I’d had intentions to fish Etang 5, back when the big Dino was still with us, but sadly she passed away before I got the chance to wet a line on the great lake. Etang 5 still has several big fish, and is a challenge unlike the typical French venues. I see it a bit like the Great Lake, a large challenging venue with only a few swims giving you plenty of scope, and you need to be competent with a inflatable boat to find spots and to extract any fish you maybe lucky to hook, and extract from the large weedbeds that both lakes are known for!
Again they both have there nuisance fish to navigate, Great lake with the Sturgeon and Tench, Etang 5, the Catfish, Grass Carp, and large silvers that are more than capable of taking a 20mm boilie, Etang 5 has the added challenge of millions of crayfish, large hard hookbaits being the main order of the day here, and changing your hookbaits regular.
The facilities are not what you would find in a Hilton hotel, but then if you are like me, and can rough it up on a Belgium canal for 8 or 9 nights, then having access to portaloos and a lake water fed shower is a bonus, it may not be ideal for bringing your partner or wife, but my wife Caroline survived to live the tale. With the lodge being built on swim 1, things can only get better.
There are also solar panels wired to charge leisure batteries, this also supplies the boiler for the shower, I’m not sure how well this will work in the Autumn/Winter period when the big yellow disc in the sky is in short supply? It’s something to consider if you like your creature comforts.
Also note that Patrick (and Jude his dog!) or one of the onsite bailiffs can bring some basic items, bread, water, beer, milk, eggs, croissants etc to your swim daily for a small fee.
Boat work as I mentioned previously, you need to proficient with a boat and bring your own, depths can go down to around 21-22ft (8+ metres), so you need a long enough prodding sticks, or like I did, use a stiff marker rod spooled with braid and a lead, and donk around from the boat to find the suitable spots to place a rig and fish on. Once you have found your spots they could be a distance of up to 300 yards, so you will need large markers/H blocks. Don’t make the mistake I did with one of my spots, I used a weedbed which was ok for a couple of days, then the wind got up and my marker had blown away and was no more! Generally you will find most Europeans will fish their rod tips high, this is so you can navigate and move your boat about as required without getting tangled in your lines, it maybe something you might not have thought about, and will require the necessary long banksticks to do so.
Basically I took everything I could squeeze into our estate car for me and my wife, obviously all the usual items. I’d note to myself for future trips to make sure you have plenty of bait, i.e. more than you think you need, probably 2 leisure batteries for a week session, just in case the sun is hiding and you cannot the charge the only 1 you have and end up rowing backwards and forwards! Also you can be going out long distances and can soon be wearing the battery down.
Bait & Tactics
I like to keep things simple, as you can find on my vlog on youtube (hint hint). The lead arrangement, was a 4oz (113grams) lead, on a leadclip system, attached to either a Korda or Fox fluorocarbon leader. The end rig was 5-7” (12-17cm) of Gardner 25lbs Ultra Skin in brown, with either a Korda Wide Gape (Kamakura) size 4 or a size 4 Curve shank hook. With a 20mm hardened and wrapped boilie, on hindsight with the crayfish and smaller nuisance fish, a 22 or 24mm bait would have been a better option, that being said I still caught 5 fish from 8 bites to 60lbs (27kgs) on the single 20mm hookbaits.
Baiting up, I used boilies only on 1 spot, that accounted for 5 of the bites, I probably should have used more bait, or more regularlily to combat the crayfish. But again, I still received action, so not entirely wrong with this approach. On 2 other spots I used boilies and particles, this did attract the smaller fish, but fishing a rod just off the baited area (roughly 2metres off the area), this tactic caught me the biggest fish of the session.
For fishing at distance, for anyone who doesn’t know or done his before (me) bring with you 3 large H blocks, and stick reflective tape to the sides for your headtorch to pickup for any night work required. The mini Fox H blocks that I had with me, are very hard to find!
The boat and fish finder are invaluable, but I would advise to keep the boat use to a minimum within the shallow bay, the fish spook very easily, even at night.
I would suggest if you find an area or spot you like within the bay, mark it up, obtain the distance, and cast for the remainder of your session, obviously if you catch and depending how far you are fishing into the bay, you could boat out and re-bait if you have just caught, then it’s more than likely most of the fish would have move off the area anyway.
For all the swims, speak to Patrick on arrival he will advise you on the best spots, and where recent fish have been caught from (as long as he has been informed by the departing anglers of course).
Please Note: I’m not associated with any of these companies, it’s what I choose to use from my local tackle shop, ultimately use strong tackle that you are confident in.
Also remember there is a 30% discount on fishing Etang 5 between November 15th and March 15th this winter, I wish you all good luck, and enjoy your fishing.
- Dan Cleary -