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The best fishing areas once the tourists have gone...

The best fishing areas once the tourists have gone...

Once the tourists have gone, you can return to your favourite fishing areas. Ron Cousins shows us some of the best places tp fish from October onwards...


Although many French anglers follow the seasons and become hunters at this time of year, others remain faithful to the rod and reel and celebrate the passing of summer by heading for holiday hotspots where the annual influx of visitors made fishing difficult when the days were longer.

The Vendée beaches, now clear of beach shelters, crowds and the occasional naturist enclave, can provide some excellent sea fishing at this time of year. La Faute-sur-Mer and L’Aiguillon sur Mer, north of La Rochelle and on either side of the River Lay, have sandy beaches and a bridge over the river that is a real hotspot. Moving north, there are productive sandy beaches at Les Sables d’Olonne while La Chaume has rocky areas sheltering fish between smaller beaches. Saint Gilles Croix de Vie may be famous for sardines, but the River Vie estuary is the big attraction for fishermen. Although the sea is generally rather muddy at the north of the département, plenty of fish are caught from the beaches near Bourgneuf en Retz and Beauvoir sur Mer.

Bass are still the most desirable catch and the best way to get one in the frying pan is with a spinning rod and a selection of Rapala type lures. The same rod can be used with a running lead weight to fish with a strip of mackerel, while switching to a garden worm as bait will find the flatfish. The estuary marks also turn up some large conger eels; but a beachcaster rod and multiplier reel is needed to battle one of these muscular fish to the shore. If you’re up for a fight, a cocktail of squid and mackerel is sure to tickle a conger’s palate.

The trout season has ended and all Category 1 waters are now closed but that still leaves a mass of water to fish. Follow the seasoned French anglers whose first target is where the crowds were a few weeks ago - the resident fish population hasn’t had much to do with baited hooks since summer started.

A top Vendée venue is Lac de Mervent, 130 acres of public domain water near the town of the same name at the southern end of the département. Carp to 29kg have been caught using boilies and luncheon meat as bait; it’s a noted zander fishery and there are also large pike as well as roach, bream, rudd and tench to cater for all angling tastes. Check the different permitted times for fishing various parts of this forest surrounded water - and keep an eye out for wild boar! A little further north near Chantonnay, Lac de Rochereau is another big lake that can be fished by anyone with a carte de pêche. Now the boaters, canoeists, swimmers and everyone else have gone there is some seriously good pike and zander fishing to be enjoyed. Moving along the bank with a spinning rod is the best way to find the carnivores but if you prefer sitting down to fish, there are plenty of bream and roach waiting for swimfeeder tackle with maggots or worms on the hook

The plan d’eau de la Grande Prairie at Saint Yrieix, Angoulême, has been a watery playground under the summer sun but now’s the time to sample the bream and roach fishing. The area close to the beach can be very productive and again it’s straightforward feeder and maggot fishing for the best results.

In the Dordogne, a 10€ ticket from the Mairie gives access to the autumn calm of the plan d’eau de Grojelac near the medieval town of Sarlat. Fishing is restricted to designated areas; but carp, bream and roach can be caught using a maggot, worm or piece of bread cast out on float tackle.

The La Rochelle angling club, Amicale du Gardon Rochelais, has been busy teaching people to fish on the plan d’eau de Villeneuve but, now there is some room on the banks, it is worth a visit as the lake is well stocked with carp, bream and roach. Also in Charente Maritime is Lac de la Lande at Saujon, which draws a lot of French carp anglers once the holidays have ended. The lake was cleaned and restocked last year and is home to slim, hard fighting mirror and common carp running to over 10kg. A boilie bait or piece of luncheon meat cast to the edge of one of the islands should meet with a positive response.

What about the rivers now that most pleasure craft are bedded down for the winter? Head for the quays in any town and you’ll find the fish. They have been sheltering under boats and dining on food that came overboard so the best bait for quayside encounters is bread. At this time of year the River Dronne in the Dordogne tourist hotspot of Brantôme is quiet and fishes well for roach and chub while bream, zander and pike can be caught from the River Vienne upstream of the bridge in the centre of Chabanais. The River Charente offers some great quayside sport through the centre of Saintes in Charente Maritime, up river at Jarnac around St Jacques Bridge in Cognac, and the quay at Port l’Houmeau in Angoulême where tench figure in the catches. Now that swimmers have stopped dropping off the bridge over the River Dronne in Aubeterre, near where Dordogne and the southern end of Charente departments meet, it’s a good spot to fish for carp and barbel that live near the parapets.

Those are but a few of the many places just waiting to be reclaimed for some peaceful fishing. Remember where the holidaymakers were on the banks and in the water when the mercury had climbed above 30°? That’s the place to go for a good day’s fishing - far from the madding crowd.



Useful Sites

Fishing in Dordogne

Fishing in Vendee

Fishing in Charente-Maritime

Fishing in Vienne

Fishing in Charente

Fishing in Deux-Sevres

Carp Fishing Information

Information on lake fishing


© Living Magazine - all rights reserved. Published October 2013.