Rainbow trout fishing on the La Vis River in southern France (July 18, 2013)


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View of La Vis River upstream of Ganges in southern France

View of La Vis River upstream of Ganges in southern France

I’m spending a family vacation in the region of Ganges (a town located about 44 miles west of the city of Nîmes) in southern France in mid-July of 2013. I start a conversation with the hotelier with whom we’re staying, and of course inevitably end up talking about fishing… He mentions that the river La Vis, which flows into the river Hérault just upstream of Ganges is recognized as the premier trout fishing river in the whole of France (well, he claimed the whole of Europe but I took that with a large grain of salt)! Regardless, information like that fully captures my attention and I decide to give La Vis a shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

View of La Vis River upstream of Ganges in southern France

View of La Vis River upstream of Ganges in southern France

 

 

Unfortunately, all my fishing gear is back in the US… My new friend directs me to the Dubosson “Tabac – Pêche – Chasse” (Tobacco – Fishing – Hunting) store located at 15 rue Biron in Ganges (04 67 73 83 21). I pay them a visit to buy a cheap reel and spinning rod, several recommended no. 2 Mepps spinners, and a one-day fishing license (which goes for 10 €).  The store owners are friendly and helpful. They even introduce me to the local fishing club president who just strolled in to buy his newspaper. He immediately recommends several spots and also tells me to go early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the inevitable swimmers and to stay away from the hottest/sunniest part of the day. He also warns me that the trout are extremely finicky and difficult to catch…

 

View of La Vis River upstream of Ganges in southern France

View of La Vis River upstream of Ganges in southern France

La Vis is an outstanding natural resource. This water body has its source in the Cévennes National Park and flows eastwards for about 40 miles until its confluence with the Hérault River near Ganges. The volume of water is irregular but abundant, which is typical of the rivers in the area. The geology of the Languedoc-Roussilon region of southern France consists entirely of limestone formations.  La Vis has carved itself into a deep canyon, thereby creating an impressive landscape (see for example, the Cirque de Navacelles). The surface flow in the summer is driven by groundwater input. As a result, the water temperature does not exceed 60˚F, even during the hot season, which makes for cold wading but favors the rainbow trout that are stocked each spring.

 

 

 

 

View of La Vis River upstream of Ganges in southern France

View of La Vis River upstream of Ganges in southern France

I get out of bed at 5:30 am and drive up the sinuous Route Departementale 25 (D25, a.k.a. Route de Ganges) towards the hamlet of Saint-Laurent-le-Minier. The road runs alongside the gorge of the La Vis. I quickly reach my first fishing spot a couple of miles outside of Ganges. I park the car in a large gravel parking lot on the left side of the road and walk towards the water flowing on the right. Somewhat to my surprise, the river tumbles over a semi-circular dam at this spot (I ran into two more such dams further upstream). I cast my spinner for about 20 minutes in this general area but generate no interest.

 

 

 

 

 

View of La Vis River upstream of Ganges in southern France

View of La Vis River upstream of Ganges in southern France

My first impression is that La Vis is indeed a spectacular trout river! This watercourse is around 30-50 ft wide and mostly wadable (< 3 ft deep, except behind the dams) but with some deeper holes. The substrate consists entirely of clean gravel, coble, boulders, and bedrock. Much of the shoreline is shaded by overhanging trees. The second impression pertains to the water: it is pristine, crystal clear and darn cold! I get it why stalking trout on this river is such a challenge: they can see fisherman and their lures/flies from a country mile away.

 

 

 

 

 

A rainbow trout caught in the La Vis River upstream of Ganges in southern France

A rainbow trout caught in the La Vis River upstream of Ganges in southern France

I walk downstream from the dam a bit and find a beautiful location: a small island with deeper water on its backside at the spot where another small river flows in the La Vis. I wade across and on to the island and start casting my spinner upriver. I soon get a hit but no fish. That’s somewhat encouraging! I keep on casting upstream and get a hookup 15 minutes later. I fight a feisty 14” rainbow trout which makes several strong runs and a jump. Boy, this fish definitely makes my morning!! I continue casting from my island and shortly afterwards am rewarded with a second rainbow trout of similar size as the first one.  Life is darn good at this moment in time but I must move on because I want to further explore this beautiful river.

 

 

 

 

 

A second rainbow trout caught in the La Vis River upstream of Grange in southern France

A second rainbow trout caught in the La Vis River upstream of Grange in southern France

I stay on the D25 driving towards Saint-Laurent-le-Minier and quickly notice that access to La Vis is mostly problematic and spotty. Often, the river flows too deep into the gorge for safe access, or the winding road is way too narrow for parking, or long stretches are posted as “pêche gardée” (“reserved fishing”, i.e., private property/no trespassing). I stop and reach the river at various locations along the way and fish for short periods of time but without catching anything. I see huge two foot-long fish swimming lazily in the crystal-clear water column. They’re not trout but look more like enormous chubs. They show no interest in my spinner but sure would be fun to catch with a live worm and a bobber (assuming that this kind of fishing method is allowed…).

 

 

 

 

 

View of La Vis River upstream of Ganges in southern France

View of La Vis River upstream of Ganges in southern France

I drive well past Saint-Laurent-le-Minier on the D25 and notice a small marked parking spot on the right side of the road. I take my chances, park the car, and walk down to the river which is easily accessible via a dirt footpath. I reach a gorgeous spot that screams “trout” all over! La Vis flows through a man-made narrows and tumbles into one pool, then another, then a third. The water is 2-3 ft deep, turbulent in the middle, but quiescent on the sides. I spend 30 minutes casting my spinner up and down these three pools but generate no interest whatsoever… I understand now why La Vis is considered a difficult river. I know that trout must be hiding in those pools but they are not showing their presence. I sorely wish that I had more time to keep on exploring further upstream but it’s now 11:30 am and the sun is blazing hot high up in the hazy azure sky. It’s time to head back home. I strongly recommend spending quality time on this river if you happen to be in the region. La Vis is spectacularly beautiful, but is challenging to fish and tough to access.

 

 

 

The results: I caught two 14″ rainbow trout in 4.5 hours of fishing.

Was the information in this blog useful? I invite you to share your thoughts and opinions. Also, feel free to discuss your fishing experiences at this location.

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