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Diving into the Art of Responsible Fishing with the Clerc Family on Lake Geneva

An Unforgettable Adventure: Exploring the Clerc Fishery on Lake Geneva


Lake Geneva, or Lac Léman, located on the border of France and Switzerland, is more than just an iconic body of water. It is home to an exceptional family, the Clercs, whose passion for fishing and respect for nature have been passed down through generations. Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to experience an extraordinary adventure alongside this family of fishermen, an adventure I will cherish for the rest of my life.


The Art of Responsible Fishing


What sets the Clerc family apart is their unwavering commitment to quality and nature conservation.


For them, fishing is more than just an activity; it is a true passion.


They understand that ensuring an exceptional catch requires respecting certain rules. They consider fish protection periods and only fish when conditions are optimal for preserving this precious resource. In the summer, when the heat threatens the catch, they have their own tricks: setting the nets between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., no later than 4 a.m., and having huge ice chests on board to maintain the fish's freshness when they retrieve them around 8 a.m.


Lake Geneva, with its natural generosity, offers a wide variety of fish. If perch season is on hold due to the breeding period, there are feras, trouts, crayfish, and pikes to satisfy lovers of fresh fish. For the Clerc family, the key to success lies in cooperating with nature.


The Fishing Process


Every morning, long before the sun rises, Frédéric and his sons, Nicolas and Jérémie, head to their fishing cabin in Prangins. There, they raise the nets they carefully set at hours when most people are fast asleep! As soon as the fish are caught, they are immediately gutted, scaled, and the nets are removed.


This attention to detail guarantees exceptional quality. Then it's off to the workshop in Allaman, where the small family business prepares the fish. Whether it's served mousse-style or smoked, the catch is then distributed to wholesalers, local restaurants, and markets.


An Unforgettable Personal Adventure


When I learned about the Clerc family, I was immediately drawn to their passion for fishing and their respect for nature. I contacted Nicolas, one of the sons, and without hesitation, he agreed to let my 70-year-old father and me join them one morning for a unique experience.


Setting the fishing nets at 3 a.m.?!


Finally, at 4:45 a.m., we began our adventure. No fishing for fera today, so it was almost like sleeping in for Jérémie, the younger brother who had celebrated his son's 3rd birthday the night before! It was pitch black, our eyes still a bit drowsy, as they set up the fishing equipment on the boat, and the three of us were off...

Navigating on Lake Geneva, finding the right spot, and already demonstrating their extensive experience in this fishing profession, passed down to them from a young age by their father, Frédéric.


A promising dawn greeted us as we set the last fishing nets at 6 a.m. at strategic points on the lake.


6:30 a.m. - After a quick final run on Lake Geneva under a chilly wind, I left my companions of the night, the dawn slowly breaking. My mission: to pick up my father, a passionate freshwater fisherman of 70 years, and share the second part of this exceptional adventure with him.


Lifting the crayfish traps


7:30 a.m. - Back on site, we were to meet them on the shore of their fishing cabin in Prangins. Right on time, as they approached us on the lake, I saw their boat cutting through the water, surrounded by a cloud of seagulls. It was an unreal sight just before sunrise, in those pastel shades that only Lake Geneva dawns offer to early birds!


Without any pause for these hard workers, we immediately found ourselves on board the boat, my father and I, to go back out with them and empty the remaining crayfish traps.

Kilos of crayfish came out of the traps, each one was emptied, then filled again with fresh fish inside to be thrown back into the water to attract new crayfish. The remaining fish carcasses were thrown to the flock of seagulls, gathering for their feast under the first rays of sunshine. It was a timeless moment, my father and I capturing every image with wonder.

Pulling the fishing nets out of the lake


The morning continued, and the task of lifting the nets began. First, the large mesh (pikes, tenches, catfish), then the finer ones for the perch. And there, before our amazed eyes, the Clerc family fishermen pulled kilos and kilos of perch out of the water via their two boats. It was fantastic and impressive, but the work was far from over.


Everything had yet to be done: carefully extracting each fish from the net mesh, with respect for both the animal and its flesh, as well as the equipment. It took them more than 2, even 3 hours! A thorough job done on the lake, in incredible serenity amidst the impatient cries of the seagulls, a workplace that many of us envy ;-)


Nicolas and Jérémie, with touching kindness, even allowed us to try, and we clumsily attempted! It must be admitted, their dexterity was incomparable, and we were complete novices, not at all skilled in this exercise!


Return to the shore


At 1 p.m., back on the shore, it was time for us to say goodbye to the two brothers who welcomed us with so much generosity and thank them warmly.


There is still much work for our fishermen. At their Prangins fishery, they begin preparing the perch. They gut them meticulously, scale them, and fillet them with precision that speaks to their expertise. These long hours of work are a crucial step before delivering their products to demanding clients. They don't count the hours because quality is their top priority.


Orders poured in during the fishing trip, and Jérémie answered every call from wholesalers and restaurateurs, ensuring that product freshness was guaranteed at every stage of the process.


Life-Changing Encounters


This experience with the Clerc family on the calm waters of Lake Geneva will remain etched in my memory forever. Not only did I discover the art of responsible fishing and a passion for nature preservation, but I also learned that every human encounter can be a source of unforgettable moments.


Meeting people like the Clercs, who enthusiastically share their knowledge, values, and love for what they do, is an enriching experience. Their generosity, their indulgence towards novices, and their commitment to environmental preservation are inspiring examples.


So, whether it's on a peaceful lake, during a journey, or in your daily life, don't be afraid to meet others.

You might be surprised by the precious moments and life lessons you'll find.

As for me, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share such an exceptional adventure with my father and with the Clerc family, truly exceptional human beings.


Onward to new adventures, friends!


Let's go!

Sophy.


Thank you to Nicolas and Jérémie of La Pêcherie Clerc for these moments!

I look forward to discovering your future shop in Allaman!

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