Coarse Fishing in Spain by Philip Pembroke

Information about places to go salmon fishing in Spain

Buscalo, January 2008

In May 2007 before I went with friends on a salmon fishing trip to Asturias (northern Spain) I collected Information about places to go salmon fishing in Spain
Where else in the world would you find that the most effective method for catching Atlantic salmon is the use of a telescopic rod – price €10, light multiplier reel – dubious vintage, lead weight and hook bait of two earthworms tipped with a prawn? And be permitted to fish in this way by the local authorities.

Traditional UK anglers may turn their noses up at the supermarket tackle used to fish au toc- bait method for salmon in Asturias. But it works! And we couldn’t wait to give it a try.

On the first day we fished four salmon were caught au toc method, one by the remarkable Roman bridge in Cangas de Onis. One lucky Portuguese lady angler bagged a salmon; using a spinning lure we must be in luck we thought, the fish are multilingual!

Most of the popular salmon beats are taken up many months in advance via a democratic pre-season sorteo – ballot (day ticket prices are kept low through regional government subsidies) but we were still able to take advantage of the new system of Coto Parciales introduced in 2006.

These allow free fishing on selective salmon cotos on Sunday through Wednesday from 15th May through 31st July when a 1-bag limit for salmon is allowed.   Please refer to my book called Fly-Fishing in Asturias for details.

The Information about places to go salmon fishing in Spain, which I collected before my trip proved correct. We were directed to fish roughly 400 m above our hotel, in Caño on a free fishing stretch. Parking was in a lay-by on the right and we headed straight down to the bank.

Here the channel is 30 m wide the banks are covered in deciduous trees, as is most of the riverbank downstream. A shallow gravel run gives way to a couple of deeper pools called pozos – pronounced potho where we dropped our weights hoping for that elusive salmon to bite on our fantastic bait cocktail.

The correct au toc – bait fishing method is not to trot, but hold your back bait in the pools so that it presents in the current waiting for the salmon to strike. Do not rush but wait till the fish has properly taken the bait. Easier said than done, after loosing five leads between us in the snaggy rocks in 30 minutes of fishing, we had been told to stock up on weights we decided to move on.

Our second spot was two kilometres upstream at the Coto Parcial El Bollu. We parked up by the Bar Sanchez and headed through the trees down to the bank. Here there is a choice of two large pools where you can fish into deep water off a rocky outcrop. Again we went fishless.

In one restaurant I gestured to a glass of the local tipple called cidron in a bar and received a whole bottle instead, once uncorked you are obliged the sink the lot that amounted to15 small measures.

We awoke fresh as daises the following morning and after a energising hotel breakfast were pointed towards a Coto Parcial called El Barco Toraño by our expert English fishing guide Stewart Ackhurst, a resident in Asturias onto a river stretch situated downstream past Arriondas. The FEVE narrow gauge railway runs behind and it’s a very pleasant spot.

The short, steep nature of Asturian rivers means that it takes less than 80 minutes to cover all of the game fishing stretches on the Sella River driving from the bridge of the coastal motorway upstream to the national park.

It also means that the shallow runs can prove easily deceptive to inexperienced waders. In the afternoon we moved a little way upstream of Arriondas to a free fishing stretch on a much wider run.

The gradient here is quite steep and it was in attempting to reach the island we got half way across the one-foot deep channel before beating a hasty retreat in the face of a powerful current that might easily have swept us before it. Again lots of small trout were attacking John’s lure, fishing with a fly was proving more elusive.

We didn’t catch a salmon but nor did the majority of other anglers during our stay. We are continually reminded that the act of fishing is different from catching fish and in this we gained respect for a superb fishing river and some great experiences.   

Although salmon numbers do not compare with the thousands caught annually on the Moy River in southern Ireland it’s much cheaper to fish in northern Spain and a little bit different. A weird sensation then: watching red heads speak Spanish in our restaurant.

The magnificent scenery never fails to impress, mountains rise vertically from the valley sides forming a fishing amphitheatre and although there is there is plenty of rain the greenery of Asturias comes as a great surprise to those brought up on the arid brown Costa plains.

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