90lb common returned to its 10,000-acre home
For many years the carp in French public waters have been the target of British fishery owners. Even though stringent laws make it illegal to bring carp into the UK, the odd few still get through the system. A much easier way to ‘traffic’ these fish is to move them into private fisheries within France, many of which are British owned and advertised as holiday venues.
In the 1990s loopholes within the French system made it completely legal to move such fish, despite outcries from the massive French carping community. After many years of legal cases, the FFPC (Federation Francaise Pêche de la Carpe) managed to change the law surrounding the movement of fish within their waters, making it illegal to take fish for commercial gain.
However, despite this change of law, the clandestine activity of moving carp in France still goes on. Big money can be made by selling large carp over 25kg to private lakes, and scrupulous anglers are as much to blame in this activity as the British lake owners. Very little can be done once a fish has been moved, but this week saw the first ever high-profile case of anglers putting pressure on a lake owner for the return of a fish to a public water.
It all happened when well-known continental carp angler Samir Arebi (of Samir & Clare fame on the Nash Youtube Channel) saw the photograph of Rich Barnes holding a 90¾lb common caught from Etang du Bois in last week’s Carp-Talk. Samir revealed: “Lac du Der Chantecoq in France has for many years been the target of fishery owners interested in taking carp. There are lots of commercial lakes in the area where Chanty is located so it’s easy for them to move fish. Even though we know it goes on, the hardest part is proving that the fish have been taken. Unless people are caught red handed doing it, the only other way we know fish are being taken is through identification.”
Chanty has some massive commons in, and readers may remember that the world record for a public lake was caught from Chanty in 2015 when a Dutch angler caught it weighing 44kg (96lb). Photographs of the fish on the banks of the 10,000-acre lake were published right across Europe. However, a short while later, rumours started to circulate that the fish had been caught again and sold/moved to a commercial fishery within France.
Samir continued: “A short while later we heard rumours that this common had been sold to a British owned French commercial lake. I’ve been waiting a while to see the pictures of it caught from the commercial lake, and last week we saw it in Carp-Talk weighing 90¾lb, reported from Etang du Bois. Straight away I put the pictures on social media and then the story gathered momentum.”
Samir’s story went viral instantly within the carping community, being shared almost a thousand times across Europe. Within France, in particular, momentum gathered amongst the regular Chantecoq anglers, with mounting pressure put on Etang du Bois to return the fish to its rightful home. Samir again: “My phone went crazy with messages from all over France. The French carpers wanted to go round to Etang du Bois and make a statement. Their fish had been stolen so you can imagine how angry they all were. Straight away I contacted the owners of Etang du Bois and told them of the situation.”
It didn’t take long for the owners of Etang du Bois to get back in contact with Samir. An exchange of messages took place, and then a statement appeared on their Facebook page which read: “Unfortunately we have a fish which we shouldn’t have. It was purchased in good faith around two years ago at a weight of 69lb and was not recognised at that time. If it had been, it would have been turned away and reported. The owner has contacted the Lac du Der Chantecoq committee, gendarme and guarde de pêche. Once the fish is next caught, it will be held and the guarde de pêche will be contacted and they will come and collect it and return it to its rightful place, along with a donation made towards the Lac du Der Chantecoq fishing committee for all that has happened. We would like to strongly apologise to all of our customers and hope that this situation can now be put to rest.”
As fate would have it, less than two days after the social media frenzy, the giant common was caught again from the tiny commercial French venue. Samir was hot on the news and straight onto the owner, applying pressure to move the fish back. Plans were made and the very next day he was racing across France to be there. He continued: “I can’t actually believe after 18 months of knowing about this fish we finally helped to return it to her rightful home. I must give a massive thanks to all who have helped to identify and bring this fish home. The guard de pêche and the family of Lac du Der Chantecoq have all done an outstanding job. I’m also very glad that the pay lake owner had the decency to return the carp quickly.”