Ten Years On !

For more info check the website: http://www.croixblanchelakes.com

by Gareth Watkins

It seems amazing that this next season will be the tenth anniversary of the opening of Croix Blanche Lakes in Northern France. Ten Years, I never really thought carp fishing would have taken on the dimensions it has done in recent times when I set out to launch my own carp fishing lakes in France.

A 35lb mirror from the Early Days

How it Started:
It started back in late 1998, when working in Paris as a photographer I heard of a complex of lakes for sale just outside Reims in North Eastern France. A meeting was arranged with the owner in early 1999 and immediately I fell in love with the venue. To add to this the young lad who had accompanied the owner showed

me his photo album with picture of fish to 40lb he had caught.

Setting Up:

Well the deal was done and I was soon to be owner of the lakes. My first sessions were excellent with several carp to over 30lb. By July 1999 all the papers had been signed and I was able to start the huge task of cutting swims installing a shower and toilet and stocking fish for a grand opening in January 2000.
Initially I sourced fish from several places and these were added to the lakes directly. Subsequently I added fish to the stock pond on an annual basis, fish that were then transferred afterwards to the main lakes.
The venue also received a stock of catfish as these proved to be awesome fighters and grow to a very large size. I think all carp anglers enjoy catching big fish.

The Early Years:
I ran the venue single handed for most of the early years, getting Dutch clients from Carp Connections and English anglers from my own website and a company called A&J who ran trips to the venues on a regular basis. This set up worked fine, the fish grew fast with fish to over 45lb banked the first season. I, infact banked several 40’s myself with the best and still my PB at over 47lb.
As things went on I was sending my surplus clients to other local lakes and getting a commission from the owners to do so. This seemed a natural niche to exploit so I teamed up with a couple in the UK and Angling Lines was born.

The Middle Years:
I became more and more tied up with developing an running the French end of the agency that I ultimately made the move to let A&J run the venue on a purely trips basis.
The lakes were run this way and became an established venue with a large number of anglers and some superb catches. The largest carp that the lakes ever produced was nicknamed the ‘Hippo’ and went to 76lb+ at its best weight. Sadly this fish is no longer with us, but there are lots of carp in the venue, and with the impressive growth rates that the lakes have always shown I dare say in a year or two we will be seeing more giant carp gracing the banks of the Croix Blanche.
The cats too have done really well with fish to over 70lb regularly being caught. The largest to date weighed in at 96lb.

Now & to the Future :
It seems fitting then that I am now once again back running the lakes as a drive and survive venue. Going back to the source, if you like. A&J for their own reasons decided to pack up their business.

For the future then bookings can be made directly with me through the website and the mobile home has been renovated and is available for optional rental should anglers desire more comfort, or want to bring girlfriends, families etc.

For more info check the website: http://www.croixblanchelakes.com
Or give me a call on 0033 670 900 433
Best Regards
Gareth

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