I first fished at the idyllic coastal town of Beaulieu Sur Mer 10 years ago, when I enjoyed a great days offshore fishing for bluefin tuna with my good friend Patrice Garziglia. Patrice runs his excellent charter boat Papeete II, and is widely recognised as being one of the very best, and certainly most experienced charter skippers in the south of France. You can see more about the wonderful fishing he offers on his website here: https://www.med-sportfishing.com
That day we caught several very nice tuna, and I was keen to get back for more, especially for a shot at the bigger fish that run at certain times of the year, not to mention an occasional spearfish or white marlin. Despite several invitations for a return trip it wasn’t until this year that finally I was able to fly to Nice on the Cote D’ Azur and make the short journey east to Beaulieu, which is situated right on the border with neighbouring Monaco.
Patrice had invited me to judge this years submissions at the Second Beaulieu Sur Mer Festival of International Sport Fishing Films, which was held on the Friday night, then compete in the bluefin tuna tournament that was held over the weekend.
With traditional French style and panache the event kicked off with an open air reception at the harbour, where guests indulged in a seemingly never ending flow of Ricard, wine and other aperitifs. I savoured the atmosphere talking fish and fishing with friends old and new, often to the accompaniment of the guttural roar of a passing Ferrari or Maserati. Then, after the sun had set, we relocated to an open air theatre set atop a low cliff over looking the harbour, to view this years submissions.
There were many excellent films featuring sport fishing for a wide variety of different species at locations all around the world, but when the time to vote arrived it was the most amazing film ‘Tuna Fly Fishing in France,’ by Gregory Dollet, that got my vote along with my fellow judges and most of the audience, and ultimately won first prize.
Next morning competitors in the fishing tournament reconvened back at the harbour at 6’O’clock for a traditional French breakfast consisting of copious quantities of hot coffee, served with either freshly baked croissants or pan chocolate, or both. Then we boarded one of the 16 boats competing in the tournament, for the run offshore to the fishing grounds.
I was fishing with another old friend, Antoine Drochon, whom I first met many years ago in The Maldives. Antoine, who started his career crewing for Patrice, is now the full time skipper on a ‘Pulp Fiction’ a truly phenomenal Boat Whaler Outrage 350 powered by three 300hp Mercury outboards, which propel her at speeds in excess of 50mph.
The tournament was points based, with tuna measuring more than 60cm scoring two points, and those measuring more than 115cm worth five points. When we started trolling it did not take long for the first strike, at which point one of the team grabbed the rod and fought the hooked fish, while the remainder attempted additional hook ups from other fish in the school by either casting surface lures of jigging. A full report of the actual fishing will appear in Sea Angler Magazine very soon, suffice to say that our catch of 10 fish, all released, scored a winning 20 points. Quite incredible really, my first blue water tournament and I was part of the winning team; needless to say I have now retired from fishing competitively!
Aside from excellent weather and first class fishing, highlights of the day included seeing several huge sperm and fin whales on the surface at very close quarters, along with many dolphin, manta rays and even free swimming blue sharks.
During the event I got to meet Philippe Guigo and his legendary father, who set up the excellent Antibes sport fishing shop Guigo Marine, take a look at http://en.guigomarine.com Also I met Stephane Miller, owner of the equally impressive emporium of all things sport fishing, Peche Xtreme, take a look at: http://www.pechextreme.com/en/ Both of these shops stock a truly incredible selection of big game, popping and jigging equipment. If you want it, they’ll stock it, why not check them out…
Unfortunately the wind forecast for the Sunday forced the organising committee to cancel the second days fishing, so the presentation of prizes and tournament dinner were brought forward to the Saturday night, which coincided with a memorable concert by blues slide guitarist ‘Catfish Keith’. http://www.catfishkeith.com
As you will have gathered I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The weather was beautiful, the food outstanding, the drinks free flowing, great music, and the entire event went by with the panache and style the French are rightly so famous for. I am already looking forward to next year, when I might just be tempted to come out of tournament fishing retirement, rejoin team Pulp Fiction, and do my bit to defend our title!