So I had found a lake that I liked and I could afford - just!
After a viewing and some thinking, I returned home and set the ball in motion to purchase my own lake.
It's funny actually; you get so consumed by the purchase, the work, the worries and all manner of other things that you never consider that it's extremely easy to lose the initial excitement and joy of owning your own lake. It becomes normal very quickly. It's something I think about regularly and hope that once the lake is finally finished, I can once again take a step back and enjoy. That's assuming 'finally' ever comes... Anyway, I digress! On with the purchase...
As with most property purchases, these things tend to drag on and this was no exception. It was November 2014 when I finally rocked up at the Notaire's office to sign on the dotted line. I remember leaving the offices and driving straight to my local bar to raise a glass and make a few phone calls to friends and family.
The lake had good potential. At 5.5 acres it's a small lake but I had grand plans! Wide grass banks framed the water on all sides with a small island towards the shallow end. The bottom was mainly silt, sand and clay and had average depths of six feet. It had been drained and all fish removed before it was put up for sale and all that remained were a few Pumpkin Seeds (Sun Perch).
I wasted no time in planning the stockings, and the first of these went ahead in December 2014, consisting of 67 fish. These fish all weighed between 1lb and 8lb (34 Mirrors and 33 Commons). Shortly afterwards in early 2015, we stocked 28 larger fish between 16lb and 25lb. The third and final stocking happened in March 2015 consisting of a further 46 fish between 2lb and 5lb.
The lake has since received two more smaller stockings bringing the current count to over 150 carp. In 2015 I intended feeding one tonne of fishmeal pellets and feeding began in late March, once all the initial stockings were completed.
The lake also needed some additional planting. The previous owner had planted some trees but had kept the banks very well manicured; more akin to a golf course or garden than a fishing lake. Although not displeasing to the eye, I wanted create a more natural looking water with more bankside cover and marginal bushes and overhangs.
Shelley and I spent a week in January 2015 planting saplings in the torrential rain during the day, while nights were spent sleeping in the shed.
*Shelley's edit* - At this stage Lee is trying to convince me that life running a lake in France will be exciting. My nails were knackered, my skin rough and wind chapped, may hair spent a week in a plait, my clothes hadn't dried out once all week and I ate curry out of a tin. Fun? Being a part of this project has taught me more than I ever expected to learn... Exciting doesn't even come close when you put a shed up all by yourself with your own Makita drill by moonlight... :)
We also added Yellow Iris and Purple Loostrife to the marginal fringes. With a few seasons to grow and mature, we hoped to increase the bankside vegetation to help give each swim it's own features.
Next time I'll take a look at the early growth of the fish in the first two summers...