Video Hatch (and Story): “Escargot”

Paris may spawn thoughts more along the lines of the Louvre and a good croissant than fishing for carp and largemouth bass. But John Hall and Matt Dunkinson have dreams of the latter as they make their way through traffic congestion and out to a central France fishery. There, they find their hopes realized, and the fish eager and waiting, willing as any to take a Clouser. Watch their short film and read the accompanying story.

“Bass ?? … In France?? …”

“Yeah that’s right….largemouth” came the reply from the passenger seat. We were making our way through the Paris rush hour on route to make a promotional film for a carp fishery owner in central France.  Apparently the owner had stocked half a dozen bass in an effort to keep the crayfish numbers down but they had never bred.  As we thundered along “le autoroute” in some horrendous weather I racked my brains trying to remember if I had packed any baitfish patterns, and as it turned out… I hadn’t! All I could muster was a handful of shrimpy jobs that I had tied a few years previous for a trip to Andros.

We were filming two groups of anglers fishing the lake, one group finished Saturday morning at 10am the other started Saturday afternoon at 2pm. If was to do battle with one of these black beauties then I had four hours to find six fish in seven acres of water !!

Changeover day came and with the blessing of the owner I rigged up the six-weight, tied on the nearest thing I had to a crayfish, and set off around the lake. With the rising water levels a lot of baitfish had gathered around the inlet pipe and the occasional predator was scything its way through the shoal, I crept over and on closer inspection could see various shadows beneath the bait including the unmistakable outline of a black bass hanging sub-surface under a weeping willow.

Out went the clouser out with a bow and arrow cast, and it was seized almost immediately by a cracking perch of a couple of pounds.  Next cast same thing again only this time a small zander was the culprit. The bass had melted away into the depths with all the commotion, so I decided to give it a rest for an hour and go for a look elsewhere.

On my return to the inlet I could clearly see two bass, one with its head completely up the inlet pipe, the other nosing around in the rocks beneath. I flicked the fly in again and the fish in the rocks disappeared.  The other fish however came out of the pipe and started nosing around the rocks like his mate. I gave the fly a little strip and all his fins stood on end like he’d been plugged in to the mains, one more strip and with a lightning-fast extension of that cavernous mouth he hoovered that little clouser up without a second thought.   The battle that ensued was by no means epic, and I’m not sure who was more surprised when I took hold of his lip.  He was a wizened old character, battered and scarred and blind in one eye, all of perhaps four pounds.  I doubt he had ever been angled for, let alone caught.

As I slipped him back into his lake full of forty- and fifty-pound carp I wondered if he would ever make a mistake like that again? But unless he gets a liking for boilies I doubt it very much!

— Jon Hall

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