Tornado savages Goncourt

Freak storm leaves anglers scrambling to safety

Here in the UK we aren’t blessed with the best weather in the world, but we very rarely have to deal with any dangerous conditions. Snow in the winter and floods throughout the rest of the year are more than manageable with a bit of common sense. However, how many people out there can say they have been fishing in a tornado before? Unfortunately for Stuart Morgan, he can say that he has, after a freak three minute storm ripped through the popular Goncourt complex in France last week.

Reflecting on his terrifying ordeal, Stuart revealed: “I try to visit France every year, and this year, myself and ten others had booked out La Botte on the Goncourt complex for a week of relaxing fishing. After spending the Saturday setting up our gear, everyone set about getting to grips with the lake.

“Just 24 hours later, thunder and lightning was evident in the valley, rumbling around and lighting up the sky. This then turned into the most savage storm I have ever witnessed! Hailstones started pouring from the sky, and the wind picked up from nowhere. The trees all around my swim started to creak and the odd one began to snap under the pressure from the surging wind.

“Debris was flying around and branches started to tumble from the trees. I decided to get out of my bivvy, but before I could, my 23-year-old son came in and grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and dragged me outside. This came in the nick of time too, as just after I vacated my bivvy the tree behind my swim came tumbling down and smashed both of our bivvies to pieces!

“I can only recall jumping into our van to see out the storm which lasted just three minutes, but it felt a hell of a lot longer. I was absolutely terrified – my son George had basically just saved my life.

“As soon as the storm passed, we got out the van to survey the damage. The site was littered with felled trees amongst lots of other debris that the storm had dumped. The lake owner, Pascale Brilliart, and the manager, Phil Timmins, turned up not long after the storm had finished and couldn’t believe we were all still standing. We couldn’t help but think we were very lucky, as everyone escaped without a scratch. Most had lost their bivvies, or at least had some damage to them. Some also had suffered some damage to their vehicles too.

“We later found out that we had been hit by a freak tornado and the wind speed was recorded at 168mph! However, rather than return home, we decided to stay and fish the rest of the week. We helped the owners clear the debris from the lakes and the surroundings so we could carry on fishing. It took a few days of hard work, but it was certainly worth it.

“On the last morning, I had a stroke of luck and managed to land a new PB common of 54¾lb. I was over the moon with this and offered to replace my son’s bivvy; it was the least I could do, as he saved my life.

“Although the week was not our usual happy get together, it certainly brought us closer together as a mix of Cheshire and Sussex men. Despite the extremities of the situation, we all share a great passion for carp angling.”

Stuart’s story is a stark reminder that angling in the great outdoors can turn nasty. Never take anything for granted because no carp is worth losing your life over.

The tornado destroyed Stuart’s bivvy
Despite the storm, the camaraderie brought the anglers closer together
All’s well that ends well, a PB common of 54¾lb for Stuart
The storm rolling into the Goncourt valley

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