Discovering Fly Fishing in France |

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Discovering Fly Fishing in France

Category: Fly Fishing Destinations | Author: Adrián Satué

Basic information about fly fishing in France.

This article provides essential information for organizing a fly fishing trip in France. For a more comprehensive guide, we recommend visiting the website of the fly fishing guide company: Click on the image below to access the website:

Fly Fishing France

France presents exceptional opportunities for fly fishing enthusiasts, ranging from brown trout in the Alps, Pyrenees, and Massif Central, to rainbow trout fishing in the Allier River and salmon fishing in the Atlantic tributaries. While it may not rival trophy trout destinations like Patagonia or New Zealand, France combines fishing with romantic getaways. The country stands as a tourist icon, offering a unique blend of adventure and culture. Imagine fishing after a few days of exploring Paris and the Eiffel Tower, or discovering wild trout rivers near World Heritage sites.

Fly fishing is deeply ingrained in local communities, and France boasts a strong track record in world fly fishing championships. Here are the six things you should know before embarking on a fishing trip to France:/p>

Why Choose France as Your Fly Fishing Vacation Destination?

France stands as a premier European destination where you can seamlessly blend cultural, gastronomic, and family vacations with the joy of indulging in your favorite pastime: fly fishing. Moreover, you'll have the opportunity to refine your technique with the guidance of experienced local guides who have honed some of the most effective methods available, including the renowned "European Nymph Style." Engaging in fly fishing across France also offers the ideal pretext to explore areas of exceptional beauty and detach from the bustling tourist scenes prevalent in major French cities.

In terms of optimal destinations, the French departments of Haute-Savoie, Hautes Alpes, Savoie, and Ain, alongside the Pyrenees, boast a plethora of exquisite rivers teeming with vibrant populations of wild trout. If authenticity and untouched natural surroundings are what you seek, these locales distinguish themselves with their untamed trout, crystalline glacial waters, a rich variety of rivers and lakes, and an assortment of brown trout, zebras, char, and rainbow trout.

However, as previously mentioned, fly fishing in France constitutes a holistic experience that transcends mere casting of a line into water; it embodies a fusion of cultural and culinary encounters. Immerse yourself in the splendor of castles, historic cities, and local traditions while you pursue the elusive trout in the rivers. Complement your angling expeditions with delectable French gastronomy and exquisite wines.

Lastly, it is imperative to highlight that France's aspiration to become a preeminent fishing destination is underpinned by the recognition of French anglers and authorities alike that genuine river conservation must inherently contribute to local economies. Hence, the burgeoning prominence of fishing tourism in the country holds immense significance.

Fly Fishing France

How to Obtain a Fly Fishing License in France?

To engage in freshwater fishing, it is imperative to possess a valid fishing license that aligns with the region where you intend to fish. This fishing license attests to your fulfillment of three essential fishing prerequisites:

  • Membership in an authorized fishing association.

  • Payment of the fee for the preservation of aquatic ecosystems.

  • Authorization from the fishing rights holder.

Securing this fishing license is a straightforward process through the website, where you can conveniently apply for your fishing license online. Various license options are available, contingent on your age (adult or child) and the frequency of your fishing endeavors (daily, annual, etc.).

Beyond the online avenue, anglers also have the option of obtaining this license through fishing associations or authorized distributors such as bookstores, tobacconists, and bars.

The cost of the fishing license fluctuates based on the designated fishing regions. In certain instances, the license cost encompasses a reciprocal tag, facilitating the shared utilization of fishing territories among diverse associations.

Fishing licence in France

What are the best rivers and places to fly fish in France?

From our personal perspective, this encapsulates some of the finest fly fishing rivers in France:

  • Dordogne River: Renowned as one of the quintessential fly fishing destinations in France, the Dordogne River's granitic waters and its populations of brown trout and grayling render it an indispensable fishing haven within the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. Noteworthy areas for fishing along the Dordogne include the river sections near Argentat-Beaulieu and Beaulieu-Souillac.

  • Drac River (Hautes-Alpes): Meandering through the Hautes-Alpes region, the Drac River stands out as a remarkable choice for fly fishing in a mountainous setting. This river's quality competition venues have hosted numerous fishing championships, exemplified by the French 1st division championship held in the Champsaur in 2022, where a remarkable 812 trout were caught.

  • Ain River: Nestled within the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, the Ain River emerges as another cherished mountain river for fly fishing aficionados. Its limpid waters and vibrant brook trout populations create a truly distinctive experience in the region. The Ain river is segmented into 4 different sectors: the Ain at Sirod, upstream of the Syam forges, at Champagnole, Pont du Navoy, and Pont du Navoy and the Ain at Sirod, upstream of the Syam forges. We also recommend exploring its tributary, the Albarine—a haven for enthusiasts of dry fly fishing.

  • Arve River (Haute Savoie): Winding its way through Haute Savoie and traversing the town of Chamonix, the Arve River emerges as a splendid destination for fly fishing enthusiasts, perfectly situated at the base of the renowned Mont Blanc. Its boundaries span from the Les Tines railway bridge downstream to the Argentière road bridge upstream. A section that merits attention is the recreational course established by the APPMA du Faucigny in collaboration with the town of Chamonix, boasting stocked rainbow trout and subject to distinct regulations.

  • Ubaye River Valley: Situated within the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, the Ubaye River Valley presents an array of fishing possibilities. Encompassing around 220 km of rivers, including the famed Ubaye and its tributaries like Ubayette, Parpaillon, and Bachelard, these waterways harbor brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout. Noteworthy among them is Lake Serre-Ponçon, a sprawling 2,800-hectare reservoir fed by the Durance and Ubaye, hosting diverse species including pike, trout, and char, with some exceptional specimens. Elevated mountain lakes above 1,800 meters, such as Lac du Lauzanier, Lac Noir, Lac du Marinet, and Lac des 9 couleurs (the highest at 2,840 meters), offer an opportunity for fishing intertwined with hiking and bivouacking. These settings are home to species like brown trout, char, chrysovores, and small fish, making them an ideal choice for family fishing adventures with children.

Fly Fishing France

What is the season for fly fishing in France??

The fishing season in France is governed by water categories and fish species. To provide perspective, certain regions observe the subsequent opening and closing dates for their seasons:

1st Category waters:

  • Fario trout: March 11 to September 17. This period presents an exhilarating opportunity for trout enthusiasts to relish the crystal-clear waters.

  • Grayling: May 20 through September 17. Anglers can target these fish during the warmer months of the year.

  • Pike: April 29 to September 17. This species takes the spotlight in the spring and summer seasons.

2nd Category waters:

Cutthroat Trout and Rainbow Trout: March 11 to December 31.

If we examine the opportunities for fly fishing for trout, they vary in accordance with the time of year. The selection of the date to engage in trout fly fishing in France hinges upon the typology and location of the river or fishing area:

  • Spring: During spring, as nature reawakens, fish become active in their pursuit of sustenance. The proliferation of aquatic insects renders this season ideal for fly fishing. However, in mountain rivers, patience is essential until June, when waters warm after the thaw, bringing forth optimal water temperatures (13-14°C) that enhance trout activity. This holds true for mountain lakes as well. It's worth noting that in the final weeks of March and the initial weeks of April, prior to the thaw, mayfly hatches occur during the central hours of the day. This period presents an opportunity to capture the largest trout using dry flies.

  • Summer: Summer presents a rewarding period, yet it's advisable to capitalize on fishing early in the morning or during twilight, when the water is cooler, insect activity is more pronounced, and trout exhibit heightened activity. Conversely, in the high-altitude rivers of the Alps or the Pyrenees, this month can be the optimal time for indulging in fly fishing.

  • Autumn: It's essential to recognize that trout fishing seasons typically conclude in numerous regions by the end of September or the start of October. This season is characterized by cooler temperatures and active fish preparing for winter and the spawning season. Autumn, as long as heavy rainfall doesn't intervene, proves to be an excellent time.

  • Winter: The trout fishing season remains closed during winter, although some reservoirs or lakes host activity, particularly for certain species like rainbow trout, despite the chilly water temperatures. These trout are not native; they result from restocking efforts. Access to these lakes is usually private, necessitating the purchase of a permit from the landowner.

Fly Fishing France

France and the origins of "European Nymph Style"

Within the fishing world, European Nymph Fishing is a testament to the evolution of a technique. Emerging from the ingenuity of French competition anglers and embracing the essence of Czech nymph fishing, this method has grown to become one of the most effective techniques in contemporary fly fishing.

The origins of European-style nymph fishing can be traced back to the incessant desire of French competition anglers to improve their nymph fishing technique. You have to keep in mind that in France there is a lot of fishing pressure and if you want to catch more fish than the rest you have to be resourceful and refine your technique. This is one of the reasons why France is considered the best fly fishing team in the world, as evidenced by its sporting record.

Inspired by the Czech nymph fishing method, the French anglers sought to perfect their approach. The hallmark of this adaptation was the integration of the Czech nymph fishing concept with a twist: the use of a longer leader and an exclusive reliance on tippet material. This subtle but significant modification laid the foundation for what would eventually evolve into the Spanish/French fishing technique we know today.

This technique, on the other hand, has radically changed the traditional casting paradigms. Unlike conventional fly fishing, where the weight of the line aids in casting, this technique relies on the weight of the nymph to propel the cast. This innovative change requires anglers to temporarily set aside the fundamental principles of fly casting, ushering in a new era of fishing mechanics centered on nymph manipulation.

If you are an angler who wants to know this style of fishing, what better place than to come to practice it in the country where it was born and where its technique is more evolved and refined.

European Nymphing Style

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