Extremadura is one of the wildest provinces in Spain and it’s the province with the lowest population density. The fauna and flora here have remained relatively undisturbed and the locals here derive their income mainly from the rural tourism, agriculture and livestock. Practically every business in the area caters to hunting and especially fishing. You can buy fishing tackle and live bait in gas stations, even in bars and restaurants.
Extremadura is considered the best destination for bass fishing in Europe in terms of quality and quantity of fish. Almost daily, you can see many cars pulling bass boats by people coming from every country and corner of Europe to live out a unique fishing experience in Extremadura’s many lakes and rivers.
People that journey here also yearn for the rustic cuisine – a variety of sausages, meats and stews, especially deer and wild boar plus many varieties of local cheeses. It’s exceptional food at more than economical prices. If you are a lover of food like me, you have to take care; I gained 2 kilos of weight in just a few days!
Extremadura’s two most famous reservoirs are called Cijara and Garcia Sola. I planned to spend two days fishing at each of these dams (reservoirs are called dams in Spain), where I hoped to catch some of those big fish that people come here for. I was going to be fishing with the best fishing guides in the area, the crew of Guadiana Boats. You can find this company on Facebook if you want to look into making reservations.
We started fishing on Cijara Lake, one of the largest reservoirs in Spain with over 1500 hectometers of water and more than 150 miles of shoreline; it was built by the dictator Franco in 1956 to provide water for crops and livestock in the area.
The configuration of the shore is quite peculiar. It is full of semi-submerged brush. Also we can find areas of flooded trees, vertical mountains and massive beaches. So in the same lake we can find all possible kinds of shorelines. We were visiting Extremadura during late spring, and the water here had a brown color, but it’s pretty clean. This coloration is due to the large amounts of water that enter the reservoir due to rainfall in the previous month. The entire reservoir is full of schools of baitfish. In fact, every 5 minutes you can hear a splashy attack, and as is often the case, at a farther distance than we can cast.
This reservoir is huge, with more than ten rivers entering (plus their tributaries). As a result, we found significant differences in the water temperature between one area and another. Consequently, you can find largemouth with different biological rhythms in late spring, which was the time we journeyed here. We found some areas where males were guarding fry while in colder areas, we found fish that had not yet spawned.
Typical of spring weather worldwide, we had a very changeable weather week – cold, warm, sunny, rainy, cloudy, windy, dead calm along with a drastically plunging barometer. So the bass were quite out of sorts or in a funk. You can see they were misplaced, since there was almost no fish in typical shoreline areas where you’d expect them to be. This made fishing more complicated than I expected, kind of boom or bust. There would really be nothing, until you arrived on one bank that was full of bass. It was also important to find a pattern, because they did not eat just anything. Without doubt, the star lures this trip were jigs and swimbaits for those fish that were guarding fry. Walkers and surface lures seemed to appeal to bass feeding heavily in preparation for spawning, or those bass on the rebound to recover after they had finished spawning duties.
Pitching light ¼ oz jigs, in very shallow water, less than 3 feet deep and full of flooded brush, almost every fish that we caught were males, showing signs of being at the end of the process of caring for their offspring, just before abandoning the beds. The swimbait was also infallible in this situation, being attacked even more aggressively than jigs, triggering the protective instinct of the male largemouth.
Along the banks where males were caring for the offspring, females would be in the nearest deeper areas, just over the drop off, beginning to recover from the spawn. At least that was the theory, and it seems that it was right! In just 15 minutes I landed two nice females; they were very skinny because they had expended all their eggs and energy just recently, but they proved very hungry and determined to recover their post-spawn vigor. I caught the first female with a ½ oz swimming jig with a bulky trailer. The second female was even larger than the first, and I caught it using a lipless crankbait, the Sebile Flatt Shad by making a long cast paralleling but out away from the shore.
We found ourselves having a heyday, catching bass after bass when suddenly, without knowing why, the largemouth disappeared completely. It had been great fun but bittersweet to suddenly find nothing, no life along the shore. After relocating just 100 feet, we started to catch big pike, stationed in one foot of water, all more than three feet long and weighing between 14 and 18 pounds. Simply amazing! It was now clear why the bass were suddenly and totally missing…a pike over 3 feet long can eat in a four pound bass in one mouthful.
We did not locate many other banks holding fish. It’s funny when you know that the previous week, the very same guide had been catching more than 30 bass per client each day, averaging close to 4 pounds, with some exceptional specimens close to 7 pounds. Yet as you know, wildly changing weather swings with a plunging barometer will shut the large mouth of the bass and move them away from their usual positions. It’s unpredictable, that’s fishing!
For the next day and for our next story, García Sola dam is awaiting us. It’s a reservoir that would not leave me feeling indifferent; certainly it was one of the best fishing days of my life. But you must wait for our next story to find out what I mean! Thank you very much for your time, and see you soon.