France is home to some of the best architectures and treasures on the globe. I am talking about the Louvre, Palace of Versailles, the Mona Lisa, et al.
But there is also another type of treasure in the waters of France. Catfish! The water bodies of France houses some of the gigantic catfishes in the world. The biggest catfish caught in France was 2.73m in length and weighed a massive 130kg. That is about the size of an African baby elephant! 😀
No wonder cat fishing in France is so popular.
Catfish Fishing in France
I knew I had to try my luck in one of these fantastic waters. Now we may not get as lucky as Jean-Christophe Conéjéro, the proud angler that caught the giant. But having a fantastic time in this romantic city was guaranteed.
In this post, I will give you a list of the things that you need to know before you take a trip for cat fishing in France.
License and regulations for cat fishing in France
An estimated 1.5 million fishig license is issued in France every year. If you want to try your hand at cat fishing in France, you also need to apply for a permit. For any type of freshwater fishing, whether private or public, you will need a license or carte de pêche.
However, if you plan to go sea fishing, a fishing license is not required.
In France, there are many types of fishing licenses. This progressive country also has one of the most inclusive fishing licenses anywhere I have traveled to.
To get more information on the different types of fishing licenses, visit this link.
How and where to apply for a fishing license in France
A number of options for purchasing fishing licenses in France are available.
- For fishing in private waters, you can get a license from the property owner.
- The same can also be obtained at one of the many local fishing shops.
- You can also get your license online. To apply for a fishing license online, click here for English speakers.
- For Spanish and German speakers, you can visit this link.
- For French speakers, you can visit this link.
Regulations for cat fishing in France
- It is illegal to fish in freshwater without a license in France. If you do so, you can be fined up to €22.500.
- You cannot fish at night in France. The only exception is applicable for carp fishing. You should check with the local laws before you take to the waters.
- You should have a piece of good knowledge about the minimum size of the catch, catch limits for the day, and closed seasons, among others. The best source of information is the local guides, as well as the local fishing shops.
- Fishing within 50 meters of weirs and dams is forbidden.
- You cannot also go for fishing in areas that are marked “réserves de pêche,” which means reserved.
- Separate licenses should be obtained for those under 12 years, 18 years as well as women anglers.
- You cannot leave your fishing rod unattended.
- For a comprehensive guide on the guidelines for fishing in France, visit this link.
Best seasons for cat fishing in France
The best time for cat fishing in France is from May to September. Veterans will also tell you that June is the best time for landing a prized catch when it comes to cat fishing.
You might also want to know that it is possible to fish in France all through the year. But since catfish is one of the last fish species to spawn, summer is ideally considered the best time to catch hold of one of these massive giants.
Best locations for cat fishing in France
Now that you have an idea where to get your fishing license, it’s time to take your gear to the waters. My top recommendations for cat fishing in France are:
This water body is essentially a reservoir more than a lake. It has one of the best features for cat fishing in France. It is beautiful, surrounded by nature, and most importantly, a place where the catfish are in abundance.
It is known equally for the catfish population as it is for its beauty. Any time of the year, you can expect to catch a giant catfish that weighs no less than 78lbs, which is about 35 kgs.
This fishing spot is privately managed, which means that you increase your chances of landing a catch. The number of anglers that are allowed to fish at a time is limited so you need to book your place in advance.
Check for booking availability here.
If, like me, you research the best places to fish before you set foot into the country, Vaumigny probably did not figure high on the list for cat fishing in France. There is a reason behind this as I later found out.
The river is not as famous as some other cat fishing spots because it is a place that only experts and those with the right gear go for cat fishing. While this may sound like a negative point, I was more than excited to check out the place.
The fishes that call this water body their home are of humungous size, so you need to come prepared with sturdy gear. You also need to be in the best of health. I say this because, if you do land a catch, there is going to a battle between man and fish!
Learn more about this incredible fishing spot here.
The Garonne River is also one of the most visited rivers by cat fish hunters looking for a trophy catch. It is no secret that carps are the most available species in this river. But if you run into one of the catfishes, you are in for a fight.
The river is also home to The European sea sturgeon, which is a critically endangered species. The Garonne basin is the only place on the planet where this special fish breed. You will run into one of these spectacular species. But they are quite skittish, so you do not have to worry about harming them.
However, this is one of those water bodies where your patience will be pushed to its limits. Do not expect the majestic catfishes to take your bait very easily! You will also need top-notch gear for this expedition to be a success. But this is what makes the experience even more unforgettable if you ask me.
Find out more information about the river by visiting this link.
This majestic river is designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. So you can bet flora and fauna in this river are spectacular. But the best part for us fishers is whether or not there are fishes in this water body.
Well yes. You won’t be disappointed one bit. The river is often called a fisherman’s paradise and rightfully so. It has an abundance of the fish population from catfishes, pike, and graylings.
You might catch one of the biggest catfishes in this river as well. This river is a fast-flowing one, so it may not be suitable for amateurs. However, there are some portions of the river where you might be able to wade and negotiate with the waters.
More information about this river here.
My fishing expedition to France wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to this river. And so does my list of recommendations for cat fishing in France.
Legend has it that the Chernobyl disaster exposed the catfishes in this river to radiation. This caused them to grow to humungous sizes. Whether or not this is true remains to be debated. Although the fishes in this river indeed contain high levels of PCBs. This makes them unsuitable for human consumption. In fact, this is a ban enforced by the French Government.
But there is no denying that the catfishes in this river are gigantic. You will have no problem catching a sizeable fish or two. I got a break and landed a substantially sized catfish, and I knew that my trip was a successful one.
You can find more information about this river in this link.
If you are also interested in the radiation story I highlighted above, check out this article that was published by the Guardian.
If you are a fishing enthusiast, then you cannot complete your story of fishing conquest without battling with one of France’s catfishes. Unlike fishing in some parts of the world, this is one trip that will demand your best in terms of skills and gear.
The waters of France hold giant fishes that you will find nowhere else in the world. Irrespective of whether you catch a trophy catfish or not, these places that I have listed are worth visiting in every sense.
Of course, you can also visit other fantastic places that I have not mentioned. Either way, be prepared to have a cat fishing experience of a lifetime.
P.S. – Don’t forget to check out my blog post on my favorite carp fishing spots in France!
Niels Thomas is a wildlife expert and fishing fanatic that works with major fishing brands like Deeper Sonar, Abu Garcia, Berkley, PENN, BassPro and Pure Fishing. Through sharing the best fishing tips, tricks, gear reviews, locations and much more he hopes to inspire fishing fanatics to start their own journey towards becoming the King of the Catch!