The Paris fishing season has only just got under way so enthusiasts aren’t going to give up as soon as the river starts to rise. In the 1990s only five species of pollution tolerant fish could be found within the city limits. Now, after two decades of pollution control and declining industry, over thirty different species swim through the city including an annual run of Atlantic salmon. Fishing – or more especially ‘street fishing’ – has grown alongside the fish populations. There’s even a street fishing page on the city council website.
The Paris fishing scene isn’t about sitting on a folding stool next to a wicker basket and dozing until a fish grabs the worm or maggot on your hook. Street fishers, who use a selection of artificial lures rather than live bait, are mostly young and active, roaming up and down the river on foot or bike as they look for fish. Not so easy at present.
Most of the people lining the river walls and bridges today weren’t there to look for fish. There’s a terrible fascination in the wide expanse of swirling, brown water but the crowds of river watchers are strangely quiet. The water level’s not falling yet.