This new blog is not intended to be a fishing guide to France. But in the spirit of what glues we Fr-Anglers together, why not share what I have learned?
French streams and rivers are described as Category 1, or Category 2 waters. In the former, fish are more usually game fish, with brown trout (farios) and grayling (ombres) , the most common, and there is a season within which fishing is permitted, and normally, between mid March and mid September, with occasional regional variations to this. Category 2 waters may contain game fish, but coarse fish are the main species, and fishing is generally available throughout the year.
The first thing to understand about trout fishing in France, is that the majority of locals who fish for trout, use spinning as their preferred technique. More often than not, the trout which are caught are killed, and for the table, one presumes. Replenishment or restocking is rare, even in Category 1 waters, so fish tend to be quite small, and scarce. Curiously, the same is true even in those beats of Category 1 streams, designated ‘No Kill’.
Fly fishing is growing in popularity and the government offer training programmes to instruct and develop guiding skills in young people. This cadre of professional enthusiasts, Moniteurs Guide de Peche, http://www.ffmgp.com/ actively promote fly fishing, but also conservation (catch and release) but it may be many years before this is the norm.
Finding fishing on line is fun. If you know where you plan to fish, then type in the name of the ‘department’ after the word ‘peche’ (eg Peche Var) and up should pop the site of the local organisation http://www.federationpeche.fr/83/ (always identified by the identifying number of the department rather than its name….most Frenchmen I have met, know the numbers rather than the names of department…very clever!) and it will be filled with all you might need to know, including the streams by category, the source of local permits and the names of officials, most of whom, I have found, are happy to inform. Many residing in rural parts may have limited English!
Just as in the UK, all fishermen must have a licence to fish. At one level, getting a licence is easy…at another it is a little confusing!
The easy bit is securing a national licence. This can be done on line at www.cartedepeche.fr and a short term, vacation based licence through to an annual version can be obtained easily. This will be applicable for fishing the department in which you wish to fish, or more widely, via a reciprocal agreement between different associations, and through the ‘Entent Halieutique’, for which you will pay a little more. This year (2016), my roaming licence cost 95 euros.
Reciprocity applies to public waters in any of the 55 or so departments which subscribe to this system. On private waters in the 55, and in other departments, however, it is necessary to obtain a day ticket, or ‘journaliere’. The problem is in determining which waters are public and which are private. The national licence website lists those departments in the reciprocity. The local ‘Guide de Peche’ will give some clues to this, but in my experience, a visit to the Tabac will confirm what is required. If the Tabac is open, or rather, when it is! The Monsieur, ou Madame running the Tabac, will be a mine of information, and truly happy to help un pecheur Anglais.
So in part, this is the less easy bit, but ‘Hey!’
There’s more to fishing than catching fish, n’est-ce pas?
The ‘Guides de Peche’ are almost always available on line.
Guide-books (in English) for fly fishing in France are few and far between, but Philip Pembroke, who writes ‘The Smooth Guide to…’ (www.fishingfrance.org) series has a very good ‘where to’ book featuring the fishing in Normandy, Brittany, Central France and the Pyrenees. Beyond that, it’s the internet! But what is the closed season for?