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River fishing in France

Steve A

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I have only just noticed this forum has a freshwater section, so here is the story of my river fishing since moving to France nearly four years ago.

My wife and I sold almost everything we owned and moved to France from Scotland. What we had left (still plenty of fishing tackle!) was barely fitted into our car, trailer and roofbox.

LeVin outbound - Edited.jpg

It was a 1000 mile drive and ferry crossing to reach the Lot department in France. Driving through England was a miserable chore with roadworks and tailbacks in so many places, that memory will stick with us should we ever consider returning to the UK!

When we drove off the ferry into France the remainder of the drive south was bliss, good roads and so little traffic!

We had hired a Gite (holiday home) for a few months, later we moved into a long term rental which is proving to be our perfect retirement location. Five roads to different sections of the Lot, two major towns within a 30 minute drive and the main north-south motorway close enough as well. Our village has all the amenities we require if we do not want to drive.

The river Lot was written about in angling magazines 50 years ago, those words and photos stuck in my mind all this time. I hope when you see my photos they will be as memorable for you!

This is a weir about 10 minutes drive away from our home....

Cenevieres weir 2.jpg

and a 13lb carp I caught there not long after taking that photo....

Cenevieres carp 13lb.jpg

This is a difficult river to fish much of the time. It needs a good flow to get the fish feeding but as there are several barrages and hydro-electric stations you can never be sure what to expect. You might get to the river and find a torrent or a tepid lake! I have to have tackle to suit so many species and conditions, but it keeps things interesting!

About 30 minutes drive west there is the lovely town of Cahors, nestling in this loop of the Lot.....

Cahors wide.jpg

Plenty of good fishing within the town boundaries!

You can see why we love our new home so much! Glad we escaped the UK whilst we still had the chance, we are in the health system here and have our residency cards and driving licences. Just scraped these tedious tasks in before Brexit was finalised, it would be difficult (impossible!) now!

I will continue with fishy photos on another post later......
 
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Steve A

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Here are a few captures from the river Lot.......

25lb caro March 2021.jpgIMG_20200602_155501770_HDR_2.jpg42 lb carp march 21.jpgIMG_20201015_190103.jpgChub 4.5 Ceneviers.jpgIMG_20180710_101931753.jpg

Carp to 42lb, barbel 9lb, chub 5.5lb, bream 6.5lb.....all caught on short daytime sessions. Lots of blanks as well, when this river is not quite right the fish just switch off!

Hopefully I will start catching barbel again soon - my favourite fishing! The last few weeks they must be spawning as the usual stretches I fish have been empty of them.

If any of you are visiting this area please drop me a pm, I would be happy to point out some swims to get you started.

Steve A
 

Steve A

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The fish in the Lot are nearly always in top condition. I may not get many chub but average size is around 4lb. The carp turn up a few times a year, not bad when I rarely target them. Back in March I had a 26, 29 & 42lb carp in about three hours (added a 4lb barbel as well) - when they move into your swim they can feed aggressively!

I generally fish 16-20mm boilies for barbel, the chub and carp are "by-catch"!

Chub, Lot. 5lb 8ozs.jpgChub Cajarc 4 lb 10 ozs - Edited.jpgCarp 16lb The Garden.jpgIMG_20180710_112154584.jpgIMG_20210402_153107.jpgCarp of 34lb, The Garden.jpg

I do not see many anglers on the stretches I fish. Most of the locals fish for predators, visitors for carp are fairly scarce and bivvy-up in the well known spots. As I live here I can pick where and when and just fish the most likely periods, so far I have not done a night session. Guess I like my bed too much - and it's close by!
 

Steve A

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The views whilst fishing can be spectacular......

Scenic swim 5 barbel.jpg
opposite the B walk.jpg
Barbel, Lot. 7lb.jpg
Cregols sunset.jpg

When all this Brexit and pandemic stuff is sorted out I hope a few UK anglers will be visiting again. In general I would say visiting carp anglers head for the lower sections of the Lot. From Cahors eastward the river fishing is relatively unknown to Brits - but if you find your way through the gorges and "jungle" along the banks there are wonderful fish to be caught!

Take a look at this YouTube video from CCMoore, this is my local fishing - but done by a carp angler who knows the game......

 

jambop

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Nice area I live a bit further west in the PA there are a couple of big'ish rivers nearby the Adour, the Gave de Pau and the Gave de Oloron , which both eventually join the Adour but I don't fish them.
 

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Cracking that Steve ..👍..your journey through England brought back a few memories of our trip down to Spain .The day before I left I had to drive up to Bewdley , then back to Kent to hitch our trailer then down to Portsmouth for the crossing to Caen ..the run up to Bewdley and back took seven hours , the trip to Portsmouth from Kent took two , from Caen down to Spanish border town of Irun 800+km away towing a 16ft trailer only took just over 8 , the second leg down to javea took another eight hours ..the one thing you don’t miss is driving in the uk ! ..I’m jealous of your local fishing opportunities mate , we are about an hours run ether down past Benidorm or backup to calera to fish , but leaving early we often go ten miles before seeing another car , driving over here is a pleasure ..I’ll watch this thread with interest ..
 

Steve A

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When we were making plans to move to France we spent some time studying maps and the roads. As we have been getting stressed with flying abroad for holidays we were looking to have as much as possible within a few hours drive.

Sally has old friends who have lived in Gourdon (just north of Cahors) for many years, Brits who have built a house renovation business and brought up four children in France. We visited them the year before moving out, the relaxed way of life in rural France was very attractive to us.

During that visit the Brexit vote happened, you can imagine how we were quite devastated with the result. Anyone with any imagination could see there would be great difficulties ahead!

But that hardened our resolve to make our move quickly. So glad we did not chicken-out at that point, all the effort is proving incredibly worthwhile - there is a point in life where your old ways become stale. A complete break with the old, then new challenges, is like starting life all over again - wonderful!

Visiting Gourdon, and seeing how easy driving is here, made us think the middle of France a great base for travel. That is proving to be the case! A four hour drive takes us into Spain or west to the Atlantic coast. Two hours drive takes us to the wonderful Tarn gorge where we recently went camping.....

Tarn campsite view.jpg

I caught chub and dace from that lovely stretch of the Tarn. There were vultures circling the cliffs, a beaver on the river bank most mornings, foxes raiding our food supplies at night. One of our little group even spotted a wolf, fortunately across the river away up the mountain. Still did not feel comfortable walking to the loo at night!

Tarn chub 1st.jpg
Tarn bridge.jpg

Closer to home we have so many villages and viewpoints that even an afternoon out for a drive always finds something new.......

Belcastel panorama.jpg

Anyway, I could go on a bit about France but will restrain myself to fishing stuff from now on! I will do updates on the fishing as they happen.

Steve A
 

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Great thread and some stunning photos Steve. I drove down through France to Almeria & Southern Spain twice with a truck many years ago, but have never had chance to stop & visit that part of France. With us Brits living on a (relatively) small Island, it's all to easy to forget how big a country France is.
I think I've mentioned to you before that we have a renovation project we bought about 18 years ago up near Pleyben, region 29. We've not acheived as much renovation as we should have, and during the last 3 years, my health going downhill and Brexit have made things very uncertain.
I'm hearing horrendous stories over the last 2 weeks about folks trying to move equipment & tools between the UK & France, and being charged import duties. We have a mate in his 70's near our place in France, and the cambelt went on his car last Christmas. It did some serious damage to the engine and would be an uneconomical repair in France, but his son near me in the UK is a good mechanic so could sort it on the cheap, maybe with a 2nd hand engine. Rumours are saying that if we fetch the car back here, because it is French registered, HMRC will sting him for taxes & duties even though the car will be going back to France after repair.

It's all got very complicated and nasty since Brexit. You & Sally take care, stay safe & well. 👍👍
 

Steve A

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Great thread and some stunning photos Steve. I drove down through France to Almeria & Southern Spain twice with a truck many years ago, but have never had chance to stop & visit that part of France. With us Brits living on a (relatively) small Island, it's all to easy to forget how big a country France is.
I think I've mentioned to you before that we have a renovation project we bought about 18 years ago up near Pleyben, region 29. We've not acheived as much renovation as we should have, and during the last 3 years, my health going downhill and Brexit have made things very uncertain.
I'm hearing horrendous stories over the last 2 weeks about folks trying to move equipment & tools between the UK & France, and being charged import duties. We have a mate in his 70's near our place in France, and the cambelt went on his car last Christmas. It did some serious damage to the engine and would be an uneconomical repair in France, but his son near me in the UK is a good mechanic so could sort it on the cheap, maybe with a 2nd hand engine. Rumours are saying that if we fetch the car back here, because it is French registered, HMRC will sting him for taxes & duties even though the car will be going back to France after repair.

It's all got very complicated and nasty since Brexit. You & Sally take care, stay safe & well. 👍👍
Yes, it's all got very complicated! We expected this and got our fingers out to complete all the residency requirements before Brexit completed - but it was close!

We have several friends who have been slower getting these things done and changing from UK to french driving licenses has become a nightmare. There is still no agreement between France and UK over that, some have now found their UK licences expired and are (at present) unable to change to the french driving license. They may have to re-take their driving test - the theory part is in french (of course!) - nightmare for them!

Once we had the "right" as citizens of the EU to travel freely - what a wonderful freedom to throw away!
 

Trampster

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Yes, it's all got very complicated! We expected this and got our fingers out to complete all the residency requirements before Brexit completed - but it was close!

We have several friends who have been slower getting these things done and changing from UK to french driving licenses has become a nightmare. There is still no agreement between France and UK over that, some have now found their UK licences expired and are (at present) unable to change to the french driving license. They may have to re-take their driving test - the theory part is in french (of course!) - nightmare for them!

Once we had the "right" as citizens of the EU to travel freely - what a wonderful freedom to throw away!
We had a couple of weeks at ours in France about 9 years ago, and when we returned here to the city with all the sirens going, traffic, and ASB Wifeys said "That's it, we're moving to France". I was never convinced she would actually do it, finances wouldn't allow it, and since then Step Daughter has produced a Grandson, and Mum-in-law has been diagnosed with Alzheimers, so I can't see her leaving the UK now. Wish we had done it back then, but our place in France is way out in the sticks and there was very little chance of work, so it never happened. Even selling up over there is going to get complicated if we decided to do so, and when we bought it, I moved a lot of my tools & gear over there to save storage costs here - big mistake now, if it comes to that I have to pay duties on it to ship it back. So much has happened with Brexit that I think a lot of folks never saw coming. Good luck to you & Sally over there Steve - I have to admit to being slightly envious! 😁😁
 

Steve A

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There is still a lot of "politics" being played out. A couple of years down the line I am sure there will be compromises that allow some degree of what we have been used to before Brexit.

At the moment the EU leaders do not trust Boris, but Boris will not be PM for ever (maybe not for long even!) and a new PM may be able to bring some trust back into the relationship. Same goes for Macron - he will be gone sooner or later! We just want to get on with our lives!

It has been a particularly nasty "divorce"! Still a lot of spitting going on - but it will calm down!
 

Trampster

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There is still a lot of "politics" being played out. A couple of years down the line I am sure there will be compromises that allow some degree of what we have been used to before Brexit.

At the moment the EU leaders do not trust Boris, but Boris will not be PM for ever (maybe not for long even!) and a new PM may be able to bring some trust back into the relationship. Same goes for Macron - he will be gone sooner or later! We just want to get on with our lives!

It has been a particularly nasty "divorce"! Still a lot of spitting going on - but it will calm down!
I think/hope you are right. All throughout Covid & Brexit, there seems to have been a lot of chest beating & sour Grapes from Macron. He doesn't seem very popular and I can't say I like the bloke Steve.
 

Steve A

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We are just back from a camping trip to Entraygues-sur-Truyère. Very scenic but at this junction of the river Truyère and river Lot the current was strong and the bottom too rough. We spotted carp and big chub but could not get our bait to them without snagging.

So on our second day we went upriver to Estaing.....

Estaing 2021.jpg

where the Lot runs into a long barraged section and the flow drops. Unfortunately heavy rain overnight was finding its way from the mountains into the river and bringing down muddy water. We had spotted a barbel there the day before......

Barbel from bridge.jpg

but the water had turned to chocolate and the chances of barbel poor. So I thought a worm bait (stewed in the heat) might get me a roach or gudgeon as bait for something bigger. Well, I jumped the intermediate bait fish and my worm was taken by a silure. On 4lb line and size 14 hook it gave me quite a fight (FRIGHT more like!). Anyway, after several minutes I got it to the net....

Silure top of lake.jpg

Brought a smile to my face! As much with relief as there were plenty of snags there as well, I was surprised the hooklength held together, it was badly frayed by the time the fish was netted.

Some anglers refer to silure as "slugs". Well, yes they are slimy! But they do have a turn of speed and fight very dirty. Great fun on a spinning rod!
 

Kine262

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We are just back from a camping trip to Entraygues-sur-Truyère. Very scenic but at this junction of the river Truyère and river Lot the current was strong and the bottom too rough. We spotted carp and big chub but could not get our bait to them without snagging.

So on our second day we went upriver to Estaing.....

View attachment 11360

where the Lot runs into a long barraged section and the flow drops. Unfortunately heavy rain overnight was finding its way from the mountains into the river and bringing down muddy water. We had spotted a barbel there the day before......

View attachment 11358

but the water had turned to chocolate and the chances of barbel poor. So I thought a worm bait (stewed in the heat) might get me a roach or gudgeon as bait for something bigger. Well, I jumped the intermediate bait fish and my worm was taken by a silure. On 4lb line and size 14 hook it gave me quite a fight (FRIGHT more like!). Anyway, after several minutes I got it to the net....

View attachment 11359

Brought a smile to my face! As much with relief as there were plenty of snags there as well, I was surprised the hooklength held together, it was badly frayed by the time the fish was netted.

Some anglers refer to silure as "slugs". Well, yes they are slimy! But they do have a turn of speed and fight very dirty. Great fun on a spinning rod!
Nice catch Steve and well done for getting it in on light tackle.

One thing I would say about the muddy river. In the UK I have caught several thousand barbel, and my favourite conditions over all others is when we have had a good bit of rain and the water is up, coloured like mud and steaming through. I use big smelly baits, like garlic flavoured luncheon meat, fished close in, often just over the edge of the river bank, or very often actually on areas that are normally part of the grass bank if the river was normal level. I have lost count of how many times the conditions have put most people off even trying to fish yet my mate and I have had multiple catches!

I can't see why French rivers would be any different. Might be worth giving a try.

DSCN3357.JPG
DSCN3363.JPG
A floodwater barbel.
 

Steve A

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Nice catch Steve and well done for getting it in on light tackle.

One thing I would say about the muddy river. In the UK I have caught several thousand barbel, and my favourite conditions over all others is when we have had a good bit of rain and the water is up, coloured like mud and steaming through. I use big smelly baits, like garlic flavoured luncheon meat, fished close in, often just over the edge of the river bank, or very often actually on areas that are normally part of the grass bank if the river was normal level. I have lost count of how many times the conditions have put most people off even trying to fish yet my mate and I have had multiple catches!

I can't see why French rivers would be any different. Might be worth giving a try.

View attachment 11367
View attachment 11368
A floodwater barbel.

Lovely barbel there!

Normally I will fish a flooded river - but this was the top end of a barraged section where the day before there had been running water. After the overnight deluge the many rivulets off the mountains were pouring mud into the rising lake. So the flow was becoming negligible as the waters rose and the colour was like drinking chocolate!

Not encouraging but I did remember silure will take advantage of the "confusion" in other fish in these conditions. Loss of sight can affect prey fish so the silure has a great advantage, silure will feed in the strongest of floods - flood conditions turn them on!

After the deluge.jpg

Now I am back home I will take a look at a few of my local barbel swims. As long as there is flowing water I should get them on my hook somewhere.
 
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