IFD: Eric Smith needs no introduction, he is a former world carp record holder and the expert when it comes to fishing Rainbow lake in France. We done an interview with Eric last year and he is now back to tell us about how he got on as he continued his quest at Rainbow in 2014…
My return back to Rainbow after a year of illness witch all started with a large kidney stone the size of a boilie 11mm in fact was long overdue. I had already cancelled my spring trip in April has I was awaiting surgery and with ongoing treatments it was just not possible to fish.
Tension was growing in my house hold with the frustration of my trips being cancelled.
Finally June 27 was my operation day which meant all being well my September trip was on.
September 20 came and I was at Rainbow once again, ready to start my 6 week trip which was arranged 2 years before as a special treat for my 55th birthday. The water had been particularly high this year and I was fishing in peg 12 for the first 2 weeks which was unfishable earlier in the year due to high water level.
Lee Bowyer ex premier league footballer was going to be joining me. I knew Lee from fishing at Rainbow for a few years now but never fished with him so it was a golden opportunity to do so.
I arrived on the Saturday to start my 2 weeks in peg 12. Lee was due on the Monday. From the moment he arrived his enthusiasm was second to none and I knew it would be a good couple of weeks fishing. Especially with a kilo box of Cherry sour sweets from the cash and carry. I think you need to get the right vibes about fishing with someone for the first time because if you end up fishing with someone you find you don’t get on with it turns into a nightmare and just spoils the session.
Fishing was nice and steady for me on the right side with a total of 27 fish finishing off with a nice 61lb common. (See picture).
Lee’s side was fishing slower, he got off the mark with a couple of nice looking commons followed by a few more fish but towards the end of the week it really slowed down and by the second week it just died. I got up one morning and lee had written HELP! on the porch of his bivvy.
Lee put in a lot of effort in searching for spots; spending hours at a time in the boat think he ended up with 8 fish with some nice looking upper forties. He lost a big fish one afternoon which started towing him along the lake. He waited days for that take. Soul destroying!!!!!
But he’s a good angler and bounced back with that cheeky smile he has, Lees a Top bloke with a good sense of humour and some interesting stories to tell which of course my lips are sealed!!! And that’s the sort of guy you want fishing with you.
It’s while we were fishing our second week that Damian Clarke of Korda came to fish a 2 week session and popped round for a brew and a chat and gave us some new goodies to try.
New Kontinental curved shank hooks with an offset bend which reminded me of an old Partridge hook from years back, some new leader material Duracord which I really like.
To use, it’s the lead free fast sinking splicible braid which suites my style of fishing.
I just splice a loop one end and attach my main line and splice a loop through the eye of a quick change swivel at the other end with a lead safe system.
I also like to use 30lb and 40lb lead free leader for hooklinks, I splice a small loop and pass it over the point of the hook, then put on a size 12 ring swivel and put the tail end through the back of the eye of the hook.
It forms a D rig style like the multi rig. I also put a small piece of shrink tube on the eye of the hook to help it flip over as I fish with neutral balanced hook baits.
Here’s a 60 plus mirror caught on this style of rig.
I ‘d been using up until now Berkeley Gulp Coco & Banana to great success but Pure Fishing that own the company in America pulled the plug on the whole bait range because it didnt meet the very high target sales (in my opinion) in Europe. So we bought what we could get hold of and used it until it was gone. The recipe had been so successful that something had to be done. For shelf life bait its quality is second to none and nothing like what shelf life baits used to be. The big advantage is not having to worry about freezers and keeping it frozen. I have fresh bait now in my trailer ready for my April trip. They have even formulated a natural food preserver especially for this bait. Under EU law now all ingredients in fishing baits have to be labelled on all packaging in case the fish end up back in the human food chain. The UK has yet to do this. So the bait was reproduced by some Dutch anglers I know with a few extra tweaks’ and is now called Coco Loco and believe me the fish love it!!!
At the start of my September trip there was three other swims on the Coco Loco and by the end of the first two weeks the bait had caught 6 x 60 plus fish 18 x 50 plus fish and countless 40’s, 30’s and 20lb carp.
I normally would be using my skinned white tigernuts as well but decided to hold back and just see how I got on with just the Coco Loco boilies.
My neighbours next door in peg 11 where Ken and Jackie who came round and ask me what bait I was on and could they have some. Crazy and its was they started catching the following morning after almost a week with no fish. There remaining 12 days banked them around 50 carp. Ken had fished at Rainbow Lake after the big re-stocking programme in 1995 so he knows the swim very well and I was going to follow them in on their departure. Kens not a heavy feeder of bait but he was know also using the Coco Loco so I knew the swim had a bit of prebaiting. Saturday came and I moved into peg 11. I was now going to be joined by Arjen Uitbeijerse Aka (The Dutch Destroyer) as I call him who’s a good friend of mine. He was going to fish for the next 3 weeks with me and his girlfriend Jamie who was going to join us on the Wednesday.
We decided not to fish that night and to have a few beers with Pascal the lake owner in the club house, but first there was some prebaiting to do on the spots we marked out for fishing plus some other spots to fall back on later in the week. Around 40kg was put in between us around 3-5kg per spot. Now for a beer!!!
Sunday morning and the rods are out. Time to sit back and chill as all the hard work had been done.
Only 4 hours went by and I was into a fish BANG! a nice looking upper 40lb followed by a 56lb mirror carp both on a 20mm Coco Loco bottom bait with half a popup attached what a start!!!
The next three weeks produced a 111 takes with 97 fish being caught. Arjen had 10 scale the lakes biggest mirror this year at just under 79lb we also had 3 x 60 plus fish, 11 x 50’s and the rest were 40’s and 30’s and only a few 20 plus fish which was good for the averages.
One thing I have to mention which really made me laugh is that when Arjen returned from the airport after picking up Jamie, she gave me a small gift bag and inside was a pair of ear plugs that she said I WOULD NEED! For when they are having sex! Very considerate don’t you think.
For my last week I was going to be joined by Mr Kevin Ellis himself or Mr Video as i call him.
He came marching down the bank on the Saturday morning around 11.00 o clock, camera in hand walking towards me filming. No surprise there then.
While Kevin was setting up I had a couple of fish a 30 and 40lb plus common which stirred up the juices for more. For me this was the start of week 6 and although I love my fishing with a passion I was ready to go home.
It took a couple of days and Kevin was into his first fish of the trip a nice looking 48lb mirror carp.
I fished the rest of the week as planed but on the Thursday my wife was flying in to Bordeaux (Merignac) airport so I went to pick her up. On my return we were going to start a slow pack up with a view to leave on the Friday afternoon.
It On my return Kevin wanted to go for a shower and of course take his video camera so he could pop in to some other swims and do a little filming. On return his left hand rod bleep once and then flew from the bank sticks launching itself through the air and then submerging into the depths all in a matter of seconds. And with the fish still on ended up landing a beautiful 59lb common which we both thought was much bigger at first.
The following morning we started to pack up all the gear which took around 8 hours and by 17.30 that evening was driving out the gates of Rainbow for the end of another year.
Roll on 2015, funny after you pack up from fishing your thinking about when you’re going to return again. What peg and how you’re going to fish it.
Before I finish this article I feel as a regular angler to Rainbow Lake I’d like to put the record straight for all the people that have not fished Rainbow and have heard all sorts of storeys regarding bad angling methods.
I had a good talk with Martin Locke from Solar tackle about two years ago when the rumours started about certain anglers fishing around and over poles and screwing hooks into trees etc. He actually said he would stop fishing Rainbow if the general fishing public thought that this was the way we all fished at Rainbow lake, because it would just discredit anything that we ever caught there and I totally agree with him.
Most of the anglers that fish Rainbow are experienced and have been fishing for decades like myself and have a good angling practice in their overall approach to their angling.
There is of course a small amount of anglers who fish there that don’t apply the same amount of care and consideration for the fish or the method in which they catch them as others do and when found out Pascal will ask them to leave. Has he done recently when an angler had a 70 plus common out of the water for over 30 minutes.
I’ve witnessed anglers who have just caught a 50lb plus PB and have kept it out of the water for 45 minutes and more taking hundreds of pictures with all their mates. They have a bucket of water standing by but that doesn’t compensate for the amount of stress when lifting it up and putting it down for that amount of time, and especially in the hotter months.
The lake isn’t bailiff like other lakes where you’re not allowed to take the fish from the water to photograph and rules that say you can’t use this braid and can’t use this hook are applied and I understand why lake owners are like this. To be honest I don’t blame them. Pascal is more relaxed and just wants everyone to come and enjoy their fishing experience and catch carp and he leaves the anglers to their own angling ability and it works but of course there is that small percentage that fish at any cost and are only interested in the glory photo.
The lake is around 110 acres and a further 40 acres of woodland which surround the lake with its tall Pine trees. On entry through the gates the main house is on the left and the club house is over to the right which is your first port of call. The club house overlooks the large bay area which is the swims for 1, 2 and 5 with 21 to the far right. The lake has swims numbered from 1 to 21 but there aren’t 21 swims there are only 12 double swims. There is a track that goes round the lake which is 3.4km long so all swims are accessible by vehicle except swims 21 and the island. Swim 21 can be reached by foot but to get your gear there you need to go by boat. These swims are accessible by boat from the car park behind swim 19. Going clockwise round the lake swims 1&2 are the first followed by swim 5. Swims 3 and 4 are long overgrown and no longer used. There just wouldn’t be enough room has all the swims were originally for match style fishing and not carp. Swim 6 is called the fridge because it never gets any sun. As you go round swims 7, 8 &9 are used as a double swim with 7 not really being fished as it is very limited. The next swim is 11 which is quite central and covers a lot of water most probably my favourite swim. Next we have swim 12, 14 &16 again swims 10, 13 &15 are not used and are overgrown. Swim 17 can be fished from 18 as a double swim but better fished from its own swim. Swim 18 is a large flat area with the track running right behind it which can be a bit dusty in the summer but is also the deepest part of the lake with depths of around 37ft(12mtrs). Just past 18 the track splits, you can keep left and go back to the club house or turn right and go to swim 19, 21 & island. Swim 19 is a large sloping area called the honeymoon swim. Don’t ask me why as I don’t know. But it was known for large camper vans to be there with the misses’ years ago. Even Martin Locke fishes with a caravan there when the wife and his two girls come with him. There is no swim 20 this is now a docking area for the island swim and 21 to load and unpack their gear. Every morning Pascal does the bread round and collects rubbish from the anglers giving out new rubbish bags for general waste and another for any glass bottles and jars. He will get shopping for you and cigarettes and anything else if he can. He even took me to the Hospital when I had my kidney stone and visited me bringing food and when he couldn’t Nadine and their son Paul came. Rainbow in my opinion is the best carp lake in the world; it’s so unique giving each swim its own private section of water.
I would like to thank Pascal, Nadine, Max and Paul for their friendship and hospitality over the years.
I hope it lasts forever giving anglers many years of pleasure.