How fishing became a trend among young people

How fishing became a trend among young people

A pastime of our grandfathers, fishing is making inroads among people under 25, in the countryside as well as in the cities. Investigation into this revolution in fresh water, in Quimper and Paris.

Saturday April 13, 2:30 p.m., the sun shines on Finistère. Clément Person, instructor at the Quimper fishing school, took little Hugo, 11 years old, and five teenagers to the edge of the Jet, to the east of the city. All are equipped with waders, waterproof overalls with integrated boots. Their objective: to tease the trout. As soon as the minibus is parked, the group splits into two teams. Clément and Hugo join Gustave and Lucas. Noah, Gwendal and Louis, a trio of 14-15 year olds, have already headed further up the river, through the tall grass. They make two or three quick throws into the current, and, in the absence of touches, already change location. We are far from the cliché of the “grandpa” sitting in his folding chair, waiting for the cork to pop…

From Brittany to Toulouse (Haute-Garonne), via Paris, young people are attracted by the mermaids of fresh water. Benoît Lefebvre, development manager at the National Fishing Federation in France, is enthusiastic: “Between 2019 and 2022, we recorded a 17.7% increase in fishing licenses for under-18s. Those under 25, numbering 445,000, represent 30% of our workforce! » A trigger linked to Covid. “Many discovered our activity during the second confinement, because it was one of the few authorized outdoors. And they had time to watch the tutorials that have multiplied on the Internet. » Today, #fishing videos have 80 billion views on the social network TikTok! The lure technique, strategic and ultra-dynamic, is all the rage: “We choose a metal or plastic bait and move it to make the targeted predatory fish believe that it is real prey. »

For the beauty of the gesture

All these new followers have the same models. Cyril Chauquet, the forty-year-old Savoyard who travels the world for his show XXL Fishing: Last Giants on RMC Découverte. But also a host of twenty-something Youtubers: Bar d'écume, Tristan Hedouin… In the countryside, however, there remains a part of family transmission. Sébastien, Noah's father, graying hair but looking youthful in his hoodie, remembers: “I learned with my uncle, in Elliant, east of Quimper. As soon as he was 4 years old, Noah accompanied me and, today, it's my youngest's turn. It’s our escape bubble, away from everyday life.” Dorian, 11, is delighted with his advice: “Dad showed me how to cast under the grass and it allowed me to catch two trout that were hiding there! »

This new blood has greatly improved the discipline. The lure technique becomes transgenerational. “While I mainly used natural baits, like earthworms, Noah and I started this practice which has diversified a lot, from simple spinning spoons to flashy insects,” observes Sébastien. But the big upheaval lies in “no-kill”: we pull the animal out of the water for a few seconds and release it, often after taking a photo. “I adopted no-kill which, before, was almost taboo. My parents and I kept the fish to eat. Today, instructors teach children to respect their integrity. »

Adolescents describe a deep relationship with the object of their desire. Many use the term “combat”. At the end of our session, Gustave, who has just caught his first two trout of the season, explains, with a smile, the euphoria of this duel without injuries: “Each time, I have to bring the fish towards me, while he is trying to escape. It's extraordinary to feel in my hands this living being that probably no one has ever touched. Then to see him re-oxygenate and leave. » Each enthusiast remembers his or her most spectacular specimen, between 20 centimeters and 1 meter, and dreams of an ever more valiant opponent: Canadian salmon for Noah, Guadeloupean harpoon for Gwendal…

Without even realizing it, this succession begins a virtuous circle of life. To be able to capture as many species as possible, we must protect their habitats, which are increasingly threatened by human activity. In 2022, global warming has already deprived young people of their passion. “That summer, trout fishing was closed in certain areas of Brittany, because the water levels were so low,” emphasizes Clément. Gwendal, tanned under his cap, is mobilizing, on his own scale, against pollution: “As soon as I can, I participate in river cleaning operations organized by associations to recover everything that is thrown away, telephones, plastics, etc. » Because the beauty of the sites offers, at all ages, moments of contemplation, far from screens. “Facing the landscapes, I think about the things in life, to enjoy more of nature or my family…” confides Gwendal.

Dream of laurels

However, fishing 2.0 is experienced less alone than in a group. Especially in big cities, where “street fishing” (urban fishing) took off from 2005. In 2015, Aurélien Fiaux founded the Naturlish Academy in Paris, on the banks of the Saint-Martin canal, which could call “Friends first”. The tall dark-haired Ludovic, who released his first roaches with his grandfather in Rennes, followed his “buddy”, the little blond Elias, there seven years ago. Today, the tandem of college students finds the third thief, Théodore, firing a machine gun, during the Saturday sessions, to do the 400 rounds. They who willingly post their exploits on TikTok and Instagram are proud of their atypical record: “More than 100,000 views for my shoe fished out by Elias when it had fallen into the Seine during the flood! » laughs Theodore.

United in leisure time, duos or trios break out during competitions. Because it is then a question of measuring oneself and surpassing oneself. Last year, Elias finished third in the Île-de-France lure championship, among the under-18s. “I shared a few podiums with him, but always behind. I still received some nice gifts, such as 40 euros of vouchers and boxes of lures for second place,” Ludovic consoles himself. Faced with this pool of champions, the National Fishing Federation in France and the French Sports Fishing Federation will offer, from September, two national circuits for juniors, which did not exist until now.

The apprentices of the cane dream of laurels but know that Rome was not built in a day. Novices and more experienced alike play the game of a very technical discipline, which includes a luck factor, where one must accept with humility to come home empty-handed and learn all the lessons from it. “Perseverance is one of the qualities that I try to pass on to the Academy and which is so important in life, at work and in love,” notes Aurélien. In a word, always believe that we will do better tomorrow.

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