Fishing in the Ariège Pyrenees
The fishable waters in Ariège are exceptionally diverse, ranging from small mountain streams to fast-flowing rivers to high altitude lakes accessible only by foot. Some of the lakes and rivers are stocked, but those higher up contain mainly wild, brown trout. Fishing is popular among local inhabitants but has not become a tourist industry.
Catch-and-release is seldom practiced in Ariège, or in France for that matter. The concept is alien to this intensely food-oriented culture and most French fishermen don't see the point of catching a fish and not eating it. However, a No Kill area has been established along a section of the Ariège River that passes through Luzenac near the talc mine, open only to fly-fishing. The section is signposted "PARCOURS NO KILL". To fish there you must obtain a special permit (free) from the news agent in Luzenac.
There are quite a few fly-fishing enthusiasts but the most popular fishing technique is "toc", which is traditional to these mountains where often trees grow close to the riverbanks and hamper fly casting. The rod is very supple and hollow, with the fine line threading through it and over a finger. The fisherman dangles the line over holes and senses by touch whether the fish has bitten.
The fishing season runs from early March to mid September for most waters. A fishing permit for the entire season in all waters costs 27€ plus you have to become a member of the fishing federation of the department. A special 2-week tourist fishing permit is available and is valid between June 1st and September 30. You can buy it online at www.ma-carte-de-peche.fr starting December 15, 2009.
The fishing federation of Ariège (FAPPMA) has a very detailed web site (in French) with information about permits and regulations and includes a map of all rivers and lakes. See also the very comprehensive web site
For those who have never fished before but would like to try there are numerous privately run "parcours de pêche" where the uninitiated can rent equipment and (if lucky) cook and eat their catch at the picnic area provided. The tourist offices all have information on fishing in their areas.
Accommodations where you can fish on-site:
A river or stream runs through the property :
La ferme du Mont Béas (a trout stream crosses this small mountain farm offering Bed and Breakfast)
Gîte Le Moulin de Lirbat (the Arac river crosses the property)
Located on the banks of a river :
Auberge de l'Arac (on the Arac river)
Auberge du Haut Salat (on the Salat river; fishing permits, tackle and other equipment for sale in sporting goods shop next door)
Auberge des 2 rivières (at the juncture of the Alet and Salat rivers)
Auberge Le Gypaète Barbu (on the Arac; )
B&B La Maison Blanche (on the lower Salat)
Hostellerie de la Terrasse*** (on the Garbet, open June-Sept.)
La Côte municipal campground (on the Salat river, open May through September)
Hôtel de la Poste** (between the Garbet and the Salat)
B&B Vergers de Sésame (on the Arize)