Opening of trout fishing in Lozère: water, fish, the season can begin

Opening of trout fishing in Lozère: water, fish, the season can begin

Une ouverture de la truite très arrosée pour les pêcheurs de Lozère. MIDI LIBRE – STEPHANIE BOULOIR

Ce samedi 9 mars 2024, c'est l'ouverture générale de la pêche en Lozère. Si la météo a quelque peu gâché la fête, les voyants sont au vert pour cette nouvelle saison.

This Saturday, March 9, 2024, buckets of water fall from the sky and flow into the bed of the Lot, in Balsièges, where we meet on this opening day of fishing trout in the waterways of Lozère. Fine connoisseurs, the small group knows that it will not be a happy morning.

"The trout are still wintering, they are not very active this season. And with all this rain, it moves too much, the water is turbid...", warns Grégory Richard, facilitator at the federation. When he reached the meeting point from Bagnols-les-Bains, he did not see many people on the banks. A few reckless people, eager to launch the line again. The rain intensifying throughout the day will eventually chase them away. 

In the top 5 for trout

However, Pierre Vlahovitch, president of the fishing federation, and Michel Sandon, his vice-president, are happy. Certainly, it's not the most beautiful day to spend by the river. But the precipitation that falls on this opening day bodes well for the rest of the season. "With this, the river levels are secure for two or three months", estimates Pierre Vlahovitch. he remembers: "L'last year at the same time, the flow of the rivers was at 30%. Today, we must be at 140%. And the higher it snows, this will make a gradual contribution as it melts." Enough to stay calm until May. The spring rains will be decisive for the future.

So too bad for the opening, the fishermen will have time to catch up in the coming weeks. Lozère still has strong arguments to attract them, with its 3000 km of waterways classified in first category, therefore very favorable for trout fishing. "Lozère is in the top 5 of the best French departments for trout", underlines Michel Sandon. With emblematic rivers, the Lot, the Tarn and the Allier. 

Fishing: at what price

The fishing card which allows you to fish throughout the department costs 85€; for an adult, 18€ for under 18s, 6€ for children under 12 years old. Women’s discovery card: €39. A fisherman holding a card in another department must pay the Lozère contribution, namely 44.80€ for the year, 26€ for the week or 14€ for the day. All information on the federation's website or on 04 66 65 36 11.

Rivers full of fish

"The fish population is doing well, rejoices Pierre Vlahovitch. It must be said that we pay very close attention to this. Overall, in recent years, water quality has improved, thanks to the development of treatment plants, regulations have been refined, particularly with regard to the meshe." The mesh, this minimum size from which a fisherman has the right to keep a fish. The fish does not develop at the same speed depending on its environment, it varies from 18cm for example at the source of the Lot, up to 30cm further downstream. "The idea is not to be able to catch a fish that hasn't yet had time to reproduce", summarizes Pierre Vlahovitch. Thanks to this, reproduction occurs naturally." 

At the same time, releasing fish is also an increasingly widespread practice. "For our fathers or grandfathers, it was inconceivable", admits Pierre Vlahovitch. "Over the years, children release more easily", notes Grégory Richard. Now, a photo is enough  feed the fishing table. "And if we practice according to the rules of the art, we can release the fish without hurting it." For those who want to keep it, the quota is set at three or five catches depending on the size and the rivers.

Thanks to this management, no fish releases are organized in the rivers of Lozère. We fish there for wild trout and fario. The trout which are raised at the fish farm of the Lozère fishing federation are released into the lakes, or go to other departments where the fish population suffers more. 

Protection of the environment

The exact title of the federation is departmental federation for fishing and the protection of the aquatic environment. "One cannot go without the other, every fisherman must be aware of this", insists Grégory Richard. Water quality, waste management, compliance with regulations are all areas in which the federation is investing. She is currently working on setting up fisheries guard brigades. There are currently around thirty in Lozère, volunteers attached to local fishing associations (to which are added five federal fisheries guards). Training will soon be provided to them. And the brigade organization will allow them to travel the banks throughout the department. Sworn, they are authorized to issue fines for the use of prohibited techniques, non-compliance with mesh sizes, quotas, or even lack of a fishing license. Identifiable by an outfit, they will above all play a prevention and information role.

"To preserve rivers and fishing, the federation must instill this dynamic", insists Pierre Vlahovitch. And guarantee the 14,000 people who fish in Lozère to be able to practice their leisure in contact with respected nature. 

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