Lake Guéry is the highest lake in Auvergne, a shimmering crown jewel of the Sancy mountains whose hiking paths and wildlife attract flocks of tourists each summer. For over a century, Guéry — which teems with trout — was also France’s premier locale for pêche au trou: ice fishing. Every March, crowds of parka-clad, ice auger-wielding fishermen would set up camp on its frozen surface, hoping to get their share of the bounties below. Spirits were always high. People sang, laughed, grilled, and drank whisky, all in joyful defiance of the freezing weather.
This all changed in 2021, when French energy giant EDF — Guéry’s owner — sold the property to the Puy-de-Dôme Departmental Council. Following the sale, the government issued a temporary ban on ice fishing. As of 2023, Guéry’s storied winter pastime is still prohibited, presumably because of safety concerns.
Will ice fishing every come back to Lake Guéry? One can only hope. France has many mountain lakes — but none ever had Guéry’s international ice-fishing reputation. Reportedly, the lake’s fame extended as far as the Caucasus. The sport also benefited local hospitality businesses. After their exploits at Guéry , many ice-fishing enthusiasts would retire to and patron restaurants and hotels in nearby villages like Mont-Dore, Bourboule, and Besse.
Surely hundreds of people — in Sancy and beyond — are waiting for the return of Guéry’s much-loved fishing tradition. Yet one question must remain on everyone’s mind: when?
For more tips on interesting things to do in Auvergne, click “Trip Ideas” below.