Brought up in Saint-Simeux, Paul Frémont lives in a former watermill, the family home, on the Charente.  Thus he is in daily contact with the site and keeps a close eye on Les Essacs, an ideal spot for reconnecting with a very rich flora and fauna.

Les Essacs de Saint-Simeux association

Destination Cognac : When was the association created and why are you so passionate about it ?

It’s very simple. In 2005, after the abolition of fishing authorisations and confronted with the deterioration of her fishery, a friend wanted to sell it to the department and this was the trigger to set up the association and to save the fisheries. In other words, taking things in hand ! "

Restoration of the fisheries

The principal aims of the association are to save the fisheries and the site thus highlighting local heritage.
We’ve undertaken some big jobs – masonry, joinery, ironwork – but also for heritage weekends, exploration of the site and fishing and private visits with Grand Cognac. We have also undertaken constructions of all types: our traditional boat, creation of a jetty and of a quay near the millers’ bridge.

There are about 75 members of the association. Each fishery has an owner. The fisheries are registered plots.
Fishing for eel on downstream migration in our fisheries has been banned since 2002, no licences having been granted since that date. Our association has become a conservatory and a place for transmission of traditions that bear witness to this ancestral method of fishing.

Eel fishing

Fishing for eels takes place at night during bad weather (November-December) when the water is high and, as we say, it’s not weather to even put the dog outdoors! It’s a fish that does not like the light, that moves in the night and that moves when the river is agitated, when there is a lot of water.

Damien Garcia

Fishing for eel requires a net to be attached to the frame of the fishery, on the downstream side, which is activated by a winch to make it go up or down.

At the end of the net, we attach the “bourgnon”, a willow basket, to retain the eels. The “bourgnon” is closed by a lid. The scoop is raised on the upstream side to let the water and eels through. The lid is withdrawn when fishing is over to recover the eels in the basket.

We offer group visits year round. Every second year, during the Heritage Weekends, the Watermills and Fisheries site is brought to life to enable the public to discover this exceptional place. The programme includes exhibitions, guided visits, fishing demonstrations, coffee breaks at the old mill and boat trips. Next event : Heritage Weekend of 2024 !

Paul Frémont Chairman of the Association des Essacs de Saint-Simeux
Destination Cognac – P. Chaillot

Paul Frémont’s Chinese Portrait in 5 questions

If I were a season,
I’d be the spring.
If I were a monument,
I’d be a suspension bridge.
If I were a period in history,
I’d been in the Middle Ages.
If I were a recipe,
I’d be a round of pork.
If I were an animal,
I’d be a cat.

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