With our batteries recharged after a great dinner and a few hours napping in a very fluffy bed, we started driving with bass boat in tow toward García Sola, the reservoir about a 30 minutes drive directly below Cijara.
Arriving one hour before sunrise, I was struck by the number of cars and trailers that were already parked at the ramp. More than 15, even before sunrise, and on a weekday. I cannot even imagine the bass boat traffic that can occur here on a weekend or any holiday!
So as we began the new day with 15 fishing boats already ahead of us, Roberto Murillo, one of the Guadiana Boats guide told me that the water temperature of Garcia Sola is always higher than Cijara; it was 20 to 22 degrees Celsius (68 to 71.6F). It’s because this reservoir has less water storage (554 square hectares vs. 1500), it’s flatter and it has no inflowing rivers that provide water (Garcia Sola receives water only from Cijara dam itself). Due to this, the fish were further along and have a more consistent biological rhythm in the springtime than in Cijara, the reservoir we had been fishing just the day before. Therefore, we would most likely have to adapt a totally different outlook toward new patterns, expecting the bass here to be in the late post spawn stage, possibly even finding fish in typical early summer positions.
Like Cijara (which flows into Garcia Sola), the water had a brown color but it was pretty clear. The configuration of the shore was quite unique and mainly of two types; either grasslands with brush and scrub or else woods full of live, semi-submerged trees, creating wooded shallows with long, seemingly endless corridors between the trees (possibly submerged roads, stream beds, ridges or ravines) and lots of obstacles. These last areas are the dream of every bass angler, and they are also perfect for the bass to be hidden therein, waiting for easy food to ambush
We started fishing grassland areas with little to no aquatic vegetation first, just as the sun rose, with the intention to intercept those bass that may be patrolling the open shoreline early, looking for baitfish. Every bush or plant that you find in the water on this weedless shore can have its own rewards! We made our first catches of the day with suspending stickbaits worked just below the surface, without breaking the water, and I landed the first mama of the day, just over 4lbs, with the Sebile Stick Shad 114 SP. This fish was aggressive and hungry, because it swallowed the lure very deeply and was bleeding as a result. Being with guides such as Guadiana Boats crew, safety and care of the fish comes first as they were able to extract the lure, and the fish recovered perfectly in the livewell as we released it in perfect condition minutes later.
The real madness began when we moved to the upper part of the lake, closer to the dam. This area was full of semi-submerged eucalyptus trees and lot of schools of baitfish located out in the middle of the lake, as far as possible away from the tree-filled shores. Now that’s very unusual conduct for baitfish to stay out in the open, yet I soon understood why they wanted to be out off the banks. Legions of big bass were lying in ambushed in the trees, waiting for the schools of small fish to pass by and destroy them. Every few minutes, you could hear huge surface attacks nearby!
The choice of lures seemed pretty obvious due to the massive number of attacks that were happening on the surface, and we were right – walking baits were real killer machines to catch these bass. It wasn’t simple since you had to make long and technical casts between the corridors of trees and then keep the lure walking as close as possible to the shore. Not being amateurs, we got lots of attacks, and landed large numbers of bass between 2 to 4lbs, relatively easily and in record time. I can’t remember a single cast with no following bass, and sometimes you could see 3 or 4 big bass following under your walker at once!
Yet despite the aggressiveness with which the fish attacked our lures, it didn’t work as well with just any kind of retrieve or any type of walker. First, you had to use a plug without rattles, because on this lake with lots of fishing pressure, the fish are starting to refuse noisy lures after seeing so many rattling baits by late spring. Second, you also had to make a significant splashing action on the surface; they didn’t want a subtle walking bait, it was necessary to create a big scandal. Third, in terms of movement, you had to give the lure a quick action, simulating a fleeing fish, until you spotted a bass coming out from the obstacle where it was in ambush, creating a wake on the surface, almost a small wave as it rushed over until it was almost touching the lure, fully accelerated and excited. At that exact time, you just had to stop your lure as the fish would almost run right over the walker, swallowing it. Done correctly, to say that fish could be hitting topwaters any better was impossible. They were striking with a voracity that I had not seen in a long time, which was most impressive in a highly-pressured reservoir like this. But in my opinion, the sensational results were also due to our reading the situation correctly; we found the right pattern, and we were presenting exactly what they were eating, simulating a fleeing baitfish perfectly, blurring the artificial with the natural, causing bass to lose all caution.
Some hours later, the sun now high overhead, I began to feel the fatigue brought on by the high physical exigency of this kind of technical fishing. And if you are no longer at 100%, you start to make bad casts. Indeed with the passing of the day, cast after wearied cast, fish after exhausting fish, those highly accurate casts that needed to be threaded between gauntlets of trees to reach the shore, and the thundering movement that I had been imparting into the walker, eventually became the opposite. My walker became Tarzan swinging from tree to tree without hitting the water, and the times when I did make a decent cast, my now-broken wrist could no longer move the lure vigorously enough, so I had become incapable to awake the fury of the largemouth any longer.
It was time to end the day, at least for me, as I slept for thirty minutes on the carpeted floor of the Ranger bass boat as my guide made smooth sailing to the ramp, to take our boat out of Garcia Sola although it shall always remain there in my memories.
I never expected to find such beauty and variety of fishing situations in these two nearby reservoirs, Cijara and Garcia Sola had so many bass eating with such voracity, even though there’s high fishing pressure with anglers from everywhere across Europe coming to these lakes nowadays. About the rustic food here, I really have no words to describe, something beyond supreme, you have to taste it. You see I’ve fallen in love of Extremadura, and I don’t want to ever forget the fantastic guide service the Guadiana Boats crew has given me. So I’ve set the date for my return to this land of enchantment; it will be this coming August going for big pike.
Undoubtedly I recommend you spend a few days fishing for bass in this paradise, and you will remain in love with this place for all your life. Adios for now although I shall write you soon.