Carp Fishing in France
Featured image by David Keep – Carp fishing in France at Bletiere, 2010

Carp Fishing in France And General Fishing Trips in France Guide

If you want to head to France for carp fishing, then you have chosen the right spot! Hundreds of people head to the country in search of carp of legendary size.

Of course, before you actually go ahead and bag that monster, you are going to need some basic information about carp fishing in France.

Here is what you need to know:

Fishing in France

There is quite a bit to unpack about fishing in France in general. So, let’s start with the fishing opportunities and then look at the legalities involved.

The first thing to realize is that there are quite a few places to fish within the country. There are hundreds of ponds and lakes in the 94 metropolitan French departments.

In case you were hoping to widen your scope even further, there is 15,000 km of rivers and 500,000 km of brooks. So, it is clear to see that your main issue will be to figure out just where to fish in France!

Permits and Regulations

If you want to go fishing in freshwater in France, then you do need a permit. In case you like to fish in public waters, then you would require a “carte de pêche” or a fishing rod license.

If you are planning on spending your time in a private fishery, then you need an additional fishing permit from the landowner.

Types of Fishing Permits In France

As an angler in France, there are four main types of permits to be concerned with. They are as follows:

  • Carte Journalière: valid for 1 day, for one department
  • Carte Hebdomadaire: valid for 7 days, for one department
  • Carte Personne majeure: valid for 1 year, for one department
  • Carte interfédérale Personne majeure CHI: valid for 1 year, for all 91 departments

The permits are priced according to their validity as well as their department options. Thus, the Journalière is the cheapest while the interfédérale Personne majeure CHI is the most expensive.

It is important to select the type of permit that is best suited for your trip. For instance, if you are only planning on staying in one spot for a short period of time, then the Journalière or Hebdomadaire will be most suitable.

In the event that you will be moving around quite a bit, then the interfédérale Personne majeure CHI will offer the greatest versatility and value.

Best Carp Lakes in France

Finding the top carp lakes in the region isn’t as easy as you might imagine, despite the abundance of the sport. To make sure that you are heading to the right destination, here is what you need to know.

Carp Fishing in France
Lac Saint André et les vignes de Savoie

Public vs. Private Fishing Lakes In France

Of course, to be successful in your mission, you must first know which carp lakes in France to visit. This can be rather tricky to narrow down since there are quite a few lakes in the region and carp is not an uncommon fish.

The first thing to understand about carp fishing lakes in France is that they are divided into two categories: public and private.

Public lakes are open to virtually every angler with an appropriate fishing license. The private lakes, on the other hand, can often only be accessed when booking private carp fishing trips.

Now, before you decide which spot is right for you, you should be aware that there are both pros and cons to each of these locations.

Public lakes are often a great deal cheaper but there is often very little information regarding the carp population. Not to mention, the regulations can differ from place to place, making it all the more confusing.

With private lakes, you often have to book an entire package to be able to use that spot. The good news, though, is that these areas are well-tended to. Therefore, catching carp is virtually a guarantee.

Furthermore, you will often find that these private companies offer the best small lake carp fishing in France as well.

Private lakes aren’t necessarily the best spot for the budget-conscious, however.

Carp Fishing in Northern and Southern France Lakes

There is no denying that locating the top carp fishing spots in the country requires a bit of digital legwork.

In particular, you are going to have search popular maps to identify which areas are most likely to yield the best results.

Most anglers head to the southwest of France as this region tends to be more abundant. Nevertheless, carp fishing in Northern France continues to be quite popular as well.

To cut down on the work involved, though, simply start your search with the following areas:

Lac de Moulin Papon

If you are still relatively new to carp fishing, this is the lake to start with. It is in the town of La Roche-sur-Yon, in the Vendée department.

Easy access and flat, wooded banks ensure that this territory is simple enough for most anglers to manage.

Here, you can expect to catch carp weighing around 7 to 8kg.

Your job may be hindered a little bit by the presence of catfish and crayfish. Also, this is a rather popular spot and thus, may not be ideal for a secluded fishing spot.

Le Lac D’Enchanet

Despite being an artificial lake, Le Lac D’Enchanet has a certain wilderness about it. This ideal fishing spot is in the Cantal department, relatively close to Aurillac.

This lake isn’t just famous for its large carp population. It is also well-known for having fish weighing over 20kg.

Of course, this does come at a price. It isn’t the easiest fishing area and is typically reserved for those who have quite a bit of experience under their belt.

Lac de Castelnau Lassouts Lous

If you are looking for views as well as carp, then you should certainly head to this lake. It is in the Occitan region, nestled between two gorges.

While fishing isn’t necessarily the easiest here, the carp are certainly plentiful. You can bag fish that weigh around 12kg, although it isn’t unusual to find those that are 25kg as well.

You can increase your chances of catching something even further by taking a boat out onto the water.

Lac de Villeneuve Raho

This is the lake for anglers that like a bit of a challenge. Located in the department of Pyrenees-Orientales, in the region Languedoc-Roussillon, this is a beloved spot for the local anglers.

Due to this, the population of carp is a lot more aware of fishing strategies. Not to mention, there is also an abundance of natural food sources within the lake.

If you are successful in your endeavors, though, there is a good chance that you can walk away with carp ranging from 11 to 20 or more kilos.

Lac du Salagou

If your goal is competitive carp fishing, then this area should suit you nicely.

For one thing, there are quite a few different classifications of carp to choose from. This includes mirror and common carp.

For another, there have been a fair number of trophy carp caught in this spot. Therefore, there is a good chance that you might snag a fish weighing 25kg or more!

Lac de Hourtin Carcans

Fishing in this lake will certainly not be a picnic. In fact, you should probably only attempt it if you have been carp fishing for years.

For all its obstacles, though, there is no denying that this is still a satisfying place to fish. The average carp here weigh between 11 and 14kg.

However, with some patience and luck, you may find those closer to 20kg.

The Best Time of Year for Carp Fishing In France

If you don’t mind being optimistic, then technically you can catch carp all year long.

However, if you want to guarantee walking away with a fish, then spring is the best time to head to France.

Since the fish come out of their hibernation-like state from the winter, they are more likely to move around and be responsive to bait.

During the summer, the carp are more likely to swim closer to the surface of the water. Therefore, dangling floating baits should get you the results that you are looking for.

Anglers looking for trophy fish may get lucky during the autumn. At this point, the carp are trying to eat as much as possible and fatten up ahead of the winter.

You are least likely to snag a carp during the winter. They aren’t looking to feed and are certainly not very active.

Thus, there is a good chance that you will spend more time hunting for carp rather than catching any.

Night Fishing

You may be aware that night fishing for carp can be quite exhilarating. To begin with, the fish are often a lot more active at this point.

Therefore, you can expect quite a bit of struggle.

If you do want to go night fishing in France, then you need to be aware of the rules. This is especially true for public lakes.

First off, not all lakes allow you to night fish, although most do. You should check on this ahead of time to avoid being fined or charged.

Some restrictions exist even in areas that do approve of night fishing. This could include restrictions on catching, storing, and more.

It is always best to check what the rules are at each individual lake, wherever you go.

Fishing Trips in France

As mentioned, many international anglers tend to flock to French rivers during the fishing season. So, if you are planning fishing holidays in France, you will be in good company.

There are technically three types of trips you can take where fishing is involved:

Carp Fishing Luxury Packages

These are when you book France fishing trips on private lakes, with accommodation at hand. Such options are ideal for the angler who wants to stay in one place for a week or longer.

This gives you plenty of opportunities to set up your preferred swim and go back there day after day. It is a great trip idea for anyone who wants to make fishing the main goal of their holiday.

Drive and Survive Carp Fishing

This is a little more rough and tumble. It is where you drive from one lake to another, fishing as you go.

Here, it is unlikely that you will stay in the same place for more than two or three days.

With this option, most anglers prefer to set up camp by the lakeside if possible. Nevertheless, a number of fishing holiday companies have caught onto this mode of fishing.

Therefore, you should be able to find more comfortable lodging if you wish to.

Intermittent Fishing

Of course, there are many people who come to France for reasons other than fishing.

So, if you find yourself in a big group where carp fishing isn’t a priority, you will have to steal a few moments here and there.

For this purpose, you should often apply for day passes to lakes so that you can get at least a few hours of carp fishing in.

Trout Fishing in France

Although you may be a fan of carp fishing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to restrict yourself on your trip.

Well, in this case, there is good news for you: trout fishing in France is possible as well.

In particular, the brown trout is the species that you are most likely to come across in this region.

Now, it should be noted that trout aren’t quite as commonplace as carp. Nonetheless, they can be found in several freshwater spots along the Dordogne River in Southwest France.

Tips for Carp Fishing in France

For the most part, fishing for carp in France is quite a bit like dropping your line in any other body of water.

Still, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when in France. After all, the carp here can be a lot bigger and wilier too.

Here are the top tips to follow:

  • Have Larger Hooks: on average, French carp can be much heavier than what you are used to. Thus, you are going to have to get better equipment. In particular, get hardier hooks. If you haven’t already, make an upgrade to a size 2 or 4 hook.
  • Take Lots of Bait: the size of the carp is also the reason why they are more likely to gobble up more bait. So, if you take too little, you may find yourself empty-handed after only a short while. Do yourself a favor and take more than you think you might need.
  • Be Aware of Previous Anglers: since carp fishing is so popular in France, the fish can be quite wary. Therefore, take note if anglers have been to the lake a few hours or days ahead. If the water appears over-baited, wait for some time before dropping in your own line.
  • Move Around: if you aren’t having much luck with your carp fishing, then it is time to move around. If possible, get on a boat and head out towards the center of the lake. You will probably find more carp in this area.

All this information makes it clear that carp fishing in France can make for a rather wonderful experience. In case this is something you have been considering, you just may want to book your trip.

Have you been to France on such an expedition? Let us know what it was like in the comments below and if there are any tips that you would like to share.

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