My review of my week spent at Sky Lake in France, a big fish mecca in the heart of the Marne Valley.
Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting many venues across France. Sky Lake is one of the better known French carp fisheries, run by Andy, Bernie and Rob Morton. Situated in the Marne Valley, a well-known region to seasoned French carp hunters, Sky Lake is a serious player in the big fish arena. There are carp to over 70lb with several 60lb fish and lots of backup 50lb, 40lb and 30lb + carp present.
Getting to Sky Lake, the all-inclusive option
By far the easiest way of travelling to Sky Lake is to book onto one of their all-inclusive packages. They pick you up from Dover (where you leave your car in a secure car park) and drive you in the Sky Lake minibus over to the lake with all your gear in a trailer. The ferry crossing is included as part of the overall cost you pay along with breakfast and an evening meal. Its good value for money and operates in the same way as many all-inclusive French carp fishing venues. The all-inclusive package runs from Saturday to Saturday and the pick up is on a Friday night from Dover. The cost per week used to be £495 for the all-inclusive package, but please check with the venue to see if the price has changed in recent years.
Prefer to drive and survive? No problem, Sky Lake offer a drive and survive option for anglers to wish to take care of themselves. Please contact the venue for further information and information on pre-booking swims. You can also order several food packages as part of your drive and survive holiday.
Facilities at Sky Lake
There is a log cabin on-site along with toilets and wash facilities. There is a covered BBQ area and meet-up point behind the main cabin. You meet here for food and a general catch up. They have a limited supply of beer, water and some food items available along with end-tackle items which you may need during your trip. Andy and Rob will happily go to the shop during your stay if you require more beer, wine or other essential items.
They sell bait, such as particle and boilies (Sky Lake Specials) on-site and you are advised to use their bait. I typically go against the grain and decided to take my own boilies with me on my trip. I really struggled until I caved in and order a few KG of their own bait and I started to reap the rewards. Don’t make the mistake I did. Leave your bait at home, pre-order your bait with Andy and you won’t spend days scratching your head wondering why your blanking.
The swims on Sky Lake are well maintained and very comfortable, with lots of room. There are a couple of double swims on the lake so best to pre-book these if you’re desperate to fish with a partner. The woods also offers a good option if you wish to fish with a partner.
There are limited phone charging facilities at Sky Lake but you will get a few hours to try and charge your phones. It’s advisable to take a battery pack with you to keep your phones and tablets charged.
What’s the fishing like at Sky Lake?
Don’t think for one minute you will turn up and empty the place. This is not a runs water. Multiple catches of very large carp are certainly possible in the right conditions, be advised, this is a not a “run a chuck” type of venue.
During our trip, there were 7 of us fishing, with 3 of the group fairly inexperienced anglers. Around 15 fish were caught during the week, with a couple of those grass carp. We went in the middle of August and conditions were tough. Several of the fish were over 40lb.
You are not guaranteed to catch at Sky, and a few of the group did blank. The best advice is to listen to Andy and Rob, they know the place inside out and are happy to offer advice (don’t be afraid to ask). Use their bait, ask about hot spots for each swim and don’t try and empty the place by going opposite to everyone else. I tried that approach and it simply didn’t work until I changed mid-week.
When I fished Sky you had to use a certain lead-clip style setup which Andy would come round and check before you started fishing. I’m not sure if this rule is still in place, so please check with the venue. The lead-clips were sold on-site so no problem if you can’t find them in your local tackle shop.
Rowing boats are available to use at the venue. Although not needed for all swims, The weed can get heavy so rowing boats are sometimes needed to land fish and are ideal for baiting up in bulk.
The advised way to fish Sky Lake is boilie over a bed of particle. Many people buy particle from the venue and row out, spread 10KG over an area and then drop their baits over the top from the boat, topping the area up with more particle after every fish. I started this way and by the end of the week, I was just fishing boilies, using a throwing stick to distribute the bait over a larger area and casting from the bank. I struggled at the start of the week fishing over the larger beds of particle but faired much better when I started casting and using a throwing stick to create larger baited areas. The particle approach certainly does work though and I would certainly start your approach this way and see how you get on.
Top tip…be patient!
Once you have created a baited area, leave your rods on it until a run comes. It will come… The fish seemed to move onto bait after 2-3 days. In many cases, you would have reeled in and tried another area. (I even moved swims!). When I came back to the original swim after a few days I started to see results. This was true for many of the guys on our trip. Simply leave the rod on the spot for 2-3 days at a time and the fish will move onto it.
I landed one of the named fish “The Mermaid” after moving back to my original swim after 2 days and fishing boilie only over the previously heavily baited particle areas.
My overall Sky Lake Review
Sky Lake in France is a decent venue, a lovely lake set within a stunning backdrop. The facilities are good and the food on the all-inclusive package will keep you well fed. Sky Lake is not an easy venue, but the rewards are there for those that are willing to listen to the advice of the owners. It’s newbie-friendly, although it is suited to the more experienced angler. The fish are BIG and Andy & Rob are very passionate about how they are handled. Any fish over 40lb must be left in the water until Rob or Andy arrive to help with the unhooking and handling of the fish.
If you’re after a new PB, which doesn’t look like an oversized football with a head and tail then Sky Lake is worth a visit. The fish here are lookers, some of the best in France! It’s not easy, but the rewards are certainly in there to be had.
- There are some seriously big carp to be caught
- Stunning venue
- All-inclusive option is great
- Good facilities
- Bait, tackle, and supplies are available at the venue
- It’s not easy, but don’t let that put you off
- Their bait is competitively priced and you will get through a lot of it if your catching
How do I book a trip to Sky Lake?
There are several ways to book a carp fishing holiday at Sky Lake. The website is not updated much but they do have an active Facebook group where you can keep up to date with the latest news and capture reports. All the information you need is below.
Andy: 07509102469 / 07590473760
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/130083643681058/
Sky Lake Videos
Here are a few videos from the Korda team tackling Sky Lake as part of the Thinking Tackle series.
- Thinking Tackle Season 4 show 5 – Penning, Fairbrass & Clarkey Tackle Sky Lakes France
- Thinking Tackle Season 4 Show 4 – Penning, Fairbrass & Clarkey Tackle Sky Lakes France
- Korda Thinking Tackle Season 2 – Part 4 – Sky Lake, France
A user submitted Sky Lake review
A week at Sky Lake in France by Gary Elder
Upon my arrival to what I think is one of the best fisheries in France, Sky Lake filled me with much excitement and optimism of what the week would hold for me.
My first point of call was to get as much information regarding what was caught from the swim I was residing in the previous week. This included which bait was used and how much was put into the swim by the previous angler, this would determine how I started my session.
If I was advised to fish the same area that the previous angler fished it would be careless to pile in the bait if the angler before me put his remaining 5kg of boilies in on the Friday night before he left. Therefore I would most likely cast out 3 singles for the first 12hrs to try to nick a quick bite rather than adding more bait which would cause me to wait maybe 24-48hrs for my first fish. Fortunately, the previous angler put no bait in on the evening before he left.
Apparently, the carp in Sky like a lot of bait so it’s important to put enough in to hold them there, as you don’t want them clearing you out then moving off. The reason I do this is because of the size and the stock of fish this lake holds. A shoal of big carp could easily eat 5kg of bait in under 30mins. If I was fishing a lake with a lot less fish I would lower the amount of bait I would put in and maybe fish for a bite at a time. Ask the owners and bailiffs their advice, as they are there for most of the year and they see what goes in and what comes out each week. Unfortunately, you do not have the luxury of following the fish around the lake if they are on the move. So asking the right questions could be the key to a successful week at your chosen fishery.
I never approach a lake with preconceived ideas ie: I know how I’m going to fish or I know what rigs I’m going to use. This could be a huge mistake and one I’m sure many anglers make.
I find it better to lead around first, then attach my marker float to my chosen spot and go out in the boat and mark out the swim with a bare lead on a spare rod. This way, I can map out my swim perfectly and make notes on my phone. Then, I can make my rigs and choose which type and colour of material hook length I’m going to use. Will it be gravel, weed or will I be fishing over silt? Do I need a stiff link or a soft, semi-stiff coated braid? How deep is the silt? That will determine the length of your rig too, so make them up after you have worked out your area.
7 days lakeside is a long time so getting it right at the beginning is crucial. So the time had come to do exactly that. The first spot I found was very flat consisting of silt with a polished gravel area around 40 yards out, that’s where my left-hand rod was going as it was along the tree line. So 10kg of cooked particles went straight on top of the marker as I thought the fish would disturb the particle once they got on it rather than scattering the particle myself. This went out along with around 5kg of halved boilies, scattered in a bigger area so they can move around from bait to bait. The next spot I decided to fish was pretty baron with the same bottom so I decided to spread 7kg of boilie on it, to the size of a 3rd of a tennis court.
Throughout the night it was pretty uneventful however, there were fish crashing over my baited area. Also that night, there was a huge thunderstorm with really heavy rain and strong winds.
On Sunday morning the weather was spot on and I had my first run from the area I had two rods on which resulted in this beautiful 20lb 9oz mirror which filled me with hope as what I’m doing, was working. The next fish came at 12.30am Monday morning from the same spot but on the middle rod. A nice 28lb mirror was gracing my net. Both fish fell to the same rig. 10 inches of Korda semi-stiff with a super sharpened size 6 Kurve Shank courtesy of Jason Hayward, with a small piece of clear shrink tube and a link loop attached to a rigmarole free fall clip and a 3.50z lead.
I have faith in this rig as the mechanics work perfectly. Also, I had a super sharpened size 6 Fang twister on a 10inch hook length with a small piece of silicone tubing on the bend of the hook. I like the fact that this rig lets me know if I have been mugged off during the night as the silicone will move up the shank of the hook if my bait has been blown out by Mr Carp. I was brimming with confidence going into Monday evening but it resulted in no fish so this set me off thinking, why?
I knew my rigs were working but I was not getting anything from my tree line spot. My conclusion was this, if I’m in the tree line, maybe my middle rod and my right-hand rod were cutting the fish off getting into the tree line? I decided that during Tuesday I would rest my swim to the right and leave my margin swim fishing to allow the fish to come in on it and see if this made a difference.
This made perfect sense to me so that’s exactly what I did. However, the remainder of the week was quiet and resulted in no more fish. Maybe I was focusing too much on why I stopped catching and I should have been thinking why I was catching in the first 2 days?
There wasn’t much action at all on the side of the lake we were fishing and the majority of fish were being caught on the other side which suggested that the fish moved out from our side. My friend Rob did point out that they were previously spawning in the section of the lake and a lot of the big females had moved out leaving some of the smaller males behind and that’s why I was catching the smaller males.
The weather that week was unsettled, going up to 40 then changing to rain, thunderstorms and heavy winds which might have played a part as to why I was not catching. At the end of the day, this is fishing and if I had all the answers, fishing would not be what it is. I have fished Sky Lake twice before and been very successful with fish up to 50lb and I shall be defiantly going back as I love this place and the people that run it.
However long we have been fishing for these beautiful creatures, we are always learning and always will be. We all have good weeks and bad weeks but we keep going back because for most of us it’s a passion and our love for this sport keeps us going back for more. Fortunately, we are back in France in October and maybe we might have more success on that trip.
Still, it’s great to get away having the opportunity to fish for such huge carp.
Till next time.
Where is Sky Lake and how long does it take to get there?
Sky Lake is located in The Marne Valley in central France. You can get directions using the Google Map below. It takes approximately 3.5 hours to drive to Sky Lake from Calais.