Barbelous Dry fly Fishing in Spain

May 19, 2011

Spanish reservoir flatsBarbelSpanish sunset
Six months ago a stranger from Spain posted a comment on one of my blogs telling me that where he fished, they caught barbel on the dryfly in numbers. Never one to miss the opportunity to try something new, I packed my bags, guinea pig and tame fishing journalist for the first experiment of the 2011 guinea pig season. After an inauspicious start, earthquakes, heavy rain, a forced relocation and impromptu three hour drive, two bottles of wine at lunch, we were rods in hand on an enormous (86.5square km) reservoir by 5pm. Slight language issues meant gestures and demonstrations were the order of the day, and after our host showed us how it was done, we were soon into fish of our own.
Best described as upside down bonefishing, you see cruising barbel as they come into the shallows to hunt, fins above the water like small scale golden sharks. With the theme tune to Jaws playing in your head, you cast your terrestrial imitation in front of blunt, moustachioed noses. If you get it right, the fish will raise its head and knock the fly several times before rearing up, grabbing it and running in the opposite direction. The shallow water means they have no where to go but out towards the deeper water of the lake, and they keep going until your line is heading for the backing or you are man enough to fight back.
The reservoir offers a huge variety of habitats from boulder-strewn outcrops to white sand flats to grassy coves populated with sheep. This diversity meant that in 30 hours of fishing over two and a half days, we were never bored. Walking continuously and casting in turn, we managed a respectable bag…we averaged about a fish an hour even with the wind creeping up to a lionous force 7 on one day. With the barbel fishing peaking in October at a tremendous 40 barbel a piece, the fishing only gets better. It is possible to fish for barbel on the dryfly for 10 months of the year, although the best seasons are between April and early July and September until November.
I’m already packing my bags and the guinea pigs for our second adventure (Bosnian trout), but if barbel tempts you, I’m taking bookings now for what Toby has described as the best short fishing break he’s ever been on. That says something when you fish all over the world for a job

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