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Posts Tagged ‘Carp on fly’

Seize the Carp!

May 22nd, 2018 No comments

Travelling to fly fishing destinations is not usually cheap, but there are some affordable options around the world. Portugal is one. Target species is carp! Initially I thought about hiring a guide but with a little research I found some decent info and decided to wing it. As luck would have it, my old mate Tonio was in the country and keen to meet for a fish. He also had quite a lot of experience with Portuguese carp so the stars really aligned for me. My research had pointed me towards Lake Alqueva and I also got wind of some small lakes near Evora. This was the area Tonio knew so Iza and I booked our accommodation in Evora and then on the Monsaraz beside Lake Alqueva. Fly fishing really does bring you to some super places. Evora was a nice little town but Monsaraz was something out of a fairytale! A quaint, rustic, romantic little walled village full of character and history. The perfect place to bring your other half. No need to mention the lake full of carp which occupies much of its magnificent vista. I met Tonio the evening before our 3 fishing days began. We drank a few beers and chatted about old times. Roll on the next three days!

Day 1 and 2 were good. At times the carp were few and far between and we walked kilometres of shoreline in search of them. My flip-flops on day one were a very bad choice of footwear with lots of walking on uneven ground and mud! I don’t know what I was thinking!! When we did find carp they were not easy. As I had learned in the Azores, travelling fish were hard to entice but a fish with his head down and tail up – actively feeding fish were catchable. I was armed with my 6 wt Hot Toroedo and a Harfin reel. 3x tippet seemed to be the right choice for the carp we were encountering. We were using small buggers to begin with but I experimented with other flies, even catching one on a buzzer! One fly really seemed to have some magic though. It was a simple size 12, unweighted nymph with a claret body of possum fur and a red game tail. Once I put this fly on I really started catching. I gave a couple to Tonio and he also did well on it. We fished 3 different lakes landing about 16 carp over days 1 and 2 with the best fish around 5lbs. Good fun and challenging but where are the big fish?? We did see one 8lb plus fish come to think of it, but it was a fleeting opportunity.

Day 3. One of Western Europes largest dams, Lake Alqueva. Tonio had little info on this huge lake so we just picked a random spot near the bridge looking back up towards Monsaraz on the hill. We covered a few ks of shoreline only seeing about 6 fish. we didn’t land any but to our delight they were a lot bigger. Three times the size of what we were seeing on days 1 and 2. We decided to pull out and go somewhere else in the hope of finding better numbers. Tonio had an idea to drive quite a long way, then we followed our noses down some dirt tracks back to the lake. On arrival we knew we in better water. Lots of points, bays, drop-offs and weed beds. The banks were firm and gravelly and not muddy like a lot of previous water. We had lunch in the shade of a cork tree before hitting the water. I couldn’t help but think that maybe the handle of my fly rod originated right here! I went right and Tonio went left. We had walkie talkies to stay in touch. Tonio was just out of sight when he came through on the radio. “I’m in” he said, “and it’s big!” I replied “I’m in too, and it’s big”. The claret nymph once again. My first fish was also my biggest. I’d say 12 – 13lbs. After seeing the larger fish earlier in the day I upped the tippet from 8lb to 14lb. I was very glad I did. The moment these fish feel the hook they go ballistic! They’re incredibly fast, powerful fish and they run! I was delighted with my fish. Tonio was too. We knew the lake had a reputation for fewer but bigger fish so we were hoping to land one each. That was not to be however! Around the next corner there was another one, mooching around in a dense weed bed. I cast the nymph about a foot in front of the fish and let it settle, one twitch as it got to depth and I saw the carp move in slowly, then a quick motion of its mouth and I struck instantly. Chaos! This fish was as good as the first if not better. He went straight out into the lake against tight drag almost to my backing. Then I made a mistake! I told Tonio over the radio that I was in again and inadvertently eased up on the fish as I fumbled with the radio. He got into the weeds and broke me. Lesson learned! The next fish I landed. I ended up hooking 8 and landing 5 for the day, all between 8 and 13lbs. All sight fishing. I know Tonio also had a great day landing a number of fish. A well timed strike seemed to be the key to success. The place is spectacular too. Wide open, wild space dotted with cork trees. I’m not sure what the best time of year to go is but I was there last September.

For anyone living in Europe this fishery is very accessible with regular, inexpensive flights to Lisbon. We saw some great deals from Boston too. There is a fly fishing guide operating out of Evora. He can pick you up at the airport and take you to his base. He has a package deal with accommodation, food and transport included and it’s reasonably priced. You can contact Jose Rodrigues through his website – http://www.carponflyadventures.com. The other option is to go it alone! I was lucky enough to have Tonio to show me a few lakes near Evora. With respect for local anglers, I won’t name these lakes but just look on a map. My guess is that all the lakes have carp (but maybe I’m wrong!). A simple plan if you were to go unguided would be to base yourself in Monsaraz (or anywhere near the lake) and fish Alqueva every day. The lake is vast (250KM2, 1200km of shoreline) with a multitude of different types of lakeshore. The fish are big. Walk, stalk, you’ll find fish! I can’t recommend it highly enough. There are black bass there too!

On a final note, it was really great to hang out and fish with Tonio again. It’s been a long time! We fished almost an entire season together in NZ about 10 years ago. I met Tonio and Paul for the first time a few years before that. They were filming “The Instructor” which I happily got involved in. That was the beginning of my involvement with the madness that is Sexyloops and the beginning of my friendships with both Tonio and Paul. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since! We had a superb 3 days fishing! I hope it’s not 10 years til we do it again.. Many thanks, Tonio!

Tight Lines,

Ronan..

If you’re thinking about a trip to NZ next season and you’d like my guidance, please drop me a line. Well over half of next season is booked up already. Contact me on www.ronansflyfishingmissions.com or email me ronan@sexyloops.com

 

 

Fly Fishing The Azores..

September 24th, 2017 No comments

I did a little research on fly fishing on the Azores Islands but nothing I read was overly positive. Some fish species could be targeted from the seashore on fly; big flies and a super fast retrieve seemed to be the way from an article I read. Lakes held multiple species but I read nothing about any great fishing, only a bit about catching tiny stocked rainbows – feck that! Initially I figured I wanted to take on the sea. My rough plan was to find a sheltered spot on the lee side of the island and blind fish into deep water with a di7. If i spotted surface activity then I’d adapt. Iza and I had 4 days on the largest island, Sao Miguel, with day 3 my only dedicated fishing day. Over day one and two I realised that shoreline access was difficult. Town harbours were accessable and a very good option from what I saw on a leisurely stroll with Iza. We saw mullet and some other small palagics I couldn’t Identify. My gut feeling was that these fish were there for the easy source of food from bread throwing tourists (like me!) so they were down the pecking order as a target species, also I didn’t want to hook a passer by in the face. The point of the main pier in Ponta Delgado looked better than the inside harbour but I never made it out there for a proper look. On a day trip to the most accessible of 4 lakes I found carp! I fished to them for about an hour with a little interest then they shut down completely at about 1pm. The next day was my fishing day.. sea or lake? Having found no seashore spot that took my fancy, this stunning lake which formed in a volcano crater was it. I started at about 8. Earlier would have been better but I found lots of carp feeding over some sand / mud flats. I quickly hooked and landed one on dad’s diawl bach, then hooked another which broke me in the weeds. Action continued. I wont bore you with details but I’ll mention what I think I learned over the day. Cruisers were tough. I may have briefly hooked one. Fish with heads down tail up – actively feeding fish – were catchable. Depending on the depth of water I used a weighted or unweighted PT nymph – one of Stu’s. The key was to make them see it! Due to their foraging in mud or weed and putting up clouds of silt, this was no easy task. Sometimes it took many casts to get the fly in just the right spot. If I could pull the fly slowly across the bottom, right in front of the fishes face then he may well eat it. The next problem is hooking them! I believe they can suck in and spit out the fly in a second so timing the strike was difficult. My best results came by staying in touch with the fly with a slow retrieve and hoping to feel or see the take. The takes were rarely obvious so I resisted the urge to strike. I had about 7 fish eat the fly that I’m sure of. I landed 3. I also sight fished a pike on a size 12 PT.

So, to sum up. Lake Sete Cidades was good! Carp fishing as described in a lake that’s split in two by a bridge, one side is murky green, the other side clear. Both sides fished well. If I had another day at them I’d start at first light. They mostly shut down during the heat of the day, at least they do in September. There are also pike, perch, zander, trout, bass and others. The potential here is incredible. There are no power boats allowed. I’m not sure about electrics. I only fished the easily accessible lake (Sete Cidades) and only from the shore, though kayak rental is possible. I didn’t see another angler. Lake Fogo is even more beautiful and remote. I doubt you’d see another person if you took it on. It’s crystal clear too.

The seashore has to have an abundance of fish, it’s just a matter of finding the spots away from the sea cliffs which dominate the island and learning times of year when different species come close to shore. If my life was different I might just move out there and learn this largely untouched seashore and lake fishery! Nice climate, great food, cheap good beer, beautiful women, friendly people, world class big game in the deep sea. What more does a fella need?? Maybe somebody reading this will take the plunge! I hope so because I want to go back a hire a guide who knows the score!! To say I only scratched the surface here is certainly true, scratched it with one nail. I had about 12 hours fishing with only half an hour on the sea on one of 9 islands.

I wrote the above on my mobile phone while in transit from the Azores to Portugal’s mainland. It was fresh in my mind and I had the urge to write so I did.. What followed was 3 days fishing with my old mate Tonio, before it came fishing in Irleand, USA and Malaysia.. I wish to feck I used more transit time to write because the season is about to kick off here so finding time to write will be tough once again.. If you’re reading this because you’re visiting the Azores, don’t hesitate to drop me line! I’ll tell you what I know – though its pretty much all written here!

Tight Lines All!

Ronan..

For guiding bookings for the upcoming NZ season email me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website http://www.ronansflyfishingmissions.com