ALPES-MARITIMES

The Gordolasque

 I wish I could remember how I found Guillaume, but I don’t.

The problem with surfing the net, is that one page leads to another link, and then to a new site, or blog, and when you arrive somewhere, anywhere, and find what interests, the route map has become somewhat blurred

What matters is that I did, and what a splendid fellow he is. His uncle got him fishing as a kid, and while he claims fishing is in the family, it has claimed him, as it does the very few. Content to guide during the season in France, he tends to disappear to NZ in the off season, to partake of his passion with those lunker ‘black cap’ rainbows and browns that most can only dream of.

See him land a specimen using the tenkara method on http://www.riviera-fly-fishing.com/index.html

It turns out that he graduated from the state sponsored guiding programme Centre National de Formation aux Métiers de la Pêche (CNFMP), et de la Fédération Française de Pêche à la Mouche et au Lancer (FFPML), at the same time as Benjamin Charron (see ‘Pyrenees-Atlantique) and both are a credit to this sophisticated program, which tutors its pupils in river craft, an appreciation of the environment, the art of fishing, and importantly how to understand and identify clients abilities and temperament, to deliver a memorable experience of the time spent with them, and more. I was hugely impressed with what he knew and how he was able to share, in superb English, to boot, for I could never have absorbed what I did on our day together without his superior language skills (to mine!)

Our day began in the car park of the Carrefour outside Antibes by the A8. He drove, mercifully (I am not a fan of French motorway driving in the South), and clear of Nice drove along the grey flows of the Var, full of late snow melt sediment as well as wash off from the heavy rains of days before. Ours was a sunny and bright day, but the Esteron and the  Vesubie merging with the Var, were also full of flood water, but Guillaume was confident!

Had his confidence not been warranted, the drive into the backcountry would, of itself, have been enough to make for a memorable day. Driving along a narrow road with the Vesubie variably sixty to one hundred or more feet below to our right (my side!) and the walls of the calcerous rock canyon rising to several hundred feet either side,

was mind blowing, and taken at French driving speed along a winding road with the odd tunnel as well! Then through pretty villages with others perched a-hill-top across the river, now the Gordolasque alongside, as we continued our ascent at pace, the road narrowing, the verdance increasing….the clouds away for now,

but snow parcels in sight, the sun still shining. The scenery was breathtaking. Then a plateau at 1500 meters and we stopped.

The Gordolasque, here was maybe twenty feet across, and a little wider than earlier, the waters tumbling between rocks and the depth no more than a couple of feet, but plenty of rocky hideaways for nimble wild browns.

We fished…I cast into pockets but the flow was faster than my 7’6″ Loomis could help me control the drift of what Guillaume had rigged for me…a parachute Adams (#14) with a trailing weighted caddis nymph. Frustrating for me, and more so for him…but we persevered and worked the waters for a couple of hours and fished spots which you and I know held fish, but not for me, before my lust for the baguette purchased en route took the better of me, and fishless at thirty past noon we stopped. Munching, we watched other munchers…three chamois. Guillaume promised that wild life abounded here, in the Mercantor National Park,

close to the Italian border and the marmots could be heard chattering, warning the family of approaching concern…us? Surely not! There are wolves up here too, but they were not to be seen today. At 2pm clouds were gathering and a few spots of drizzle appeared, but it was onward and upward, literally!

A likely run in the flatter waters in the stream above the dammed water appeared,

and…so did my Alpes Maritime brown!

And then so did three more, and one on the dry.

Have I fished higher? We were, by then, at 5000ft+. It is exciting terrain. Wild and granite rocked. No minerals, acidic substrate, little food stuff for hungry little blighters. They dart and take or reject so quickly that the bite indicator rig makes it a tad easier to detect interest, but no easier to hook into the Mediterranean strain hereabouts. The fish are small, a 1-lb fish is considered a specimen, but look at the peculiar markings…black blotches on the flanks, but also red spots on the dorsal and the adipose.

It was astonishing to note that we were just one hour north of the sunshine and sheen of Nice and the wealth of the Cote d’Azure, but we could have been on the moon, and I wondered how many, just a few kilometres south of this beautiful  place knew, or cared of its existence? I am glad I saw it…it is awesome…literally!

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