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 Post subject: extremadura spain 2015
PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 10:54 am 
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Location: Aviemore, Highlands
just a wee taster for you: hell of a fish on a #6wt :D

if anyone's interested i'll pop up a report over the next few days 8) Image

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 Post subject: Re: extremadura spain 2015
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 8:38 am 
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Location: Aviemore, Highlands
well, not much interest I guess, but Soldier Palmer's mullet post has inspired me.... i'll add in some photos in a bit

Extremadura 2015

Day 1, 7th May

We arrived in Madrid a bit earlier than usual, around mid-day local time. Having set off from the highlands in temperatures of 6C, 22C was a bit of a shock albeit a welcome one!

This year we’d decided to make our base in Abadia, at the local inn where we’d been so well received previously. Whilst this removed some of the “adventure” element, it gave a number of advantages, not least being that we could leave our gear in one place and not have to cruise around looking for places to stay every evening. With this in mind we’d decided to stop off on the way at the amusingly named village of El Gordo (the fat one). this borders the embalse de valdecanas. As soon as we arrived we could see fish moving everywhere. Closer investigation showed there to be shoals of carp and barbel all along the shore. Excitedly we tackled up with floating lines and terrestrials. The fish weren’t too spooky, but they weren’t very interested in our offerings, which seemed strange at the time. The reason for this was to become more obvious later. It was ferociously hot (30C +). For now we were just happy to cast at visible, large fish. And cast, & cast, & cast…….. Eventually Colin managed to tempt a nice barbel on a beetle pattern, but we couldn’t persuade anything else. Very frustrating! By now we were well and truly frazzled by sun and heat, so we set off for Abadia. On the way we stopped off by another embalse to see how the locals do it….

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Day 2, 8th May

Our hosts at Abadia were very pleased to see us and many, very large, beers were consumed… Jose glumly informed us that it was still too cold for good fishing. This was a bit annoying, as he’d told us previously that April/May was the best time! Having said this, Abadia is further north than a lot of the places we fish and is effectively in the lee of the Gredos mountains. This stratification of the water as it progresses down the system has a profound effect on the fishing as we were to witness.

The lack of photos for today gives you some idea! In fact, I had plenty of time for photography as it was a distinctly fish-free day. One of the spots we tried, a river under a road bridge, had looked superb on previous visits with good barbel feeding on the margins. This year we’d gone armed with waders in order to approach less obviously. To cut a long story short, despite a few fish being seen from the bridge, we caught and saw nothing from the river. Very frustrating.

Driving back towards Gabriel Y Galan we saw a huge flock of vultures circling over a field. There must’ve been 60 plus of these magnificent birds. On the ground they were so densely clustered they looked like a field full of turkeys! They were a bit spooked when I got out of the car but I still managed to get a few shots.
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Gabriel y Galan is a huge embalse in the north of Extremadura. Previously we’ve caught fish from here, although a typical pattern is for good barbel to be cruising at long range, picking beetles off the surface. Colin finally winkled one out, but despite there being a lot of smaller fish close in they were difficult to hook, despite a number of takes. We returned to the inn for a quick siesta.

Later that afternoon, we decided to give GYG another shot. A beautiful evening, but hardly any fish showing. Eventually I saw a number of smaller fish taking off the surface, switched to a bright palmer pattern and a fine tippet (4lb) and hooked this specimen pumpkinseed! These little fellas are surprisingly tough and give a good account of themselves. They’re lightning fast takers, too.
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Not a day to set the fishing world alight, but as ever with Extremadura an interesting & scenic one. we thought it was hot, even if the locals didn’t!

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 Post subject: Re: extremadura spain 2015
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 9:02 am 
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Location: Aviemore, Highlands
Day 3, 9th May

We decided to head down the water system for around 100km to the e. de Alcantara. This had been the scene of some notable captures but as we approached it was obviously much more full than on previous visits. Presumably this was due to the amount of snow melt still running off from the mountains. However, fish were seen cruising the margins so we tackled up expectantly.

We managed to get a few desultory follows, but nothing would actually take. The water here is crystal clear, so there’s no problem seeing the fish. There’s also no problem watching them refuse your offering! After a number of these frustrating refusals, I got myself to the other side of a small bay where I could see good fish splashing.

It was much the same story over there. Lots of fish cruising past, not too spooky but not interested in any of the usual offerings. Mostly I was seeing decent sized carp, but they seemed more interested in each other than anything else. Once in a while the odd singleton or maybe the outlying fish of a group would have a half hearted swirl at a fly. I think it was at this point that Colin gave up and headed for the nearest village in search of some bread!!

Followers of this poster will be aware that he is not shy when it comes to challenging convention…. So you won’t be surprised that I decided that I need to get some sort of a fry pattern down to where the fish were cruising in deeper water past a drop-off near my feet. I switched to a sinking line and started experimenting with various streamer patterns. Almost immediately I started getting follows that looked a little more positive, even missing a couple of “mouthings”.

Colin returned and started chucking out bits of bread, although even then nothing seemed interested. It was at this point that I had a thumping take on an epoxy fry and the rod arced as line whizzed off my reel! The fish had taken route one away from the bank. I just got to thinking that I’d left the net in the car when it was off. I was bitterly disappointed, as I was convinced we wouldn’t get another chance with these testing conditions & fish. That take & run had been a long time coming.

It was more like it though, and watching fish showing an interest in your fly is certainly more encouraging than no fish or point blank disinterest. I came close on a number of occasions, with good fish following right up below the rod tip. Finally a big pair of lips engulfed my woolly bugger and I was in again! You have to hook a carp to understand the sheer power these fish are capable of; there’s no mucking about with them they just plough off in a straight line. Colin being on the other side of the bay was in no position to help me and I was once again painfully aware of the net being in the car. I’d seen the fish take in the clear water, but even so I wasn’t prepared for the size of it when I got it near the bank. By the time I got it beached I was trembling….
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Well, if I were a smoker I’d have had a fag break at that point. As it was I had a long sit on the bank whilst Colin got the car and brought it round. I scrambled up through the undergrowth and looked down on the shoals of fish circling under the road bridge.

We thought we’d give the other end of the embalse a try, where there were a number of shallower bays near to a ruined Roman bridge. I can’t remember the reasoning behind this (I think Colin just fancied a change of scene/luck to be honest!) but it proved to be a good move.

I reckon I’d only just had time to put my rod up when Colin was into a fish; another carp taken on a bushy nymph pattern in the shallows.
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What happened next was truly a day to remember, with a total of 5 fish a piece; all taken by stalking and targeting individual fish in clear, shallow water under blazing sunshine. Floating lines and big, bushy nymphs (woolly bugger in my case) presented in front of the fish and retrieved with a twitchy action. For myself, surely the most memorable had to be a fish that followed my fly from about 20 yards out, finally taking at my feet. I’ll swear the expression on this fish was one of “oh shit!” as I set the hook!! It tore off, burning my finger-tip and into the backing. And kept going. And going. There’s over 150m of backing on my reel and I was very nearly spooled. What’s more, it did this another two times!
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I have to say I’m rather glad I didn’t hook a sixth that day, as I don’t think my arm could’ve stood it. They fight that hard and long. I think the photos speak for themselves here. You can rest assured a number of very large beers were sunk that evening!

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 Post subject: Re: extremadura spain 2015
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 9:09 am 
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Location: Aviemore, Highlands
Well, as you might expect, our confidence levels were now sky high. We felt we'd “cracked the code” at alcantara and so we set off in the full expectation of another day's cracking fishing. Even Jose seemed buoyed by our success. He decided he'd tie up a couple of his own woolly buggers using zonker instead of feather. They certainly looked good, although the milk delivery guy obviously thought he was barmy. we got the feeling that most of Jose's customers accepted his huntin' & fishin' lifestyle with an air of faint amusement, but in fact I suspect he's ruthlessly efficient at putting food on the table. He confided to us that the local river used to have some very nice trout before he caught them all over the years..... he's also an expert mushroom gatherer and fresh wild mushroom dishes feature with most meals served of an evening. You can't knock it!
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Anyway, Jose was inspired enough to suggest that he come out fishing with us later that evening, so that was something to look forward to.

We arrived at alcantara fired up by strong coffee, tostada con tomates and full of enthusiasm. It took all of about ten minutes for that to completely dissipate! It was painfully apparent that overnight these carp had gone into full spawning mode. What followed was no good for fishing but was undoubtedly one of nature's great spectacles; shoals of big carp barreling through the shallows with no concern for fishermen. I'm normally of the opinion that if I can see fish i'll eventually get one to take, but to be honest it didn't take me very long to just sit back and enjoy the sight we were privileged to witness.
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Eventually we decided it was time to move on in search of fish more interested in food than sex (although to be fair, who could blame them, given the choice?). We'd heard of a spot near a village with a reputation for a variety of species and only known to locals. To cut a long story short, so well hidden was this reservoir that we completely failed to find it, even with Colin's driving skills and my navigating. We could see where it should be, but we couldn't get near it. A flooded ford on a jeep track proved the last straw....

as temperatures soared yet again, we headed for the dam on GYG and had a coffee. We could see the occasional barbel cruising and i'd seen a couple of carp under the dam wall. Game on!

At least we started to get some interest. Barbel swirled at flies, shoals of baby bass attacked lures; but nothing really took. It was at this point I made a terrible error; i'd switched down to a lighter tippet in the hope of encouraging one of the small bass to take. When I saw good carp “clooping” on the surface I instantly whacked on a grasshopper pattern and whipped out a cast. It was the perfect fly, the perfect cast and, once the fish homed in, the perfectly timed strike. The rod arced over and BANG! The tippet broke with the noise of a rifle shot. What a complete idiot!

Anyway, to save the day Colin hooked a barbel on a beetle at some range. And what a beautiful setting to do it....
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we returned to abadia, met up with Jose for our guided trip and followed his trusty 4x4 up a bumpy track to a deserted reservoir. Jose rigged up a fly rod that wouldn't have been out of place fishing for salmon on the spey and started fishing within a stone's throw of the car for black bass. A few desultory casts later and he was back in his car waving us a cheery farewell having declared the situation hopeless.... pleasure angling’s not his scene!
we gave it an hour or so, but despite the beautiful surroundings it was obviously not warm enough. I covered about three kilometres and saw one group of three small carp who didn't even break stride when my nymph landed in front of their noses. Beer, mushrooms and venison beckoned as the sun set behind us.

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 Post subject: Re: extremadura spain 2015
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 9:13 am 
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Location: Aviemore, Highlands
The last gasp (the assembled brethren heave a loud sigh of relief)

our final day needed to get us within easy driving distance of the airport for the following day. We decided to head back to el gordo via the world-renowned national park of monfrague. You can read about this elsewhere, so suffice to say if you're into wildlife you gotta go there.
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From a fishing point of view, it's probably not your first choice. Whilst watching the vultures we couldn't help noticing the shoals of carp cruising the margins. Checking our (english) guide book, we got quite excited to think we'd be able to fish here with a permit from the park office. Well, the park office staff were charming and readily issued a permit for free; but we were rapidly disillusioned. There were only three locations available and they were obviously aimed at the bait and lure chuckers. To be honest, a couple of them might have warranted a bit of time with the sunken line tactics, but it wasn't what we had in mind. I'm not surprised tho'; spanish anglers aren't noted for their environmental stewardship!
Interestingly, our permit stipulated that we MUST kill any carp, black bass, wels etc that we caught, whilst returning immediately any of the naturally occurring species. These former are regarded as invasive alien species in the national park and the fishing appears to be geared towards their eradication, rather than providing any kind of service to anglers. Quite enlightened in some respects, but quite a shock to us with our C&R sportfishing mentality. We pushed on to el gordo.

Arriving at el gordo, there were fish everywhere. It was very exciting. It was very beautiful. It was incredibly frustrating! Once again, these fish had moved into spawning mode and they were decidedly finicky about feeding. No matter, it was a glorious day with clear water and amazing scenery. We both got any number of near misses and Colin managed to convert a couple of smaller fish.
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Tired, hot but happy we got back into the car to head towards Madrid.

And that was the end of our spanish sojourn

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 Post subject: Re: extremadura spain 2015
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 9:15 am 
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Location: Aviemore, Highlands
Blak Basscination

A short footnote about the local fascination with black bass. For reasons we can’t really fathom, the Spanish have a fixation, bordering on fanatical obsession, with black bass (or as they call it “Blak Bass”) to the exclusion of almost any other species. As soon as you mention fishing or are seen with fishing kit they excitedly exclaim “blak bass! Blak bass!” repeatedly, almost like a mantra. When you mention the carp or barbel they look at you with complete incomprehension. You become aware of them looking at you strangely when they think you’re not looking. That sort of thing! At first we found this interesting but slightly odd, then bloody irritating but now we just accept it with an air of faint amusement. I think it’s because they can eat them.

As an example of this, the final day at GYG we returned to the car to be hailed by the local bar-man “Blak bass? Blak Bass?!” we showed him the photos of Colin’s rather nice barbel but he was completely non-plussed. “yes, but blak bass! You go here… many big blak bass! You see my brother, he fish blak bass! Blak bass!” his eyes bulged and his gesticulations became more & more animated….. this was not by any means an isolated incident.
It has to be said that the bass we caught were fun and put up a good scrap. It also has to be said that we’ve caught none over a pound and we caught none at all this trip. Last year we caught so many we almost began to regard them as a nuisance. But the Spaniards revere them, even to the extent of having bass boats like the Americans and holding tournaments. They regard the carp and the barbel as trash fish, unworthy of their efforts (even tho’ their efforts generally amount to no more than whacking out a baited beachcaster rig, propping it on a stand and retiring under a parasol for a tin of beer with their mates) Which, i suppose, is good news for us…..!

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