66 - Top Tips - Fly Fishing in France - French Alps
FLY FISHING IN FRANCE - FRENCH ALPS
For tourists, France is renowned for its beauty, culture, gastronomy, and history. Iconic destinations and attractions include Paris with its famed Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Notre-Dame Cathedral. Beyond the capital, the allure extends to the Provence region, the enchanting Côte d'Azur, the renowned vineyards of Bordeaux, and the historic chateaux of the Loire Valley.
What many tourists remain unaware of is that France harbors thriving wild trout populations in the Alps, Massif Central, and Pyrenees. It's also the birthplace of European-Style Nymphing, offering opportunities to fish for a diverse range of species, including brown trout, zebra trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, grayling, and even salmon.
FLY FISHING FRANCE , a local company of fishing guides operating in the French Alps, was founded with the explicit purpose of showcasing France's untapped fly fishing potential.
FLY FISHING AND HIKING IN THE FRENCH ALPS
The French Alps stand as a majestic mountain range spanning the southeast of France, celebrated for its towering peaks and revered by enthusiasts of fishing, skiing, and hiking. Alongside the Pyrenees, this mountain range ranks as one of the most spectacular in Europe.
Within these mountains lie numerous settings that offer anglers the opportunity to indulge in trout, brook trout, and grayling fishing across a diverse array of rivers, streams, and lakes—all within a relatively compact radius. Two recommended hubs for coordinating a fishing vacation in France are Chamonix, nestled at the base of Mont Blanc, and Gap, situated alongside Ecrins National Park.
To access the finest fishing spots, it is often necessary to embark on hiking adventures. This approach allows you to relish fishing in rivers and lakes with minimal fishing pressure, fostering healthier trout populations. Notably, some of these locations are situated within the boundaries of National Parks.
This combination of fishing and hiking not only grants access to exceptional fishing locales but also provides the opportunity to immerse yourself in the breathtaking alpine landscapes, where the wonders of the mountains and their wildlife unfold before you. All of this unfolds within one of the most stunning landscapes Europe has to offer.
FLY FISHING SEASON IN FRANCE
If you're considering a trip to France with fly fishing in mind, the first thing you should know is that the fishing season typically commences at the end of March and concludes either at the end of September or in October. However, it's crucial to note that this timeline can vary depending on the specific department you intend to visit.
Furthermore, the fishing season in France is categorized by water types. In the first category waters, inhabited by trout, the season usually starts on March 11 and ends on September 17 in many departments. Conversely, in second category waters, encompassing lower courses where cyprinids like carp and barbel coexist with trout, the season begins on March 11 and extends until December 31.
Selecting the ideal time for fly fishing in France's rivers largely hinges on the location and the type of fishing environment. As a general guideline, mountain lakes and rivers offer superb fishing conditions from June to September, while plain rivers are most productive at the beginning of the season.
- Mountain rivers: near major mountain ranges like the Alps are at their prime during months when snow meltwater is minimal. Typically, this occurs at the onset of the season (March and the first weeks of April) and again from mid-June to the end of the season.
- Mountain Lakes: Trout and brook trout activity in mountain lakes varies depending on altitude and water temperature. For lakes below 1300 meters (4265 feet), the most favorable months are April and May. Conversely, lakes above 2000 meters (6561 feet) offer better fishing in the months following snowmelt, such as June through August.
- Plain rivers: In plain rivers, the initial weeks of the season, if water flows are low, are typically excellent for dry fly fishing. During this period, large trout often feed on the surface during the central hours of the day. Another prime time is June, marked by significant mayfly hatches, along with the late hours of summer months.
In summary, for a successful fly fishing experience in France, it is essential to seek out rivers with optimal water temperatures, around 12°C (53.6°F), flows derived from snowmelt in the mountains, and to remain attentive to hatches.
We have included a table below, allowing you to visually assess the fishing season in two different regions. The orange color highlights the best months for fly fishing.
5 REASONS TO ENJOY FLY FISHING WHEN TRAVELING TO FRANCE:
France, renowned for its rich culture, delectable cuisine, and family-friendly vacations, also stands out as a wonderful destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Here, you can seamlessly blend your passion for the sport with a wide array of experiences.
- Learn Unparalleled Techniques:
One of the distinctive facets of fly fishing in France is the opportunity to refine your skills under the guidance of seasoned local guides who possess knowledge unrivaled globally. Competitive anglers and guides in this country have pioneered some of the most effective and celebrated techniques, such as the "European nymphing style" and fishing with "pellet" nymphs. Consequently, fly fishing in France not only allows you to savor unique moments amidst breathtaking landscapes but also offers the chance to learn and enhance your skills, transforming you into a proficient angler.
- Escape the Tourist Crowds:
Setting aside a few days for fishing during your sightseeing tour of France provides a welcome respite from the bustling tourist crowds of major French cities. Imagine casting your line in rivers near the picturesque town of Chamonix, nestled in the shadow of Mont Blanc, surrounded by crystal-clear glacial streams and awe-inspiring scenery.
- Encounter Unique Trout Varieties:
The rivers in the French Departments that flow into the Mediterranean Sea present the opportunity to fish for some of the world's most unique wild trout populations, notably the renowned zebra trout, also celebrated in destinations like the Spanish Pyrenees. Zebra trout are a distinct variant of brown trout native to the Mediterranean Sea, characterized by a striking color pattern featuring dark and light stripes along their flanks, resembling those of a zebra. This pattern is attributed to genetic factors and becomes more pronounced when these trout employ camouflage behaviors for hunting other fish.
- A Comprehensive Experience:
Fly fishing in France transcends the act of angling in beautiful rivers; it encapsulates a fusion of cultural and gastronomic encounters. While seeking out magnificent wild trout in mountain streams, we recommend taking the time to immerse yourself in the splendor of castles, historic towns, and local traditions. Delight in delectable French cuisine and exquisite wines, creating a truly unparalleled experience.
- Conservation and Economic Impact:
French anglers and authorities are increasingly recognizing that fishing tourism plays a pivotal role in the genuine conservation of rivers and contributes significantly to local economies. By engaging in your beloved pastime with local guides, you actively contribute to securing a sustainable future for French rivers and their trout populations.
In conclusion, fly fishing in France offers more than just the chance to catch splendid trout, brook trout, and wild grayling. It presents an opportunity to forge indelible memories by blending nature, culture, and culinary delights into a holistic and enriching experience. Whether you're an avid angler or a newcomer to the sport, France extends a warm invitation to combine visits to iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, or Notre-Dame Cathedral with fly fishing in the French Alps.
Thanks to the team at flyfishingfrance.com for all the support and great information.