Article - Coarse

Changing Chapters

By Mike, added on 07/10/2009

‘Are you alone?’ the voice said on the end of the phone. ‘Are you sitting down?’ What’s all this about I’m wondering. ‘Its all over, that’s it, its all over, contracts not going to be renewed in December’. For the rest of that afternoon & that evening, ten weeks ago, instead of feeling distraught, I was feeling really up beat. This would be the event that would push me to stay in France permanently & famille Walker would be in an ongoing permanent ensemble.

However, I needed to find an income or we would sink. There was absolutely no way under the sun, after nine years of graft here that I would lose La Morinais. For me, this was a clear cut fight to the death situation, come whatever.

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The fishery brings in an income, but compared with the outgoings, the way I run the place in a good year I barely break even. This is down to the limited number of anglers who come & fish here, or perhaps better put – the limitations I place upon the number of available places. I could open the gates to all & sundry & have the banks lined with anglers most days of the spring, summer & autumn. Then the lake could produce a nice income thank you very much. When this happens though, all kinds of things will start to happen, all forms of deterioration, to the fish & the environment. These things are what I wanted to get away from & set up my own fishery in the first place. No going back, no way. With everything involved in running the whole site & it's contents, it costs me 19 euros a day to run & maintain La Morinais, 365 days a year. If I can recoup this cost, what have I to complain about? Spoil it for a profit – never. There are other ways.

I stumbled upon one of the ‘other’ ways quite by accident. I have always wanted to run an enterprise on a self employment basis but never felt I had the right realistic practical ideas. I can’t say too much as I am still going through the very tiring process of getting registered with the local authorities here in Brittany. Everyone is so helpful, but the beauracracy is exhausting. Sally & I (Sally especially) are very tenacious & we will get a siret number soon for our new venture.

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As for my work in the UK, will I miss it? – No. The people I worked with – yes. It will be very strange indeed this Christmas when my work in the UK finally closes. The end of a chapter in my life but the start of another, which looks very exciting. One thing I am very happy about, is that I will always be here to greet my guests when they arrive & also when they go. Both, as a host are equally important. It is often feedback that drives new projects here & I have plenty of those in the pipeline. It is always very pleasing to see guests leave with that big grin across their face, planted there by the capture of a large fish. I recently had an angler leave who was terribly unlucky, he fished for six days & nights & didn’t get a take. Sometimes you can sense when anglers may be in for a struggle but this guy I was sure would be in for some good sport. He was just incredibly unlucky. The buzz for me following such a week are the words; ‘I would like to come back’.

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The fish continue to grow. Four different 46lb mirrors have been caught during the last twelve months & the commons although growing at a much slower rate, are coming through nicely. The biggest went up three pounds to 36lbs two weeks ago, a magnificent creature. The pike are really becoming a part of La Morinais now, their presence ever noticeable as they continue to grow. A visitor landed a 5lb 2oz tench recently. Not a big tench, but I am hoping they can keep growing alongside the carp. Around 160 – 180 carp in nine acres of water I am hoping should leave plenty of room for the tench. I was hoping to undertake some bank works to the Lily Pool this September, but I am fast running out of time. This I intend to turn into a roach, rudd, perch, tench & crucian pool, no large carp. Due to my need to finish our house as soon as I can now, this will have to wait until next September.

I’ve posted some photos taken two weeks ago. For the unlucky fishless colleague, there was about an inch of whisky left in the bottom of the Balvenie bottle. I have written his name upon the bottle with a marker pen & hidden it away in a safe place for when he returns. He would have long forgotten by then, but when his first fish rolls over his landing net, I will return to the bank with the bottle & two small tumblers. Only then can we exorcise the ghost.

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