Barragem de Odiáxere (Portugal) 

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Six o'clock in the morning, the air is crystalline and the sun is rising.


We are in the Barragem de Odiaxere. Barragem is the Portuguese word for a retaining dam. There are several Barragems in Portugal, the dam here was built in the mid 50s on the River Odiaxere. It functions as water reservoir and electricity power plant.


Barragems are medium to large bodies of water. The Barragem de Odiaxere branched structure (see MAP) covers about three squared km.


In the clear water several species of cyprinids dwell, among of them a remarkable presence of large carp, along with predatory fish like pike and black bass. This latter represents a very interesting challenge for the fly anglers.


Barragem can get quite deep and the steep banks often end into several meters of water straight away. In deep water the best choice to catch black bass are sunken patterns. The presence of pasturing fry is of course a game changer and one can see black's attack even in this condition of water. Mind that the water level can change considerably from year to year or from season to season, which can influence the fishing with floating poppers. Despite steep banks, at times there are large platforms of shallow water, extending from ten to hundred meters. These areas with lower bottom are good place to search the Black using floating flies.


When the Black Bass are hunting it is possible to observe the frantic run of the small fish that try to save their life by simultaneously leaping in the air to escape the large jaws prowling beneath.


After blanking on the first day, today I catch a first black in a shallow area. There was no apparent activity when the fish engulfed the floating fly.


At times groups of large carp swim by. I always carry a second rod with me, armed with a carp fly, but they are very wary fish. A shadow casting too close to the water or a fly dropped too close to them, and they disappear in a wink.


Today the Black are in the right mood. I have several bites with the floating pattern. The biggest regret is a Black over a kilo that after a spectacular fight with jumps and unstoppable runs, unhooks himself right before the picture. My bad: slack line at the last moment due too much confidence in counting the chicken before they are hatched.


The sun is speeding up its travel to the zenith. The magic moment of fish activity is fading like the cool air of the morning hours.


One more black and that no more attacks. Around 11 o'clock I call it a day. Time to go to the fresh fish market in nearby Aljezur and buy fresh ingredients for a deserved lunch. Maybe tomorrow morning it will be another magic moment on the shore of the Barragem.. or maybe even today at dusk?


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A SUMMER HATCH