I received this note from Michael just days before setting of –

“Bonjour Thony,

Oui la date arrive vite, j’espère aussi qu’il ai du poissons, ici nous venons d’avoir une vague de froid avec de la neige avant hier, prenez des affaires chaudes, la pêche s’annonce dure pour être honnête, je pense que nous pêcherons dans de petites rivières.

A bientôt, Michaël! “

So the season has started just as slowly in North East France as here in the UK with slightly unseasonal cold weather!

Buoyed by my success the day before on the Aa in Pas-de-Calais, the rains which followed my road run to Champagne-Ardennes failed to diminish my hopes of more! And lunch of a most delicious andouillette in the La Grande Brasserie in Vitry-le-Francais, simply enhanced my expectations.

I was headed for an overnight at a stunning place – Les Jardins de Mon Moulin, owned by M. and Mme Philipe Lefort at Thonnance-lès-Joinville.

Phillipe made money breeding horses and he put his into creating the most beautiful garden through which runs a ruisseau filled with wild fish (!) and he opens his gardens to the public and would, just a week after my stay. He, too, bemoaned the lateness of Spring, for his garden was not quite ready for the opening, but my bet is, that in weeks, it will be simply beautiful.


The introduction to my guide, Michael Probst, came from Laurent Sainsot, President of the the International Fario Club in Paris. Michael visited on Saturday evening and we plotted our day, which was to begin, albeit in very low temperatures on – the Marne, near St-Urbain-Manacourt.

The Marne is known to historians for the ferocity of fighting in not one, but two battles in WW1, rather than its beautiful trout stream.

Originating on the Plateau de Langres and working its way 320 miles to join the Seine at Charenton, we fished it just 68 miles from its source. Even there, there was much water pushing through ,and Michael reported it as being a little higher than normal, and also a little coloured. At 10am, the air temperature was just 6c.


It felt like Winter (how many layers is Michael wearing?) and the odd rise was probably an ombre.



So it was with a duo, that fishing commenced, and my early reward, one grayling.

Michael was eager to show me more, and more turned out to be a river I would love to have as my local stream – the Rognon, near its confluence with the Marne, at Mussey sur Marne.

From where we started, we could see the Canal de la Marne   (which links Champagne and Bougogne) in its aquaduct, high above our river…a strange situation.

We were excited that with slightly rising temperatures, there was a little action, even though fly life was sparse…just the odd small olive.

It was in the afternoon, when we ventured just a short way upstream when the action started, as the sun broke through, even if fleetingly.

Fish, mainly grayling were rising freely across the reach Michael chose. Small olive duns floated past but it was the emergers which interested them, and cast as many times as I did, it was only one grayling which was netted. Where’s a Klinkhammer when you need one!

I learned a salutary lesson this afternoon. Such was the rise that we stayed in one place and cast to the action ahead of us. But in not moving in the cold water, my legs became heavier, and when it was time to move, the spirit was willing but the body was slow to respond, and it was agony moving over the rocky river bed to the safety of the bank…never again.

Michael had one more trick up his sleeve, and we made our way to a ‘ruisseau’.

The Rongeant, near the aptly named village of –


This is a typical small mountain stream, with a bed of a mix of sand and the calcerous, weedy and rocky with a tree lined steep side to the other side offering shelter from the warming breeze. There was plenty of ‘stuff’ to snag a bad (or good cast)

But there were many pools, riffles, roots, and hiding places for wary wild trout.

A couple of rises meant a small olive dry fly was my first choice, but this choice did not work, so it was on with the ubiquitous PTN and my Haute-Marne hope were realised with two small farios, from pools under tree roots.

Look back to Michael’s advice to me.

He was determined to help me ‘net’ Haute-Marne, and he did…thanks, Michael!














Explain :  ‘fleuve’ v. ‘riviere’


A ‘fleuve’ flows into the sea, or an ocean…so the Atlantic, La Manche, or the Mediterranean.

A ‘riviere’ does not do this. It flows into another ‘riviere’ but only if that river doesn’t flow into the sea. If it did, it would have flowed into a ‘fleuve’.

A ‘fleuve’ is masculine, a ‘riviere’ is feminine.


But both the Loire and the Rhone are ‘fleuves’…La Loire is, so is Le Rhone.

I have still to work out the gender of French rivers, I mean ‘rivieres’!


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