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Olivier Portrat (France)

Olivier Portrat (France)

Interview with Olivier PORTRAT – famous journalist, angler and traveller

Hello, Olivier!
Thank You very much for accepting my invitation and interview for my fishing blog

Hello, Olivier!

I am very exciting to take an interview from You. The first, most comprehensive book I’ve read about my favorite pikeperch was written by You on the end on 20th century and till now it’s still the most desired source of knowledges about this attractive fish. I am talking about „Heimliche Räuber.: Alles über das Zanderangeln.“, which was published on czech market in year 2005. Is the pikeperch still Your favorite fish till now? And why if so?

Journalist and angler Olivier Portrat with all tackle

I love to fish for predators in general, but the zander definitely is among my favourite fish. The reason is quite simple: there are fish that you will never catch if they are not active – for example catfish and taimen. If they don’t want to attack, even the best angler of the world will not catch them. The charming aspect of zanderangling is the fact that it is possible to entice “sleeping” zander to become active, it is even possible to change an inactive group of zander into feeding frenzy …

Look: Spinning and lure fishing guide

As I can see in all Your publications You pay a great attention to photos, which are really outstanding! Which camera do You prefer for taking pictures near the water? Do You have a personal photographer?

I usually make the photos on my own, this is why I only have few photos of myself. To work on the water with one or two remote controlled flashlights, I need at least one or two assistants … In analog times I was a Nikon photographer, but Nikon was not really up to date when the digital times arrived. Today, I am a Canon photographer.

As I have realised You travel a lot fishing fishing rod. Photos with beluga from Raduta or taimen from Monglia (world record in year 2010) are absolutely gorgeous! Do You have a favorite destination? And if we talk about world records, do You have another?

I spend 6 – 8 months every year on fishing trips. There is not one place that I would qualify as my favourite one. Paradise does not exist on our planet. Wherever you go, there is always a rainseason or some nasty wintertime. I love to go to the Amazon, but only when the water levels are the lowest ones of the year – usually a small time window of 2 – 4 weeks a year! I love to go to Mongolia, but not in summertime as most rainfalls take place in July and August – rivers are then high and coloured. September/October is the right season for Mongolia. I could continue like that with many different countries …

Payara or Vampire Fish from Amazon Zanders from Rio Ebro Amur pike from Mongolia

Fighting with huge sturgeon in Rumania on Danube

Huge taimen from Mongolia Big white sturgeon from Rumania Peacock bass from Amazon

Look: Interveiw with Konstantin Kuzmin (Russia)

Almost all famous anglers collaborate with some fishing tackle brands. Which one have You chosen? And, btw, as we are talking about tackle, what are Your recommendation for large fish in general?

My photos are exempt from publicity – no logos on shirts or caps. I have no contract with any tackle company. I am still and old school journalist: a journalist that sells is no journalist!

For large fish I recommend rather heavy tackle. Catching big fish on light tackle is a stupidity. The fight lasts too long for the fishing, which is bad for its survival chances. With heavy tackle it is much more fun to play a big fish – if you are mean with the fish, the fish will be mean with you! This is fun!

Let’s get back to the pikeperch! In Czechia, where I live, the most favorite fish for 90% of anglers is without doubts carp. However it’s quite unusual in comparison with another part of the Europe, especially eastern Europe. Have You ever fish in pikeperch in Czechia on Labe river or our deep reservoirs as Orlik or Slapy?

Zander or pikeperch on the fly from Rio Ebro Zander or pikeperch on the fly from Rio Ebro Zander or pikeperch on the fly from Rio Ebro

Zander or pikeperch on the fly from Rio Ebro

No, I never fished for zander in Czech Republic. The only waters I fished there were the lakes of Jakub Vagner and the lake of the presidential hunt in Lany.

Step by step we came to the most important part of equipment – the lure! It’s so hard to choose the good one, especially for such a moody fish as pikeperch is! Do You have some all–year–around lures?

The question about the right lures for zanderangling is rather uncomplicated. You might know the softplasticlure “Sandra” from the French fabric Delalande. I made that lure with my friend Michel Naudeau already in 1993 – and it is still being sold in good fishing tackle shops – after 25 years of existence! A good softplasticlure for zanderangling should be between 9 and 14 cm long. You can go for non-action lures, but in general I prefer lures with some action. Last year we landed our 70.000th zander on my boat, I had over ten years with more than 5000 zander yearly on the Ebro in Spain. After all these fish I can still not tell you what colour is the best! I come to the conclusion that the colour of the lure has absolutely no influence when angling for zander. This might surprise many anglers, but this my conclusion after 30 years of intense zanderangling …

Is there any special and quick way of research a new water?

Spinfishing is the right approach of new zanderwaters. On some open waters trolling can be an approach to make yourself an idea quite quickly, but that does not work in all kinds of waters …

Btw, when we’re talking about Orlik and Slapy, those artificial lakes are incredibly deep, up to 70 meters! And in many part those banks are steeply breaking off to the depth of 30 meters. How to fish for pikeperch successfully in such a deep waters? I mean if we don’t have a boat at disposal.

Boatfishing is usually the best approach when zanderangling, as you can fish from the shallow to the deep. On the bank you fish from the deep towards the shallow, which augments the risk of getting snagged. The best approach for zanderangling in deep water is to fish vertically from a boat. That allows also to do some vertical fishing for pelagic zander. Bankfishing for zander in deep waters is something I do not enjoy …

Dear Olivier, could You tell me a story about cayman fishing? As I found some of Your photos from the river Xingu I am totally shocked! Fishing for those beasts should be very risky, because the cayman couldn’t be compared with a pike and even with an alligator fish!

Cayman fishing on Rio Xingu

Cayman fishing on Rio Xingu Cayman fishing on Rio Xingu Cayman fishing on Rio Xingu

Once you have caught most big freshwater fresh you start to think about what else there can be to catch. And – logically – you end up with crocs & caymans! I caught them on many places in Africa and Southamerica, animals up 450 cm. It is great sensation to have an animal at the end of the line that can kill you within seconds – not many anglers know that feeling. In addition, there is always a good reason when I’ve been catching crocs. On the Nile I caught them because the soldiers that I had to take for my protection liked to shoot the crocs coming near our boats. I gave them some money not to kill them, caught the crocs with rod, line & surface lures, made some photos and released the crocs, convinced that they will be more shy in the future. Most of the crocs & caymans I caught in Southamerica was on the Rio Xingu, where the third biggest hydro-electric plant of our planet has been built. 80 km of the old riverbed felt dry, this is where I caught a maximum of crocs & caymans in order to release them in areas, where they will have water in the future …

Meanwhile, I’ve caught over 100 crocs & caymans … On one photo you see my 9 year old son Maximus playing a small croc …

The great shot from Xingu, 2012

Could You please say, what do You plan for the future fishing adventures and what is Your dream? And what would be Your message for young generation on anglers?

I had the chance to spend great time fishing in many countries. In total I fished in 43 countries. Throughout the years I’ve spent about 5 years on the Ebro, 14 months on the Nile in quest of huge nileperch, over a year in Mongolia in quest of taimen, pike and perch, over a year in the Amazon, in Romania and in Patagonia. But today, things have changed. The magic times on the Ebro are well over, I lived all the decline of nileperch angling on Lake Nasser, even in the Amazon angling is becoming more and more difficult. Who knows how long I’ll keep going to Mongolia – big scale mining is a big threat for the Mongolian rivers … Nowadays the fishing is not improving anywhere, the magic times are somewhat over … I’m part of a generation that could live magic moments in so many places of the world, but this is much more difficult for the coming generations: pollution, overfishing and global warming are the major threats … That is sad, I know …

Thank You very much for the interview, Olivier! I appreciate You shared such a significant moments of Your fishing life with me! Keep enjoying traveling and fishing, looking forward to impressions of Your following adventures!

Look: Beginner’s Fishing BIBLE, INTERVIEWS with Pro Anglers & Tackle REVIEWS

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