So you want to buy a carp lake in France? 8 things you should know!

We’ve resurrected this blog post written by Gareth Watkins a while back. We get a lot of questions passed our way regarding how to run successful carp lakes in France, this blog post helps to answer them…

One of the subjects I see come up again and again on the web forums and one I get regular e-mails about is buying a carp lake in France.

Now I can’t criticise anyone for wanting to live this particular dream because I went down this road in 1999 when I purchased my own lakes in northern France. Over the years I think it has got far harder than when I ventured down this road for the simple reason that the market place has become pretty crowded and the number of venues opening every year is nothing short of staggering. I think it stands to reason that there won’t be a place for everyone.

So what are the traps to avoid? Eight things you need to know when you set up a Carp Fishing Lake in France

1. Setting up a business

Many coming to France to launch a carp fishing venue may not have set up a business in the UK. I have to say it is not any easier in France, on the contrary, you have French legislation to deal with, the language barrier and the adaptation to a new way of life.

Turning a hobby into a business is an attractive proposition

The first thing to do is the get advice on what type of business you want to launch. Do you want to be a sole trader, a Limited Company etc. The options aren’t as obvious as you may think and you need to chose the best one for your business. My advice is to get a good accountant, preferably one who speaks English and can advise you on the ins and outs of running a French business.

You have to keep in mind that you WILL be running a French business. Even if you live in the UK if your activity is based in France, then you are a French business, even if your punters are English and pay you in the UK.

These questions need looking at from the outset. When you set up for the French system you will be subject to French taxes, VAT, Poll tax, Rates, national insurance etc, etc… Keep this in mind and find out what you need to know. I can tell you this takes a sizeable whack out of your monthly income.


2. Location, location, location

When you identify your clients, it will become abundantly clear that most will not travel far from the North. Any location too far south will put a brake on the booking rate. Over the last 15 years we have observed a massive difference in bookings between the venues in the north of France and the South. Go south of the Loire and you are placing an extra obstacle in front of your venue to getting anglers to come. Not insurmountable of course, but your offering needs to have stand out qualities to justify the extra distance.


3. Do inventory of stocks and assess additional fish necessary

When you buy your lake, if it is at all possible, drain it and find out what stocks you have. Too many silver fish and not enough predators is a bad sign. You’ll often find that you have a large number of small carp in your lake. This is generally because the French anglers have removed the pike and zander and left nothing to control the carp population. If your largest fish is 15lb you’ll be hard pushed to open a carp fishery.

Netting the lake will give you an excellent idea of what you need to address

Basically a carp lake needs around 500kg-600 kg of carp per hectare. You need a good spread of weights. Most UK waters now can produce 20’s so you don’t want to go under this for your French lake.  A stock from 22lb -30lb plus is therefore needed. If your lake has no big fish you’ll need to stock them. This is a very expensive business and there are no guarantees your trophy fish will survive the transplantation.

This is a point most people who have never stocked a carp lake fail to take into account… you will lose some fish! Everybody does at some point. Carp, especially large carp, while very hardy fish don’t take kindly to being restocked, the larger the fish the higher the potential probability for problems and the greater the cost to you, the lake owner. Nobody likes to admit that their expensive 50lb mirror that was photographed going into the lake in fact died a fortnight later. But the risks are high.

The fish need regular feeding the give them the best chance of survival, with a decent high grade fish pellet. These can be purchased from companies like, Skretting, Le Gouessant, and Sarb in France.  I was fortunate enough to purchase a venue with carp to 45lb already in it. If you don’t have this the investment is high. The problem is that more and more venues are offering bigger and bigger fish. Competition is therefore high, bear this in mind!!!

Finally get your fish from a reputable registered fish farmer. If possible go to his fish farm and choose you fish yourself. Most reputable farmers allow this. Make sure they are weighed in front of you and treated with care and respect. Don’t accept injured, bleeding or damaged fish!! They have a better than even chance of dying.


4. Facilities

More and more venues have top class facilities. Gone are the days when anglers were happy to use the bushes and go a week without a wash. So you need to consider this carefully before you settle on a lake.

What type of facilities, accommodation etc does it offer. If you have none can you get planning permission? Can you get electricity? A venue with no electric available to anglers is a hard push and you’d be forced to find alternative energy solutions such as solar – which are getting more impressive as time moves on. Electricity is to my mind indispensable, but is expensive, time consuming and complicated to get installed.

Do you have running water? Can these be installed?

If you purchase a venue you want to offer for fishing you’ll need toilets and showers as a minimum for the site.

The lakeside cabin at Lillybelle

If you need to get a toilet block built, or any other type of facility, can you get planning permission? My experience is that this is pretty difficult and time consuming in the rural areas if France. You many be able to install a Chalet or Mobile Home with the Mayor’s Ok! As long as it doesn’t go over 20 m².

Take a look at carp fishing in France with accommodation venues such as Lillybelle and Molyneux. They both have wooden chalets that provide ample accommodation for the angler wanting a bit more luxury and these prove very popular!


5. Knowing French law

You need to get informed on both the legislation for fisheries and the status you need to run it… not every lake is allowed under French law to be set up, stocked and night fished as a classic type carp fishery.

Just because you own it, and it’s a private property, does not mean you are automatically allowed to set up as you wish. Lakes need to be closed waters. You’ll need to get this checked by a ‘Notaire’ (French solicitor), don’t just take the Estate agent’s word that it’s ok. He often just wants his commission and is totally ignorant of the local legislation.

If the water has a river or stream running in or out of it, you’ll probably be subject to the local fisheries by-laws on stocking, fishing times etc and whether you can fish without a rod licence. These are crucial questions that will effect the way you can set up your venue. Find out before parting with your cash.


6. Money to see it through

Many people underestimate the cost that setting up a carp fishery is going to represent, and how soon it is going to be before it starts to earn money, if indeed it ever does earn money. Once you have acquired your lake and added sufficient fish stocks it will have taken a big chunk of your capital, that’s for sure. I would say you’ll probably also need sufficient funds to survive with no significant income for at least a couple more years. This type of monetary needs have to be built into your calculations.


7. Budget for marketing

Agent, Solo? This is also an important choice. You need to allocate a decent budget for marketing into your business plan. You’ll need a good website, continually up to date information, feedback, active social media.. etc. Don’t think a couple of ads in Carp Talk will fill your venue. Going solo will cost you money.

Alternatively you might chose to market your venue through an agent such as ourselves at Angling Lines. This is often a cheaper option and for the right venues with the right fish stocks we do a good job. It will cost you a commission, which some wish not to pay, and of course it is impossible to give any guarantees, simply our experience after many years in the business. Generally speaking when you look at the cost of all that is involved an agent offers good value for money, but I accept they are not for everyone.


8. Knowing what makes a carp venue

It is extremely important to know what market you are getting into. Naturally carp fishing is a niche market, so your lake needs to offer a product that fits this niche perfectly.

I hope these few lines have not put you off. Enjoy your new adventure and Bonne Chance!!

Gareth

Comments

40 thoughts on “So you want to buy a carp lake in France? 8 things you should know!

  1. Mary Duff says:

    I agree that instructing a French solicitor is crucial to the success of your French property/lake purchase, especially if there are any special covenants e.g. fishing rights, license issues or water rights.

    Beware of non-qualified lawyers that claim to be “French law experts” though! I strongly suggest prospective purchasers to ensure that their “French lawyer” is either a notaire or an avocat, fully qualified and registered with a local Law Society (ordre des avocats).

    I instructed a dual-qualified French solicitor, when I bought a villa in languedoc a couple of years ago. I cannot praise him enough for the work done during the conveyancing of the house. My solicitor’s website is http://www.solicitor.fr and his email contact@solicitor.fr.

    One thing I would recommend to French property purchasers is not to make any travel arrangements for the final signing in France at a too early stage, as it is not uncommon for the completion date to be delayed by a couple of days, so if you have already booked your ferry/plane tickets, you could end up being out of pocket…

    Mary

  2. peter bishop says:

    gareth
    fished your lake loved it had a 32 of the far bank
    want to move to france with my own lake and accommodation anything near you
    regards
    pete

  3. Big Ron says:

    Great write up Gareth

  4. Shane says:

    Hi Gareth
    Most of what you say in your article makes really good sense but it might be a good idea to let your readers know about running a fishery in France as a micro entreprise (much less hassle and no need for expensive accountants).
    To register a business as a micro entreprise all you have to do is make a rendez-vous with the controleuse des impots at the service des impots des entreprise at your local tax office. This is one payment a year between 300 and 500 euro’s depending on the area.
    I run a small fishery in the landes region (south west) and find this tax regime to be most adequate.
    It is true that traveling south can put a lot of anglers off but if you have the right accommodation I think it more than outweighs the extra distance.
    Regards, Shane.

  5. Gareth says:

    Hi Shane,
    The main issue with running a fishery as a ‘Micro Entreprise’ in France is that you are only allowed to earn 27,000 euros a year, if you are providing a service..ie. Fishing.
    I’m currently looking at a way of restructuring my own set up, and face this problem. I will indeed write a new piece when I get this sorted.

    Regards
    Gareth

  6. Ian Sweenie says:

    Thanks Gareth a most informative piece and very helpful as i am considering moving to France to retire and run a fishery of my own.

  7. Alex says:

    Hi Gareth.

    The info you give is helpful. I am currently looking into developing a carp fishing lake in England (east midlands) and have little experience on this. I see areas of water around the East midlands area that looked neglected and derelict but would be excellent potential carp lakes. Any advice as to how I can go about setting up a carp lake in the UK, it seems land or lakes ‘for sale’ are minimal but I shall continue with my quest

    many thanks

  8. Sue says:

    Hi Gareth,

    A part from the transplantation of carp, what else could cause fish to die in a lake? Should they be fed throughout the year and if so, how often? Could the fact that there are too many fish in the lake, cause the demise of the larger ones? If carp died due to transplantation, how long a period would it be from introducing them to a new lake and them then starting to die? Could over feeding in the winter time cause carp to die?

    Regards

    Sue.

  9. Big Ron says:

    Hi Sue

    Quote ( A part from the transplantation of carp, what else could cause fish to die in a lake? )

    Introduction of new fish is one of the reasons …. as the resident stock might not be emuned to somethink the new stock are carring.

    Ron

  10. michael wallage says:

    very informative article…… we`re looking for a lake in dept 8 right now, not found THE one yet even after a number of trips over there. Just finding the right place is hard work!!!

  11. peterthebuilder says:

    to gareth,just looking for a lake,found a few going looking in a couple of weeks-found your info very helpfull and incouraging i will let you no our findings and perhaps you might fancy a few days with us,because all the propertys we are checking out have fantastic facilities many thanks peter

  12. Steve says:

    Nice article. Very useful points made. I too am currently searching for a french lake with land and accommodation. There are literally dozens on the internet and I think I am going to have to go over by car and spend six months checking the scene out. I have been a dedicated angler for 45 years but like most people have little or no fisheries management experience. I have found a course at Hadlow college that runs over 8 evenings in basic fisheries management and only costs £250, but it might be worth it to save all those dying fish. If I do it I will leave feedback as to the value of attending to a perspective lake owner.

    Steve

  13. roland says:

    Great article but having found your dream lake, and needing to add stock, of all species not just trophy, can you provide a list of fish breeders / suppliers in or near Dept 53 the Mayenne.

    Cheers

  14. alex mills says:

    Re paragraph 8/9, one of the biggest problems with a fish kill is due to the movement of fish out of season. Fish should only be moved during winter months and by proper equipment that all good fish farmers will have ie. oxygen tanks etc and the biggest, most dangeous cause of fish deaths is sewage leaking into lakes via farming fields using pesticides, streams, rivers etc. Last but not least is uncooked particals especially tiger nuts and peanuts. Hope this helps you guys.

  15. Big Ron says:

    Hi Alex ….your comment

    “Last but not least is uncooked particals especially tiger nuts and peanuts.”

    what do you base this info on ??

  16. david says:

    Hiya Big Ron,

    First of all, have a Merry Christmas and a brilliant New Year!! I am very glad you asked this question, and thank you very much.

    In answer to your question about what we base our info on, here is our answer – 40 years of experience. On several occasions over the years, I have seen fish bellied up, still alive and manage to expell some of the feed that they have been munching. One particular species, being sturgeon, they are just as like carp, sweep up all that they can. The nuts swell up in their bodies, this is a well known proven fact.

    To prove this theory for yourself, get some fresh uncooked tiger nuts and leave them in a bucket of warm water overnight and see how much they swell. The sturgeon I was lucky enough to express the nuts from, and keep an eye on for a couple of hours, was ok again.

    Many thanks, it is very important that people ask these questions and think about healthcare for all fish. We have had quite a few anglers this year and when they leave, some of them tend to empty their buckets and empty their leftover particles into the lake. Some particles are prepared and others are not. I have the job of getting in the lake and collecting them all by net, because I don’t know whether they have been properly prepared or not. Otherwise, it causes harm to the fish, or just lays on the lake bed rotting. Particles are good in small moderation.

    I wish all fishermen kept this in mind when/or they prepare their own particles. In one particular instance this year, I had a couple of anglers here, they get all their baits supplied to them freely as testers, and they were bucketing loads of bait out. Other anglers noticed what they were doing because they had so much of it, and it had the opposite effect of what they wanted, it ruined their swims, and just drew in small fish. Other anglers along the lake who stuck to my suggestions of small amounts of freebies and bottom bait produced lots of big fish.

    Hope this answers your question Ron, please don’t hesitate to ask any further questions which I would be only too pleased to answer.

    Kind regards
    Alex

    (posted by David on behalf of Alex)

  17. Big Ron says:

    Hi Alex …and thanks for the reply.
    This is a subject I have had several discutions about with a good friend of mine, Dr Bruno Broughton.

    have a look in the link below …ref nuts

    http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/118295/Catch-of-the-day-

    His thoughts are , that it is most unlikly that nuts ( soaked or raw) would actulay kill a carp. because as they swell they would have to be passed normaly …just like us ,,if your full up of food you naturaly go to the loo.

  18. david says:

    Hi Ron,

    I’d like to start a new topic about this issue – it’s always one of great interest to Carp anglers. Would you have any objection if I did so using this material?

    Regards, David

  19. Big Ron says:

    No Problem David …Hope you had a good Xmass and dont sink to many over the new year LOL ….Ron

  20. I am currently, actively seeking a private fishery.
    One thing above all others that concerns me is, the new laws regarding ‘monks’ and Dams!!
    it seems that monks have to be rebuilt..(is it just the grating on top??)…and dams must be free of trees??
    Have i got this right?
    Mike.

  21. Mehdi says:

    Hi Michael,

    What do you mean by “monks ” and “dams” ?

    Thanks
    Mehdi

  22. Big Ron says:

    Hi Mevdi ….the Monk is what we call the area were you can open the the run off to the lake if you wanted to drop the lake …the Dam is the part of the lake that holds the water back …think you would call it the barrage ? hope this helps …Ron

  23. Indeed, the monk or (moine) is either the ‘main’ outlet / overflow, or a backup!
    it is like a chimney that water runs down when it reaches the top…which is below your banks…or DAM.

    The DAM, is normally the Earth / clay / concrete that obstructs the stream…to a certain height, giving you a Lake behind it!….like leaves in a gutter!…lol.
    Mike.

  24. Mehdi says:

    Tks Ron.
    If the lake is connected to a river or any other arriving water like a stream , there are specific rules.
    If the lake is not connected to anything, there are not much rules.

  25. Big Ron says:

    Hi Mike … “dams must be free of trees” is a no brianer …as the routes can do so much damage when the keep growing ..ending up causing leaks in the dam ….which can lead to weak spots and a colaped dam.

    as for the monk ….as that contoles the level of the lake …it must be keept in good working order or you may end up flooding the surounding land ..if you can not drain off water in the rainy season ….not heard anythink about rebuilding them myself ?

    all the best …Ron

  26. Thanks guys, I guess you can use bushes or maybe small trees, otherwise it would be a boring lake if you had a big dam!
    Regarding the ‘arriving water’…..i assume if you re-direct the stream around your lake and only take water when you need it, you are ok??

  27. Paul Cox says:

    Can anyone answer these two questions please?

    We own a lake at Fougeras and need to renew the registration. How much is it and how long does it last?

    Secondly how much is the compulsory fishing course required?

    Any info about running a business would be greatly appreciated.

  28. John says:

    Hi Paul,
    Not sure what you mean by registration but if you mean a licence we got ours from the garde de peche and they are free or at least ours was and they last up to 40 years i believe ours is a 30 year one.As far as the course is concerned i have never heard of that and i have never been asked or ever taken one,if you want any more info please just pm me.I am not an expert but have learnt a lot and made mistakes that may save you time and money.
    john

  29. iam says:

    Hi gareth, is there any way to get a rough value on a lake. i am looking to buy a 12 acre lake stocked with carp to upper 50;s. overall size of 17 acres. with out getting someone to go out and value it. it has a water supply from a well, and a generator for eletric

  30. Chris Nash says:

    I am selling a 12 acre carp fishery business with carp up to 70’s. Overall around 17 hectares. Electricity water and fosse on site if Iam is interested.

  31. John Davies says:

    Hi Chris,

    I might be interested. Please could you email me details?

    Regards,

    John

  32. Kelly says:

    Chris Nash, Please could you send me the details of your lake for sale? Also anybody else that knows or has lakes for sale?
    Many thanks,
    Kelly

  33. Richard says:

    My wife and I are looking for 3-4 bed house with lake 8-10 acre if possible. Any about ?? There’s more to it I know it’s needs to have all the right ingredients so as much as I’m looking forward to it am sort of worried too. Lol

  34. Kevin says:

    Hi I’m looking at buying a small lake in France that is registered as a closed water. Can anyone give me information regarding does it need a night fishing permit. Regards Kevin

  35. matt says:

    hi, recently purchased a lake and been told it is on wet land? so cannot run as a business. Can anyone tell me if this is true or not? if so, any way round it? Thanks Matt

  36. N morley says:

    Can anyone give me details of carp breeders anywhere near vender France

  37. Hi Nick, I’m not sure where that is exactly? Google throws up a place called Vendee, is that the one?

  38. Bradley Amos says:

    Hi All
    I’m looking into leasing a lake as of next year and would really appreciate on some advice on who I can go to regarding surveying the lake condition making sure it’s suitable to run as a fishery also who’s best to contact regarding
    Fish Farms as the lake will need stocking
    Soliciting – tax – French laws -insurance

  39. richard norfolk says:

    hi im looking to purchase a well stocked carp lake in the south east of france ..areas such as relms- melz-lille-Lorraine-
    Alsace- Besancon charleville..around these areas..size prefably between 3-10 acre…we need accomadation 3/4 bedrooms some outbuildings would be nice,overall size plot upto 5-20 acres..including the lake.two propertys in one venue would be a bonus..

  40. James booth says:

    Hi I’m looking at buying an existing carp fishing lake which currently runs as a business .needs to have a house
    Any suggestions would be very much appreciated

    Best regards
    James

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