My fishing experiences began in the 1980’s on the Rivers, Broads and estate lakes of Norfolk. Catching tench and carp from lakes in the summer and pike fishing the desolate, reed fringed River Thurne broads in the winter.
I moved to Spain in 2006 and fished lakes around Madrid and the massive reservoirs in Extremadura for some of the unknown, huge wild carp down there. Here with friends from Madrid, I made some more excellent friends who were guiding on these beautiful but harsh waters.
Around this time English friends were telling me about phenomenal water they were fishing just over the border into France. I decided to do the eight hour overnight road trip from Madrid and join them, at least during night you can avoid the heat, travelling through the mountains and desert lands to the North East of Madrid. On through to Zaragoza and the green and gorgeous pine forests of Girona approaching the Mediterranean coast.
This part of Northern Cataluna is an incredible drive and I left the toll road early to enjoy the twisting mountain roads of the Pyrenees and crossed into southern France.
I met the lads at the airport and drove the 10 minutes to the lake. They’d done the trip before and were excitedly telling me about the fish, the explosive runs and arm aching action. The view of the lake when driving down the road is spectacular,you look down through the vineyards and see a massive expanse of water glistening in the sun. In the distance the Pyrenees, still with some snow caps.
We booked in the vehicle at the secure campsite which borders the lake and took a look around. Secure locked fences with key codes are all around the campsite complex with a clubhouse and mini restaurant area. It was reasonably quiet inside the camping zone, people were moving in between the lodges and keeping to the shade under the trees.
Amongst the French number plates were Spanish, Dutch and German so it was obviously ideal for travelling foreigners with the Mediterranean coast only twenty minutes away. Adjacent to the main lake(550 acres) is a smaller lake of about 30 acres which has a beach area for swimmers and sunbathers and excellent lakeside restaurants which are a little more expensive than I was used to in Spain. There are some cracking fish in there that swim amongst the splashing kids with some fat grass carp that go over the 25-pound mark.
As we walked around the main lake we spoke to an elderly English guy with his wife, they were bivvied up and were just unhooking a nice mirror that looked like a low thirty. He had been fishing La Raho Lake for several years and told us, in his opinion, it was” One of the best runs waters in Europe”.
We walked around to the point which is now a favourite swim of ours, bivvied up was a French guy on one side and a German lad with his wife and two young kids.
The young German lad spoke excellent English and we watched as he caught some upper twenty and low thirty mirrors, two-rod lengths out on tiger nuts. Incredible fishing, he had them feeding hard and competing and were ripping the Rods off the rests every ten minutes or so. Now and again a low twenty common would make an appearance, all looked like peas in a pod. The mirrors were incredible, I’d never seen carp with such huge eyes, like golf balls!
The French guy next door wasn’t as talkative and he was catching at about 120 yards out using very fine braid and the fish he was catching were on the smaller side. Mostly commons to low twenties and the odd bigger mirror all on spombed out boilie. They were coming quick and fast also, probably every 15 minutes one of his Rods would rip off.
We found out that the German lad was leaving the next day, so we asked him if we could bivvy up behind the swims and wait to jump into his peg.
The next week was a blur, looking back. Triple takes were not uncommon when a big shoal moved in, we did work for it though, we couldn’t put enough bait in with the spomb and takes slowed up when the spombing slowed down. I was caning the swim to the right on snowman rigs fished out at 80 to 90 yards. It became so hectic we decided not to fish during the night as no one was getting enough sleep. The first two days we were helping each other, net weigh and photo, most of the mirrors were upper twenty and low thirties. After day two we just laughed as we lifted into another and another and another. I’ve never had fishing like it. On a subsequent trip on another part of the lake,one of the lads and I had a two hour match. The fish were lined up and the big shoals must run into hundreds. Anyway, my mate was the winner 8-4, although I did lose a couple fishing on the solid bag rigs.Fishing the boilie only approach does seem to give the best results. Simple snowman hair rigs using a semi-stiff hook length and size 4 hooks.
On one trip we had, some Cocky young Spanish lads, along from us said they would cane it and proceeded to fill it in with cooked particle and pellet. We tried to warn them against it but they wouldn’t have it. For the next few days and nights they were in for a slime fest, Bream after Bream, some of them really a decent size. We couldn’t help but take the piss with some light-hearted banter.
We know some of the ex pats who live in the area very well and the coarse fishing is astounding. They fish the lake all year and some of their catches are amazing, big Bream and massive Roach that go over the three pound mark.
So that’s a brief run down on my experience with the lake,it is generally snag free fishing, some marginal bushes are hidden during the Winter when the water is high. The shoals can be massive, Danny a mate of ours went swimming with them on a recent trip and said it was black with them down there. We spomb boilies out all day and keep them grubbing around, unfortunately boating on the lake has been banned for some years. Normally in the warmer months 5-7 kilos a day is about right but it’s hard work, although the occasional crack off on the spomb rod keeps everyone amused. After a while, hard fighting nutty commons, (which are getting bigger year on year) and lovely big mirrors all blend into one. It’s a great place with freakishly good fishing if you put the effort and bait in.