he too started to have complete faith in it as soon as he caught a couple in quick session.

As the weather conditions improved so did the fishing, I even began to catch during the daylight hours.

QUICK TIP: As there’s often quite a few catfish in many of the French lakes I always resist feeding any pellets as these will definitely draw the cats.


I did hook and land one at 56 lb, fortunately it came during daylight, Cats are tricky to land and weigh on your own. I usually just grab the leader and pull the cat onto a wet mat that I leave next to the waters edge and just slide its head out of the water onto the mat and using a pair of pliers I unhook it and then with a little shove they slide back in and there’s no carnage.

The last day soon came round and the farmer was required to drag my VW Caddy out of the mud, his 4 x 4 failed to get it out, so the big tractor was called for. After being dragged out by the big one I just need to drag a big one out myself… Carp I mean not tractor!!


Fortunately the trusty Poloni wafters that had become my number one hook bait over the session came up trumps as the biggest carp of the session put in an appearance during the mid afternoon sun at 37 lb 2 oz, I was now quite content.

Over 5 nights I had around 15 carp, I only used a couple of bags of baits as I just kept everything tight, feeding little and often just sticking to the same spots. I wondered round to the far bank after bite time had generally come and gone a couple of times a day and trickled in some of the Parti/Chilli Hemp/Crushed Poloni boilie mix and that was it. Nothing complicated just great quality bait and regular feeding built up the swim over the session.

French Baiting Tactics

One mistake I often see when lads travel to France is they take a shed load of bait and think they have to pile plenty it in at the start and if their not catching they put more in.

This is often encouraged by unscrupulous lake owners who want you pile in boilies and then they will very kindly sell you some more.

That will occasionally work but I think the best way to do it is to feed sparingly to start with to get a feel for it and let a pattern emerge and then just keep topping up accordingly, whether that’s boilie fishing or fishing over particle etc, that way you slowly build a swim, don’t forget you are usually there for a week so use some caution to start.


It definitely worked for me as I ended my session strongly with the 37 lb Mirror putting some icing on the cake or should that be chocolate Easter egg.

Happy hunting

Ian Hirst
Carp Catcher


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