Buying and running a carp lake in France

Here at the Angling Lines office we get lots of potential lake owners come to us for advice as they consider the pro’s & con’s of fulfilling every carp anglers dream – buying their own carp lake.  We’re always happy to advise based on our 10 years experience in marketing carp venues… but we lack that real first hand experience of actually going through the process.  

So I’ve asked our lake owners if they’ll share their experiences of what it’s really like to both buy & then run a French carp venue.  No doubt they’ll all have common themes but I’m sure they’ll also all have had different experiences as they’ve navigated their way to their own piece of paradise.  I’ll add them over the next few weeks.  Here’s the first…

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Whether you are looking to buy, or whether you run a carp venue already, here’s some useful tips we’ve gleaned from our experience;

Get Officially Registered!

Lakes in France must be registered with the Department of Agriculture and fall into fishing categories (categorie piscicole).

Many lake owners are blissfully unaware that their lakes are not officially registered and some could even be subject to restrictions like ‘no night fishing’ and ‘fishing licences required’.  The last thing a lake owner wants is to discover these facts when the Water Police pay a visit and close the fishing down on the spot!  Not to mention the heavy fines involved.

The three most common mistakes people make when buying a lake in France are:

1) To assume that the rules don’t apply to privately owned lakes. They do.

2) To assume that this will always be covered by their Notaire (solicitor). It isn’t.

3) To assume that it must be Ok because it’s already a fishing venue. It may not be.

Don’t panic though. Getting a lake registered is a simple admin process with your local Direction Departmentale de l’agriculture et de la Foret (usually at your prefecture). The tricky bit can be when it comes to fishing category.

Ideally you want to make sure the lake is classed as Category 2, Closed.

This basically means that night fishing is permitted and no fishing licences are required. The rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t have too much to worry about if there is no brook or stream running through the lake and/or there is no possibility of free movement of fish in and out of the lake.

It is possible to re-direct a stream and this could even allow you to change the category of a lake to ‘closed’.  However, this would involve you submitting a detailed project request and follow-up studies. An expensive business.

Draining a lake – get permission!

Lake owners often discover to their horror that they are not registered for the first time when they want to lower the water level for netting or cleaning. You need permission to empty a lake, even partially. Many lake owners get away with doing this on the quiet and many more are caught in the act.

Movement of fish – be careful!

By the way – there’s a whole load of very strict regulations regarding the movement of fish from lake to lake. If your lake is suddenly full of large carp, be prepared to prove where you got them from.

My 3 main tips…

My 3 main tips for worry-free lake ownership are:

1) Make sure you have genuine documentation regarding the registration and fishing category of your lake.

2) Always get written permission to empty a lake (takes about a month, but varies from Department to Department). Your local mayor (Mairie) might say it’s OK… but he/she does not have the authority.

3) Make sure your fish come from an officially registered pisciculture and get receipts for your fish purchased. Same applies for netting the lake if this will result in the selling or moving of fish.


Like all rules, it’s not actually that hard to stick to them once you know what’s what. The cost of doing things properly is worth every extra penny. It’s much better than learning the hard way.

If anyone needs any advice I’m always happy to help if I can… & if I can’t I probably know someone who can!


22 thoughts on “Buying and running a carp lake in France

  1. Jon Perkins says:

    Sound advice – if you live in France more than 6 months of the year you also need to register your business in France, normally this will be with the Chambre de Commerce.

  2. Yong Blauch says:

    Good point about being in France for more than 6 months, thats why I only stay for five months of the year

  3. Mr Paul Cox says:

    Thank you your site has helped my wife and I tremendously in getting our lake registered in the first place. How ever we have now found out that our lake is registered for fish breeding can you HELP us by pointing us in the right direction as to how we can sell our surplus stock of carp.
    Please contact us by email at [email protected]
    Paul & Denise

  4. Hi Lee. Yours is an all too familiar story I’m afraid. It depends who told you what and when as to whether you have any recourse. If it was not explicitly written in your purchase documentation then you have little chance of going back on this. However, you may also still be able to apply for a permit (permis de construire) for planning permission or to put a mobile home on site, try the prefecture for this. An alternative would be to try your local mayor to see if they can give permission for a cabin of less than 20 metres square. Good luck!

  5. Sandra Ziething says:

    I have a lake for sale near Toulouse. 80 acres of land of which 50 acres water. Also if required 3 storey 3 bedroom modernised Lodge. Also further land overlooking Lake for sale if required.
    0044 7860 507034

  6. lynne holmes says:

    just found out that our private lake needs registering. how do I do this and how much will it cost thanks lynne

  7. John London says:

    Hi Lynne,
    We have been here now for 7 years and when we moved over we registered with the local gard de peche and filled in a few forms and they then came out and inspected the lake and gave us our 30 year license.It was free then so no cost just a bit of paperwork and a visit,its a good idea to make contact with the gard de peche anyway as they are powerful people here in France and best kept on your side.If you cannot find them in the phone book go and ask your mairie they will know where they are and may even help you with the paperwork.
    Hope this helps and if I can help with anything else please just ask,
    la bletiere

  8. Andy says:

    would anyone happen to know French law regarding creating of a new lake to be constructed in garden of house purchase. There is a stream running through property at present but would not be joined to.
    Area in question Normandy.
    Many thanks in advance for any/all advice kindly given.

  9. Kevin says:

    Hi I’m also looking into registering a lake in the limosin area. But the law of 2012 makes it a lot harder than pre 2012 can anyone give me information/ costs on getting started on this topic. I believe a survey is first required ? Regards kevin

  10. John London la bletiere says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I am afraid I am not up on all the new regulations but the first thing I would do is to find your local gard de peche office and go in there and ask,they are always helpful and will point you in the correct direction.I know when the new regs came in it did make it a lot more difficult in some areas to get permission as they are trying to cut back on a lot of empty lake in some areas.
    Sorry cannot help but try the gard de peche first,

  11. Kevin says:

    Ok thanks will give them a try

  12. Lynda Kameche says:

    Very useful site! Can you please let me know how long and how much it would cost to turn a private lake into a commercial one.
    Thanking you

  13. We’ve copied in an answer from John, the owner of Bletiere.

    ‘Hi Lynda, That’s a very good question and one that’s very hard to answer as it all depends on what your starting point is, when we brought Bletiere we had a silted up lake and stinging nettles everywhere waist high and no gite just a collapsed barn so a lot of work. It took us nearly two years from start to finish before we were ready to take our first guests and that was a lot of hard physical work as we had to cut down costs, but in total we spent over 80k euro’s on the work needed. We then stocked the lake and that cost 9 years ago over 25k euro’s but that was a lot of biggish fish and numbers, to be honest I would say you are better off to buy an up and running business but be careful what you buy.

  14. Steve Hendy says:

    Hi john, is it possible to buy a block fishing licence, if so, how, so we can let anyone fish our private house lake. Our lake is classed as open as its spring fed, but from a spring outside our land, and we wish to let guests and friends fish, not as a commercial venue. Thanks in advance

  15. Bev Calladine says:

    Hi Steve…. did you get an answer to te above as I have the exact same question? thanks, Bev

  16. Jane says:

    I’m the owner of a lake which I now wish to sell. However, I’m not sure that it is registered as I never received any paperwork as such for it at the time of purchase although I believe it must be because every year or so I get a letter from the authorities advising me to clear the nettles etc around the lake and to empty it every 5 years. How can I find out, please? Thanks.

  17. Trevor says:

    Hi. Wonder if anyone can help. I am the owner of a property in North Dordogne with a lake of about 5,000 m2. , I.e.
    about 70m by 70m. I wish to sell but have been told that this is not possible unless the lake is registered. I enquired of the Mayor and he gave me the details of the DDT in Perigeux. I have sent several e-mails and letters over 5 month
    period but have so far not received a reply. Is it not possible for me to sell anyway given that I can show that I have declared the lake to the DDT. Also it is clearly shown on the Cadastre. It is also clearly visible on the local map of 1982 and the DDT website. Any advice wpould be welcome.

  18. Paul Witchell says:


    I am looking at purchasing a lake for a commercial carp venue in France. I have found one that looks ideal, but have discovered that whilst on private land completely, its classed as a category 2 “Open Water” and any angler fishing it would require a Carte de Peche.

    Three minor streams run into the Lake and one small stream/ river runs out at the dam end.

    However what other restrictions are there likely to be? Will this effect stocking? Night Fishing? Does any person with a Carte de Peche have a right to fish the lake, without paying? Trying to find a definitive answer on this appears to be difficult.

    Any help will be appreciated.

  19. Charlotte says:

    Hello we have two lakes on our property if 20 acres one being approx 5 acre and the other 3 acre the smaller one has a hike in the head wall so has drained itself and we took the fish out and put them in the bigger one .. now that one is draining from koi pou holes .. if we fix the wall on the smaller one which will then fill up with the water draining from the bigger one we need permission for anything ? We don’t fish it.

  20. Charlotte says:

    Has anyone had any replies from this site?

  21. Hi Charlotte

    We do reply if we think we can help or have an answer, unfortunately some of the questions are out of our remit – usually those pertaining to legal permissions to drain lakes etc as it really does depend on so many factors, the best person to go to would probably be your local notaires.

  22. kris says:

    If a lake is classified as “eaux closes” /closed water lets say a old gravière of about 10 ha, do you need extra permission to legally nightfish and run it like a fishery?. I mean the camping part, so putting up a bivvy to fish nights.

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