Carp flyfishing (Portugal) 

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by José Rodrigues  

Portugal, a European country where you can sight fish for carp in shallow water Flyfishing for carp is a new frontier and now available to anyone in one of the best places in the world. Imagine a country with a Mediterranean climate and over 250 days of sun per year, where you can sight fish for wild carp in shallow waters.


This country is Portugal. There you can walk along shore lines or wade through artificial lake’s waters and watch a carp feeding in water few inches deep, sometimes with part of the body out of the water; and then make the perfect cast, presenting the fly with precision in its trajectory, see the carp swimming towards the fly and see it being swallowed with no mercy. What follows is part of your imagination!


Carp fly-fishing has evolved dramatically in recent years, and the growing number of enthusiasts going after this fish does it for a reason. Wild carp’s behavior, in optimal conditions, offers a unique experience, for which you must be prepared. Anglers who already fished for tropical species such as bonefish, will be surprised by the similarities, not only in how wild carp react to flies, but also with their feeding places and the stalking technique involved.


In shallow water, carp turns into into demons able to push you to the limit and makes you want to pull your hair out, not only because of its strength but also for its predatory instincts or suspicion when the fly sinks just right in the front of its nose.


This fishing is awesome. It is a very active fishing where angler has to follow the bank, inside or outside water, depending on the location, with extreme attention and in stealth mode. It is necessary to stay focused, because at any time a cloud of mud might appear, a tailing fish, or the back of a fish sticking out of water.


Usually you will spot them in small groups searching for food in shallow waters. The larger specimen may be alone while searching for food among rocks and submerged vegetation. It is common to see carps between 4kg and 7kg, but the most common size runs between 2kg and 4kg. The most exciting in all this, is the large amount of wild carp an angler will cast to, in a fishing day. With the extensive experience gained during the last twelve years, the techniques and flies developed, you will have the opportunity to cast your fly this fantastic fish and live moments of pure emotion.


One of them, the Alqueva, is the largest artificial lake in Europe, and has approximately 1,200 km of shores lines. The others are smaller but still offer excellent fishing possibilities. The variety of lakes, in addition to ensuring quality fishing, allows fishing every day in a different one. None of them are identical. Each one has its own characteristics; spots with larger carps in smaller number, and areas with smaller fish in greater number.


Lakes and fishing spots will be chosen according to angler’s skills and preference, but we always recommended to start fishing areas with large number of small fish in order to train and adjust and subsequently, prior to attack large feeding carp.Artificial lakes are quite large, with many spots still under exploration and other unexplored. We usually fish eight lakes offering the best conditions to practice this kind of fishing throughout the season.


All these lakes have something in common, a large amount of carp that will provide you unforgettable moments. In addition to carp, anglers will also find largemouth bass and barbell, although barbell are not found in all areas, but where you find them, they will smash your flies.


There are two ideal seasons for fishing this specie. The first is between June and July, two excellent months with warm and long days, in which can be found carps in large quantities along the shores at any time of the day. The level of water in the lakes will depend largely on the amount of winter’s precipitation. If it has been abundant, you will find flooded vegetation along the shores. This vegetation will allow an easy approach but will also increase the difficulty in presenting the fly, perhaps because of the excitement of being merely three meters away from a large carp.


The other season is between September and October, when days are still warm but not as much as during summer, and when also may be some periods of instability characteristic of the autumn-). This is not a bad thing, quite the opposite. As days get cooler, water cools down and small carps decrease in activity, so they will be present in less numbers. Large carp will be very active and in appetite because of the need to consume large amount of food to prepare for winter.


In relation to climate, Portugal has a Mediterranean climate and is one of the mildest European countries, with pleasant winters and warm summers with long sunny days. From June to November it rarely rains, especially in the south of Lisbon, where are located the best fishing spots. There the climate is slightly warmer and drier than in the north, which coupled with ground elevation, create a unique environment where wild carp behave this special way.


Since the sun is strong most days, anglers need to cover sensitive skin areas from the sun. It\’s mandatory to use clothes designed for tropical fishing, preferable with UV protection, for example thin and quick dry pants, long sleeve shirts and t-shirts, quality hat, gloves and microfiber sleeve to protect your face.


Portugal is easy to reach. Unlike many fishing destinations, which are difficult to reach and require more than one travelling day and various stopovers, it’s very easy to get to Portugal. Lisbon International Airport is the connection point between Europe, America and Africa. All major airlines, including low-cost airlines, have daily direct flights to and from major European cities to Lisbon. When you arrive, it is very easy to reach “carp land” since you final destination is only 160km drive.


The equipment recommended. Hooking up a carp in shallow water is something you won’t forget. When the carp feels the hook, the water explodes and it swims immediately into deep water. All the generated strength in the hook set and during the fight requires the appropriate equipment.


Based on our extensive time experience, we recommend the following equipment:
· 6wt and 8wt fast action rods
· Fly reels with powerful and smooth drag with a minimum of 50m of 20lb backing
· Floating WF fly lines, preferable with discreet colors
· 9' leaders in 12lb and 15lb (0X and 1X)
· 1X and 2X fluorocarbon tippet material.


A good guide is crucial to ensure you an unforgettable experience. José Rodrigues is the right one with over 12 years of undisputable experience in carp fly-fishing. In addition, he is author and producer of several videos and documentaries on the subject, author of carp fly-fishing book "Carpas en la Pesca a Mosca" published in Spain at 2013. He also wrote several articles in national and international fishing magazines. No one else knows carp better than him, where to find them, their behavior, what to do and when, flies and techniques to be used. Contact www.carponflyadventures.com


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