Carp Fishing Public French Lakes and Rivers

About carp angling lakes in France – In the beginning the monks introduced carp into the north of Holland, throughout Europe they spread, at times in history they were cross bread and introduced into thousands of stretches of water. The many strains travelled the meandering waterways of mainland Europe often settling and breeding. Again and again the originals were cross bread by Europeans and introduced into other waters. It wasn’t too long before they found their way across the channel. What a journey to the land where carp fishing evolved. It’s an amazing expedition and one we are indebted to the monks for? My journey is back across the channel to the lakes and rivers of unknown potential
But firstly my history, back to a time not so many years ago when there were few commercial fisheries when one needed to explore the vast array of public waters before stumbling upon the gems. An era when your strategy was not only to outwit the carp but also in avoiding personal capture by the fishing police. The crime of night fishing in no night fishing zones was a crime of mythical proportions! Upon discovery, it was all for one and one for all, run, hide and escape or risk having your prize possessions confiscated.
The conversation at a recent carp show between Jerry and I went something like this “Rod can you write some articles on fishing abroad?” “What do you have in mind, give me some direction?” “I want to know the other side!” “The other side? Explain?”  “Hardships as well as the successes, we don’t want commercial venues but the wilder side!” Without a thought I gave him my answer, “OK, I knew exactly what Jerry was saying” Did I really agree to this or were the previous nights vodkas still influencing my decisions? I’m now committed and cant go back on my word! So here goes to a series of finding some new venues. The criteria I have set is to target both day only and legal night fishing venues throughout mainland Europe, ranging from public to private French owned, lakes and river stretches that are nameless to the vast majority. Although the majority of my trips will be to France I have heard a few whispers of some lakes in Hungary and Italy that are being kept under wraps. It’s not an easy task, however due to having over 2000 venues on file throughout Europe it shouldn’t be a major problem, should it? I will let you know how I get on as it happens.

How I remember those days of combat carping in Savauge areas of lakes and rivers, savauge carping may be translated as fishing wild areas, wild being those of unknown quantity often in the middle of nowhere, waters that 99.9 % have not wet a line, places of untapped potential and generally overgrown. Should such places be my objectives for this series? Stick your hands up! I see that the majority of you would prefer to read about such adventures. How many anglers embark on the journey into the unknown nowadays? Not many, most want it handed on a plate, big fish commercial waters or the well known and already done public lakes. Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking them as I have fished many commercial waters, but have recently suffered withdrawal symptoms and am looking forward to re-visiting my pioneering roots.
I will be sensible in my choice of waters, carefully selecting venues that all can fish, most allowing night fishing a few not, whatever the rules I will adhere to them and present to you the approach that I find most effective. Me adhering to the rule that’s a first! I must have gained some morals as the years have passed. My pioneering days are long gone but etched in my memory and the most meaningful.
Due to the terms the road ahead is thwart with uncertainty and it is not going to be an easy ride, allow me to expand, now the Ass Ed has given me direction I must look at the way in which I am going to approach this series, inevitably it means returning to my routes! In order for you to understand I must reminisce to some of my sessions of the late 80s and early 90s. They being more like a safari than a holiday due to the difficulties and adrenalin rush that accompanied those masochistic sessions. Many of the venues were full of sweat, some only had access by boat, and many were overgrown where getting to the waters edge was pretty precarious. Getting stuck in the mud or punctures was somewhat common. Preferred swims tended to be where the fish were rather than chosen for accessibility, this often meant chopping down the undergrowth to make space for a bivvy and keeping out of sight as there was often no legal night fishing. I even recall fishing a Dutch lake of unknown potential only be told after 3 days of fishing that the lake was drained and carp removed the previous year. I am telling you all of this to make you aware of the consequences of hunting for new venues, it can be rewarding, in the same breath it can be hard going! I will explain the ups and downs of this series and tell it as it happens, if I blank the article will still be wrote, however along the way I am sure to uncover a few gems.

Back then an angler was privy, not entitled to quality information, a time when I night fished a lot of venues without being seen or heard, the slightest noise resulting in you’re position being compromised, which may have led to arrest or tackle confiscation. I was never caught and would not advocate this approach nowadays, its not needed and frowned upon, not the way to promote ourselves. However I do intend to re-light my pioneering fire but not quite as severe as I chased my goals of the past. Only for you Ed I will write this and search for the new and will tell it as it happens! You will hear the hardships along the way, you will listen to my gripes throughout the ups and downs of it all. Oh and hopefully I will catch a few along the way.
So where do I start? Well, I think to begin with I should explain in detail the various categories of venues in France, as few understand them and maybe a little unsure of how to discover potential new venues.

Lakes in Europe can be categorized to public venues through to privately owned lakes, in order to help the average carp angler choose the right type of venue I will attempt to explain and give advantages and disadvantages to each. The categories will become clear as you read on.

Private Venues

These are lakes that have been purchased or leased and ran as fisheries on a commercial basis. They are on secured private grounds and often the first choice of the holiday angler. They tend to be hassle free and a joy to fish. Carp stock and size vary from heavily stocked fairly easy venues to out and out big fish lakes. The advantages and disadvantages are not the case for every private venue but only my findings on the majority of them. They can be sub categorized as follows:

English owned/leased

There are many more English owned/leased venues hitting the market every year, some better than others, but to read the adverts some give the angler the wrong impression, the fish will not jump up your line, there are many successes and as many failures. I have not fished all but have been in contact with anglers who rave about some and slag others off. Some of the venues that have a waiting list are usually top quality, they have a waiting list due to the amount of return customers, anglers that were happy with there first trip. Most English owned/leased venues are within a 4 hours of a port, keeping the driving distance to a minimum for the travelling angler. In my view the most important factor of English owned lakes is that the owner is likely to be a carp angler and understands the needs of the visiting carpist.
Prices on this type of venue are normally over £200 per person per week, the proprietor is not trying to rip anyone off, they are simply paying for the lake, the stock, its maintenance and advertising costs, to maintain a quality venue that costs quality money.

French owned
Again these are privately owned lakes but tend to be open shop, by this I mean anyone can turn up and fish. There are literally hundreds of these with many of them catering well for the travelling angler. Many of the more experienced travelling carp angler fish these types of lakes, I know of several that have a good stock of 30 – 60 lb carp, but in the same breath I know of many that are out and out runs waters but you will be lucky to land anything over 30 lbs.

The main advantage with this type of venue is the price, they rarely exceed 140 euros (£100) per person per week!
Rules can be virtually none existent, the only worry these lake owners have is the constant threat of fish thieves, I know one or two now carry out random checks on vehicles leaving the grounds.
Most French lake owners tend to secure there gates at a certain time in the evening and re-open early morning, leaving a contact number for the angler to ring in case of emergencies through the silent hours.
Here are a few good quality private French lakes that I have first hand experience of: Domaine des Illes, Pescalis, Beaumont de Lomagne, Etang de Pesnel, Lac de Poiteviniere, Champ de Ourscamp and Etang Rouge.


Agencies for carp fishing do exactly the same as any other holiday industry, except the agencies in this case are those that

Public waters – AAPMA

French – Carte de Peche- Photos, Id,

Public lakes/rivers with controlling bodys
This type of venue is becoming more common in France nowadays, they are venues that are public but have a controlling club or body that has the rights to fish, when taking the right to fish, they also take up the rights to maintain the fish stocks and surrounding land. It may not be an angling club that is the main controlling body, for example on lac du der a Carte de peche is required and an additional licence, lac du der is primarily ran by the Nautic club. Another example is Etang Chantilly, the extra cost to fish this lake is approximately 110 euros (£80)

French carp venues – On the Internet

The Internet provides a wealth of information to the carp angler, including many websites on French carp fishing and venues. This month I will hopefully raise a few eyebrows by making you aware of the amount of venues available on the information superhighway. The web pages and sites listed have been added to my explorer favourites for future sessions, most have commonalities in that they contain big carp and are well stocked.
In order to write this article many hours of research has gone into its compilation, over 10 years of surfing to be more precise! It looks like a list of plain old website addresses and quite a boring article? However! Once you follow the links in your Internet explorer you will realise the wealth of information being presented!
Probably the most frequently asked question is which are the best lakes? This is a very difficult question to answer due to one person’s rubbish being another mans treasure, in other words, it all depends on what you are looking for. I’ve made this statement in the past and am saying it again to hammer home its relevance.
Most of the lakes within the websites below will accept direct reservations less for the public waters, where no prior reservation is required, being public they are open to all i.e. turn up and fish once you have purchased the carte de peche.

In this piece there are lake’s/links to suit all abilities from the beginner to the big lake pioneer. I have refrained from giving website addresses of UK owned venue’s as they should be within the commercial fishery focus section. My articles are non commercial orientated i.e. no venue owner has asked me to write about their lake nor would I if they did, if I make reference to commercial fisheries it is by my own doing, not of outside influence! Therefore I am at liberty, within reason to tell you how it is and how I rate them.
A person’s perception of a lake is usually different to what they see on arrival. In the past I fished a well-known private venue that held a lot of big carp. However the place was crawling with rats, as soon as the sun went down, they appeared. It was so bad that I would resort to taking traps with me. Even those were sprung within a few hours of darkness. One night I recall waking up to find myself eye to eye with a beast of a marsupial, it didn’t hang round for long as I attempted to end its life with the aid of a stainless bank stick. Unfortunately, the battle scars are still visible in the way of a small hole in the side of my bivvy from the stainless spear that was launched in its direction. This is one of many venues that have large rat populations.
Hygiene is of major importance when fishing lakes like this, rats are a carrier of lipto spirosis, commonly known as weil,s disease. In the worst case lypto spirosis can be fatal! Prior to my first trip I had gathered as much information as possible but no one had mentioned the rat infestation. So does that perfect venue exist? I would suggest that it does not.  Every venue has some feature that is not what the visiting angler expects, here are a few examples: crowded, trouble from locals, rats, deep, toilets not up to scratch, poor directions, bad swims, smaller than advertised, too many small fish, under stocked, no boats, not scenic, too expensive, dirty, crayfish, poison shits (American catfish) snags and noisy. The moral of the story is, don’t let the unexpected spoil your trip, accept the disappointment’s if there are any and concentrate on being there enjoying it, adapt, improvise, overcome and above all work to catch!
The vast majority of people now have access to the Internet either in their home or via an Internet cafe, how many get the best out of it in regards to venue research? Most tend to use one search engine and one language? In fact the best place to find French lakes is within French search engines using phrases wrote in French! I know you probably don’t speak French. That can be overcome with use of translation websites. Here are a useful words, peche (fishing), carpe (carp) and nuit (night). When these phrases are typed into a search engine it will pick up on the French language and list many sites that contain them. The pages are in French as that is the language you typed; a quick web page translation will soon have it appearing in English.
As an example for you I have carried out a search using yahoo, within the first page I found a few lakes that look interesting, one of the venues in the upper half of the search page was:
Parc Loisirs carp lake – French lake

The page is in French but lets see what I can find out about the place from the small amount of information within it? I see night fishing is allowed, there is a photograph of a big carp on their Peche (fishing) page. Other facilities within the complex include golf, swimming pool and a bar. On looking at the photograph of the lake I note that it is a fairly large and there is a photograph of a bivvy on its banks! The fishing cost is 17 euro per 24 hours and there are 10 posts for night fishing. Looks like an ideal venue to combine a family/fishing holiday, as there is a camping site and gites (wooden cottages) close to the lake. However! Due to the water activities it may be very busy in peak holiday periods, therefore I suggest mid summer periods are avoided. Unless of course your first priority is a family holiday and the second being fishing, wonder if the wife would fall for it? There is a large beach area which are normally good spots as carp move in late evening to feed on the food that has been un-earthed by bathers. I have caught carp to over 40 lbs (18.14 kg) from those types of spots in the past. Next time I’m in that area I will go out of my way to visit and carry out a little more research.
Looking back on the last paragraph you will notice how much information that has been gleaned from this website even though the website has only a small amount of information on it and the pages are not in my primary language. You too can gather information on venues through the Internet by copying the above process? I recall reading a letter but cannot recall from which magazine: anyway it was from an angler looking for a complex that would be suitable as a fishing and family holiday? Here is one and you will find more below that fit the criteria!

Etang Commelles – Fishing France

On scrolling further down the search page I notice a lake that I have visited in the past the web site address is as follows: and the name is Etang Commelles, it is a series of lakes each of them around 20 acres. The 3 lakes are set in a mature forest valley and you could not wish for a more tranquil setting. The first lake near the entrance is said to have the larger stock and the second lake the biggest fish. Carp have been caught to high 40lbs (21 kg) and the complex is not over pressured due to not being heavily advertised. During my short visit I caught carp to 27 lbs. I recall seeing several photographs of 40 lb + (18.14 kg) fish in a picture board at the entrance, I enjoyed the few days I spent there and is another lake I have book marked for future.

Etangs Hostens – Fishing in France

This is a series of 5 lakes in the Bordeaux region, the largest at over 100 hectares with depths averaging 5-7 metres. The lakes are said to be well stocked with carp to well over 40 lbs (18.14 kg) the area is popular with tourists. There are several beach areas on the lakes which means they will get busy with water sports during July/August and when the weather is hot at weekends. The lakes are run by a fishing society and the necessary permits can be purchased on arrival.
This page is within a website called nature peche, on following the link you will find a map of France, on the map are a number of links which when clicked will lead you to a number of lakes and rivers. The information is not comprehensive, however there are a lot of venues listed.

Etang Chigy – Carp Fishing Holidays

An ideal venue if you are looking for a campsite with good carp fishing nearby! In fact the lakes within this complex are in the grounds of the campsite. Many 20 lb + (9.07 kg) fish have been introduced and big hits are fairly common. It is another site that caters for family/fishing holidays. There are a number Chalets and apartments available for hire.


Etang Morimond – Carp Holidays

This venue is located near Chaumont. It is 12 ha (27 acres approx) and is next to a campsite. The lake record is over 50 lbs (22.68 kg)
Lac Aiguilles

A recently opened lake in the South, it is larger than the average size private lake at over 70 acres containing over 12 ton of carp with the biggest going over 60 lbs (27.21 kg)! From what I can see on the website, it looks to be my type of venue – good size lake, scenic, big fish and not too many anglers allowed!
This is a definite for a future winter session due to its geographical location (south coast) if anyone visits before I do be sure to get in touch so that I can pick your brains before my own trip! The cost for a week’s carp fishing is 153 euro (approx £110) I would like to see some of the big fish photographs placed within his website? It’s a long way to travel without first seeing some fish photographs of the lake’s inhabitants.
When attempting to make reservations on any of the lakes above you must bare in mind that the owner may not speak English, therefore emailing translated messages is recommended.
Not all lake owners allow boats; some only radio controlled boats others insist on traditional baiting methods these being the catapult, throwing stick or spod. My preferred method is spoding, a good spod rod and plenty of practice and it is not difficult to put a good bed of bait out at over 120 yards. I use my old amorphous 13 ft 3.5 lb test curve rod, when locked it will put a full spod over 140 yards. Note the compressed blank locked and ready to be launched! Also note that we are working as a team, one filling the spod whilst the other is casting (see photograph) By the end of the 6 night session we spod over 50 kg of maple 8 to an average range of 110 yards! Just because no boats are allowed does not mean you should boycott a water!
I will end this article with reference to an email from the editor asking me to place all weights in lb and kg, I thought I would go a little further and design a conversion chart that can be used as a quick reference guide from pounds to kilograms. I am guilty of making approximate conversions in my head and believe many other writers do the same, for a more accurate conversion see table!
In the mean time I am off to France for my second session of the year, carrying out a RECCE for a Group 8 Army competition which is ran from 14 – 21 August. The competition is open to Army, Navy, Air force and civil servants. I know there are many forces personnel based throughout the world that read this publication, so if you are one of them and wish to participate please get in touch with myself on the following email address. In addition
In the next article I will focus on a few more public venues that most of you have not heard of, its ironic really to think that there are hundreds of them containing big carp with legal night fishing. How many public venues can you name – Cassien, Orient, Amance, Madine, Saone, Mosselle, Gondrexange, Seine, Salagou, Liez, Du Der, Lot and Vouglans. Pathetic! These are only 0.5 % of the public lakes and rivers that are available! I will name a few more in future articles.

One thought on “Carp Fishing Public French Lakes and Rivers

  1. ANTONY HOWARD says:

    Hi Gareth i fished the somme canal last may i didnt have any luck ,but i really enjoyed it i fished near a hamlet called frise i know there are carp in the canal and some up to do you have any imformation on the carp fishing in this area as i am going back next spring or any help with location or tactics thanks Antony

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