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French fishing magazines

Angling has not escaped the fantastic development of the “Men’s” leisure magazines during the period 1950-2020, a period which also corresponds, at least until 1990 and before the Internet era, to the abundance of advertising pages in these same magazines (strong alcohols, beers, cars and even fishing equipment…).

Whereas before, only two monthly magazines dedicated to our hobby had been published: “La Pêche illustrée” in 1909 and “La Pêche indépendante” in 1929, between 1940 and 1990, fishermen had the choice, at the newsstand or by subscription, between a good dozen specialized magazines: Au bord de l’eau, La pêche et les poissons, Toute la Pêche, Truites-Ombres-saumons, Plaisirs de la Pêche, Connaissance de la pêche, Pêche-magazine, Pêcheurs sportifs, La pêche en mer, Voyages de Pêche…. Without forgetting the “Chasseur français” whose fishing section in the immediate post-war period was considerably expanded to the point of making it by far, by the number of subscribing readers (up to one million in the 1960s), the leading title for hunting but also for fishing in our country. The passage during the same period of the advertisement to the publicity, is not for nothing in the development and the good health at the time, of all these titles.

The oldest French outdoor magazine, the monthly magazine of the Manufacture de Saint-Etienne also talks about fishing.

On this front page, we see Ernest Hemingway, invited to the Amboise factory, to test the "tout-gros" fishing equipment manufactured by Pezon and Michel, under the eye of Pierre Creusevaut and Pierre Pezon.

Every collector must have old copies of fishing magazines.

From the beginning of the 60's, the fishing magazines switch to Kodachrome.

From the point of view of the collection, fishing magazines have a double advantage.  On the one hand, especially for the magazines born before the war and until 1970, they allow to discover magnificent articles, often very well written, by fishermen who knew how to handle a fly rod or a casting rod as well as a Sergeant Major pen. Some of them, who at that time had only the “Certificat d’Études”, would be able to show off their syntax and grammar to many baccalaureates and even to today’s “Bac plus 5”. On the other hand, for the collectors of old fishing equipment, the advertisements of the time, allow at the same time, to discover and to date with precision, the innovations in rods, reels, lures and others, which have today more than half, even more than one century of existence and are eminently collectible.

The very "select" Fishing Club de France, founded at the beginning of the 20th century, had its own magazine.

The photographs of old fishing magazines are an invaluable source for the knowledge of the past richness of our fishing heritage.

Any serious collector should own at least a complete collection, if possible, of the magazines “Au Bord de l’Eau” (ABDE) published from 1936 to 1968, “La Pêche Indépendante” (1930 to 1962) and “Plaisirs de la Pêche” (1950 to 2000) for fly fishers. The greatest names in French sport fishing, Charles Ritz, Pierre Creusevaut, Léonce de Boisset, Barbellion, Tony Burnand, Michel Duborgel and a few others have regularly contributed and are still, more than three-quarters of a century after the publication of their articles, not only a delight to read, but also a mine of practical tips, some of which have lost none of their relevance. As for the stories with photos of salmonid catches at the time, these magazines are, unfortunately, more like obituaries today. At least, these magazines testify, in a not so distant past, of the richness of our rivers in salmonids and carnivores, before the departmental fishing federations, which continue to have a foothold today, do not monopolize them and reduce them to the smallest portion.

The "Revue Verte", created in 1936 by Tony Burnand and Charles Ritz, lasted to the delight of its many subscribers until 1968.

In 2023, French recreational fishing is the only leisure activity to be managed “Soviet style”.

T.O.S, created by Léonce de Boisset and Charles Ritz, in the early 60's, was the first French magazine dedicated to the defense of wild salmonids and their habitats.

Certainly the angling in our beautiful country is on more than 9/10th of our rivers, “public and democratic” as our leaders say “elected”. This makes this tourist activity the only one we know of in Europe, or anywhere else in the world, including Russia (I was going to say the USSR), to be managed in a “Soviet” way. Let me explain: on the waters whose fishing rights belong in “theory” to the 3600 or so AAPPMA (Association Agréée de Pêche et de Protection des Milieux Aquatiques, a very ronflant title for Fishing Society) in France, under the leadership, and this is where the problem lies, of 92 departmental federations, there is practically nothing left to fish, but it is practically free and it is for everyone….

France is thus the only country, where the management of fishing, aquatic environments and fish, is managed according to the good old Law of 1901, by provincial notables, without any hydrobiological competence for the most part, who elect each other and manage if not the fishing, the environments and the fish, but well and truly the money of the fishermen. Of course there are still carp, roach, catfish and bream in our large rivers. But for salmonids and carnivores, it is better to go to England, Ireland, Germany, Sweden or even Bosnia-Herzegovina ….

Even if in 2023, to be able to fish in the waters of the Public Domain or the waters belonging to an AAPPMA, it costs on average only 100 € per year (tax included, certainly one of the cheapest “ecological” leisure activities in the world), This sum multiplied by the very small million of fishermen who continue to pay a fishing card and of which approximately 70 to 80% goes to the departmental federations, represents nevertheless a not insignificant pactole, managed without having to render accounts to anybody according to, we said it the good old Law of 1901.  Let us close the bench…

The last quality publication of the fishing press, "connaissance", which focuses on fishing trips around the world, still exists today.

And as a proof, while we have in length, as well as in diversity, if not in piscatorial quality, the biggest fishing domain and by far in Europe, I challenge you to find a foreign travel agency, specialized in fishing, which proposes to its nationals to come and fish in France. On the other hand, there must be about twenty French agencies, each of which offers dozens of “fishing” destinations all over Europe and the world… not to mention dozens of French fishing guides and instructors, who take their clients to places abroad, where rivers are really managed for a democratic and sportive fishing…..

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