We were at Le Q. in 2003 when the owner told us that he had just had permission to construct a new 6 acre lake in a field only a few hundred yards from the Cottage at le Queroy. He had always had a problem with the carp in the main lake being a little too fecund and in time this had started to create a fishery that was slowly becoming over-stoked via natural recruitment. While new stock coming through is all very nice, you don't need to much of it, so he was faced with the problem of what to do with the excess. Thus when he was given permission for the new lake it was the perfect solution. He would stock it with new growth spawned in the main lake.
A very interesting feature of what would become the new lake was a marshy bog on one side of the field and in my experience natural spring water is ideal for creating a good carp fishery. So the lake was bug out by bulldozer and hard graft using the natural boundaries of the field. The slope of the land meant that at the dam end the lake would be up to twelve feet deep. Elsewhere marginal depths of between three to five feet would be created and a small bay would be formed by the spring to the western side of the lake.
By the late winter of 2004 the digging out was finished and the lake was filling nicely with water welling up from the spring. New trees and shrubs were planted around the perimeter and by the time we took another look at the new lake in November 2004 it already had a carpy look about it.
The main lake at Le Q. had been drained in the late winter of 2004 and any young fish from recent spawning were transferred to the new lake. This was supplemented with all the fish under 15lb that were removed in the drain-down the following year. Thus an ongoing program of stocking the lake with young growth from the main lake continued until what was considered the optimum number of fish lived in the lake.
So now we leap forward to the spring of 2014 when new owners Jodie and Dan and their two lovely kids, Bella and Beau, became the new owners of the le Queroy complex. At the time this consisted of the existing Fishing Cottage, the main lake, now renamed Napoleonic lake or Nappy's for short, and the until-now un-fished Lac Elba. A few lucky guests had been allowed to fish Elba and this was useful in helping assess the stock to see how it had thrived (or otherwise) over the ten years or so since the lake was completed. It was nice to have an alternative lake to offer clients staying in the Cottage but what Jodie and Dan really wanted was to create a separate holiday venue on the complex that included luxury accommodation and exclusive use of the six acre Elba.
Thus in 2015 Dan and friends started building a new Lodge on the land behind the main house at le Queroy and in May 2016 Carole and I were the first guests to enjoy this new experience.
The Lodge has a large kitchen and living area that is very well equipped with all the comforts of home you could wish for with a well equipped kitchen including a large fridge/freezer with room for plenty of frozen food and bait. In the living room you will find a two-seater couch, a coffee table and two easy chairs, as well as another sofa that converts to a large bed. There is a huge wall-mounted TV with most of the Sky channels (along with a smaller TV and Sky in the bedroom). There is a WiFi router that gives a very strong signal (but be aware of the limitations of French Internet connectivity, which is best described as slow to very slow!).
There is a well appointed bathroom with a heated towel rail, large shower cabinet, hand basin and the usual offices. I guess it would be correct to say that while the living room, bedroom and bathroom are in themselves large and spacious, overall the property is not very big. Jodie and Dan therefore suggest that a couple with a child or two is ideal. Three adults could share if they were really good friends (nudge, nudge!).
There is a large area of decking at the front of the Lodge with full length sliding doors giving access to the accommodation where you will also find there a hot tub and some nice garden furniture. The pool also sits right alongside the decking.
The Lodge is now ready to receive guests and they can be sure of a great holiday in this air conditioned bit of peace and quiet. Of course, all this luxury may not necessarily be on your 'must have' list as a lot will depend on the make up of the party renting the lake and the Lodge. An all-male party that only uses the accommodation for a shower, shave and whatever, and perhaps a bit of cooking will find most of the luxury offered by the Lodge to be superfluous. However, an angler with his wife and kiddie's in tow will relish the mod cons and luxuries. I guess it all depends on the answer to the question, 'what do you want to live in? A luxury Lodge or a smelly old bivvy?' I know which we prefer!
As mentioned the lake is about six acres and is roughly square in shape with a small bulge or bay in the north west corner. The margins are around three to five feet deep with between ten to twelve feet at the dam.
These also provide useful cover for either stalking under the overhangs or simply dropping a bait into the margins and playing a waiting game.
The north east corner seems to be a particularly attractive area and I kept some bait - mainly hemp, groats and Frolic - trickling in there for a few days before fishing it.
I eventually had the same fish twice from the corner as well as a couple of other decent carp.
The lake is dotted with slight rises, gullies and troughs but the main features are three bars or sunken islands. These can be seen clearly on the current Bing map of the lake, though the image dates from quite a few years ago and the bushes that are visible on the eastern bar are not there now having been removed by Dan when he took over. The middle bar lies about 30m off the middle off the north bank and like the eastern bar it is very easy to find as it comes up several feet from the bottom with only half a meter or so of water at the top.
The bar at the western end of the lake is currently marked by a small set of pads which at the time of my visit were just beginning to show. No doubt they will grow and spread as the season progresses. Apparently, given a less wet winter and a sunnier spring sets of pads also grow on the tops of the other two bars, which makes them even easier to locate. A lot of fish are apparently caught on these features but I found that fishing at the foot of the slope was much more productive. It is also worth building a spot by simply using bait. I did exactly this at the back of the middle bar some 50m out from my north bank swim.
The small bay also produces and at times the fish gather there in numbers. However, if there is plenty of sunshine the carp can be spotted basking and cruising on the top in the south west corner of the lake between the monk and the bank.
The monk itself is a significant feature and I caught several fish on a bait placed close to the foot of it. You cannot fail to spot the monk and it marks the deepest part of the lake. Fish are attracted by the structure itself but later in the trip when the level rose alarmingly after we experienced rain of almost biblical proportions, water began pouring over the monk and the fish appeared un-nerved by the almost deafening roar of tonnes of falling water.
The level came up so that the top of the brickwork was under four inches of water and the water poured over the lip like Niagara Falls! You can judge just how much rain fell by this photo.
Both also work very well individually and adding one of the versions of the Liquid Robins to groats can add still further to the attraction.
There are several versions of the Liquid Robins; all are good so take your pick.
I use pellets in most of my carp fishing and my favourites are the Robin Red SuperSofts from Haith's Baits. The liquids and the GLME shown in the photo all are highly attractive and I use them to add even more attraction to the SuperSofts. I use Squid Liver Oil to carry particles of food into the water column. First I mix the food oil and a liquid food additive, in this case Liquid Oyster Extract (NB: not Oyster Sauce, which is nothing like as effective). These are mixed together in a clean bottle and 50g of Green Lipped Mussel Extract is added. The bottle is given a good shake to distribute the GLME evenly and then the pellets are given a good glugging!
Once introduced to your swim the pellets will break down slowly and the Squid Liver Oil will carry their attraction, and that of the GLME into the water column. At the same time the free aminos in the Oyster Extract will also work their magic, contributing still further to the overall attraction.
Another part of the baiting jigsaw I always use whenever I go fishing is Frolic dog biscuits. I have no idea what it is about these but there is no escaping the fact that they pull down carp very effectively.
The go soft after about 2 hours in the water and break down to a mush after about 4 hours. I usually add them to my hemp/groats blend along with the Trigga barrels.
Simple rigs are the order of the day on Elba at the moment. There may come a time when pressure dictates something a bit more 'crafty' but for the moment the simplest of set ups will suffice. I used size 6 long shank barbless hooks to 25lb Supa Nova mono with a knotless knot to form the hair. A couple of high attract hookbaits completes the rig; nothing too complicated about that!
As has been the case with all my fishing since 2005 (where rules permit) for the Elba session I used braid on my reels and as always I fished my favourite tactic of fishing very slack lines with light running leads at the business end .
As for the fishing…Well to be honest I did not go at it like a bull at a gate. At best I only fished about three hours in the morning and the same in the afternoon and lost a couple of days to the rain and a busted rib (don't ask!). Even so I still caught 41 carp and all of the fish were in great condition ranging between 25lb and 37lb plus three over forty pounds.
Here are a few trophy shots. I also caught three grassies, but to be honest this may have been the same fish three times. All I know is that they are mad things when held so I always do the pix on the mat rather than try to pick them up and pose for the camera.
To sum up, Lac Elba has huge potential to produce large numbers of very big fish, as they are putting on around three kilos year. Already there are several fish in the mid- to upper-forty pound mark and I confidently predict that the lake will produce fifties in the not too distant future. At the moment the fishing is pretty easy and I guess you could call it a bit of a 'runs' water. How long this situation will persist in anybody's guess, not too long is mine, as the bookings are filling up quickly.
As for the Lodge, this will suit a married couple with one or two young children down to the ground but an all-male group of two or three mates could share. As I wrote earlier, it all depends what you want from the Lodge, a place to shower and shave and perhaps cook a meal, or a luxury, well-appointed home-from-home. Personally my missus and I found the Lodge to be perfect in every respect, the kitchen being put to good use every day. Also, as I don't do nights these days the comfort of a 1m80 double bed and an air conditioned bedroom was bliss!
Finally a word about Jodie, Dan and the kids. A nicer, more welcoming family we have yet to meet. They really go out of their way to make you feel and home, at the same time providing great fishing on two amazing lakes. Bookings are not surprisingly going fast so get in quick!