Fly fishing in the Algarve is not widely known, or at least I have not found much information on the Internet. Yet through the Internet I managed to meet Russell who is guiding in the southern part of Portugal.
Many waters dry up during the summer and the only fresh water fly fishing options are reduced to a few dams and bigger rivers. In dams you can catch large mouth bass and carp. My attention was captured by a river that marks the border between Portugal and Spain, Rio Guadiana. With a length of over 700 km, traverses the Iberian Peninsula from North to South and then it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The fish fauna is varied. Perhaps the most interesting fish for the fly fishermen is the shad (Alosa fallax), a herring-type anadromous fish which migrates into fresh water to spawn. The fishing season begins in April and ends in June. Besides shad you can fish for different species of barbel, large mouth bass, zander and carp. Fishing license is required and can be obtained from an ATM or at the local authorities in Olhão, Faro or Portimão against a modest sums. Getting the fishing license from an ATM is possible only with a Portuguese card.
I met Russell near Tavira where he picked me up and drove with his car to Mertola, a small town, forgotten by time with narrow streets situated on the banks of Rio Guadiana. The Phoenician, Roman and then Moorish influence merged of in this merchant place. Sulfur and silver from nearby mines were exchanged for grain. The place where we fished lies a few kilometers north of Mertola. A country road that meandered arid fields took us to an old mill on the banks of the river.
Until I had my fishing rod ready for action, Russell inspected the river and told me that we have a good chance to catch shad. Initially I thought it would be interesting to fool some Iberian barbel with the fly, having already some experience with their continental counterparts. I started fishing with a tandem of two heavy nymphs and soon I had the first fish. Shad's attacked in glee my nymphs. Twice I managed a double. An orange BH nymph proved to be attractive for a small barbel, unfortunately the only one during that day.
After some nice shads, Russell managed to catch two little zander on a minnow imitation. Meanwhile I changed my rig and I started fishing with sink tip and streamers. Great was my surprise when I caught a sea bass with a clouser minnow. There followed many other shads on a white / chartreuse clouser and on one of Russells flies, a sparkler (fish imitation tied only with pearl flash and a BH). The take on the streamer is extremely strong reported to the size of the fish and the best way to hook up is a short strip-strike. Shad turned out to be a real game fish making a lot of jumps until you manage to have it in the net. Some of the fish didn’t managed to survive the long and exhausting journey into the river.
I ended the fishing day on the Rio Guadiana getting new experiences and lots of great pictures. If you are interested into fly fishing in this area you can contact Russell. He can provide any kind of help (information, guiding, fishing tackle). More information can be found on his website GuadianaFishing.
...more photographic impressions from the Algarve...