France is famous for its art, architecture, fashion, wine and food. But it is also one of the best places in the world for freshwater fishing. This large country has a myriad of lakes, rivers and canals and they deliver a wide variety of fish species and sizes. It`s possible in France to land carp weighing more than 60 lbs. And there are fighting species not found in England, such as sturgeon, which also grow to truly impressive weights. The difficulty is deciding where to go fishing.
The sport is strictly regulated in France. There are rules on what species can be caught and where and when. You will need a licence. There are different types and the cost varies a little depending on where you are. The carte annuelle costs from 70 to 100, or 20 to 29 for a minor. Curiously, women have their own special licence, the decouverte femme, which is about 30. However if you`re on a fishing holiday, you`d buy the carte vacances, about 30 and valid for seven days.
So where are the best places to fish. Let`s start with Provence, specifically the Vaucluse area. La Sorgues is one of the best trout rivers. It is a very beautiful river and has the advantage that while the flow of other rivers in the area varies, La Sorgues always has a constant temperature and level. This means the fish can grow quickly. Brown trout and grayling are the main species. Fish from the bank or, once the grayling season has opened, wade in.
La Sevre Nantaise stretches 159 kilometres and is a tributary of the Loire. It`s beautiful and has both fast flowing areas for salmon and trout and slow water for coarse fishing. This river has hundreds of picturesque spots to fish including weirs covered in lily pads.
The Landes is spectacular with over 11,000 hectares of ponds and lakes. At the large coastal lakes from Seignosse to Biscarosse you can fish from boats or the bank for carp, tench, perch, bass or pike. There are, literally, thousands of kilometres of river and streams, many within the Parc Naturel Regional, excellent for trout. The area includes coastal fishing.
The Lot is both deep and slow, ideal for carp, some as big as 30 kilograms, pike, black bass and other coarse fish. Catfish of up to 11 kilograms are common and much larger ones have been caught. It`s best to fish from a boat on the river, because the banks are usually steep with thick undergrowth. The river Dordogne is within the Lot Department and can be fished for grayling, trout, perch and zander. Trout of less than 25 centimetres must be put back alive.
There are many different types of fishing in the Charente Maritime. The tributaries from the Charente wetlands into the big Charente River attract anglers keen about river fishing. The river Charente is tidal for several kilometres inland and has large carp, perch and pike. Roach and bream are also found there. Mullet swim in from the sea. The main river is La Sevre Niortaise, deep and slow and known for white fish and eels.
And finally the Napoleon Lakes are perfect for anglers who like to go after roach, perch, carp, pike and catfish. The two lakes are in Aube, in Champagne-Ardenne. Napoleon 1 is about eight hectares and Napoleon 2 about 3 hectares. Napoleon 1 is ideal for people who don`t want to be in the water because of its curving shape. They can fish from the shore underneath the overhanging trees lining the lake. Whether you want to fish while camping or stay at gites in Brittany you are sure to find superb fishing in France.