How to find public carp waters in France

photo of a map with pins How successful your fishing trip will be, is in large part determined way before you cross the channel: during the homework or “research” phase. The purpose of this research is to find a list of suitable venues and potential fishing spots, figure out the local federation specific rules and regulations, and finally check background of the venue like stock levels and average fish size using publicly available resources. In the section below we go through an example process of doing so.

Using TheCarpSpot

TheCarpSpot has been built primarily to help in the planning phase of your fishing trip. You can read all about the features here, but let's just say that since we cover all of the legal night fishing zones of continental France, you can pick and choose your destination(s) as you please. Just make sure you check all the regulations and opening dates to be on the "right" side of the law.

Doing it the hard way

If you want to find your venues the hard way, the process of finding a public carp water goes more less like this: let’s imagine that you want to fish famous lac d’Orient. Here’s how you could go about it:

  1. Quick search on Wikipedia will reveal that Lac d’Orient is located in the French department of Aube. Equipped with this knowledge, you need to search the internet for “federation peche Aube”.
  2. This search reveals the site at https://www.fedepeche10.fr/. You could search through this page and find the night fishing regulations but let’s take our search a step further. Let’s amend our google search as follows: “carpe de nuit site:fedepeche10.fr”.
  3. If you got this search right, the result should be the exact page detailing night fishing regulations in this department: https://www.fedepeche10.fr/pecher-dans-l-aube/reglementation-carpe-de-nuit-aube
  4. Since the site offers no English version, you can use your browsers translation capability.
  5. The site offers interactive map (of sorts) that allows to see where the night zones, reserves etc actually are.

If you go through the regulations detailing fishing at Orient, you will notice that petrol outboards are not allowed and the lake is open for night fishing only during certain periods of the year. You could end your research here, but it would be a potentially costly mistake, which will hopefully become apparent very soon. The example above assumes that you know the venue you want to fish. But what if it is your first trip and you want to go a little bit off the beaten track and perhaps fish a quiet canal or a river? In such a case the best starting point is the map of departments of France which you can find at here. Pick an are that you fancy (because you know of a venue, because it’s close to Calais etc.) and go searching.

At the end of the research phase you should have a list of several potential venues in close proximity. Why do I need so many venues you may ask? Because things can go wrong for a variety of reasons: your favourite river may be in flood, the section of the canal may be closed due to roadworks, the lake may be hosting a fishing competition you were not aware of, the venue may be busy, inaccessible, devoid of any fish etc. For all of those reasons, when fishing in France you need to have a plan B, C & D.

What’s what

Now that you have the list of venues you may take your research a step further by using sites like carpcircle.com. Those sites will provide you with some extra information about stock and difficulty levels but take it all with a pinch of salt. No-one will ever admit on the internet that the lake holds a number of fifties, quite the contrary. And if someone does admit that, you can expect the banks to be rammed with anglers. Those sites can however give you some tidbits that can be reasonably useful, like does lake X hold any carp at all?
Now that we know that the venue(s) you’ve selected holds some carp, there are a couple of other things that are worth doing: first check the venue using google maps (satellite view). This view can be misleading but will often show carp anglers, potential and existing swims as well as access roads, car parks etc. What the satellite does not show are the elevation changes, so what looks like a perfect spot to bivvy up, may turn out to be a steep slope. Also even if the car park clearly exist, you need to check using Google street view that it does not have height restrictions as this can limit your access if you are using a van!
Now that we have the venue, potential swims, verified access paths and place to park, the next thing is to check bathymetric maps using gpsnauticalcharts.com. This site can be extremely useful and help you eliminate areas unsuitable for the time of the year: looking for carp in 90m of water may be a futile exercise.
The last step is to use youtube to find any evidence of people catching carp in the waters you have selected. You would be surprised how many (poor quality) videos you can find there. Quality aside, those videos may help you to piece a bigger picture and make the trip more successful.
Finally to get a better idea of the lay of the land, it may be worthwhile to search youtube for drone footage of your chosen venue(s). This will give you a much better picture of the elevation of the land, any steep slopes etc. If you “like” those videos on YT, the system will recommend more videos of the same kind and you may get some interesting ideas for your trips without doing much effort!