by Phil Pembroke

NOW the rain has finally fallen in meaningful quantity after nine months of drought, many an angler’s thoughts turn to the transformation of dry barrancos near the coast into healthy flowing rivers. And the fish they might contain.

It is amazing how quickly nature recovers from periods of adversity. Life and death is cyclical and the life of fish is no different to other animals. Take one example near Cartama in the Málaga province. The river Guadalhorce has been a dry riverbed for many months. But it has now sufficiently recovered its flow so anglers can catch fish. Barbel (Barbus), stimulated by the returning current are venturing upstream to spawn.

To catch specimens in excess of three kilos, use free-lined luncheon meat in water less than one metre deep or try sweetcorn on a float trotted downstream.

There are not many lagos (natural lakes) in Andalucía. However, there are plenty of embalses (reservoirs) that have been created by damming rivers to produce electricity and provide water for agriculture and tourism. These contain lots of fish.

Common carp (Cyprinus carpio), pike (Esocidae), and trout are present in large numbers in these reservoirs and are surprisingly easy to catch even for the beginner. The Gypsy barbel is unique to Andalucía. From the lateral line down it is a striking canary yellow or orange. The record weight is 14 kilos.

Any baits and tactics that work well in the UK will work even better over here. But in truth, even the most basic approach will succeed. Sweetcorn and luncheon meat are favourite local baits. Most of the fish here have never been caught before and, pound for pound, fight harder than any fish in the UK.

Even a two-kilo carp will easily straighten out a cheap Spanish Mustad hook. Visiting anglers often express amazement when experiencing for the first time the power and speed of Spanish carp or barbel. For this reason I recommend using specialist Raptor hooks, 15 pound main line and a 12-foot carp rod with a two and a half pound test curve.

While many fish species will be familiar to anglers from the UK, the American largemouth black bass is not. The Spanish Government stocks this hard fighting fish in reservoirs considered too hot for trout. The aim is provide recreational or sports angling for everyone. Anglers only require the mandatory regional angling licence and you are permitted to bag up what you catch.

This fish is quite good eating. Bake in foil on the barbeque or fillet with a salad. Do not forget the chilled wine but stick to beer at lunchtime or you will be dreaming of fish all afternoon instead of catching them.

Here are a few of my favourite waters.

At Vinuela inland of Torre del Mar (N340 east of Malaga) visit the Embalse de la Vinuela. There are fish by the recreational area at the presa (dam wall). The best time is at dusk when carp patrol the fringes. Black bass can easily be caught from the shoreline using spinning lures at this time.

Just inland from the Costa Tropical is the Embalse de los Bermejales. It is one of the best lakes in the region. It has a lot of barbel, and some immense carp. A perimeter road offers easy access right around the lake to locate a suitable swim. The entrance is by the presa.

While it is true northern Spain is most famous for its game fishing, Andalucía’s trout waters are not bad either. Trout waters are classified as cotos de pesca, translated as fishing reserves.

One day per week on these trout-fishing reserves is usually reserved for pesca sin muerte (catch and release). The whole coto is often permanently classified this way. Spanish anglers prefer to bag up so choose the right day and you may have a superb trout river all to yourself.

The fishing reserve on the rivers Frio and Salado at Riofrio offer super trout fishing up to 5 kilos. Trout licences for the whole year, licencia de pesca fluvia, are available from: Alberge de Pescadores de Rio Frio, Riviera de Riofrio s/n 18300 Loja (Granada) Tel, +34 958 32 31 77. There are many roadside restaurants serving excellent local trout dishes. From Málaga drive east on the A92 towards Granada.

An angling licence is cheap and easy to obtain. The angling licence fee costs 39.85 euros. It is valid for five years and covers fishing for trout. An annual licence is also available.

To obtain an angling licence visit any Agencia Medio Ambiente. This is the Spanish regional government office for the environment. Take along your passport or driving licence (photocopies are accepted).

Many waters safe to fish are just a stone’s throw from the popular coastal holiday resorts. But if you venture a little further inland you will experience near virgin lakes and magnificent scenery.

Tips and Rules

You can fish from one hour before sunrise to one hour after dusk, all year round.

Fish during the week when most waters are deserted. At weekends and public holidays they are used for jet skiing and swimming.

Be warned, it gets hot inland during July and August. So take lots of water, a brolly for shade, a wide hat and the strongest sun block available.

¡Buena pesca!

Phil has been writing about his experiences fishing all over Spain during the last 15 years. His latest book, The Essential Guide to Coarse Fishing in Spain, is published by Santana.

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  1. Hi myself and my wife have been going down to arcos de la frontera.(cadiz)for the past 4 years with our club fishing a weeks festival we get our licence through the hotel (Federacion Andaluza de Pesca Depertive).Myselfe and my wife would like to visit more often through the year and would like to get a five year licence could you let me know wear to get a andaluza licence from and what paper work we need.
    Thank you Dave.

  2. Forget any thought of fresh water fishing in Andalucía, met a group of ex-pats fishing at Los Barrios who said they would help if I acquired a licence, so stated a journey of discovery, firstly the internet no real up to date info the latest seemed to imply a trip to Malaga & the Agencia Medio Ambiente with Environment Agency Fishing Licence, Passport, NIE No, Public Liability Insurance & Casa Caja Bank book, 3 hour round trip & a total waste of time. Told you have 3 options by administrator
    1) Prove experience of fishing with an agency certificate
    2) Attend a 2 day course (in Spanish) & exam
    3) Do exam (in Spanish)
    Referred to point 1 & pointed out actual current & last years licence, to be shown sub condition requirement – 2 years consecutive licences between years 1991 to 1996.
    All not lost yet, e-mailed Environment Agency who only keep record from year 2000 which they sent, 15 years with only 1 year missed, forwarded to administrator at Malaga as evidence, good enough !!! prompt reply a resounding NO
    Left with options 2 & 3 as a non Spanish speaker – like I said forget it

  3. Seems a lot of rubbish advice on here regarding the licence, go to the grey municipal building next to the last train stop in Malaga, get the application form, photo. take it the desk they laminate this, you go to the bank with their form and pay up. Go back and they release the licence.

    No exam, showing of UK licence etc. Dead simple on my 3rd one, now ok for the next few years. Also i have seen people charging to take people fishing as much as 150 euros, just rent a car. buy a map.

    Just a tip for fishing the reservoirs, fish deep tight in, using a block feeder no need to cast and i always bag up, dead easy to the point of boring.


  4. Steve. There are five different licences for fishing in Andalucia. One to fish from the shore, one from a boat, one in a group from a boat. one coarse and one coarse plus trout. They have different requirements and permissions. You seem to me to have a shore fishing licence, so you and I are probably the only people in Spain qualified to fish from the shore because I’m sure no one else bothers. This licence will do you no good at all if a warder stops you while you fish a lake or river. Please be careful and do some research before rubbishing other peoples advice. I’ve lived here permanently for twelve years and may – who knows? Know nearly as much as you.

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