So what's the fishing like ?
The Vendée is among French départements, or counties, with
the greatest extent of rivers for freshwater fishing.
Do I need a licence for coarse fishing in the Vendée?
Yes. You can take a
"Carte Pêche-Vacances", a temporary holiday fishing permit costing
for 2003 around 30 euros (£20), which is valid for 15 consecutive days,
between 1 April and 30 September, on all non-private waters in the county -
including rivers, and any lakes created on them by dams (always ask, if in
any doubt). The permit covers a maximum of 4 lines on rods, each with maximum
of 2 hooks. You can buy the permit at most tackle shops, or ask at a local
tourist office or "mairie" (town hall, or village equivalent). Or
if you're staying at a camp site, the office will be able to tell you the
nearest point of sale. Day passes are not available. From most tourist
offices you can pick up brochures produced by the Vendean Angling Federation,
carrying a map of the county and its rivers.
Are there any tackle shops?
Although you will find fishing tackle in most sport and watersport-type shops it is much simpler to go to the local hypermarket where you can buy small items: hooks, line, shot, etc.
What about larger items of tackle?
For bigger items like long and short telescopic poles - these being the favoured method used by the French - you could possibly pick up a real bargain. However, rods, reels and equipment for more British techniques tend to be expensive and are less generally available.
Can I buy maggots, worms, etc?
Yes. The availability of all types of bait - with the exception of casters (the pupa stage of maggots) - is quite good. Most hypermarkets have a bait fridge with a wide selection of maggots, worms, pinkies. But beware - they are very expensive. A small tub of 25 maggots cost 8 francs (about 80 pence) in 1998.
What is the best way to transport bait?
The best way to take your maggots on holiday is to put them in a large plastic bag, suck out as much of the air as possible, seal the bag and put it in a cool-box. This will put them into a sort of suspended animation, and they will keep in this way for about 3 to 4 days. When required, just open the bag, remove as many as you need, and in about 20 minutes they will be as good as new. If you are taking worms, you can buy these through the small ads in many of the UK fishing magazines; they come pre-packed and cost about 12 UKP per kilo.
What are the best methods to use?
Although there is no set method to catch fish on any water, a still-water approach - e.g waggler, pole, and feeder - should get the best results. If you decide on a feeder attack you would be advised to use the wire cage - groundbait type with sweetcorn or something similar - but take your own with you as they are not widely available in France. However, once there you'll find bags of groundbait at 50 per cent of UK prices so it's probably best to buy the bait once you're there.
What fish am I likely to catch?
You will find all types of fish common to English waters: carp, roach, bream, tench etc, plus pike, and a few not-so-common fish such as mullet, zander and catfish. An unusual species is black-bass - well-known in the US apparently, but less so in the UK.
Catfish have sharp pectoral fins, so
What's the most important piece of equipment to take with me?
Speaking from my own experience of fishing on the sluggish lower reaches of the river Vie, near St-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, I should say a towel to hold the catfish! On one of my very first casts I hooked a small specimen and swung it straight to my hand - not realising that they have very sharp pectoral fins - and lacerated my finger. Five minutes later I caught another catfish - and another, and another... In fact the main topic of conversation among British anglers on the river bank was how not to catch catfish! (I should add that we did manage to catch a few carp, tench and bream between us, too, though.)
© 2000, Rob Busby, text and pictures
Any more questions? Fishy queries of a
technical nature can be mailed to Rob.
One important thing to remember when setting out on an angling expedition in France is that any sign saying PECHE INTERDITE or PECHE RESERVEE means NO FISHING!
Among tourist facilities of special interest to the fisherman in the Vendée are:
the tourist office at Chaillé-les-Marais (on the N137, 14km south-east of Luçon - tel: 02 51 56 71 17; fax: 02 51 56 71 36), which has one or two other good publications giving hints on the best spots to try on the different lakes and rivers, and information on all types of fishing and fishing courses.
France’s network of hotels known as Logis St-Pierre (after the patron saint of fishermen), which specialise in providing facilities for anglers. A book listing these establishments throughout the country is available free from the French Government Tourist Office, 178 Piccadilly, London W1V 9DB.
PS I should add that Rob returned to the Vendée a couple of years ago with his family, and that both he and his son caught record-sized carp in the Lac d’Apremont, at Maché!
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