River Boutonne April-Sept.License required and can be arranged
Fly fishing holiday
For those dedicated to fly fishing, especially trout fly fishing, the holiday options are endless. Whether you plan to fish for Atlantic salmon in Russia's Ponoi River, for wild brown trout in the chalk streams of Wiltshire and Dorset, or for carp in Canada's St. Lawrence River, there is an ideal fly fishing destination for you.
Anglers who favour saltwater fly fishing have plenty of destinations to choose from as well. Try casting for sea bass off England's southern coast, or join the growing number of saltwater fly fishermen hooking exotic Caribbean fish off the coast of Barbados.
Fly Fishing in France
Though you'll find excellent fly fishing destinations all over the world, many great fishing spots are at your own back door, in easy-to-reach places of France and the UK.
In Brittany, France, head to the Lac au Duc and the streams around it for excellent carp and trout fly fishing. "Anglers fish all around the shores of the lake, sometimes camping overnight at a good patch," says Barbara Craig, owner of holiday property "Toad Hall", which is near Lac au Duc. "The rolling countryside around Toad Hall is cris-crossed by quiet streams. Popular spots for fishing are found along the banks of the Yvel where it flows into the Lac au Duc and at the Etang de Chateau Tro," she says.
Another great fly fishing area in France is around Lake Annecy, in the Rhone Alps. Here, dramatic mountain scenery provides a stunning backdrop for fly fishing. On the lake you can fish from May to February, while in area rivers brook trout and brown trout are biting from May to September. Skilled anglers can try their casting arm in the area's many mountain streams, which are challenging but rewarding places open to fly fishermen from March to October. Countless lakes and rivers, including the the Brevon, Menoge, Dranse, Le Giffre, L'Arve, Lac Leman and others, are close by.
"Fishing varies from wading to bank and boat fishing, so all styles are available. In this area, the fly fishing is mainly for trout and salamonide," says angler and property owner Robin Fitzsimmons, whose Morzine chalet "Symphony" sits in easy reach of a "huge amount" of fly fishing spots, he says.
Fly Fishing in the UK
For legendary salmon fly fishing and for the chance to reel in monsters of up to 20 kilos, head to Scotland. Top salmon rivers include south-eastern Scotland's Tweed River (the most prolific salmon river within EU territory), the central Tay (the record holder of Scotland's largest caught fish), and the Dee (known as one of Scotland's prettiest rivers). Other good salmon rivers here include the Hebrides, Esks and Spey. These wide rivers are set against the backdrop of Scotland's quiet, pristine countryside, making for a fly fishing adventure that's not soon to be forgotten.
With some of the cleanest waters in Europe, Scotland is also a great place to hook pike, carp, perch and roach, whether you're fly fishing or using other techniques.
England offers countless rivers and streams for anglers looking for challenging trout fly fishing. Skilled anglers can head to secluded rivers like Exmoore Valley's River Exe, where you can fish with rolled nymphs, dry flies, or imitating patterns like the "muddler minnow". The beautiful River Torridge in North Devon is also good for wild trout, though you could spot sea trout and some salmon during the summer. Beginners will find an idyllic spot to practise casting in Devon's Arundell Arms Lake.
Fly Fishing Farther Afield
New Zealand is a place fly fishermen dream of casting their lines. With its pristine natural beauty and legendary reputation for huge fish, this is truly an idyllic fly fishing area.
The Riwaka River, on New Zealand's South Island, is one of many popular fly fishing areas here. "The river is renowned by locals and tourists alike as being a great place to fish for trout," says Kate Youngman, owner of the holiday property Orchard View, which sits right on the river. "We actually have guides who bring clients out to fish in the river. Also, the Motueka River, which is only about 15 minutes away, is very popular with fly fishermen," she says.
Canada is another legendary fly fishing country, with the kind of extreme variety you can only find in vast lands like this one. British Columbia is famed for its salmon, while southern Alberta is paradise for anglers in search of trout. Quebec and Ontario are also laced with rivers and trout streams where you'll easily find wild trout that grow to 30, 40 or even 50 centimetres. Some great rivers here are the Rigaud and the St. Lawrence. The latter is popular with carp fishermen.
Russia may seem an unlikely fly fishing destination, but it too is a great place to catch real trophy fish, though you'll be forced to travel to the harsh Arctic regions if you want to give it a try. Atlantic salmon abound in Russia's Ponoi River (local guides say the average catch is up to 35 fish a week!), and rivers like the Varzina offer the chance to catch five or ten salmon in a single day. You can even take a helicopter to more remote rivers, like the Zilijavri area, where between the rivers and lake there is amazing fly fishing year-round.
Saltwater Fly Fishing
Saltwater fly fishing is in a category of its own. In theory, any stretch of calm, healthy coastline will treat a saltwater fisherman to a fine catch, but naturally some areas are better than others. In England, head to the south coast for the best sea bass fly fishing. Herne Bay Pier in the Canterbury District is a classic spot, though sea bass bite all along the coast here.
For a warmer destination, try Barbados, where saltwater fly fishing is widely available. Deep sea fishing is still popular, but saltwater fly fishing is beginning to attract a following thanks to the easy conditions (great scenery, warm weather, calm waters) and variety of fish (Crezalle, Horseye Crezalle, and African Pompona are all caught here.)
"The best times to fish would be at first light and sunset - both wonderful times of the day here," says Karen Whittaker, whose holiday cottage, Eversince, overlooks Barbados' coast and the Caribbean Sea.
In many saltwater fly fishing situations, colourful flies mounted on small hooks (size 8-10) work well.
Fly Fishing Advice
No matter where you choose to go fly fishing, be sure to familiarize yourself with local requirements before you arrive. A local fishing permit is nearly always necessary and can often be bought in local bars or shops, though it may need to be requested in advance. In some areas, like Scotland, you'll likely have to request permission (or more likely, pay for it) to fly fish on privately-owned lakes and rivers. This can get expensive, so be sure to enquire with local authorities or fly fishing enthusiasts before you plan a trip.
Restrictions on kinds of hooks or fly fishing techniques is something else you'll have to be aware of.
"Here, several rivers are strictly fly fishing only or fly fishing with a barbless hook, while others allow you to fish with any method," says Robin Fitzsimmons, owner of the "Symphony" chalet in Morzine, France.
But regardless of where you go fly fishing, or which regulations you've had to comply with in order to get there, the most important advice of all is undoubtedly this: relax, unwind, and have a good time!