Coarse Fishing in Spain by Philip Pembroke

Where to Begin Fishing in Spain?

Buscalo, January 06

Freshwater fishing in Spain occurs mainly in large reservoirs and smaller rivers

Many people’s first glimpse of water is most likely to be of a partially dry riverbed (barranco), coloured with algal blooms. However once you begin to explore further a field, you will be surprised and delighted to find there are many wonderful waterways which exist throughout the country, which as you will now be aware, hold some outstanding coarse fish including very large carp, the amazing Comizo barbel and unexpected “exotic” species like American largemouth Black bass, zander and siluro catfish.

Most fish that you will encounter have never been caught before. In this respect the tackle and tactics required to catch them is a lot simpler than those required in the U.K. Even those thinking about taking up this leisure pastime for the first time will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to start catching fish straight away.

And anglers with previous experience but new to fishing in Spain are often amazed by the power of carp and barbel caught in Spanish rivers and lakes. Pound for pound they fight much harder than any fish raised on an artificial steroid diet in UK stock ponds. For instance a 2kg river carp will easily straighten out a cheap Spanish Mustad hook.

A starter fishing kit can be purchased locally for less than 20 euros. I suggest beginning with a simple lead weight or float rig and a size 6 or 10 hook using 15lb breaking strain reel line. Bait up with sweetcorn or luncheon meat purchased cheaply from the local Super Mercado (supermarket). Bites are not subtle. One moment of distraction may result in rod and line disappearing in an instant into the depths. So remember to hold onto your rod you have been warned.  

Look After Yourself

Summer daytime temperatures reach very high levels over here. Always wear a wide brimmed hat, take lots of water (8 litres minimum) and use maximum sun block. A brolly for shade is recommended, especially on the banks of many embalses (reservoirs) where the sun, bouncing back off the concrete like surface, has evaporated the waterline many metres back from the natural shade of the original tree line.

Where to start fishing

Compared to France where there exist hundreds of thousands of natural lakes, Spain due to its geology has just a handful of natural lakes (lagos). Fishing generally takes place in rivers and where these have been damned, in reservoirs, which are called embalses. Spain is the fourth biggest dam builder in the world so as you can imagine there are plenty of angling destinations to choose from.

I recommend visiting:

    Marjal de Xeraco, at Xeraco just south of Valencia, it has free fishing, there areeels, Black bass, perch and llisa (shad). Funnily enough this is a natural lake. There is lots of wildlife here. Directions: from València go south on the N-332 towards Gandia. Xeraco (Jaraco) is on the left, just past Tabernes de Valldigna.

    Embalse de Pedrera, near Torrevieja, there is free fishing for carp, barbel and Black bass. This is a pretty location for all the family. The best spot is at the entrance to the trasvase (water plant). Directions: southwest E.26, exit at Orihuela, go southeast via Hurchillo to Torremendo.

Over the coming months I will cover in more detail tackle tactics and baits, what species of fish there are to catch, where to fish in your area and else where. Before you know it you will discover for yourselves why angling in Spain is special and why it offers such a different experience from fishing in other parts of Europe.

Phil’s tip of the month

Reservoirs near the coast supply water for the Costa resorts. In the summer the water level can fall drastically. Do not be put off by the hectares of exposed shoreline. Always cast to the deepest point where the larger fish will hold up, often by the dam, which is called a presa. To deter tiddlers and American red crayfish (cangrejo)  think about using a large hard bait like a boilie (a commercial bait product made from reconstituted artificial foodstuffs or tiger nut (available from the local grocer) that is too big for a smaller fish to swallow.

Watch out! If you are unlucky enough to be pulled up by the Guardia Civil without the correct documentation they will almost certainly confiscate all of your tackle in lieu of payment of a 500 euro fine. The Guardia are considered to have the best-equipped fishing team in all of Spain. Remember it’s illegal to fish at night.

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