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Russian subscriber Dmitry Stepa¬nov tells us he went fishing four times with Salvelinus Fishing Adventures in the Eastern Pyrenees Mountains of Spain (www.salvelinus.com) between 2011 and 2014. The trips were all three days long with a personal guide. He of¬fers this overall assessment:
“The waters we fished in Spain were all small if measured by my coun¬try’s (Russia) standards. Casting all the way to the other bank was usually not a problem when wading. The current we encountered ranged from white water to almost no current in big pools. The depth was usually less than three feet unless we were fishing in a pool near a dam. I found a wading staff helpful sometimes, though not very often. The banks were often quite bushy. In the riv¬ers, I used mostly dry flies and stream¬ers thrown with a sink-tip line.
“I also tried fishing in lakes, both from the bank and from a boat. In some places the banks were quite steep and covered with stones, which sometimes made it difficult to walk. Sight fishing is what makes fishing in lakes different. I had never tried that before. You have to spot a trout patrolling the surface and then delicately present a dry fly to it. This was very interesting and challeng¬ing fishing, especially when you spotted a 15-plus-inch brown eating tiny flies just a few feet from the bank. You had to make your best-ever cast not to spook her!
“The high mountain fishing was different. I tried it only once in late Sep¬tember in a small lake at about 7,000 feet in altitude. The first challenge was just getting there! You had to be well-equipped and in good condition to hike more than an hour at that altitude, but once you were there the scenery was absolutely beautiful. The fresh moun¬tain air, crystal-clear water, and hungry brookies simply blew me away!
“Rainbows made up most of my catch overall. The biggest I was able to catch was a six-pounder, but there are bigger ones around. Browns are quite numerous as well. The biggest I ever caught in the Pyrenees was a 10-pound¬er. The native zebra trout is another spe¬cies that is available. It looks just like a brown but has some light strips on its sides. I saw some really huge zebras in the river but was unable to catch any. I have never caught brookies anywhere but in a high mountain lake here. There are a lot of big carp-like fish called bar¬bels in the lakes and river pools. They are very strong, and they are said to fight like crazy when hooked.
“Since all of my fishing in Spain was in the fall only, my arsenal consist¬ed of a 5 wt. for dry flies and occasional nymphing, and a 7 wt. for streamers. It would probably be better to bring a 4 wt. for the high mountain lakes where the brookies run around one pound each. Nevertheless, a 5 and a 7 wt. will cover almost all of the fishing situations you will encounter in the fall. If you need something else, the guide will pro¬vide you with the right tackle.
“As for flies, the guides here con¬stantly experiment with different pat¬terns and sizes. Really small dries (#14) are used for big trout here, as they tend to be quite selective and spooky. On the other hand, big attractors, bugs, flying ants, and stimulators are often used, too, in certain conditions. When fishing with a streamer and sink tip you can’t go wrong if you use a wooly bugger with a gold head.
“As for accommodations, I stayed mostly at La Ribagorza Lodge in Arén on all my trips. The rooms are basic but very clean and have all you need. If good food is one of your interests, you will be delighted by the local cuisine served in the lodge’s restaurant. It is all homemade and very tasty, especially if you couple it with a bottle of Span¬ish wine. The tradition here is for the guide to provide lunch, usually serving it outside. You can choose a sandwich, a salad, a dessert, etc. (whatever you select in advance in the morning). Wine with crystal glasses and beer is included in the fee you pay.
“The first time I came to fish with Salvelinus, I was a complete beginner in fly fishing with just some basic casts in my arsenal and almost no fly fishing ex¬perience in real conditions. So the main goal for me on my first trip was to learn, rather than fish. I was impressed by how professionally Ivan (Salvelinus’s head guide, who was guiding me) ap¬proached the learning process. The re¬sult was five trout in my net the first day and some missed strikes. This may not seem like much, but I was quite happy, taking into account my skill level at that point. What was absolutely invaluable to me at that time was the fact that Ivan showed me the basic techniques I was interested in and was planning to use afterward in my country—namely, dry fly, streamer-and-sink-tip, and nymph fishing. I learned enough to continue to learn on my own afterward.”