Some of you who know me will understand that I am very target driven. I have always been that way. In business and in my sporting life. I like to set a target and work towards it. For Ribière, my ambitions and targets lie in three main areas -
- To ensure Ribière stays at the forefront of big carp angling in Europe
- To ensure that we give our anglers an authentic carp fishing experience
- To ensure we maximise the potential of our fish.
How are we going to achieve that? Well saying it is the easy bit, it's the doing that takes the time and effort. But here goes with the more detailed plans.
To ensure we stay at the forefront of big carp angling in Europe. This has a number of implications. First and foremost we need to continue to be a European venue and not just a 'French' or 'British' water. I want anglers to come here from all over Europe. We have long-standing and loyal customers from Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Spain, the UK and beyond. The change of ownership from French to British is cause for concern for some but we want to reassure all our anglers - and especially our French customers - that this is a French water that welcomes good anglers who want to be part of the continued Ribière story. So we are committed to working with our agents across Europe. I am especially happy to be working with The Carp Specialist in Germany and Holland. In addition we must continue to promote Ribière across Europe and in the media.
We have, as some of you know, been working with Fox on their latest Edge DVD which will be out in April and supporting Fox in France on one of their DVDs. We welcome Fox-sponsored anglers to Ribière on a regular basis including the likes of Julian Filleul (Fox France) and Luke Edwards (Fox UK).
This year we will also be welcoming the legend that is Rob Maylin from Big Carp Magazine. I think most of you will know Rob. One of the reasons for working with Big Carp Magazine is its European appeal. We will also be continuing our work with CarpWorld and with CarpTalk in the UK. Ribière has a great relationship with Simon Crow at CarpTalk and we are always thankful for his support. We will continue to be visible at key shows in the UK and Europe. We are attending The Big One in the UK and Zwolle in Holland. We are also looking at improving our profile in the French press, which has not been as consistent as it could be.
Giving our anglers an authentic experience - Ribière will not be a 'fill your boots' runs water. Yes we have a big head of carp but it's getting more difficult and will continue to. In the past, fish were stocked every year. This is not going to happen now. I am only going to stock special fish once every three years. Our focus will be on providing you with the opportunity to catch very big fish over 25kg/55lb, in a truly authentic environment.
We will over the next few years be continuously working to ensure that the fishing environment delivers this experience. Adding pads, reeds and other features is just part of this process to give you an angling experience that challenges you - one where you have to earn your captures but gives you the reward in terms of very big fish. So I would expect the stock to go down slightly over the next few years to around 450 fish to allow the bigger fish to grow even more. In addition, we have been taking out small fish around the 10-12kg range (and will continue to do so). We can't have many left but what we do have will go to the stock pond for evaluation. We will also drain down and remove the roach, etc in the winter of 2018.
To ensure we maximise the potential of our fish. So what do I think the fish stock can do? Well to be honest I don't know yet and need another year to evaluate the full potential. But I am encouraged that the weight gains last year were good. A lot of fish in the low 40lb/18kg area put on 6.5lb/3kg. Some of the bigger fish maintained their weight all year and others pushed on. We had two new 60lb/27kg fish last year. But the very big fish remained stable.
Key this year will be bait application. I have continued to feed the fish over the winter - weather permitting. We have developed a very good boilie to aid the wellbeing of the fish and encourage growth. I had some amazing results on this bait testing it last year. On one test water I had 11 fish over 30lb/13.6lb in 36 hours. I have not blanked using it! So in the short term if more quality bait goes into the lake I think the fish will continue to grow. I feel, with what we have at the moment. it's possible we could have four to five over 70lb/32kg over the next 18 months without too much of a problem.
Beyond that I need further time to fully assess the fish. But, as I said right at the start, I like to set targets. So my own personal target is to have a number of fish pushing 80lb/36kg and a couple of fish capable of pushing on from this. I think we have two fish in the current stock of young growing fish that can push way past 70lb/32kg. Brian's fish could go 70lb/32kg this year and one of the leathers - The Long One - has the potential to push close to it. So we will see. But we have other fish in our stock ponds which I will be evaluating over the next two years. Including some nice big commons and a couple of special mirrors which are over 48.5lb/22kg now they are young and have never been fish for and will not come into the lake until they are close to 62lb/28kg.
So the future looks good. We have a very good stock of fish. Not many of the fish are old or over 25 years. Many of them are still in the rapid growing phase and have great potential. I hope many of you will join me in the adventure going forward to see if we can achieve the Ribière dream of 90lb+/41kg+ carp. Let's enjoy the experience together and I look forward, as ever, to welcoming many of you back in the year ahead.