One very awkward englishman, boldly goes…

Fishing trip à Les Goudes

So as many who know me will testify, I have a slight (!!) obsession with sea fishing. I personally find it a great way to relax and unwind, and I also think it is a very intelligent sport. It takes a lot of knowledge to understand the habitats that fish can be found in, their eating patterns, how the conditions and weather can affect their behaviour and so on. I also love eating fish, and I don’t think anything comes close to catching a fresh fish, killing it respectfully and humanely and eating it that day.

Since arriving in Marseille I have quickly realised that all of the knowledge and techniques that I had learnt to use in the UK was now redundant, and I had to relearn a new way of fishing the mediterranean way. The species are also completely different, with far more variety than I am used to in the UK. For those interested a great resource to demonstrate the different species can be found HERE.  Luckily I have friends and family out here that are more than happy to show me some of the techniques and take me out fishing. One friend invited me out yesterday on his boat, moored in Les Goudes – a small traditional harbour in the Calanques south of Le Pointe Rouge.

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My friend has a great knowledge of the local area, having lived in Les Goudes all of his life. Having not really seen a lot of the Calanques from the sea, I was more than happy to see some of the rock formations and isolated inlets that I had heard so much about. The weather was not great as my pictures below will testify, but the sea was pretty calm to it was very comfortable fishing.

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We were fishing using a very old and basic technique, which in the UK we call trolling. The basic concept is using a lure to mimic the actions and movements of a small fish, which you pull along on a long line following a slow-moving boat. This type of fishing targets aggressive predator fish – which around Marseille includes Loup/ bar (Sea Bass), Liche, Barracuda, Denti,  Bonitou (Bonnito / Tunny) and Maquereau (Mackerel and king mackerel). The technique is incredibly simple, with a single weighted hook with a long fish-shaped latex body which flaps as it is pulled through the sea. My friend told me that the old fisherman used to use pig skin instead of the latex.

We then slowly chugged around the coast and islands whilst the lure followed us about 300 Yards behind.

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Although the fishing was pretty slow, with just a couple of small bites, the scenery more than made up for it with stunning rock formation, bird life and beautiful clear water…

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My friend also talked to me at length about the new changes to the area that will be coming in to force with the new National Park status. I posted a report hosted by the BBC about the opinions of the locals about these changes in a previous post which can be found HERE.   My friend said many locals living in Les Goudes and the surrounding areas are very concerned about the forceful way that the National Park changes  have been made (by Parisian authorities), and feel their voices have not been heard. The area is incredibly sensitive, and the changes mean that all the local boats will no longer be allowed to fish in the area for pleasure, whereas many professional outfits who take more fish and cause greater damage are allowed in, by buying expensive licenses. Even though there are already rules in place to restrict the type of commercial fishing, we saw a few examples of these rules being broken on our small trip out.

My friend was also worried about the impact of an increase in tourism to the area due to the National Park status, and what effect that will have on the fragile environment. The National Park status has already changed the restrictions on building in the area, and new developments have already started appearing in Les Goudes and the surrounding areas – many owned as second of third homes to wealthy people living outside of the area. This has also had a knock on effect to the house prices in the area, meaning children whose families have lived in Les Goudes their entire lives are priced out of the market, due to properties being snapped up by wealthy people from outside the local area as investment potential.

We also saw a few buildings along the stretch of coastline, who have been bought up by compulsory orders during the National Park takeover, which many local residents fear will be made into hotels and leisure complexes in the coming years.

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Back to the fishing, and unfortunately we didn’t catch anything! I have been told countless times that the fish of the mediterranean are very ‘particular’, so this obviously wasn’t our day! Still a wonderful trip, and a great chance to get some local knowledge on the area and opinion on the coming National Park changes from people who have lived in the area their whole lives.

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3 responses

  1. I’m definitely not a fisherman, but I love being on the water and the best water to be on is the Mediterranean Sea. It’s just stunning!
    Sounds like you had a great day!
    Ashley

    January 30, 2012 at 11:19 pm

  2. What wonderful photos – it’s such an interesting area, fascinating.
    I’m not surprised though that you didn’t catch many fish. One day in Bandol I took my son for a ride in the Aquascope – it’s a capsule that you climb into that descends to the sea bed and bobs along out into the bay. I was amazed at how few fish there were. Finally the driver threw some fish-food in and we had a flurry of activity – and I didn’t say a word to the line of patient fishermen sitting along the harbour when we got out!

    February 13, 2012 at 11:15 am

  3. corinne

    Bonjour Englishman, thank you for your post and you are absolutely right in what you say about this National Park project! my uncle has also a boat in Callelongue and he is despaired that soon he won’t be allowed to fish anymore! it’s such a shame! nobody cares about these amateur fishermen who’ve been fishing all their life. What are they going to do?
    Corinne

    March 3, 2012 at 10:16 am

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