I was over in northern Spain for a few days fishing with friends recently. It was a very enjoyable trip, the fishing was good fun and the food, drink and social side of things are always great over there too
Most folk think of sun and beaches in Spain, but fly fishing and fly tying are very popular and there are lots of clubs and social groups, I am a member of one fly fishing group that has more than ten thousand members!
The province of Leon has plenty of cracking rivers and mountain streams to explore and although the trout tend to be smaller than our local ones, the clear waters, variety of pools and scenic locations would bring a smile to any angler's face.
Getting to grips with the tactics again is always fun, flies tend to be size 18 to 28, leaders are pretty long and usually end in 7X tippet if you want a take, wading is often 'flotando cajas' ( floating your fly boxes ) with the water half way up your waist coat, most of the fishing is dry fly, most folk fish 9 ft 3wt rods and semi auto reels are very common as they are only really used to retrieve the line at the end of a session.
A regional annual fishing licence costs about 15.5 euros ( approx £11.50 ) and this gives you catch and release access to the vast majority of the water on all the rivers. This system seems to work very well and it is policed well too, I was only on the water three days but I had my licence checked by a Guardia (police) and he also eyed up my gear and asked a few questions about how the day was going, probably making sure there were no trout under my hat
I'm sure I spotted him in the shadows the next day too, it is good to know that the rivers are being looked after.
Leon is the home of the famous 'Gallos de Leon' ( Coq de Leon ) and I stayed with my friend Tomas, a well known farmer of these birds. The farm and the fly tying workshop are always very interesting and you wouldn't believe how much racket a thousand odd cockerels make at dawn, there was no way anybody was going to sleep in
It is considered a bit unsociable to split up and look for a bit of water by yourself in Spain, Spanish friends usually fish in pairs or threesomes and work their way up through the pools keeping their casting to their half, or third of the river.
This is actually a very enjoyable way to fish, with plenty of banter, especially if you miss a take or get in a tangle and you can help each other out with flies etc as you go .......... it just takes a moment to get used to after our "there was somebody else on my beat" attitude to the sport
On this trip, fishing started at around 10 am and finished at about 2 pm, then we had a lunch of around five courses in the local Meson (bar/restaurant) that lasted a couple of hours, followed by some fly tying or casting. Then it was time to return to the Meson for supper, which had even more courses and lasted for longer. Followed by coffee and a few drinks ....... and then you realise that it is 3 in the morning and you'd better get back to the house for some sleep before those birds start their wake up call again
Great fishing, great food and great company!
But those small flies and fine tippets are hard work with tired eyes!