A little piece of heaven - John Sullivan
Having spent all my working life in classrooms and offices I lost count of the times I would stare out
of the window eager to be on the bank. In those early days with youth and enthusiasm on my side
I might be on the river or lake overnight before crawling into work bleary eyed the next morning.
As work responsibilities increased time pressures followed and my passion for the sport took a
back seat.As opportunities began to resurface with retirement five years ago
I started my search for something a little different, something special, something exclusive
and something I could share with Julie (and more importantly she was happy to share with me).
I was looking for the chance of catching some quality fish in a pristine and cared for environment
and as importantly accommodation that matched. (It’s not easy to convince your non fishing
partner that a week’s fishing in France was just what she had been missing all these years).
So, after a little time searching on the net I was delighted to find Les Croix.
Having made various promises (and bribes) we were booked and in May 2015,
we made our first spring time trip to Montrollet in the Charente Department of South West France.
A 500 mile car journey from our home on the Welsh border did seem a little daunting at first
but spread over two days and treated as part of the holiday (overnight Brittany ferry to Caen
and plentiful coffee and meal stops – some in quaint French towns) it was part of the adventure
and added to my own growing anticipation of what lay ahead. French motorways make the drive
pretty painless and a stop in Chauvigny to stretch your legs and visit the Saturday market is well worth it.
All this seems to build my anticipation towards the end of the journey and when perhaps others might
think I am old enough to know better I embarrass myself at times with my own childish enthusiasm
and excitement at the thought of going on a special fishing holiday for a week.
A telephone conversation with Jon after booking signified the care with which he manages his fishery.
It may be a little daunting at first with a tackle check and a required call on the radio on netting a fish,
but everything Jon has put in place is centred on the health and well-being of his fish
(most of which he knows by name) and maintaining a quite exceptional lake environment.
Growth rates are hugely impressive and you could not be at a better venue to improve your
pb and have a chance of fish over 60lbs.It is now five years on and we have just completed our
eighth visit together. Testimony to the fact we have found a little piece of heaven.
Our days are largely spent in three sessions. Early mornings and late afternoon/evenings are spent
on the bank with the middle of the day left to explore the area. The local towns and villages of
St Junien, Confolens, Montrollet, Brigueuil and Bellac offer a diverse range of wonderful eateries
and coffee shops, with the local town of St Junien just 12 minutes drive away being host to
several delightful restaurants. Shopping in French supermarkets is a different experience to that at home
with breads, wines and cheeses amongst our favourite buys.
The break in fishing has two advantages. Firstly it is of course a holiday for two, and secondly
removing lines from the water in the middle of the day does seem to improve the fishing.
Feeding boilies and pellets at the end of sessions with top ups as required can bring good results
but this is not a runs water and can at times test your patience. It is fishing and as you might expect,
any angler, me included, will experience some good days and some less good but with reasonable
watercraft, confidence in your methods and the right conditions you will catch stunning fish that will
test you to the limit with their size and power.
We have just returned home from our best ever trip on which I was fortunate enough to fish the lake
during a week where all the planets were aligned and the conditions were perfect. I netted
28 beautiful pristine fish with 3 x 60’s, 1 x50, and 10 x 40’s included in the catch.
Whilst this was not a typical week (as I have said it is not a runs lake), but it does indeed reveal
the true potential of the venue, and we will be returning in 2020 and 2021, hopefully to see a
few more of these Les Croix beauties and once more to enjoy the tranquility of the venue
and the beauty of the local area.