Carp Venues in the UK & France
Chateau Lake –Etang de la Poiteviniere
The Location and History.
The lake’s true name is Etang de la Poiteviniere but it has passed into carp lore as the Chateau Lake, and anyone who visits it will soon see why! It is a private lake that has been in the same family for hundreds of years and it is situated in the forest of Ancenis. The Chateau Lake is one of three large lakes that lie in the valley and it was created by building a dam at the western end of the lake some 250 years ago. The Lake was once used as a source of iron ore which was then extracted, washed and then formed into canon balls for Napoleon’s ambitions. In its lifetime the lake has never been completely emptied and the carp that live in it are largely native to the lake having been stocked many years ago, not for angling purposes but simply for the sake of it!
I first became aware of the potential of the lake in 1991 when Carole and I hired a gite nearby. When we stood on the dam wall all we could see were carp leaping with gay abandon all over the lake, but at the time carp fishing was not allowed and the lake remained totally private. In 1995 my mate Pete McDermott was instrumental in persuading the owners of the lake to open it for day and weekly tickets so big thanks go out to Pete and to the family that own the Lake.
The Physiology of the Lake.
Chateau Lake lies roughly east to west in the valley of the river. It is approximately 160-acres in size being about a 2km long and perhaps 700m wide at its widest part. It has two extensive areas of shallows, one at the extreme eastern end of the lake in the bird reserve, and the other to the north of the lake’s only island, which lies roughly a third of the way up the lake from the dam wall. The depths on the shallows vary between 0.3m and 1m before the lakebed falls away to a more or less featureless bottom some 3.5m deep, though this does drop down to about 5m at the outfall. The lakebed is mostly hard stone and mud with only the odd silt pocket here and there. However, in the reserve at the eastern end the lakebed is predominantly silt.
The course of the old riverbed meanders its way down the lake, crisscrossing it in many but its location is hardly discernible with a marker float and even with an echo sounder it is not easy to find. However, the silt is quite deep in the riverbed so that is what you should be looking for when doing your marker float work.
All of the fishing is done from sturdy, well-constructed pontoons that jut out into the lake. There is ample room to bivvy up in the woods adjacent to the pontoons and the lake is generally cool and shaded by a towering forest on both banks.
The lake was stocked over thirty years ago and has been left to get on with the process of restocking itself ever since. The carp spawn successfully every year and little is done to interfere with nature’s course. However, a further stock of fish was added in 1990 and again in 1996 and now the estimated stock levels are put at around a thousand sizeable carp. The Lake is probably one of the most prolific big fish waters in France and I estimate that at least 35% of the fish in the lake are well over 30lb (13.65kg). This is backed up by a huge population of fish of 20lb or more (10kg plus). The cream on the cake is the population of carp weighing over 40lb (18.18kg).
The lake record for commons stands presently at 50lb 12oz (23kg)) while that for mirrors is 63lb 8oz (29kg), both caught in 2008. The way the fish in the Chateau Lake are growing these days, I would not be surprised if at least another dozen fish make it to the magic 60lb mark (27kg) very soon. For instance, the current record mirror weighed just 36lb (16.37kg) in 2002 and given that kind of growth rate then I don’t think I am being unrealistic in believing that there may well be another couple of dozen fish over 50lb (22.7kg) in the Lake.
A few years ago it was true that Chateau Lake was probably not classed as a true big fish water. However, all that has changed and nowadays it is without doubt a really challenge for all those who aspire to catch their first really big foreign carp.
As if that were not enough, the Lake can at times produce really manic fishing and if you catch it lucky you would expect at least twenty fish in a week. Many first timers catch their personal bests and I know anglers from the UK and France who consider it to be the best all round carp lake they have ever fished. True, it doesn’t hold the seventies and eighties of other famous venues but what it does hold is a great head of magnificent carp in a setting that is without doubt the most beautiful of any lake I have ever fished, no exceptions.
There are also a couple of large cats in the lake, one of which is an albino. They don’t get landed often as they are usually hooked on inadequate carp gear, but when you consider that at the last time anyone actually landed a big catfish (Stuart Gillam in 2005) is was so big that it took two people to lift and it bottomed out 55kg scales, that’s not surprising.
It is without doubt one of the best winter lakes anywhere and as an example look no further than the following: In December 2004 I enjoyed a fantastic six day session in the Boathouse. The trip coincided with bitter east winds and night temperatures down to –4 degrees. Day temperatures hardly rose above zero and if anything is less conducive to good carp fishing it is these kinds of weather conditions. Imagine my surprise therefore, when I landed no less than 26 twenties and eight thirties to 37lb!
To Sum Up.
Please note, this is NOT just another English-run lake, of which there are now hundreds. This is an experience in itself, a totally unique venue that is 100% unspoilt natural beauty. The scenery is simply breathtaking and I know of nobody who has failed to be moved by the lake’s striking beauty. The carp match the surroundings for beauty and spectacular condition and the whole Chateau Lake experience is one of total peace and tranquillity broken only by the screaming of the sounder box in your ear! Get on there and enjoy! I know for certain that you will not be disappointed and will, like me, be hooked by the place and return time and time again!
Text © Ken Townley. January 2009.
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