Loz East tells us about how his week at Priory Lakes turned out to be the perfect holiday
We knew the lake held some monstrous fish but neither of us could have predicted, or even contemplated the session we were about to have.
Last week myself and best mate Andy Duroe hopped on a ferry at Dover and made the seven hour journey down towards the South of France to Priory Lakes, which is situated in Limoges. The lake itself is around nine acres in size and holds around 180 carp, including a good proportion of fish over the 50lb mark. There are three pegs to fish from across one bank leaving the far marginal tree line as a safe haven for the carp and features for anglers to fish to. Peg one gives access to the right hand side of a bay which is on the opposite side of the lake and also an open area of water towards the house. From peg two there’s access to the left hand side of the bay as well as the far margin tree line to the left hand side. Peg three has many options from the far margin to the bay down towards the left hand side. Both of the bay areas have a rope across them which you are allowed to fish up to but no further. Not only does this give the carp somewhere to hold up free from angling pressure but from a safety aspect of hooking and landing the fish it gives you a sensible distance to get them under control and away from danger. The fish, in our experience, liked to spend a lot of time inside the safe zones, which is no different to any other lake around the world I guess. However with a steady application of bait the fish can be drawn in front of the line making them very catchable. The lake holds some monstrous fish not only in terms of size and weight but the sheer power and intensity of them once they’re hooked is something incredible. Breaking the rules and fishing beyond the line would have certainly put the fish at danger of becoming snagged. Throughout the week I and Andy fished at ranges between 120-170 yards and even though we were fishing locked up with bow string tight lines and strong gear it was hard work to control fish of that size with the mind set of knowing exactly where they were going. What you have to remember is with that much line out, there is still a lot of stretch at that distance so even when we clamped down tight the fish could still move a certain distance.
If you are looking to get away from modern day carp fishing or life in general Priory is a great place to this. The lake is set in the heart of a valley with picturesque countryside and it is quite easy to lose yourself in tranquillity of the venue. Not only does the place hold huge carp though, it is out of the way from modern society and with only having access to three pegs, allows the lake to be booked on an exclusive basis. From a social and holiday point of view, three mates is the perfect situation but if you are going predominantly for the fishing booking for one or two people is the best idea. This allows you not only to have a peg spare should one of you want to move swims but also creates less angling pressure around the lake which on a venue like Priory can be a massive advantage.
The owners, Andy and Deb Bernard , have created the ultimate holiday carp venue. The food package in our experience was second to none so much so that each day we were looking forward to the evening meal and social rather than the actual fishing side of things! All the food was cooked with fresh ingredients and no stone was left unturned in terms of the hospitality from both Andy and Deb. We were greeted each morning with bacon and egg cobs which really did set us up for the days fishing, if you are looking to go to the Priory in the future I would 100% recommend the food package.
Back to the fishing side of things between myself and Andy we managed 40 carp during our week long stay. Despite resting and baiting the swims for long periods of time throughout the week the fishing got better and better with less time spent with rods in the water. I won’t go into too much detail on how we actually fished the lake or where we presented our baits etc as we are booked on again next year. However within the 40 fish we managed ten twenties, thirteen thirties, nine forties, one fifty and a sixty. I will say, we both used Mainline Baits 18mm “Link” and “Activ8” boilies and for myself on the rig side of things I used Korda’s 20lb Kamo strippable braid with size 4 Kurv Shanks.
Andy landed a unit of a common and new personal best of 50lb 2oz, in fact he actually caught that particular fish twice in the week from the same spot ,with the same bait! Simply awesome. For myself I also had a new personal best of 60lb 2oz, a fish which has now been rightfully named “Sambo” for reasons I won’t mention, however it made the capture for all involved more heartfelt and special.
The lake is only open for so many weeks of the year, it isn’t your typical French venue. The lake is both Andy and Debs pride and joy and the safety and condition of their fish are paramount which to carp anglers should be more appealing. Myself and Andy are in a position now after spending a week with Andy and Deb Bernard to class them as friends and we look forward to our return visit next year.
RIP Sam Bernard.