Sunday, June 7, 2009

Trout Fishing in France

I had heard rumors about the terrific grayling and brown trout fishing in France. Doing a little research on the net, Tom and I decided to head for the French/Swiss border and the Valley of the Doubs to have a look. We didn't have any fishing gear anyway, so this was just a scouting trip.

The Doubs is a river whose headwaters are somewhere in the hills of France and eventually winds it's way to the Saone River south of where the Shenandoah lives. By the time the Doubs gets to the Saone, it can be a raging river, influenced by every raindrop that falls in that section of France. Mary Ellen and I found that out last fall when we were stuck in a flood on the Doubs in Verdun sur Doubs.

Anyway, a two hour drive got us to the river and we started following its snaking path along the valley. Every bend in the road was a photograph. And trout! All over the place. We saw them from the bridges. We saw them from the banks. And rarely a fisherman. Totally unspoiled fishing as far as we could tell.

We hit the river in the village of Pont de Roide and followed it south to St. Hippolyte where the river turned east.

The Doubs shallowed there and flowed along a narrow, but fertile valley, across the Swiss border, to the village of St. Ursanne, where Tom and I stopped to have some lunch.

We found a delightful place on the bank of the river and settled in for a wonderful French lunch, wine, et al. The prices on the menu look very expensive, until I figured out that they were in Swiss francs and not Euros. So we ordered and had a glass of wine. I could see the look on Tom's worried face when he saw those prices but I explained that the conversion rate was really about five to one and that made that thirtyfive Euro steak only seven Euros. Well, I really had no idea what the conversion rate was but... As it turned out, a delightful meal, in one of the prettiest settings imaginable cost us about $100 -- expensive, but you cannot put a price on a day like that!

After lunch we headed south again, following the Doubes along the Swiss border. The valley got a lot deeper and the countryside really did look "Swiss" with cows with cowbells, and goats with goatbells, and pretty Swiss maidens all in a row.... Well, the Swiss maiden part I made up!

We finally arrived at our original destination, the tiny village of Goumois, which coincidentally was called Goumois on both the French side and the Swiss side of the river. Beautiful classic trout stream passed beneath the bridge connecting the two villages. ...and, as far as we could tell there were only two fishermen, both fly fishing on the Swiss side.

We parked the car and spent a half hour or so spotting trout from the bride. As trout spotting is very exhausting, we stopped at an ice cream place, on the French side for a pick-me-up banana split. I say pick-me-up because after I ate that, someone needed to pick me up!

We then piled into the car and headed back to St. Usage and the boat. It was a long day, with a lot of driving, but the drive was totally worth every minute of it as the scenery and the river were beautiful.