The fishing season has started in France, so we take you through the main regulations, and how to get a fishing licence.
The issue of fishing licences in France is controlled by local voluntary fishing associations, acting on behalf of the government.
These local associations, called Association Agréée de pêche et de protection des Milieux Aquatiques (AAPPMA), are responsible not only for collection of the licence fee, but also limited management of the local watercourses and lakes, to ensure they are properly maintained and regulated.
The various local associations operate as part of a departmental federation, which in turn are linked to regional structures!
To obtain a carte de pêche/permis de pêche, you can normally find them distributed through local tabacs, sport shops, or possibly through the website of the local AAPPMA.
There are different types of fishing licence, and the cost of the licences varies slightly by department.
- A Carte Annuelle for an adult costs between €70 and €100 and between €10 to €20 for a minor.
- There is also a special licence for women called Découverte Femme, which costs around €30.
- You can also buy a fishing licence for holidays, called Carte Vacances which costs around €30 and which is valid for 7 consecutive days.
- The Carte Journalière costs around €3 for a day’s fishing.
The cost of the licence includes a tax, called the Cotisation Pour les Milieux Aquatiques (CPMA).
The licence is issued personally, and it requires photo identification on it.
The licence grants you the right to fish in all waters managed by the association, and in all public waters (rivers and canals) anywhere in France.
For fishing in watercourses and lakes managed by other associations outside of the department, it is possible to pay a supplement to do so, on the basis of reciprocal agreements that exist between many of the departmental associations.
The licence grants no right to fish in free flowing waters (eaux libres) from privately owned land, unless the owner has otherwise granted consent for members of the local association to do so. The definition of such waters has frequently been a source of uncertainty, dispute and legal action.
Needless to say, captive water on private land (eaux closes) is completely outside of the framework of any fishing rights.
As with la chasse, there are controls on when you can fish, what and how much you can catch.
There are two types of waters containing different species of fish, which determines the fishing season for each one.
In the more oxygenated waters of the 1ère catégorie (containing primarily trout) the season normally runs from the second week of March to the 3rd week of September.
In the less free flowing waters of the 2nde catégorie it is generally possible to fish throughout the year, except for pike, which is only authorised between 1st May and the last Sunday in January.
There are also controls on the size of fish and the quantity that can be taken away, about which you would need to consult with your local association.
You must also respect the hours permitted for fishing during the day, which is normally half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset. Accordingly, night fishing is generally not permitted, but with exceptions.