In the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees, you'll find a French guide whose kindness is matched only by his generosity. Thanks to his skills, you can enjoy a multi-species fly-fishing holiday of the highest quality.
I've been dragging my waders across the Pyrenees for forty years now. Over the past few years, as I've tried to extend my prospecting territory to new regions, such as Aragon and Asturias (article to come...), I've found myself confronted with very complex regulations and often with the impossibility of obtaining permits and cotos (daily license).
This is where the help of a guide like François makes all the difference.
Virtually bilingual (French, Spanish and almost fluent in English), with an Iberian foothold and a solid network, he'll sort out all the logistical problems for you. All that's left is to concentrate on the fishing.
But what really sets François apart for me is that, in addition to his human qualities and his ability to sort out your organizational worries, he's a REAL multi-species guide.
Predatory fish stalking takes place on a sublime stretch of turquoise water. The lake is often deserted, and only François and one of his friends have their Bass-boats parked a few minutes away.
The pike population isn't huge, but it's a "trophy fish" area and our guide's exceptional knowledge of the terrain gives us a great chance of success. On our first day in the boat, I improved my record with a magnificent 106cm specimen.
Two days later, after a trout fishing day and just as we'd decided to fish together, François blew everything away with an incredible 115cm fish caught on a fly of modest dimensions (less than 15cm). Only 2 pikes in 2 days, but an average of over 110cm!
If you want to catch more than 10 pike on a fly per day, head north to Ireland or Scandinavia. However,if you want to catch a record pike with a streamer, this is a first-rate destination, and much more accessible than Alaska.
The pike catches are not very numerous, but there is also a large zander (a perch type species that looks like a Walleye) population and it is possible to catch a good number of them every day. On some sessions, we even managed to catch several on the same spot. The very high-level on-board electronics (livescope) are a precious help in locating them and adapting your fishing to the positioning of the fish with the sinking lines.
We switch from pike to zander, depending on the position and the information, and regularly caught one species while looking for the other one.
For those who are not keen on double haul with a #10 sinking line, the boat is equipped with all the casting and spinning gear needed to track the various predators present in the region.
Fishing with such a well-adapted boat, a sublime stretch of water in the almost constant sunshine of this region, and record-breaking pike and numerous zander made these outings memorable days. It's also possible to target other carnivorous species in the region, such as black bass, perch and catfish, but these were not our priority targets on this trip.
Around François' base camp, and within a maximum 1h30m drive, there's a huge network of trout rivers. From large trophy fish rivers to small mountain streams, the diversity is enormous, and you can easily spend ten days in the region without fishing the same sector twice. Here again, the help of our guide is extremely valuable. As you can see, without him, it would be impossible to obtain certain permits and cotos, but you also need to know that the regulations are not simple, with weekly closing days and other subtleties unknown to us French anglers. There are many controls here, and the rules are not to be trifled with.
If you break the rules, your equipment will be confiscated and you'll have to pay several hundred euros to get it back.
François also knows the seasonality of the rivers and the impact of water releases on the sectors concerned. He will organize your days according to your preferences.
Dry or nymph fishing, big fish or small mountain rivers in idyllic settings; there's something for everyone. For me, it's the diversity of the sessions that has delighted me.
The fish are plentiful and it's not here that the fishing is the most difficult, so it's possible to make great scores when you're in the right place at the right time.
What's more, the density of the network means that our guide can always find water to suit the weather conditions on a long-planned trip.
As with predatory fish, the trout fishing on offer here is of the highest quality, and despite my incessant desire to discover new territories, I make an appointment for certain weeks each year to fish here.
CARP AND BARBEL
On this trip, I didn't bring my box of carp flies and I really regretted it. Numerous large fishes were lining the banks of the lake in the clear water, making sight fishing a real pleasure.
My friend Olivier, who had been there a few days earlier, caught some impressive fish, approaching a meter in length and superbly combative.
My imitations of insects, crayfish and other creatures will undoubtedly be in my bag on my next trip to these parts.
On the downstream sections of some rivers, barbels are plentiful. Sight-fishing for them with nymphs is both difficult and fun. Battles with fish measuring between 50 and 70cm are sporty, even if they don't have the speed of salmonids.
When I'm in the area, I like to spend at least half a day stalking them.
A REGION WHERE LIFE IS GOOD
Of course, the local gastronomy contributes to the success of such a stay. Jamon Ibérico, chuleton, caracoles... there's plenty to eat at very reasonable prices, and François knows all the best places to eat. What's more, when you're with him, you'll receive a particularly warm welcome in the region's inns and restaurants.
Although close to France, the landscapes and climate provide a change of scenery. On the other side of the central Pyrenees, a drier, warmer climate shapes Mediterranean vegetation. Old stones are everywhere. Churches, monasteries, ancient castles, sometimes in ruins, and picturesque villages are scattered across often spectacular landscapes. Here, there's no need for long plane journeys to get away from it all.
Stalking predatory fish or trout on a fly with François Perez in his favorite territory is well worth the trip.
But if, like me, you're a multi-species enthusiast and don't want to break the bank for a plane ticket and car hire, this is the place to come!