OISE (#17)

Who knows where Oise is?

How many Brits have even heard of ‘Oise’?

If I said it was #60, would that help…?

Not really maybe, but it’s in Picardie, and in parts, only an hour north of Paris, where I had to be in late May, this year.

Never one to miss an opportunity to fish a Department  I had not,…but how?

Laurent Sainsot is the Secretary of the Paris based, International Fario Club, and it was to him I posed the question, “How?” which led, to an introduction to a (former) member of this august club, one, Jean Marc Vervelle.

The evening before…!

Do not believe all you hear about French cuisine. Of course its reputation is well founded, and I have enjoyed many stunning dishes and meals in France, but from spending much time there in recent years, I can confirm that there is much which disappoints. Some of their culinary history has been subsumed by impatience, and faster food is overtaking the enjoyment, for many younger French, in particular, who like their international cousins, have better, more pressing things to do, than cook and lust after what their forebears insisted upon.

Throughout the whole of France? Happily not!

JMV recommended that I stay, close to his stream at the delightful Auberge a La Bonne Idee in Saint-Jean-aux-Bois. The website is to be trusted, unlike many, and all that is promised is delivered.

The dinner, and after I had met Jean Marc and his beautiful wife, Virginie, was ‘to die for’.

My choices were langoustine and pigeon, and where better than in France to be tempted, by both?

The langoustine left the kitchen just undercooked. On my table seconds later it was nearly ready. By my first mouthful, the sweet flesh was silky smooth and dissolved in a myriad of saltwater flavours…astonishing! But the best was yet to come.

“How do you like your pigeon” I was asked by Mohammed, a brilliant waiter – attentive, informed, and proud. ‘A pointe’ I responded.

The pigeon was astounding…red, bleeding (not quite, a pointe, but better) tender and delicious, and the best I have ever had.

And in a dining room of family gatherings, multi-generational, impeccable behaviour, waited on by staff, who were numerous, calm and supportive. My God, the French are civilised!

And, Chef, Yves Giustiniani is a Genius!

My Host

Jean Marc. A Bon Viveur, successful businessman, now generally retired. A Gastronome…and a fisherman. What’s not to like about such a character?

We needed to buy food for lunch by the river and it was off to Pierrefonds we went, to Charcutier Traiteur, in Rue de Bourg, to choose from the most excellent selection of meats, cheeses and other artisinal delicacies only the French produce – pork based, fatty, meaty, unhealthy…Andouille, Boudin Noir, Carrre de Porc… and all totally delicious! JM generously chose and provided the food. My contribution was two baguettes (subsequently, ignored) and a bottle of Corbieres (demolished).

The Fishing

A syndicate of six, have a long term lease on 2 kms of the River Sainte Marie, a river of some nineteen kms only, rising from an underground lake, and itself a tributary of the Automne, and it, a tributary of the river from which the Department is named.

JM told me that levels are low (a feature of rivers all over Northern Europe this Spring) But the source of his, normally guarantees constancy, but in the absence of rain, he believes that farmers upstream are pumping water from the river to irrigate their crops. Illegal, but what would you, a Farmer, do?

The river has a head of wild fish, but every year or so, it is stocked with rainbows (60%) and browns (40%), but he hopes to suspend this, to try to move to a genuinely wild fishery.

He knows his water. As in still waters, the ‘arc de ciel’ are less territorial than their spotted cousins, and roam. They can be caught midstream, whereas, the ‘farios’ hug the bank and favour the safety of overhang. Interestingly, syndicate members have seen the fertile stock of rainbows spawning, but have still to find evidence of success.

On our day, the sun shone. In the morning, the hatch was small but some Mays appeared. I hooked and lost a reasonable sized (stocked) brown which decided that a sunken branch was all it needed to escape, and twisting around it, it did. Rises that morning were few, and so was our catch. Hook ups and losses, and just two netted – both rainbows.

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I hooked the Daddy in a pool above where we sat (but lost it) and the pool went silent. Lunch followed and was fun.

In the afternoon, the river came alive. Mays and olives came off, producing more ‘gobages’ than in the morning,…and the fish netted were several. But all were rainbows.

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Until, and at about 1600hrs. this fella…

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Oh! To have such a stream in such peaceful surroundings. And so close to a major city. The contrast, of the simply awful ‘Peripherique’ versus the calming lanes here, in the Compiegne Forest. Who would not want this? And JM knows that two of his six, will hang up their rods at the end of this season, and he hopes to find some kindred spirits to succeed them. If I lived in Paris, I know that I would.

Could you, and if you are interested, let me know, and I will connect you!

JM is a tease. I had to leave late afternoon. ‘Les gobages’ really began shortly after, he assures me.

But he didn’t tell me how many fish he caught!

 

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