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Un estilo espaŮoles aventura de pesca con mosca!
Last edited on: Sep 13, 2012 09:23:24 PM by Kevin

While fishing with a group in Argentina two years ago I ran into a gentleman at the end of the day who was breaking down his gear by the rivers edge, where we were putting out. I politely introduced myself, offered him a cold beer and asked how his fishing had been that day?

I was coming off a tough day on the Rivadavia River, inside the Los Alerces National Park, where quite frankly, Iíd had my ass handed to me. He smiled, took the beer and pulled out his digital camera and handed it to me. Image after image of fat rainbow trout scrolled by. Of particular interest was a lovely brookie heíd landed in a pool just below one of the rapids weíd run earlier in the day. He must have landed at least 30 fish that day, several of which were between 25 and 28 inches. Iíd boated 3 fish on the same stretch of water, which was coincidentally, about the same number of times my guide looked as though he wanted to throw me overboard during our float.

It turned out that while I did not know this gentleman, I knew of him and he knew of me. Iíd run into Ivan Tarin, the head guide and owner of Salvelinus Fishing Adventures, in the Pyrenees Mountains of Northern Spain. Ivan had been after me for 3 or 4 years to come over to Spain to fish with him and to get a first-hand look at his operation. And while I had certainly wanted to go, Iíd never managed to find the time. I usually fish Cuba in July and I donít like to go anywhere in August because I am up at the cottage on Georgian Bay. There was always a reason why I couldnít get to Spain.

But, as we parted ways and I handed him another beer, I promised Ivan, now that I could put a face to the name, that I would get over there to fish with him within the coming year.

So, on July 1 of this year I flew into Barcelona, where I then hopped a cab over to the train station in Central Barcelona. I then took a high speed train to the Catalonian city of Llaida, which is located an hour east of Barcelona. Ivan was waiting for me at the train station where he gave me a big hug, grabbed my bags and loaded them into his SUV. I had no idea where he was taking me and when I asked, he laughed and said, ďThe Pyrenees my friendĒ. And off we went!

Our first stop on the trip was the town of Peramola and the visually stunning Hotel Can Boix, where we spent our first night. This facility was so far beyond anything I was expecting and when Ivan told me that the river we were going to be fishing was only a 5 minute drive from the hotel, I knew I was on to something good. The hotel is nestled at the base of a rocky escarpment where it overlooks the lush river valley below.

The 8 course lunch when we arrived at the hotel should have tipped me off to as to what I was in for over the next 7 days, but I was so focused on getting onto the river that I blindly wolfed down the gourmet meal with three different wines, all the while thinking about dry flies and whether or not I could get away with using my 3 weight? The river did not disappoint and within 30 minutes Iíd landed 2 rainbows between 15-18 inches. The rivers gradient was gentle and made for easy wading. The towering Pyrenees Mountains off in the distance made for a wonderful backdrop to this extremely productive piece of water. An added surprise was the barbel fishing that can be found in this and in several of the other rivers Ivan fishes in the Pyrenees. If you donít know what a barbel is, (I certainly didnít) itís a type of carp (I think) that somewhat resembles a bonefish. These fish will actually tail in the shallow water along the riversí edge in the same way a bonefish does on the flats. I jumped at the opportunity to throw streamers to these obliging fish and even though I saw fish that must have weighed close to 10 pounds, the largest barbel I managed to land was about 4 pounds. It jumped out of the water twice and put up a great fight on a 3 weight.

The next day we hit the road and drove over to the lovely hillside town of Aren. The drive was nothing short of spell binding, with more twists and turns than a James Patterson novel. When you drive from one valley over to the next, in the Pyrenees, the scenery is truly exceptional and, at least for me, it was completely unexpected. Having spent a good deal of time in the Argentinean Patagonia, I can safely say that the Spanish Pyrenees offer up scenery that is every bit the equal to that found in Argentina. Jaw dropping was a common phrase that kept running through my head as we drove through the high mountain pass on a first class Spanish road network. I can now accurately explain why Spain is so broke. They spent all their money on roads!

While in Aren we stayed at the Ribagorza Lodge and from there we fished a couple of the nearby canyon creeks. One of these creeks held some nice sized browns and while I landed a couple of 14-15 inch fish on dry flies, it was a streamer I dragged along the bottom that produced the largest fish of the week, a nice brown at just over 6 pounds. The Aren area is farming country and I felt very relaxed and at home there. The people were extremely friendly and generous. When I gave the lodge owner Juan Antonio a fresh Monte Christo # 2 to smoke after dinner, he slapped me on the back and let out whoop of pure joy that made me laugh until I nearly cried.

From Aren we made the spectacular drive up to the mountain town of Torla, which is located right in the midst of the Pyrenees National Park. Torla is an old cobblestone lined village that hugs the edge of one of the deepest valleys in all of Spain. There are many bars and funky little restaurants that line the streets of Torla, along with more places to shop than one would expect for such an out of the way place. I loved this little village and was none too eager to leave but Ivan had plans for us. So, after a huge lunch consisting of tapas, piping hot fresh rolls and ice cold locally brewed lagers, we headed deep into the park to try our hand at the native Mediterranean Brown Trout that call these high mountain streams home.

We ended up hiking down into one of the most pristine and picturesque canyons I have ever had the good fortune to find myself in. The hike in was quite perilous, bordering at times on downright dangerous, but the pools we found ourselves looking into when we got down to the bottom of the canyon made the risk and effort worthwhile. Deep green and blue hues meshed together in the water, with steep V shaped cliffs towering above us. Huge pine trees in various states of decomposition were scattered amongst the massive rock boulders that lined the edges of the river. Small waterfalls slinkied their way from one pool down to the next, creating a network of pools so inviting that I will forever see them in my dreams for the rest of my life. I was in love and I hadnít even opened my fly box yet!

Ivan only wanted me to use dry flies and I certainly wasnít going to argue. Three casts to the edge of the first pool and....NOTHING!!!!! I looked at Ivan and he shrugged and opened up his fly box. Out came a larger and lighter coloured fly than the one I had just had rejected. Next cast, fish on. The next 10 casts, fish on. And this is how it went for the next two hours, with just about every cast resulting in an eat. None of these browns were very big (8-12 inches) as the water is extremely cold and clear, but my God these fish were beautiful! When you land north of 50 fish in a short afternoon, who in their right mind cares about size? Unfortunately we had to pull the plug early as we still had to hike out and Ivan was very conscious about making sure we had sufficient sunlight for the ascent back up to the road.

Once we drove out of the park and past Torla, it was a quick 90 minute drive over another mountain pass and then down into the next valley over, where the lodge that Ivan operates in the town of Santa Celia, is located. We arrived at dusk and I was quickly checked into a room on the top floor, overlooking another absolutely gorgeous river. When I came down for dinner after getting cleaned up, I asked if there were any fish in the river out front of the lodge? Ivan responded, ďOf course. Lots of nice rainbows and even some barbelĒ.

We had a pre dinner cocktail and Ivan then took me on a tour of his facility. Spread out over three floors in a converted farm house, Ivanís lodge sleeps 8 anglers. The dining room windows on the second floor open out onto one of the sleepy streets that run through the village and the bar, which is well stocked with all the old favorites, is located on the ground floor of the property. Ivan spends the months of June, July and August based from his lodge in Santa Celia, where optimal summer conditions allow his guests to fish a vast number of rivers, creeks and back country lakes.

After the tour, we sat down to a fresh garden salad followed by cracked shellfish paella prepared by Ivanís outstanding lodge chef. She then brought out a homemade cheesecake that was perfectly accentuated by the strong freshly brewed Spanish coffee that followed. I was too tired for wine, much to Ivanís disappointment and he grudgingly put away the two bottles of Vega Sicilia Reserva Especial that we were supposed to have with dinner. I needed rest!!! After all, I still had three days left with Ivan, fishing the Spanish glacial high mountain back country. I was then scheduled to head further east in the Pyrenees, to the city of Pamplona, for 6 days at the Festival of San Fermin, better known as Running of the Bulls (another story all together)

For trophy fish, the fall is the best time of year to fish the Pyrenees and Ivan accepts clients until mid November. He starts to get busy in the spring and with his 5 guides, can take up to 12 anglers per week. The Pyrenees are a great destination for non anglers accompanying those who love to fish and Ivan has a host of excellent options for those who donít fish.

If you enjoy beautiful scenery, great foot, excellent guides, wonderful trout fishing, and superb wines, Ivansí operation, Salvelinas Fishing Adventures, is a home run on all fronts. You would be hard pressed to find a nicer man and better guide, than Ivan Tarin. He is truly exceptional!

Ivan basically had to twist my arm to initially get me over the there to fish with him and now heís going to have to fight to keep me away. I am heading back for a week at the end of June 2013.

Please note that Ivan asked me to refrain from discussing specific fly patterns or the names of the rivers we fished.

Richard French is a passionate international angler, author and businessman. Through his company Slipstream Angling he has traveled the fishing World and enjoys putting his clients on to fish.

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