The river Aulne
The river Aulne is another coastal river that has most of its stretches flow through the department of Finistère, following an east-west axis from the source downstream. Only the northernmost stretch, where I offer guided fishing, has the river flowing to the north.
It rises in the Monts d’Arrée within the community of Lohuec (Côtes d’Armor) and empties into the roadstead of Brest near Landévennec and Rosnoën (in proximity of some of my preferred sea bass haunts). The Aulne and its tributaries drain a watershed of some 1822 km2, in fact the third largest watershed in Brittany after the Vilaine and the Blavet. Its main fork has an overall length of 144 km from the source to the estuary and the 70 final kilometers constitute the western portion of the canal that connects the city of Nantes with Brest. It has 28 sluices and is classified as a category 2 fishery with populations of white fish (roach, bream, rudd,…) and predators (pike, European walleye, perch). Its main tributaries in the upper reaches are the Squiriou, the Rivière d’Argent (Silver River) and the Ellez.
The Aulne is a river I either fish on my own or with my customers in its upper reaches, but I will not tell the spots here that I like best. Those reaches are populated with wild trout in good sizes and have lots of aquatic insects. I have access to some 40 kilometers of water if I include some of the tributaries. Depending on the chosen water, the season, water levels and insect hatches, I can have my pupils face many interesting situations:
- Small stream fishing in overgrown streams, alternating with small, shallow pools and faster water or nice meandering flows. Width: 3 to 6 meters. Short rods and light lines: 7 to 8 feet in length in line weights 3 to 4.
- Medium-sized streams that alternate through meadows and wooded areas with some dense, overgrown areas as well. Faster water, some deep pools and channeled water. Width: 6 to 12 meters. Medium-long to normal rods and medium lines: 8 to 9 feet in length in line weights 4 and 5.
- Majestic water, flowing through large natural meadows on one or either bank, in proximity of forested areas. The banks are often lined with willows, alders and beech trees. Longer sections of faster water, slack water and pools, sometimes deep, slow channeled sections. Width: 10 to 15 meters. Normal to long rods and medium lines : 9 to 10 feet in length in line weights 4 to 5.
This type of water profile, more than others, requires a great ability to read the water to find fish lies and holding water. Brown trout intermingle with white fish and some single pike, even though that the holding water of these different species is specific to certain stretches.
The waters of the Aulne run generally clear but retain a certain peaty tint to some degree. You can observe and sight fish for trout, ambushed among the riparian vegetation, yet most of the time all you see are discreet rises; only when the prey is substantial will anglers notice splashes (mayflies, stoneflies, minnows)
The river Aulne is among my favorite playgrounds as it offers a wide variety and challenges for the fly angler. I can take both beginning as well as advanced anglers as there can be easy situations just as well as tough, smart trophy trout. In contradiction to hearsay, the river Aulne presents an exceptional entomological biodiversity with mass hatches of plectoptera, ephemeroptera and trichoptera. It is one of the few rivers in Brittany where you can witness quite superlative hatches of Dinocras stoneflies and Danica mayflies, so it is no wonder that the trout grow to record sizes. Fish over 45 cm are not so hard to find, yet anglers will have to find them first, stalk them and seduce them with their feathered offering, often easier said than done…
The upper Aulne is fed by relatively large tributaries so its flows are easily stained in rainy weather and will take days to clear out to be fishable again. My local contacts keep me constantly informed about the water levels and clarity so that when I have customers to guide, I can be sure about water conditions, which is mostly the case in late spring or early autumn. It only takes a tad over a half hour to reach the river from my home in Commana.
Please note that I also offer guided fishing for shad on the lower Aulne, right above Châteaulin.