Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive
in 2007 with funding from
FISHING AND TRAVEL IN SPAIN
BY THE SAME AUTHOR
FISHING IN WALES
THE STORY OF SEVILLE
PRACTICAL HINTS ON ANGLING
TALES FROM THE WESTERN MOORS
LIKE STARS THAT FALL
'-• «•':.»•;• •**
FISHING AND TRAVEL
H 6ttlbe to the Bnoler
WALTER M. GALLICHAN
AUTHOR OF • FISHING IN WALES '
IV/TN EIGHT JLLUST'^Affbm
F. E. ROBINSON & CO.
20 GREAT RUSSELL STREET
MY FISHING PUPIL AND COMPANION
• TH?S''*Bb6K IS AB'FECTIONATELY
'* •* *i '. .. '. /•'iN^RIBED
There are more ways than one of seeing a fresh
country. One may make a lightning tour through
some of the chief towns, race through the picture-
galleries, and glance at the buildings of interest.
The traveller does not learn very much of the
country and the people by flying along the beaten
track and staying in conventional tourist hotels.
When I wander, at home or abroad, I choose for
preference a cross-country line. The hills, the
rivers, and the forests, appeal to me quite as
powerfully as the cities, cathedrals, and works
made by hands. With the rustic person every-
where I have a sympathy. I love the open air
and those who dwell where there is calm and
Our journey in Spain and Portugal was rendered
varied and instructive by combining the recreation
of trout-fishing in the wilder regions with visits to
the towns and their museums of art. In this
chronicle I have written chiefly upon the days
spent by lonely streams and in little rough
hamlets of the mountains. Few anglers visit
Spain expressly for the pursuit of their sport.
This is because so few fishermen know where to
go and how to fish in that delightful country. I
went, I saw, and I was not disappointed. When
opportunity offers I hope to go again, equipped
with the experience of my first itinerary. It is not
true that all the Spanish rivers are * poached to
death,' that the trout are small, and that poor
sport awaits the angler in the Peninsula. I have
shown in these pages that some of the rivers teem
with trout of a sport-giving weight. These streams
are free, and they will compare with waters in
Great Britain which can only be fished at a high
charge. I might even say that they will contrast
with them to the decided advantage of the Spanish
rivers. The reason for my faith will be found in
Some of the matter forming these chapters
appeared first in the columns of the Field. With
the kind permission of the editor of that journal, I
have incorporated portions of the articles in this
volume. I also beg to thank the art editor of the
Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News for leave to
reproduce some photographs which formed the
illustrations to my wife's account of a lady angler's
adventures in Spain.
WALTER M. GALLICHAN.
Aprils 1904.^ ,
I. EN PASSANT - - - - I
II. A WEEK ON THE BIDASOA - - 7
III. TROUT-FISHING ON THE RIO ASON - 22
IV. A GOOD DAY - - - "37
V. TROUT AND TRAVEL IN THE PROVINCE
OF SANTANDER - - - - 47
VI. THE RIVER AT RENEDO - - - 58
VII. TWO DAYS ON THE GUADALQUIVIR - 69
VIIL FROM ANDALUSIA TO CASTILE - - 82
IX. STREAMS IN Le6n - - - 88
X. THE WILD LIFE OF SPAIN - - 98
XI. OUR HOME IN THE GORGE - - 105
XII. IN THE KINGDOM OF GALICIA - - II3
XIII. AT PONFERRADA - - - - 121
XIV. THE HAMLET OF MATAROSA - - 130
XV. BY THE WILD SIL - - I40
XVI. DOWN THE MINHO - - - 1 54
XVII. THE SHAD OF ARb6 - - - 164
XVIII. AROUND TUY - - - - 171
XIX. JUNE DAYS IN LUSITANIA - - 177
XX. TROUT STREAMS AND COARSE FISH RIVERS 1 92
XXI. A MIXED CREED OF PRACTICALITIES - 205
XXII. THE SPANISH FISHERY LAW - - 215
INDEX - - - . . 225
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
NETTED - - - -
THE RIO RIDASOA IN NAVARRE -
A RUN ON THE ASON
A BREAKWATER ON THE GUADALQUIVIR
ON THE BANKS OF THE RIO SIL
A SPANISH VENTA, OR WAYSIDE TAVERN,
WITH THE HOSTESS, HER DAUGHTER,
AND GRANDCHILD AT THE DOOR
ESTANISLAS : A NATIVE FISHER-BOY
BOTTOM FISHING IN THE MINHO
Fishing and Travel in Spain
* Look at those droll English people ! Wherever
they go they take fishing-rods with them,' said
one Frenchman to another as we boarded the
packet at Newhaven.
The sea was calm as an inland pool, and we
had a quick passage to Dieppe. At last my wife
and I were on the way to Spain. The plan of
travel had been discussed for months, during a
winter sojourn among the Norfolk Broads, and
preparations made for an unconventional tour
of the Peninsula. And now we were really upon
the road to the land of sunshine and vines, the
country of Cervantes and Velazquez, the home
of the mingled races of the East and the North,
the romantic Iberians. We were going to leave
the beaten path whenever it was possible, to stay
2.V -i, ♦;Fislung. and Travel in Spain
y^.: i^', **: \' ' * V- . "
in mountain villages, to explore the river gorges
with our fly-rods in our hands, and to study the
manners and customs of rural Spain in the re-
motest regions of the kingdom.
Perhaps it was that delightful book *Wild
Spain,' by Chapman and Buck, that first turned
my thoughts toward the possibilities of sport with
the rod in the Peninsula. It is true that these
authors devoted most of their time to shooting ;
but a part of their volume treats upon trout-
fishing. Their account of angling in Spanish
rivers of the northern provinces is not highly
encouraging to the fisherman. The writers
appear to have fished occasionally by way of
passing a few hours, when there was no oppor-
tunity for bustard or partridge shooting, or in the
summer months when the gun was laid aside.
They had a rather doleful experience of some
much-poached rivers. Upon this subject I have
something to say in my pages. At any rate, in
spite of Spanish poachers, and the assertion of
a London fishing-tackle dealer, who said that
the trout of Spain were very small and not too
plentiful, we resolved to see the rivers, fish in
them, and judge for ourselves concerning their
En passant 3
The * Angler's Diary' gave a more hopeful
account of fishing in Spain. I learned from
this annual that one might travel cheaply in
the Basque Provinces, Asturias, and Galicia, and
obtain in some parts very good fishing from the
end of February until the close of the season.
There was also the probability of salmon and
sea-trout-fishing in certain of the Biscayan rivers.
Some articles in the Field were useful in the
information which they gave upon several streams
of the North of Spain. But, as I had arranged
to contribute an account of my Spanish fishing
experiences to that journal, I determined to seek
new waters, and to furnish a fresh narrative of
Only the keen fisherman can sympathize to the
full with the zest with which one seeks adventures
upon a new river. The pleasure is great when
the angler finds himself for the first time on the
bank of an untried stream in his own country.
It is an even greater enjoyment to roam by a
riverside in a new land, and to test one's skill
with the trout of foreign waters. The complete
change in one's environment is in itself fascinating ;
and there is a charm in the thought that trout,
uninstructed through long generations in the arts
I — 2
4 Fishing and Travel in Spain
of the wet-fly, dry-fly, minnow, and clear-water
worm anglers, may await you in sequestered pools
of wild and, perchance, unexploited streams.
Speculation of this kind occupied my thoughts
as we rolled slowly in the train through the green,
monotonous levels of France to the first glimpse
of the majestic Pyrenees. Beyond this rocky
barrier was Spain, the country of our dreams.
We crossed the Nive and Nivelle, streams that
looked likely for the fly-rod, and soon the wide
estuary of the Bidasoa, the first Spanish river,
came in sight. This stream of mountain birth
waters a series of beautiful valleys in the province
of Navarre, till it merges into the tidal waters
between Hendaye, the last town in France, and
Irun, the first town within Spanish territory.
My wife took the bundle of rods, which had
aroused the mirth of the Frenchmen at Newhaven,
and I carried the two bags to the Customs office.
The officials rummaged the contents of the bags,
and paid marked attention to the fishing-gear.
* What is it ?' I understood the officer to
* Canas para pesca ' (Rods for fishing), I replied,
timidly uttering my imperfect Spanish.
He handed me back the bundle, and a porter,
En passant 5
in a striped blouse and a blue Basque cap, inti-
mated that he would carry our luggage to the
fonda (hotel). We stepped out of the railway-
station, and scented the salt water of the blue Bay
of Biscay. The porter gesticulated, and talked
in his native tongue. A group of loungers stared
curiously, wondering whether we were French or
English folk ; and we came to the fonda, odorous
of garlic and olive-oil, with a dimly-lighted dining-
It was early March and chilly. The sole
means of warming the house was a copper
brazier of smouldering charcoal on the staircase
landing. A real caballero was pacing up and
down, wrapped in his capa (cloak). Yes, and
there was the tinkle of a guitar in the street !
We were indeed in Spain. A gleam from the
setting sun rested upon a gray peak of the
Pyrenees. We sat down to our first Spanish
dinner. There was red wine upon the table and
a dish of green olives.
After the meal, I questioned the landlady's son
about the fishing in the Bidasoa. He spoke
French, and told me that we must take the coach
for several leagues up the river, to the town of
San Esteban. There were trout there in abun-
6 Fishing and Travel in Spain
dance. Some were as long as your hand ; others
were almost as long as your forearm. For his
part, he had never fished; but he knew that
English people and a few French came to fish
in the Bidasoa.f
A WEEK ON THE BIDASOA
As I have said, the Bidasoa is the first Spanish
river which one crosses upon entering the Pen-
insula from Bordeaux. Its lovely valley will
dwell long in my memory. Most Englishmen
know of the Bidasoa through its association with
the Duke of Wellington's famous crossing of the
river with his troops during the Peninsular War.
Only a few of my compatriots have heard of the
stream as one yielding sport to the fisherman ;
but among those few are two or three Britons
who travel in the spring from their wintering
places in the South of France to revisit favourite
lengths of the charming river.
At Irun the Bidasoa widens to a fine estuary.
There is nothing to detain the fisherman in Irun,
though, if he has journeyed from Paris, he will be
glad to rest for a night at the hotel in the plaza.
Before starting up the river, let him communicate
8 Fishing and Travel in Spain
with the Marques Eugenio Uztdriz, at the Palacio
Reparacea, Oyeregui, Provincia de Navarra, Spain,
who receives paying guests in a fine old mansion
on the left bank of the Bidasoa. The palacio
contains several bedrooms, but now and then in
the fishing season there is a run of visitors. It
is therefore advisable to engage a room before-
I found these comfortable quarters by an
accident. Upon leaving Irun by the diligence,
it was our intention to stay at a riverside inn
about sixteen miles up the valley. But the only
room in the venta was occupied by an English
angler, and the hostess informed us that there
was no other accommodation for travellers for
several miles on the road. Fortunately, one of
our fellow-passengers in the coach proved a friend
in need. He was an officer of artillery and a
native of Navarre. ' If you will ride on for three
hours,' he said, * I will find you lodging in a
palace where they are used to English people.'
The prospect of staying in a palace was certainly
alluring, though I must confess that such fortune
seemed at first unlikely to fall to our lot after
setting out in the hope of obtaining quarters in
a rough roadside inn. However, our companion
A Week on the Bidasoa 9
assured me in Spanish and French that he would
undertake to find us bed and board for as long as
we chose in a well-appointed house. And not
only this : he engaged to send on a messenger
from the next village, where the coach stayed an
hour, to announce our coming to the hostess at
My courteous friend was as good as his word.
When the diligence drew up in the dark at the
Palacio Reparacea, two servants took possession
of our baggage, and the proprietor himself appeared
to conduct us to an enormous dining-room. A
quarter of an hour after our arrival we sat down
to a well-served dinner of five courses. By what
process of conjuration these preparations were so
speedily accomplished I am quite unable to relate.
The bedroom was ready, warm water was pro-
vided, and a neat and comely Basque girl, named
Maria, showed us every attention at the table.
The bedroom, by the way, was that wherein the
Iron Duke slept in the stirring days of the
fighting in this part of the Bidasoa Valley.
In the long room I found a visitors' book with
several English names in it, and some notes on
the fishing. A bookshelf had upon it several
novels with famiHar British titles. So much
lo Fishing and Travel in Spain
for the quarters, which I can only speak of in
praise and remember with pleasure. As to the
terms per day, it is no secret that we were asked
the modest price of 5 pesetas — i.e., about 3s. 6d.
in British money.
And now for the trout -fishing. Soon after
breakfast next day we went out to the river,
which almost washes the walls of the palace, and
began to fish a sharp run of rough water. My
first capture was a samlet. I cast again, and
hooked a trout, a quarter-pounder, on a blue dun.
It was my first Spanish trout. I looked at him
curiously and lovingly. He was clean, plump,
and prettily spotted, with nothing to distinguish
him from our British trout. But he fought more
lustily than our half-pound trout ; indeed, in all
the Spanish waters the fish ^are surprisingly
We spent a very pleasant mid-day on the length
near the palace. The day was soft and rather
dull, and the trout were taking the natural flies
with their spring avidity. Beautiful woods sloped
to the river, and above them were outlying peaks
of the Pyrenees. The scene resembled a Scotch
glen. Primroses dotted the banks, and in a gleam
of sunshine hibernating butterflies fluttered by the
A Week on the Bidasoa ii
river. During a lively rise from about twelve till
two I caught sixteen trout, and hooked and
released a number of samlets. Here, for the first
time, I met a Spanish rod fisherman. He spoke
the Basque language and a little French. His rod
was made of maize stalks, with a hazel switch
for the top, his cast was coarse, and his flies
clumsy and big. Still, he was keen and clever,
and he knew all the good runs in the river.
Another native, who watched me one morning
when I was pricking or catching a trout at every
cast, wrung his hands and uttered strange cries in
That morning gave me really fine sport for
about half an hour. I noticed several rises to
blue duns in a nice swift glide close to the
opposite bank. Wading in almost to the tops of
my waders, I was able to cast over the rising
trout. A jerk at the top joint of the rod and
a screech from the reel followed almost every cast.
One after another, without moving more than
a few yards downstream, I brought trout to the
net. Nine fish, weighing from 6 ounces to J pound,
and three fish lost, was my score in that memor-
able half-hour. Then suddenly the blue duns
vanished, and not a trout would move. I went
12 Fishing and Travel in Spain
further down the river, and took four more fish in
a short time. One of them was f pound, and,
though I held him hard, it was five minutes before
I could bring him to the net.
We spent a delightful week at the Palacio
Reparacea, and if the rain had not refused to fall
we should have prolonged our stay in that hospit-
able retreat. The river was somewhat low and
clear when we arrived, and each day the water
became lower and the weather brighter.
During a mild wet spring the Bidasoa may
be relied upon as a sport-giving river. I had
quite enough success to make me long for a few
days upon its banks during the coming season.
Sumptuous board and lodging, attention and
kindness, good fishing, and grand scenery, are the
attractions of this length of the Bidasoa. There
is no charge for fishing beyond the five-peseta
license, which must be stamped by a provincial
Governor. The civil guards are quick to notice a
strange angler on the river, and the license should
be obtained before beginning to fish. If the
license cannot be stamped at Irun, the diligence-
driver will bring one from Pampeluna.
For some miles above the palace the Bidasoa is
very rough, with stretches of tumbling water and
THE RIO BIDASOA IN NAVARRE.
A Week on the Bidasoa 13
many rocks in the stream. I fished upstream
one day, but found the exertion of scrambling too
severe to set against the resultant sport. For
wading, the best water is between the two bridges
near the palacio, and as far down as the little
town of San Esteban. Below this point I did not
venture. Judging by my observation during the
diligence ride from Irun, I should say that there
are several miles of fishable water between that
town and Oyeregui.
After my article on the Bidasoa had appeared in
the Field, a disappointed angler, who adopted the
lugubrious nom de guerre of * Caught Nothing,*
wrote to that journal declaring that the river had
been mercilessly poached during the summer
following my visit to the Palacio Reparacea.
'Considering that the rivers in Spain,' wrote
this fisherman, * have been poached, dynamited,
night-hned and netted since prehistoric times, with-
out being restocked, is it reasonable to expect fish
of any size ?' To this pertinent query I will offer an
affirmative answer. I have seen, caught, handled,
and eaten, trout up to 2 pounds in weight from these
* depleted ' rivers. Other anglers have had the
same tangible experience, and on the authority of
the well-known * Angler's Diary ' published at the
1 4 Fishing and Travel in Spain
Field office, we learn that the river Sil (afterwards
the Minho) in GaHcia, contains trout as large
as those of almost any river in the world.
Wherever trout are found, there also will
poachers pursue their arts. Let that always be
accepted as an axiom, and accepted with philo-
sophic patience, though not with indifference.
We need not travel to Spain to find the illicit
fisherman. The records of salmon-poaching in
the United Kingdom during the exceptionally
good seasons of 1903 and 1904, as set down in
the newspapers, are sufficient proof that the illegal
taking of spawning fish is a widespread and
profitable industry. It is useless to blink this
plain evidence, and to suppose that the reported
cases of poaching represent one-half of the full
extent of the depredations.
Most poaching is undetected. It is success-
fully conducted throughout Christendom and
elsewhere. The receivers and organizers in our
orderly and law-abiding nation are often among
the * respectable ' members of the community. I
am myself in a position to mention the names of
a doctor, a solicitor, and a schoolmaster, who are
* in ' with a powerful and well-managed syndicate
of salmon-poachers. The ignorance of riparian
A Week on the Bidasoa 15
owners, members of boards of conservators, and
fishermen generally, concerning the nefarious de-
struction of fish in their own districts is pathetic.
How often I have heard this formula : * Oh no,
there's no poaching here ! The rivers are too
well watched.' Now, grant that two keepers,
both alert and able-bodied, are told off to watch
a four-mile length of a river : is it possible for
these men to guard every pool of that stream by
day and night during every season of the year ?
You may preserve, restock, scrupulously observe
the size limit, kill all coarse fish, and employ a
small regiment of water-bailiffs ; but there will
still be poaching more or less.
My friend * Caught Nothing ' asserts that the
Spanish rivers have been poached almost to the
extermination of trout, and he maintains that the
Bidasoa will be * troutless' in two years. Why in
two years ? The Bidasoa has suffered this alleged
depleting process for centuries. No doubt during
every dry summer for 300 or 400 years the
natives have netted, night-lined, groped, and what
not. And yet in 1902 anglers could still contrive
to make a very fair basket of trout on any favour-
able day during the spring months.
No one will say that the famous Dove is a
1 6 Fishing and Travel in Spain
doomed river. It is true that the trout are ten-
fold more wary than their ancestors of Izaak
Walton's day ; but the stream still produces its
millions of fry every year, and there are fishermen
who know how to lure the wily trout of that
classic river. Yet I am told, on very good
authority, that the upper reaches of the Dove
were systematically poached all the year round in
the days of our grandfathers. You can diminish
the number of fish in a stream by netting and
other illegal methods, but depletion is another
matter. Even the use of dynamite will not
deplete rivers with big and deep pools, such as
alternate with shallows on the larger streams of
All the deplorable and abominable practices of
the poachers of Spain or any other country work
great harm, and threaten the angler's right to
enjoy his inoffensive recreation. But the greater
evils are river pollution and the modern system
of field drainage. From these destructive forces
trout cannot escape. Spain is, happily, almost
free from poisoned and contaminated waters.
Some of the rivers in the mining districts of the
North are polluted and fishless ; but in the well-
watered Peninsula there are thousands of miles of
A Week on the Bidasoa 17
pellucid and beautiful streams, with no factories,
works, mines, or big cities, within leagues of their
lengths. Such a river is the Bidasoa in its course
from the mountains of Navarre to its first meeting
with the tidal waters. Its numberless hill tribu-
taries are the natural hatcheries of trout, and the
river possesses all the proper qualities for the pro-
duction of fish-life.
There are rivers in Spain that contain much
bigger trout. My heaviest fish was f pound, and
I saw none that appeared heavier, though I was
told that pounders are fairly common in some of
the rivers. The conclusion of the whole matter,
so far as my experience goes, is that the Bidasoa
gave me as much sport as I should expect in one
of the Welsh or Yorkshire streams of repute
during a week of average March weather. And
as regards the question of cost, the Bidasoa
certainly has it for cheapness when compared
with the most moderate of our subscription and
ticket waters. The fishing is free, except for
the license, costing about 3s.; and the charges
for board and lodging are certainly lower than
one pays in England for the less dainty cookery
and indifferent accommodation provided by the
average fishing hostelry.
1 8 Fishing and Travel in Spain
The venta, or roadside inn, at Yanci, lower
down the river, has one room to spare for fisher-
men. I am told that the place is clean and the
food presentable. An English gentleman, whose
name is associated with the turf, has been the
guest there more than once after wintering in the
South of France. I do not think that this angler
would visit Yanci if there were no trout there.
Before our departure from Oyeregui, a gentle-
man, with the title of Chevalier, and his wife,
arrived on fishing bent. He had learned about
the Bidasoa from a fishing-tackle manufacturer in
the North of England, and had travelled from
St. Jean de Luz to Irun by rail, and on to the
palacio by diligence. The new-comer gently re-
proved me when I told him that I had given a few
artificial flies to the local anglers.
* You'll teach them to fish,' he said.
* That is my intention,' I answered. ' Infect a
man with the passion for fly fishing, and you make
him a sportsman. I hope that the natives, who
have seen that trout can be caught by fair and
interesting methods, may be persuaded to become
fishermen instead of poachers.'
But the Chevaher was sceptical.
One afternoon my fellow-traveller, the artillery
A Week on the Bidasoa 19
officer who had shewn us so much kindness on the
road from Irun, paid me a visit. My stock of conver-
sational Spanish was scantier then than at the end
of my six months of wandering. Still, we contrived
to talk upon several subjects, helping one another
with phrases in English, French, and Spanish. Our
visitor was a handsome man, with blue eyes and a
fair beard. In his blue boina, a cap resembling
the tam-o'-shanter, he looked like a * braw Scot *
from Perthshire. He told me that his favourite
sport was quail-shooting. I questioned him con-
cerning the wild animals and the game of the
district, and I learned that sangres wild-boars,
were preserved for hunting on an estate not far
from the palacio. Deer were also found in the
* Are there still brigands in Spain ?' I asked.
The officer smiled, and replied :
' Yes, a few. Show me your map.*
I gave him a map of Spain, and, opening it, he
put his finger down near to Toledo, and then upon
My friend was not a fisherman (pescador), but he
liked trout to eat. I offered him my morning's spoil,
which, with pressure, he accepted. He wished
that he could speak English fluently ; he had taught
20 Fishing and Travel in Spain
himself enough of the language to translate a book
upon botany for his daughter. With French he
had a perfect acquaintance, and, being a Basque by
birth, he spoke that strange old tongue, as well as
the pure Castilian Spanish.
Long live the Basques ! They are a charming,
hospitable, sturdy, and honest race. Their country
is one of noble mountains, rocky gorges, and
shaggy hills, wilder than Scotland's Highlands,
but not unlike them. In their hardiness and
integrity the Basques are Scottish ; in their gaiety
they are Irish. Their frames are usually spare,
and they move with a lissome grace. Treat them
as caballeros, and they will show you every kind-
ness. One of their foibles is ' patriotism.' The
love of one's country is everywhere commendable ;
but an exaggerated patriotic sense often manifests
itself in nations, including our own, in a prejudice
which is perhaps most fitly described as parochial.
I will say no more. The Basques are a lovable
folk. They have the virility and the native
intelligence that make for progress. Long live
the brave Basques in the glorious region for which
they have striven against foes since the time of
the Moors !
We left the delightful old palacio and its
A Week on the Bidasoa 21
courteous owner with reluctance. The hostess
hoped that we would come again. Maria took
our fishing-rods and bags, and a diminutive lad, a
foundling in the service of the Marqu6s, staggered
down the broad staircase under the leather trunk.
It was too heavy a load for those narrow shoulders
and thin legs. I took the trunk, in spite of
Maria's protests and amazement, and carried it to
the venta to await the coach.
A soldier on Excise duty drew near and eyed us
closely. I gave him a military salute, which he
returned. Then came the clatter of six mules'
hoofs upon the dusty road, and the jangling of their
harness bells, and the rocking, swaying vehicle drew
up at the door of the inn. Our traps were placed
on the roof of the coach, and we took our seats in
the interior. Maria waved her hand, the little
crowd of rustics smiled a farewell, the driver
cracked his formidable whip and cursed a mule
named Tia (Aunt), and we started on the long stage
to the venta at the head of a lonely and steep pass.
As we ascended, rain began to patter on the
roof of the diligence. It had come too late. I
sighed and thought of the freshened river, and the
sport that I might have enjoyed had I remained
for a few more days in the lovely vale of Oyeregui.
TROUT-FISHING ON THE RIO ASON
During March, 1902, the weather throughout
Europe was more than usually variable. In
Northern Spain one day was as warm as mid-
summer in England, and the next cold, with a
north-easter blowing, and snow falling in the
higher regions. At Oyeregui we had a week of
warm weather, and upon one day, at least, the
heat was oppressive at noon. When we left
Bilbao, en route for the Rio Ason, the day was
gray, with tokens of rain in the sky.
I would warn fishermen not to waste their time
in fishing the streams in the immediate vicinity of
the manufacturing town of Bilbao. Ironworks
and mines mar the scenery near this port, and the
rivers are mostly polluted. On the authority of
the British Consul at San Sebastian — a beautiful
watering-place a few miles to the west of I run —
I learned that the river there gives no sport to
Trout^fishing on the Rio Ason 23
the rod fisherman. The coast fishing, however,
should be good. Sea-bream and other fish are
very abundant off the rocks, and there are plenty
of small boats on hire. In the estuary at San
Sebastian I saw large shoals of fish at low-tide,
which looked like gray mullet. A Spaniard told
me that they were difficult to catch with the rod
and line. There is rod fishing at this place, for I
saw a woman collecting small crabs for bait, and
long lines hung along the quay to dry.
Between San Sebastian and Bilbao several
streams flow into the Bay of Biscay. The river
most noted for trout is the Deva, and while run-
ning by its side in the train I saw several rises on
one pool, and the usual fishing-nets hanging on
walls. A day or two might be spent on the Deva,
if the angler's route lies that way, as it will if he
travels from Irun to Bilbao.
From Bilbao to Santander is a rail way- journey
of a few hours. The train travelled in the sedate
manner to which we were growing accustomed,
and we were soon in a lovely valley, with rocky
hillsides and hamlets built on ledges. As we
proceeded the scenery became even finer. We
crossed a few streams, and drew near to a range
of gray, snow-capped mountains. Our com-
24 Fishing and Travel in Spain
panions were mostly Basques of the working
class. The men wore the customary striped
blouses, boinas, and cloth trousers, and for their
foot-wear shoes of canvas, adorned with red or
scarlet worsted, and soled with hemp.
There we had our first view of the Ason in its
upper lengths. The river rushes impetuously in a
series of narrow gorges, to widen into deep pools
and spread over gravelly shallows. It seemed
an ideal water for trout. Near to one of the little
stations we saw a pescador with a long, clumsy
rod, which he was using with both hands.
About a league above the tidal water of the
Ason, in the province of Santander, is the village
of Ampuero, with its stone bridge, large weir, and
tributary brook hurrying from the mountains.
Here we left the train on this dull March day,
bent upon fishing and research concerning the
rivers of this wild district of Northern Spain.
Most of the villages in the Peninsula possess a
posada, or inn, but we were dubious as to the nature
of the hospitality which Ampuero provides for the
stranger. Our doubts were, however, dispelled
when we ascended a broad staircase to a light
and clean dining-room, with large windows and
balconies, and encountered an elderly and most
Trout-fishing on the Rio Ason 25
courteous seiiora and her pretty niece, who at once
made us understand that we were not the first
English anglers to stay in the house. Our hostess
then proceeded to enumerate the dishes which
she could provide at a cost of 5 pesetas a day, the
menu including fowl, meat, fish, eggs, wine, coffee,
and liqueurs. No one but a gourmand could
possibly grumble at such fare, while the price was
less than the cost of the poorest board and lodging
in an English fishing-village; so we at once de-
cided to take a room in the Posada Gabriele and
to dine at the general table.
In the afternoon a soft rain began to fall, when
I put on my wading-stockings and started for a
trial hour with the trout below the weir. The
weather had been hopelessly bright and fine for a
fortnight at least, and we had already noted the
clearness of the water. But there seemed the
likelihood of sport in the sharp stream, and,
putting on a cast with a March brown and a blue
dun, I opened the campaign, and immediately
caught a smolt in its silvery mail. This proved,
at any rate, that there were salmon in the Ason,
and the capture of half a dozen samlets in a few
minutes led one to suppose that a considerable
number of fish ascend the river to spawn. A
26 Fishing and Travel in Spain
deeper run yielded the first trout, one of 6 ounces,
which fought like a Scotch three-quarter-pounder.
The rain now pattered down steadily, but the
more it rained the better the trout rose, and for
twenty minutes I rose, pricked, and caught fish
with rapidity. One trout, which escaped by
leaping, was a two-pound fish, and I lost another
after a short fight in the rough water.
My wife had not unpacked her rod. While she
watched me from the bank, a group of village
children gathered around her. They were amazed
to see me standing up to my knees in the river.
My wife's fishing-coat of mackintosh greatly in-
terested them. They had never seen such a
garment. I learned from these youngsters that
there were salmon in the pool which I was fishing
— salmon of an extraordinary size, judging by the
children's estimate of their length. I carried
six trout back to the inn at dinner-time. The
biggest was just upon f pound, and the smallest
about 6 ounces. A steady rain set in with nightfall.
I rose early the next morning, and found that
more snow had fallen on the mountains, though
it was not lying in the valley. The river was
swollen and discoloured, and, worst of all, tainted
with melting snow.
Trout^fishing on the Rio Ason 27
We went out after breakfast and tried the fly.
It was a hopeless case. The Ason seemed to be
rising, and even the worm was refused by the
trout. But the next day was genial, and the
river, though high, was in fair order for fly fishing.
Seiiora Lopez, of the fonda, gave us a prodigious
luncheon. There were three big mutton-chops,
half a yard of white bread, four hard-boiled eggs,
a piece of cream cheese, a packet of biscuits,
some oranges, and a pint bottle of red wine.
When I had carried this weight of provender, and
my wading-stockings, brogues, mackintosh, rod,
and landing-net, a couple of miles on this warm,
moist spring morning, I wished that our hostess
had been less liberal with the contents of her
We followed a well-made highroad, up the left
bank of the river, for nearly three miles. The
river flows close to the road, and at a pretty bend,
where the stream forms a series of sharps and
shallow pools, we crossed a meadow to the water-
side. Birds were twittering in the budding trees
fringing the stream. I saw a few blue duns sail
by while we arranged our tackle. One might have
been in Yorkshire instead of in Spain, for this
part of the Ason reminded me of a length of the
28 Fishing and Travel in Spain
Ure near Hackfall. No one was in sight. The
river was our own for the nonce.
We began to cast with three flies, a blue dun on
point, an orange dun for the second dropper, and
a March brown as an upper dropper. The orange
dun was a hackle ; the other flies were winged. A
samlet came up at my first cast, hooked himself
firmly, and was back in the water in a few seconds.
The first trout of the day fell to my wife. He
took the orange dun, and made a short, brave
fight before I netted him. We put him on the
spring-balance, and he weighed a little over
Soon after this capture I took a brace of small
trout in a little run near the bank, and turned
over a bigger fish. A half-pounder took the blue
dun, and sundry samlets were caught and returned
to the river. It was now noon. We waded
across to an islet near a weir, and sat down among
the osiers to eat our luncheon. While we sat
there, a salmon, weighing between 8 and lo pounds,
leapt out of the water a few yards from the bank.
I was soon upon my feet, trying to lure him with
a sea-trout fly. But he was not to be tempted.
The afternoon gave us better sport. While
making a long cast across a turbulent run into the
Trout^fishing on the Rio Ason 29
quieter water on the other side, I felt a fish.
In an instant he turned his head downstream,
entered the foaming run, and rushed away at a
tremendout pace. Nearly 30 yards of line left
the reel before the fish checked. My wife waded
in, took the landing-net, and anxiously watched
my bent rod, while I recovered line foot by
* Have you seen him ?' she whispered.
* No, but he feels Hke a four-pounder in this
stream,' I said, trying to work the fish towards the
Presently the trout jumped. He was a big
golden creature, but not 4 pounds in weight.
I judged that he would need careful holding with
my drawn cast and small hook.
This was one of the wildest trout I have ever
played. It may seem absurd, but it was nearly
ten minutes before I brought him into the dead
water near a sandy beach. At no moment in the
struggle was I able to get below my fish. If I
pursued him, he went further down the stream,
and threatened to take me out of my depth. The
river - bed was rough, and there were some
treacherous holes. The trout jumped more than
once ; in short, he tried every trick known to an
30 Fishing and Travel in Spain
intelligent fish. At last I drew him gently on to
the sand and seized him. He was very brilliant,
clean, plump, and in the pink of condition. He
weighed ij pounds.
Stimulated by this success, we went up the river
to another run, where we found both trout and
samlets on the rise. The latter were certainly
more abundant than the trout, but a few more
half-pound fish were dropped into the bag. By this
time the sun was low and the rise was over. So
we took our rods to pieces, drank the last glass of
the thin, sharp wine, and started for Ampuero
along the right bank. This is the most picturesque
side of the stream. A little path rises and sinks
along the rough hillside, where many beautiful
ferns grow among the rocks and bogs. In some
parts the walking is not too safe, for the path is
narrow and slippery, and there are sombre deep
pools below the cliff.
Our catch of trout was spread out for the
inspection of the senora, her son and niece. They
expressed astonishment at our skill. ' Did the
senora catch the big one ?' My wife said * No.*
But was she not the first mujer pesca (woman
fisher) who had ever been seen or heard of in
Ampuero ? Had not her reputation already
Tfout^fishing on the Rio Ason 31
reached the surrounding villages ? Of course,
it was the senora who caught the biggest trout.
* Bueno ! bueno !' The good hostess patted my
wife's cheek. We presented the landlady with the
big trout and some of the others. The remainder
were fried for ourselves.
The average weight of the trout in the Ason is
J pound, but the strength and gameness of the
fish are astonishing, and I would rather catch
these lively half-pounders than fish of double
their weight in certain English and Welsh rivers.
Possessing every natural advantage for the plenti-
ful production of trout, the Ason is well stocked
with fish, and it is lucky that the river is pro-
ductive, for the natives have no notion of preserva-
tion. The chief injury to the river is caused by
the use of nets in some of the salmon-pools, and
by the capture of immature fish in poke-nets
during low-water in the summer. Nevertheless,
I know subscription waters in Great Britain that
are considered good lengths, and yet yield no
better baskets than the Ason, which is free to
everyone. We were often followed along the
riverside by a group of excited spectators, who
greatly coveted our English -made tackle, and
sometimes begged for moscas — i.e., flies.
32 Fishing and Travel in Spain
The Spanish angler pursues his sport under
such disadvantages that it is no great wonder if
if he adopts nefarious modes of fish-catching. A
fly-rod can hardly be bought in Spain, and no
artificial flies are made, except those home-made,
badly-tied lures employed by the village fisher-
men. It is, therefore, easy enough to treble the
take of the native angler, who flogs the streams
with a piece of cord tied to a maize-stalk, and
uses a coarse cast armed with an impossible fly
on a big hook. During a week's fishing we met
four or five fishermen, but the best bag any of
them could show was a brace of trout. They
catch a large number of samlets, which, needless
to state, go into their baskets.
This destruction of salmon-fry may cause the
angler to inquire whether salmon-fishing with the
rod is worth a trial in the Ason. In spite of the
utterly irrational system of netting in the river,
a very fair number of salmon are taken with a rod
and Une. We were too early for a good run of
fish, but a few salmon had been caught before our
arrival, and one leapt from the water one day in
a pool which we were fishing for trout.
The only sporting angler of the district, a very
courteous Spanish gentleman, informed us that he
Trout^fishing on the Rio Ason 33
sometimes caught both salmon and sea-trout later
in the season. He recommended big flies for
salmon, and said that many of 25 pounds were
taken in the nets, and occasionally on the rod.
The salmon - rights on about four miles of the
river above Ampuero are owned by the Alcalde, or
Mayor, of the little town of Gibaja. This gentle-
man sold the right of fishing with nets by auction
three years ago, and it was acquired by four
residents in Ampuero. One of these is the son
of our hostess at the Posada Gabriele, and from
him I learned that the best runs of salmon are
during the summer months.
Now, although four speculators consider it
worth their while to pay about ^^40 a year for
the fishing -right on this length, they express
extreme astonishment at the folly of returning
samlets to the river, and apparently take no
interest in preserving the water. Whenever the
villagers saw us throw in samlets, they implored
us not to waste fish, and held up their hands in
wonderment at our stupidity. Stranger still, the
aforesaid senor of the inn was quite unmoved
when his mother begged us to bring home all the
samlets for the larder. Truly, all that is fish
comes to the net of the Spanish pescador. My
34 Fishing and Travel in Spain
readers will doubtless imagine that the result
of such wasteful practices is decimation of the
salmon, but it is not so. A great number of
salmon spawn in the river, and samlets literally
swarm. In a few hours one day I caught sixty-
five samlets in a short length of the Ason. When
I told the people of the inn that I had returned
all the pequenos, or little fish, to the water, their
disappointment was almost pathetic. It was
useless to attempt to convince them that they
were foolish to rent a part of the river, and at
the same time to encourage the destruction of
They left a note on the table after breakfast one
day, begging us to bring all fish to the house. It
was Easter week, and fish was in demand for the
There was a tobacco- shop in the village, kept
by a senora. This woman was much interested in
* Do you sell your fish ?' she inquired.
I shook my head. What eccentricity, to spend
eight hours of the day, standing for the most of
the time up to one's thighs in a swift stream,
in early spring, catching a few trout purely for
recreation ! The senora could not understand
Trout^fishing on the Rio Ason 35
such madness. And then we actually threw in
the pequenos. Ah, what waste of good fish, when
there were so many pobres (poor folk) about.
Nevertheless, we appeared to be harmless in our
lunacy. She called her son, a fair-haired youth
with blue eyes, and seemed pleased to observe
that, like the English senora, he was blond and
not swarthy. Fair-haired Basques are not very
A few miles below Ampuero is the village of
Limpias, on the right bank of the Ason. The
tide is felt as far up as this point, and a mile or so
down the river expands to a beautiful estuary.
We took train to Limpias one day, and fished
upstream. It was bright and warm, with a glare
on the water, and I only succeeded in hooking a
The run below the bridge at Ampuero, for about
a mile down, is full of good trout. I rarely failed
to rise and catch fish in this length, which has
a firm gravel bed and is free from overhanging
boughs. Unfortunately, the hungry samlets will
not allow the trout to take your flies on certain
days, but these pests are not always on the feed.
With grief I relate that many good fish in this
river and in others of Northern Spain are alive
36 Fishing and Travel in Spain
to-day through the fact that my small hooks
would not hold them in their frenzied rushes in
heavy water. Misled by the counsel that only
the smallest flies and lightest casts will kill trout
in Spanish rivers, I had brought a stock of brook-
trout flies and fine gut for brown trout, and bigger
flies and stouter casts for salmon and sea-trout.
What I lacked was medium -sized blue duns, and
these were not to be obtained in the country.
Again and again big trout broke away from my
tiny hooks, and twice I lost fish of over 3 pounds,
after a painfully cautious humouring towards the
net. Until fresh flies arrived from England I
endured a dreary repetition of these defeats, and
only in the interest of brother anglers do I point
out the fact and the cause of failure. Catching a
chalk -stream trout with a midge fly and a gos-
samer cast is one thing, but playing a two-pound
Spanish trout with the same tackle in runs that
almost carry you off your legs is a very different
A GOOD DAY
The shrieks and groans of the ungreased axles of
an ox-cart awoke me one morning during our stay
on the Ason. I went on to the wooden balcony,
and noted that the soil in the garden had been
darkened by a night's rain. A soft westerly breeze
was blowing. It was a fishing morning.
About nine o'clock we started up the river by
the rough path on the right bank. The drenched
earth had an aromatic scent. Birds were singing
in the tender green of the foliage on the slopes.
We sat down and put on our wading-stockings by
the side of a long pool. A trout rose repeatedly
under a bough near the bank, and I was impatient
to throw a fly over him.
To-day I put on a medium cast, such as would
scare a trout in the Derbyshire Wye or Dove, for
I had suffered much through breakages of my
38 Fishing and Travel Hn Spain
fine-drawn gut. I saw the feeding trout rise once
again, and with some difficulty I let my point blue
dun swim down to the bough that dipped to the
stream. There was a tiny dimple on the water, a
tightening of the line, and I was playing a fish.
He was soon beaten and brought to the net, a
trout of about lo ounces.
* A good beginning,' I said.
We proceeded about a quarter of a mile, and
reached a run flowing into a swirling pool. The
bank on our side was pebbly, and there were no
trees to interfere with casting. On either side of
the tumbling water were oily-looking glides. The
river had an amber stain in it.
I began to cast, and very soon pricked a fish.
Then came a grievous mishap. At the end of the
run one of my droppers, an orange dun, was seized
by a huge trout. When I struck he bounded into
the air, a glorious yellow and brown fish, looking
almost as big as a salmon. I gave him line, and
he bored across the river towards the opposite
bank. At this point in the fight he began to tug
viciously. Something snapped. I wound in a
limp line and muttered grimly. The fine gut of
the orange dun had given way ! Well, such is
the uncertainty of human destiny 1 I had lost a
A Good Day 39
record trout. Perhaps he weighed 4 or 5 pounds.
At the least he was a three-pound fish.
Meanwhile my wife had risen several trout and
caught a small one. Evidently the trout were
hungry. I lost no time, put on another fly, and
cast again. And again, in a few seconds, I was
playing a trout almost as heavy as the one that I
had just lost. The fight was short and furious.
I saw my fish roll over in the foaming water
and disappear, while my line sank slack in the
stream. At this second defeat I was too per-
turbed to even mutter. I sat down, took a sip
of wine, and smoked a pipe of the coarse, dry
Havana tobacco that they sell in Spain. Pipe-
smokers are rare in that country.
Never mind : there are more trout in the run.
Why not try them with a big fly? I found a
partridge and green sea-trout fly in my book, and
put this upon point. Casting upstream, I carefully
worked the edges of the run. I may mention here
that we always fished with the wet fly in these
turbulent rivers. In a few minutes I was re-
warded. A pretty pounder was in the net. I con-
tinued to cast in the same run, and in ten minutes
or so I had netted six trout, varying in weight
from J pound to i pound. I also lost a pound fish.
40 Fishing and Travel in Spain
The sea-trout fly did splendid execution that
day. If ever I am fortunate enough to fish the
Ason in a spring freshet, may I have a good store
of the partridge and green with me! It killed
more fish than all the March browns, blue duns,
olive duns, and other flies, put together. The
trout took it with a bang and a splash, and
followed it with intense curiosity. Alas! I had
but one of these flies in my book. I am not an
advocate of that sometimes deadly lure called
the Alexandra, but I fancy that the Ason trout
would find it irresistible. The Devon minnow
brought no success in this river, though I found
it kill well in the Leon rivers. I rolled over one
fish with the minnow in the A«on, but the trout
seemed such free risers, in suitable weather, that
I kept to the fly.
Samlets and smolts gave us very little trouble
this day. The trout were in a charming humour
for about three hours. Then the rise was over.
I cannot account for the reason, but the fish
ceased to feed, and during the afternoon we
caught very few. The big run, where we had
such a lively morning, is about two miles up,
and is best fished from the left bank. It is not
necessary to wade there. The bank is an ideal
A Good Day 41
casting-place. There is another fine stream, full
of trout, just above the railway-bridge. It can be
fished from either bank. On the left bank is
a projecting rock above some circling deep water.
Standing on this point, my wife and I caught
several good trout one afternoon. While my
wife was playing a fish, two caballeros hurried
from the road across the strip of sward, and
stood to watch the sport. They had never seen
a woman fishing.
* Bravo, bravo, senora!' exclaimed one of the
spectators, a handsome Basque of the swarthy
He applauded with his hands, and, raising his
hat, made a graceful bow. My wife presented
him with the trout which she had just netted.
The caballero beamed, bowed again, and accepted
the fish con mucha gracias. If he knew nothing of
angling, he had learned how to carry a trout, for
he cut a twig and inserted it in the fish's gills and
out at the mouth. It seems that fish are carried
in this way in all parts of the globe, either upon
a string or twig.
Upon this good day on the Ason we caught
over two dozen trout, including eight or nine of
about a pound in weight. I will say no more of
42 Fishing and Travel in Spain
our lamentable losses of bigger fish. We also
returned quite a dozen small trout to the water.
Could we have afforded more time, I have no
doubt that our sport on the Ason would have
been far better. Just as we were beginning to
know the river, it was time to move on to a fresh
district. We had some hundreds of miles to
travel during our tour, and, as we wished to gain
a general view of delightful Spain, our sojourns
were necessarily brief.
I saw no coarse fish in the Ason, except min-
nows. These are fairly common near Ampuero,
and no doubt they help to fatten the big trout.
The worst enemy of the fish of this grand river is
man. Happily, the stream is mostly unnetable,
but small nets doubtless work mischief in the
tributaries in dry summers. Still, what a fine
trout river it is ! It is better than any ticket
waters known to me in Great Britain, and can
hold its own with many rented lengths of our
My opinion is that the Ason would rank high
among the rivers of Europe if a system of intelli-
gent preservation were adopted. Many English
salmon-anglers would willingly pay the rent of
the fine length at Ampuero only for rod fishing.
A Good Day 43
Fortunately, the Spanish law protects salmon
during the spawning season, and also inhibits
the abominable custom of killing the fish with
dynamite. But there are too many nets, both in
the estuary and, worse still, in the middle length
of the river, while samlets are entirely unpro-
tected. As it is, the chances of sport for the rod
fisherman are fair, for with a heavy push of water
netting is out of the question, and many fish get
up the river during floods. If the salmon-fisher is
on the spot at the right time, he may reckon on
catching salmon below either of these weirs on
this length of the Ason.
Permission was granted to me to fish for salmon
on the condition that I gave up all fish taken.
No angler could object to these terms, as the
fishing costs nothing, and the sport is as good
as one can expect in some highly-rented waters
of the United Kingdom. Sea-trout begin to run
in March, but they are not very plentiful. My
Spanish friend, who, by the way, was the proud
possessor of a complete rig-out of English tackle,
said that he had taken sea-trout of 5 pounds.
He also informed me that the biggest brown
trout rise freely early in February, and during
the first mild days he caught many good fish.
44 Fishing and Travel in Spain
Our success with the trout of the Ason would
have been better if snow had not fallen and thawed
on the mountains during our stay at Ampuero.
The river was more or less tainted with snow-
broth every day, and for one day it was in high
flood and very turbid. Still, we enjoyed quite as
good sport as one can hope for in English water
with a high reputation, even under favourable
atmospheric conditions. Whenever the sky was
dull and the wind blowing from the west, the
trout rose very readily to the fly. We seldom
caught fish of less than 6 ounces, while half-
pound fish could always be counted upon in any
of the runs, and bigger trout were by no means
scarce. I was glad to find that the meshes
of the salmon-nets were large enough to allow
trout up to J pound to escape. It may be
supposed that the nets account for many trout,
but that is not the case. These strong trout
frequent the heaviest streams of the river, which
are never netted for salmon, and we caught our
best fish in the roughest water.
The Ason is a beautiful river, recalling many
romantic streams of Scotland and Wales. The
river must be waded with caution. Some parts
of the banks are very overgrown with tall, dense
A RUN ON THE ASON.
A Good Day 45
heath, alders, and briars, and certain runs are
almost unapproachable. But there are many
wide shallows which afford perfect water for
the fly fisher. The whole length of the Ason
is free to trout - anglers who provide them-
selves with a fishing license, costing 5 pesetas
I gathered from the good people at the inn
that there is excellent sea-fishing along the coast
to the north and north-east of Ampuero. Santona,
Laredo, and Castrourdiales, are little towns upon
the sea, all within reach of the village. Ampuero
and Marron are twin villages on the Ason between
Bilbao and Santander. They are in the east of
the rugged and well -watered province of San-
tander, amongst the Cantabrian Mountains.
I tried to buy some artificial flies in Bilbao.
Fishing-tackle of a sort is to be purchased at a
toy-bazaar in that town. I purchased a few flies
from curiosity. They were of French make, big,
and shockingly dressed. Each fly was mounted
on a piece of cardboard, with its name printed
beneath it, and the month of the year and time of
the day when it would prove most fatal to trout.
I have not used these flies. They might attract
bass, and possibly unsophisticated chub. As to
46 Fishing and Travel in Spain
the time of the twenty-four hours when they
would be most likely not to terrify trout, I should
say between eleven and twelve on a dark, windy
night. In discoloured water they might be pos-
sibly mistaken for small fry by an exceptionally
TROUT AND TRAVEL IN THE PROVINCE OF
We were by this time growing accustomed to the
ways of Spanish people. Patience and politeness
are two qualities that the visitor to Spain should
carefully cultivate. Do not suppose that the host
of the hotel intends to slight you when he sends up
your dinner an hour after the time at which it was
promised. Punctuality is not considered a virtue
of extreme importance in Spain ; therefore always
allow plenty of time * for grace.' Your train may
start five minutes before the advertised time, or it
may arrive half an hour later. It is a safe plan
to be at the railway-station at least thirty minutes
before the time announced for the departure of a
Before we had been many weeks in the country,
we began to sympathize sincerely with those un-
happy royal personages who endeavour to avoid
48 Fishing and Travel in Spain
the curiosity and the acclamations of crowds by
traveUing as plain Mr. Brown or Mrs. Smith.
To use an Americanism, we were * as good as a
circus' to the rural folk. The chief interest
centred in my wife, who was known as * mujer
pesca' — i.e., fishing- woman ; but, of course, I
shared in the reflected glory. We encountered
so much kindness and courtesy that it seems
ungracious to complain of the amused curiosity
which we aroused. I will say, however, that there
are parts of the United Kingdom where a woman
in wading-stockings would have to endure down-
right rudeness from the populace. 'Arry and
his companions, when enjoying *a jolly Bank
Holiday ' in their characteristic rational and re-
fined manner, have even found my waders and
fishing-hat a cause for loud and prolonged
If a woman wishes to sin by attiring herself in
a costume adapted to the pursuit of angling, she
will, on the whole, meet with more charity in
Spain than in Great Britain. The reason is
obvious. In the remoter regions of the Peninsula
of Spain and Portugal, the apparition of a lady
who wears a hat, a plain tweed skirt cut short,
and boots with decent soles to them, is so ex-
Trout and Travel in Santander 49
tremely rare that wading-stockings and a fishing-
rod only put the finishing touch, as it were, to an
extraordinary guise. The sheer audacity of the
wearer of such habiliments almost disarms rude-
ness of comment. It is terribly unconventional
for the Spanish woman of the middle and upper
classes to appear abroad without powdering her
features. She may upon appropriate occasion
wear a hat, if she is in the fashionable set, but it
must be a floppy Parisian hat, and not one of the
general utility type, such as British and American
ladies wear while travelling in country parts.
An Englishwoman is, therefore, sure to be re-
garded as an eccentric personage, let her dress
how she will. My wife and I wore boinas when
we were fishing, but it was impossible to conceal
the fact that we were foreigners. The very curs
could not be tricked, and I believe that the
grave, suffering, patient draught oxen, with their
sagacious brown eyes, knew us at once for sham
It was sometimes necessary to observe a close
secrecy concerning our movements. We pre-
ferred to fish where there was no risk of hooking
an interested seiiora in her dusky hair, or playing
a lively chico (boy) with a blue dun fast in his
50 Fishing and Travel in Spain
blouse. One day when I was wading in the
Ason, a lad watched me throw in several samlets.
Presently he took off his boots, rolled up his
trousers, and came up to within a few feet of
where I was standing, begging me to give him the
samlets. As he was an intelligent and keen boy,
who sometimes fished with an enormously long
home-made rod, I gave him my light, ten-foot
fly-rod, and allowed him to fish the run. To his
great enjoyment, he caught a small trout at the
first cast, and getting amongst a shoal of samlets,
he had lively sport for a few minutes. I en-
deavoured to instil a few ideas upon sportsmanlike
angling into his callow mind, but I am afraid
that he is still catching samlets for his mother's
The importunity of an old peasant man, who
followed us one day, was somewhat annoying.
He chiefly favoured my wife with his attentions,
and whenever she hooked a samlet or undersized
trout, the expression of his wrinkled countenance
changed from hope to dread, and from dread to
bitter chagrin, when she returned the fish to the
river. * Aqui, aqui !' (Here, here !) he cried, when
a wriggling samlet was being taken from the
hook. And, holding out both hands, he implored
Trout and Travel in Santander 51
the senora not to waste good fish by throwing
them back into the river.
I noted in one of the Spanish newspapers that
a shopkeeper of San Sebastian was prepared to
supply customers with * apparatus for the lawful
taking of salmon.' This should be a sign that
there are some fishermen in Spain who prefer the
rod and line to poaching appliances for the capture
of salmon. I hope their number will increase.
The State is not yet alive to the advantages that
would result from a more stringent enforcement
of the ley de pesca, or fishing law. In a few years
several of the overpoached rivers of Spain might
be improved so as to excel almost any river in
Great Britain. It would be difficult, in any
country of the globe, to find finer natural con-
ditions for the production of salmon, sea-trout,
and brown trout, than in the Peninsula of Spain
Although nets of various kinds are employed in
all the rivers, trout still teem in many of their
lengths. The deep, strong Ason, for example,
holds more fish than many streams in our own
country, whereon the charge for a day's fishing is
half a crown or five shillings. Even the Besaya
and Saja, two rivers condemned by the authors of
52 Fishing and Travel in Spain
* Wild Spain,' still yield quite as good sport as
one may expect to find in the average open, or
even the ordinary ticket, water in England. This
is not optimism, but plain evidence derived from
the careful observation and experience of one
v^ho has fished in Wales, Yorkshire, Derbyshire,
Devonshire, and Scotland, in streams good, bad,
and indifferent. I think that, if the reader will
bear with me to the end, he will agree that
Spain has great fascination for the angler, and
that when the people learn the real value of their
splendid salmon and trout rivers, the country
will be able to vie with Norway as a fishing-
Our next river was the Besaya, which waters
the central district of the province of Santander.
At the little town of Torrelavega, where we stayed,
the Besaya is joined by the Saja, the former river
being called by the natives el Rio Grande, or
the Big River. Trap nets are set in almost
every run of these streams in the neighbourhood
of Torrelavega, and big sweep nets are employed
in the pools by the native pescadores. There are,
however, stretches of heavy water that baffle the
netsmen, and here it is possible to catch a few
good trout with the fly or minnow. In one of
Trout and Travel in Santander 53
these runs I hooked a very big trout, which looked
about 4 pounds in weight when it jumped from
the water. But at the second rush it broke the
gut of the dropper fly, and gained its freedom.
The result of a day's steady fishing was meagre
— seven trout from J pound to f pound. I may
state that the weather was hot, the sky cloud-
less, and the river very clear. Still, the outlook
is not very encouraging at Torrelavega, though
the Besaya is worth a trial if it happens to lie on
the fisherman's route to other waters. There is
a decent fonda in the town, within ten minutes'
walk of the confluence of the rivers. The host
speaks French and a little English.
I must say, however, that we only spent two
days at Torrelavega, and that both days were
unsuitable for successful fly fishing. We are in-
doors at the time of the evening rise, when no
doubt we might have taken a few more trout. In
one of the pools of the Saja, I saw several big
trout rising, and my wife hooked and lost a very
big fish, possibly a salmon, in a swirling place
between two rocks.
The river scenery in this locality is of a softer
character than that of Ampuero ; but it is far from
tame, and the pueblo of Torrelavega is exceedingly
54 Fishing and Travel in Spain
picturesque. Higher up, these streams may be
less harried by the netsmen. They have all the
characteristics of trout rivers, and v^ould probably
repay exploration, and afford some baskets of fish
early in the season. There appeared to be a large
number of samlets in the Besaya.
From Torrelavega we went by rail to Renedo,
a queer little village on the Rio Pas, which has a
course parallel to that of the Besaya, and flows
into the Bay of Biscay, a few leagues to the east
of the latter river. Renedo is easily reached from
Santander by the railway. I can speak highly of
the Pas as a trout river. Both above and below
Renedo the river abounds with trout. Fish are
perhaps more abundant upstream than below the
weir near the railway-bridge, but there is no
scarcity of trout in any part of the stream that we
visited. Quarter-pound trout swarmed on some
of the shallows, and the big runs were full of fish
up to I pound.
Our arrival with bags and fishing-rods created
the same keen interest as that which attended
our advent at other villages in Northern Spain.
' There is no inn here,' explained an obliging
cavalry officer, who was waiting for the diligence
which runs to a spa some leagues up the river.
Trout and Travel in Santander 55
At any rate, there was the prospect of a meal, for
the station was provided with a small restaurant,
so we sat down in the little room and ordered
dinner. Thanks to the officer, the good dame,
Amalia Macorra, who kept the fonda, was per-
suaded to give us a room in her house, and to
supply us with meals at the station, an arrange-
ment that served us admirably, and in spite of
the asseverations of the cavalry Captain that we
might expect the privations of a campaign, we
were comfortably housed and well fed during our
stay at Renedo.
The river was in half-flood and discoloured on
the following day. I put on rather large flies,
and soon began to rise trout. The first fish was a
half-pounder, and several trout were in the bag
before luncheon-time. We fished upstream, and
came to some pretty shallows and runs full of fish,
which were taking the newly-hatched blue duns
very freely. The trout seemed more plentiful
than in the Rio Ason, but they were smaller.
We caught no trout over 10 ounces that day,
though two or three heavier fish fought free in
the rushing water. Although there were a few
March browns over the water, any other artificial
fly proved more attractive than our March browns.
S6 Fishing and Travel in Spain
The deeply-stained water was not altogether
favourable for fly fishing. For the first time in
Spain, I determined to try thoroughly the worm
on Stewart hooks. But we had no worms, and it
was some time before I had collected about a
dozen from the roots of a plant growing in a
swamp. They were, of course, very soft and un-
clean. However, as soon as I dropped one of
them into a run I felt a trout. He made a
plucky struggle for a fish just over ^ pound.
Spanish trout are hard fighters, as I have already
Alas ! had I possessed a bag of well-scoured
red worms that afternoon, I am certain that our
catch would have astonished Seiiora Macorra of
the fonda. There was no doubt that the trout
were * on ' worms. As quickly as I threw in, I
hooked a trout on the Stewart hooks, baited with
a very unpresentable grayish worm. At length I
grew tired of grubbing up roots with my fingers
to search for bait, so the fly cast was again
attached to the line, and we sought an undisturbed
length of the river.
Absolute loneliness favoured us this day. The
folk of Renedo were holding their Sunday fiesta,
and dancing to the pipe in the village. The
Trout and Travel in Santander 57
day was dull, and clouds drooped to the distant
mountains. We took a rest at mid-day by a
lovely bend of the Pas, where the river was broken
by islets and rocks. Birds were singing all
around. Now and then a trout jumped from the
water. The river was losing its muddy stain, and
changing to a tint of amber.
In one swift, narrow run I both caught and lost
several good trout. It was an enjoyable day, and
the trout were plentiful and in a rising mood.
Towards evening an old man joined us. I could
understand but little of his dialect, but he drank
a glass of our wine, and apparently tendered
advice upon fishing. We nodded, pantomimed,
and expressed good fellowship, and then the old
fellow disappeared among the underwood. I was
sorry that dinner called us away from the charming
river and the rising trout.
THE RIVER AT RENEDO
Upon our return to the fonda one evening, we
were visited by the village doctor, who informed
us that he fished for trout with the fly, and ap-
peared anxious that we should have good sport
upon the next day. From the friendly medico we
learned that a fair number of salmon ascend the
Pas in the spring, and that English anglers from
the coast towns occasionally visit Renedo for the
salmon-fishing. He had taken salmon with the
rod, but they were small, the average weight being
about 8 pounds. We saw no signs of salmon during
our expedition, although the doctor stated that
there were fish below the weir by the railway-
There are fewer nets in this part of the Pas than
in the lower reaches of the Ason, but we saw both
boats and nets ready for use in the bigger pools.
On some of the shallows there are traps for trout,
The River at Renedo 59
built up of loose stones in a horseshoe shape, with
a small inlet, A few trout enter these traps, and
are scooped out with a poke-net, or driven into an
open sack stretched across the inlet ; but the traps
work comparatively little mischief, and they are
not numerous. The Pas is a productive river for
trout, and the length at Renedo contains a quantity
of fish. The river-banks are less rough than those
of the Ason, and wading is practicable almost
everywhere, except in time of flood.
Our best day on the Pas was in the fine reach
of broken water about two miles downstream
from Renedo. Here the trout are bigger, and
some three-quarter-pounders, that rose madly to
the fly, gave us excellent sport for a couple of
hours. In this part of the river we caught no fish of
less than J pound. The afternoon was sunny and
warm, and it was necessary to use fine tackle and
to fish far off. On a cloudy day in spring-time
these runs ought to yield a fine basket of trout.
There is also some pretty fly water close to the
The river widens in a broad strath below the
weir. There are gravelly shoals for some distance,
then a series of deep pools and another weir.
Below this second weir are some islands, and the
6o Fishing and Travel in Spain
stream is divided into several sharp rapids. There
are big trout in these runs. I was broken by a
fish in the first of them, on the right bank, and
here I took trout up to f pound apiece. The
olive dun was the favourite fly, a fair-sized one of
the winged pattern.
These waters are almost too big in the spring
for small hackle flies, such as one would use in the
Wharfe or Ure. Hackles will be found service-
able later on in the season, when the rivers are
lower and the water fine. In March and April
you need flies that can be seen by the trout amid
the broken water of these impetuous and powerful
The scenery of the Pas gains in beauty as it
leaves the strath for a narrower dale below the
second weir, which is about two miles from
Renedo. There are but few houses near the river.
Field-labourers, men and women, looked up from
their work as we passed by. They greeted us
with a * Con dios !' (* God be with you !') or with
a steady gaze of wonderment. Who were these
strange people, with leggings and fishing-rods,
who suddenly appeared at the riverside ? No
doubt we afforded them a subject for speculation
The River at Renedo 6i
At one run we were having plenty of rises, till a
peasant rode his horse through the middle of it
and scared away every trout within a hundred
yards. In this length I caught a smolt in his sea
spangles, but samlets were less attentive to our
flies on the Pas than on the Ason and Bidasoa.
We made no trial with the artificial minnow in
this river. Who would spin when trout can be
lured with the fly ? But I fancy that a gilt Devon
would tempt a fair number of good trout from
those little eddies among the rocks.
We saw very few rises on the Pas. This counts
for little, however, for there are many well-stocked
rivers whereon one notes scarcely a rise an hour
during certain seasons of the year.
One evening we were entertained by the station-
master, who sang us Basque songs to the accom-
paniment of his guitar. Our hostess and her
family danced in the characteristic fashion of the
district, and every effort was made to render the
visit of * los Ingleses ' enjoyable. Any angler who
makes a fishing visit to the North of Spain during
the spring months should not neglect Renedo on
the Pas. The lodging is not luxurious, but the
hostess is an excellent cook, and the boarding
terms are only 5 pesetas a day, including wine
62 Fishing and Travel in Spain
and coffee. The salmon and trout fishing is free,
but the chances in favour of catching salmon are
The cavalry officer said that there were trout to
be caught all the way up the river. Judging by
the number of fish in the Renedo length, it may
be safe to say that trout are quite as plentiful
further up the stream, for the country is thinly
populated, and netsmen do not appear to ply their
business as diligently as the Pescadores of the
Besaya and Saja.
Often, when we laid down our rods and sought
the shade of the trees by the brawling river, we
compared the scene with familiar valleys in Scot-
land and Wales. How curiously scenery repeats
itself in different quarters of the earth ! I have
read that there are stretches of hill and dale in
Central Africa which recall the district of the
Brecon Beacons in South Wales. Here and there
an orange-tree or a vine reminded us that we were
in the genial South ; but the pine-clad slopes, the
waving osiers, the rustling aspens, the river racing
between ferny banks, the song of the blackbird,
and a flight of blue duns over the stream, lent all
the details of a mind picture of dearly-loved haunts
in our own country.
The River at Renedo 63
The climate of Northern Spain is not wholly
unlike that of Great Britain. There is more sun-
shine, that goes without saying ; still, in one week
during March we experienced noon heat that was
truly sultry, heavy rain, and a thunderstorm, while
snow fell upon the highlands. Such variety should
satisfy even an Englishman. But who shall de-
scribe the sunshine of Spain ? Even in this
northern region the atmosphere is steeped with
golden sunlight, and the sky is of the deeper blue
which we only see in the height of an unusually
No smoke canopy hangs over the towns. The
thin blue vapour from wood and charcoal fires
rises almost imperceptibly. Even in populous
Seville, you must needs look for smoke if you
would note it from the highest stage of the Giralda
Tower. The aspect of London, when we returned
to the rechy city after six months of smokeless,
pure sunshine, was almost one of gloom and twi-
light, even on a fine day.
It rains heavily in Spain, for which one is
thankful in the hot months. We were soaked to
the skin more than once in the Basque provinces.
In half an hour the river was in spate ; the red,
marly roads were thick with slush, and the
64 Fishing and Travel in Spain
runnels came down the hillsides in turbid torrents.
Sometimes the sun peeped out while the rain was
falling ; then wonderfully vivid rainbows spanned
the river valley.
Fishermen, like farmers, are addicted to plaints
against the weather. I often wished that it would
rain, when day after day closed with a red sunset,
betokening a morrow of brilliant sunshine. A
glittering day in England is not in the favour of
the fly fisherman. In Spain it is almost impos-
sible to take trout during a dazzling noon. Up
to ten in the morning there is the chance of
catching a few fish during such weather ; but it is
as well to emulate the Spanish example, and to
enjoy a siesta at mid-day. The evening rise at
the close of a hot day is frequently a fruitful time.
The rivers of Spain are subject to sudden floods,
or avenidas. This is especially the case in Anda-
lusia, where the rain is often tropical. In the
North, and in the mountainous districts generally,
the streams rise rapidly after heavy rains ; but they
soon subside, and while they are fining down, trout
frequently exhibit great eagerness in taking the
fly. The worm fisher, with his coarse line and
clumsy rod, has his opportunity when the streams
are in spate. Minnow fishing is not practised
The River at Renedo 65
among the native anglers. * Creepers ' and the
live stone-fly are used by a few Pescadores of the
kingdom of Leon and in Galicia.
At Renedo we were free from the attentions of
the small crowds that occasionally accompanied
us at Ampuero. One day a priest displayed a
languid interest in our operations, but he soon
retired, with a pitying smile upon his features.
Upon another occasion, as we were wading from
the islets to which I have referred, I noticed three
men, with a big, savage-looking dog, awaiting us
upon the bank. The men were not ruffians,
though their appearance was that of stage brigands.
They were herdsmen, with olive-wood staves, upon
which they leant in a picturesque pose.
Not a word was uttered by them as we strug-
gled through the swift water. As we scrambled
up the bank the dog emitted a menacing growl.
But a word from one of the peasants silenced
him. And with courteous bows the men inquired
if we had caught many truchas. I showed them
the contents of the bag, and they nodded, and
examined our flies with much interest. After a
short parley they bowed again, and we went on
I was told before leaving England that it was
66 Fishing and Travel in Spain
folly to go without a revolver in the rural districts
of Spain. As it was, I neglected the counsel, and
upon no occasion was there the least need for such
a means of protection. There may be an element
of danger in travelling through the rough, unbeaten
regions, especially if one has an imperfect know-
ledge of the language and the habits of the people.
Twice we were stoned from a distance while we
were fishing. The first time that this happened
was at Oyeregui. A lad on the road had begged
for a centime, and we had ignored his prayer.
We descended a wooded slope to the river and
began to fish. Presently stones came hurtling
and crashing amongst the underwood. None of
the missiles touched us. I scrambled up the slope
in pursuit of our invisible assailant. Before I
gained the road the boy had disappeared entirely.
At Matarosa, on the Sil, we were pelted with
stones flung by a couple of muleteers on the road.
Our guide, who was not with us at the time,
described this conduct as mere playfulness. He
explained that fishermen are a laughing-stock in
Spain, and that it is considered an excellent joke
to throw stones into the river close to where they
are fishing. I know, from my own experience,
that this boorish diversion is not altogether
The River at Renedo (^1
unheard of in Great Britain. There is a singular
likeness between the louts of all nations of the
These annoyances were trivial, and are scarcely
worth mentioning. The spontaneous kindness
that we experienced from the peasants vastly out-
weighs the instances of discourtesy. Beggars are
a pest throughout Spain, but they are far less
troublesome in the country than in the towns.
Now and then our tips (propinas) for services
rendered were refused by poor folk, and they were
always accepted gracefully by those who felt them-
selves entitled to remuneration. A polite saluta-
tion and the gift of a cigar will often insure you
willing assistance in this country of courtesy. A
present of trout is always valued. In Portugal
we bartered an artificial fly for a quantity of fresh
ripe cherries. The lad who proposed the exchange
was delighted with his bargain.
It would be good policy on the part of the
English fisherman to carry a surplus supply of
artificial flies with him. The offer of a few
moscas will win the heart of the local piscador,
whose advice as to the haunts of trout may be of
much service, and prove a saving of time. A
northern Spaniard, or a Castilian, will not abuse
68 Fishing and Travel in Spain
your kindness. He is a man of his word, with
the virtue of impulsive generosity. If he likes to
receive, he is also fond of giving. Treat him as a
caballero, and he will serve you out of pure good-
nature. When you leave the place, there will be
the sincerity of real regret in his handshake and
TWO DAYS ON THE GUADALQUIVIR
Affairs unrelated to angling obliged us to spend
some time in the sunny southern capital of Seville.
It was well on in the month of April, and already
the heat and the mosquitoes of Andalusia proved
somewhat trying. The atmospheric contrasts in
Spain are remarkable. We encountered all sorts
of weather in the North, from snow-showers to
thunderstorms. In Seville the days were hot,
under the glittering blue of the matchless Anda-
lusian sky. Once or twice we had showers, and
then the rain roared down from purple clouds,
and flowed in turbid rivulets along the street
When a lull came in our busy inspection of the
city's monuments and works of art, my thoughts
turned to *the sport sae entrancing.' I knew
little or nothing about the fish of the Guadalquivir.
Richard Ford, in * Murray's Handbook for Spain,'
70 Fishing and Travel in Spain
refers, I believe, to the shad of that brown, swirl-
ing river. We had shad at the hotel, and the
head-waiter said that it came from the Rio
* Can one catch shad with the rod and line ?*
was my reflection, as we roamed one afternoon in
the shady promenade by the river.
Pescadores with big nets were at work on the
flood right under the Golden Tower, and before
long I saw one of these men catch a silvery
fish, which probably weighed a couple of pounds.
Continuing my ramble, I observed a rod fisher-
man seated at the waterside. He had a long,
heavy bamboo rod, a line of coarse cord, and
a short length of thick gut armed with a big hook.
His bait was a piece of cooked meat. He was
not a communicative mortal. When I asked him
if there were many fish in the river, he replied,
Further on I met another angler with the same
primitive tackle and a morsel of meat for a bait.
* Poco ' was also his formula. Then I noticed
two rowing-skiffs coming down the stream, on
either side of it. Presently the men in these
boats began to haul up a sort of cross-line made
of thickish rope. The line bristled with big hooks,
Two Days on the Guadalquivir 71
and attached to one of them was a shad of about
a pound. This curious mode of fishing is common
on the Lower Guadalquivir. It does not seem to
be highly profitable, for I saw very few shad taken
by this method. However, the Pescadores spend
long days in drifting down the river, dragging the
sunk cross-line behind their skiffs.
Chance threw us one afternoon into a meeting
with a young Spaniard, who keeps a little refresh-
ment-booth on the quay, where the ships for
England are loaded with iron ore. Jose is his
name, a dark-haired, olive-skinned fellow, in white
drill clothes and a cap. He speaks English, and
so does his handsome younger brother.
]os6 served us with lemonade, and began to
chat in our own language. He had been a sailor,
and had touched several British ports.
* Good country, England ; much gold !' he said,
showing his white teeth when he smiled.
* Fish in the river ?'
* Yes, some, but more lower down,' replied Jos6.
'You like to catch them, I go with you in boat
I closed with the offer, and we arranged to fish
upon the following Sunday morning, that being
Josh's holiday. Jos^ promised to provide a boat
^2 Fishing and Travel in Spain
and some bait. We were to meet him at his
pavilion at six o'clock.
On Sunday we left the hotel for the rendezvous
with Jos6. I carried two rods and the bag, and
my wife had the landing-net. We were con-
spicuous objects for the mirth of those SeviUian
citizens who were abroad at that early hour.
Loud guffaws saluted our approach, and a merry
party in an open carriage gave vent to explosions
of derisive laughter. What in the name of Santa
Maria were those mad English people about to
The morning was heavy, the air moist and still.
There was a sweet scent of orange-blossom. In
the brushwood bordering the Guadalquivir hosts
of nightingales were singing. Jos^ greeted us.
He could not leave his booth. However, his
brother was ready to accompany us. No, he had
not found any worms, but there were plenty in
the plantation of orange-trees. We poked about
with a borrowed fork, and found sundry big lob-
worms. Then Jos^ junior bargained with a
boatman for the hire of a huge leaky tub, with
enormous oars. We put off, and rowed down the
river to some stakes forming a breakwater to protect
the soft banks of reddish earth. Here young Jos6
Two Days on the Guadalquivir 73
moored the tub. I put on a paternoster, with
three hooks baited with lobs. A rather heavy
lead was necessary in this strong current. My
wife tried a float tackle.
Half an hour passed without a twitch to our
lines. Young ]os6 entertained us with stories of
his experiences aboard British ships. An hour
went by, and still no bites.
' Big fish here,' remarked ]os6 junior.
' I wish they would bite,' said I.
A cloud burst over us. The rain came down
with a loud patter on the boat. My wife and
our gilly sought what protection they could find
against the downpour.
* Fish no eat ?' asked Jose junior, when the
* No,' I answered.
*We go other place,' suggested our young
So we moved down a few hundred yards and
tried another swim. The nightingales sang louder
after the shower, and the orange-blossom was
more odorous. Our lad begged a fifty-yard length
of water-cord that I had in the bag.
* I show you how catch fish,' he said.
He tied on several eyed hooks, baited them,
74 Fishing and Travel in Spain
attached a heavy lead to the line, and let it sink
near some piles.
* Wait little while, and you see,' observed Jos6
We waited perhaps an hour. Meanwhile no
shad attacked our baits.
* Me see now,' said the boy.
He pulled in the line. Every hook was bare,
but there were no shad upon any of them.
]os6 junior rebaited the hooks and flung in
the line. The next time he hauled it in some of
the hooks were again bare.
* Dam !' said the lad.
My wife then reminded me that we had not
eaten much breakfast. It was time to return to
the hotel. We rowed the clumsy junk back
against the stream, paid the boatmen and young
]os6, and left the riverside. Our progress through
the streets again provoked the sallies and mirth of
the people. I was not favourably impressed with
the Sevillian manners.
' Nada ?' (Nothing ?) said the waiter.
I shook my head. He smiled and brought our
soup. No doubt he thought it well that we were
not dependent upon the spoil of our rods for
Two Days on the Guadalquivir 75
George Borrow, who spent some time in Seville,
indulges in a rhapsody on the beauties of the city
when viewed from the banks of the Guadalquivir.
There is, perhaps, a note of exaggeration, an
artist's overtone, in Sorrow's high-flown diction,
and the confession that the scene moved him to
* tears of rapture.' Still, the brown river has its
charm, even in its course between Seville and the
transpontine suburb of Triana. Lower down,
where the banks are thickly grown with bushes,
the river is more beautiful, but the wide levels on
either side are of a featureless character, and the
muddy shores at low -tide do not pleasurably
attract the eye.
On the right bank of the Guadalquivir is the
little town of Coria, which lies among orange
orchards under a rocky bluff. A small steamboat,
which starts daily from the Triana Bridge, or
Puente de Isabel II., makes the journey to Coria
in about two hours. The boat returns in the
evening of the same day. Jos6 senior advised
us to try the fishing at Coria. He said that
many Sevillians went there on holidays to fish
with the line.
We started before the sun was high, on a lovely
May morning. ]os6 was at the landing-stage.
^() Fishing and Travel in Spain
While we were waiting for the boat to start, we
saw two netsmen haul in a net containing one
small shad. The sky was a glorious blue, and
the sun's rays were warm. Although we steamed
at a fair pace out of Seville, the heat was con-
siderable in spite of the swift motion through the
morning air. On, between banks of verdure, the
little steamboat panted down to the first pier. A
merchant vessel, making for the port of Seville,
passed us, and we saw several Pescadores at work
with their nets. On we steamed upon the broad
Jos6 said we could obtain plenty of worms for
bait at Coria. When we landed at the curious
little pueblo, which is inhabited almost entirely
by gipsies, we enlisted the services of a pair of
bronze-skinned Romany urchins, who were soon
grubbing for worms in a damp ditch near the
river. A tribe of children followed us to the
shore of the Guadalquivir. They stood a few
yards away while we made our preparations for
bottom fishing. Then a man came, and began to
put questions to Jose about us. He was much
interested in my wife's hat. Such headwear had
never been seen in Coria, where the working
women do not even put on a mantilla.
Two Days on the Guadalquivir "j^
I fastened a leger to my running line, and
baited the hook with a big worm. We fished a
small bay, between two wooden breakwaters.
The tide was ebbing, and the muddy verge of the
river began to show. It was not long before I felt
a pluck at the line. I struck, but there was no
fish on the hook. The bait had been gnawed.
My wife also felt several nibbles at her bait.
Were we at last amongst a shoal of shad?
Niggling bites followed in quick succession, but
when we struck, the lines came back slack.
Jos6 was of the opinion that little fish were
playing with our baits. I proposed another pitch,
and we went into the underwood, and followed a
grassy path through the scanty but grateful shade.
This was one of the hottest of days that we ex-
perienced in Andalusia. The fiery sun scorched
our faces and hands to soreness of the skin, and
made my wife feel faint. A glared heat was upon
the water, and a haze of fire quivered on the
land. We clambered on to the slippery stakes
of a breakwater, and threw in our legers. The
children still formed a retinue. They annoyed Jos6.
* If you will not go away,' said he, ' I'll hit you
over the head, and then throw you in the river.*
The threat had its effect upon the juveniles.
78 Fishing and Travel in Spain
They retreated, uttering a few impertinences.
Presently a man in a seedy uniform, with a sword
at his side, pushed through the bushes and con-
versed with ]os6. Our gilly explained that the
man was a river-keeper on the watch for smugglers
and other offenders.
Where were the shad ? Not a nibble rewarded
our patient endurance of the fierce heat. My
wife retired to the shade. Jose reclined with his
head under a bush. At last I felt a tug, then
another, and another. I struck with force, and
felt a responsive jerk. The fish began boring,
and I gave him line. Then he made for the
piles, and I had to check him. I called to Jose
for the landing-net. In a second his head was
out of the bush, and he came at a perilous run
along the beams of the slimy breakwater.
* I get him !' he cried, hanging head down-
wards and brandishing the net.
* Quietly, quietly !' I said, reeling in the line.
I saw a swirl on the water. Jose made a wild
plunge with the net, swore in English, and missed
' Now, then !' I said, as something silvery
showed near the surface.
This time Jose made better aim and netted the
Two Days on the Guadalquivir 79
fish. In doing so, he nearly took a header into the
muddy water. It was an eel, a wriggling, slimy
beast of about 2 pounds. Fortunately, he had
not gorged the hook. We soon freed him, and
put on a fresh bait. My wife faced the heat
again, and went on to another breakwater.
' You catch more now,' said the sanguine Jose.
I soon felt another twitch at the line. Was it
a shad this time ? I could not say, for I missed
A boy came down the river in a rowing-boat.
He sang a loud, monotonous air, with a sort of
prolonged guttural trill. It was quaint, if not
Jose laughed contemptuously.
* Spanish singing,' he remarked. * No good !'
This fishing in the Guadalquivir was certainly a
new experience. The sport was undoubtedly in-
different ; but we enjoyed the afternoon, in spite of
the hot sun. Only small eels came to hand after
the first capture. As for the shad, they stubbornly
refused our dainties in the way of cold meat and
lobworms. We reeled up at about five o'clock,
and Jose and I smoked our cigarettes under the
bushes, while my wife photographed a bright, pic-
turesque family group of Andalusians, who were
8o Fishing and Travel in Spain
picking up sticks for fire-lighting. They were
delighted to stand for their portraits.
In the cool of the evening we returned in the
steamboat to Seville. The setting sun gave a
golden tone to the tawny river. Nightingales
warbled from the banks. At one of the wooden piers
an Englishman and his wife came aboard. There
was no mistaking the gentleman's nationality.
He unfolded that eminently insular sheet, the
Daily Mail, and pored over it till we came in
sight of the Golden Tower.
I gave the eel to Jos6. It was already half
baked by the sun, and looked like one of those
dried fish that one sees in the foreign comestible
shops in Soho. As we crossed the quay, an officer
with a sword pounced upon us, and demanded
an inspection of the fishing-bag. I opened it,
displaying the tackle. He bowed, and flourished
his arm. There was nothing dangerous nor
dutiable in the tan haversack. We were neither
Anarchists nor contrabandists. Pursued by the
giggles of senoritas out for their evening parade,
we walked to the Fonda de la Victoria in the
Plaza de San Fernando.
' Hambre ' (Hunger), I said to the obliging head-
Two Days on the Guadalquivir 8i
' Oil right,' he answered, uttering the only
English words that he knew, and hurrying with
After dinner we confessed to a Spanish gentle-
man, who was in the lounge of the vestibule, that
we felt tired.
' Tired !' he said in Spanish, with a laugh.
* Tired — impossible ! English people are never
FROM ANDALUSIA TO CASTILE
Does the Guadalquivir contain no other fish save
shad and swarms of eels ? Surely there must be
plenty of fish in those long, unfrequented reaches
of swirling, umber- coloured water between Cordova
and Seville. I looked from the window of the
railway-carriage upon the Moorish Wad-al-Kebir,
and the Baetis of the Romans, that curious, muddy,
Oriental-looking river winding, sometimes slowly,
between banks of yellow soil, or washing pebbly
shores as it spread itself over the shallows with a
swifter flow. One would not have experienced
great surprise at the spectacle of a crocodile
sunning itself on one of those beaches. The cold,
sad cactus showed here and there on the banks.
And at the approach of the rumbling train storks
took wing slowly from the lonely pools.
On either side spread the olive-groves up to the
rocky spurs of the wild sierras. The rail-track
From Andalusia to Castile 83
was gay for miles with myriads of scarlet poppies.
We were going to Castile, land of wide plains,
desolate mountains, and forests of ilex. The
region of Andalusia, with its perennial sunshine,
orange-gardens, and waving fields of wheat, was
behind us before twilight, and the cooler air of
the gray-green, shadeless plains blew through the
windows of the carriage. Upon these great flats
herds of fighting bulls stood out distinctly in the
fading light. The beasts grazed contentedly;
the herdsman, with his striped shawl upon the
shoulders and a conical felt hat upon his head,
listlessly watched the passing train. We were
in Don Quixote's country — sun-burned, wind-
searched La Mancha.
I shall not here describe wonderful Toledo, with
its ancient walls, noble cathedral, and alleys of
sombre houses, where one looks for romance and
adventure at every turn. We laid our rods aside
at Toledo. There are fish in the Tagus, or Rio
Tajo, that flows deep down in a rocky ravine
below the city. I saw nets, and I noticed men
with fishing-rods perched on the rocks. The
river is turbid, like the Guadalquivir. Below the
city it spreads out, and curves through a scorched
plain dotted with a few trees.
6 — z
84 Fishing and Travel in Spain
An Englishman at our boarding-house could give
me very little information about the fish in the
Tagus. He knew that there were fish in the river;
they were big and edible, and he had tasted them.
Perhaps they are shad. We were not very keen
upon another essay of paternostering for shad.
It was May when we arrived in Avila. This
weird and fascinating town is nearly 4,000 feet
above the sea-level, on the slope of a rocky upland.
We reached Avila at midnight, and the air was
frosty. The cold pierced us after the semi-
tropical warmth of the South. We shivered in
the long stone corridors of the hotel, which sug-
gested a Castilian palace, whence the glory of old
days had long departed. How keen blew the
north-easter across the plain from the sierras !
Even when the sun was high, and the great green
lizards, longer than one's arm, crept out to bask,
there were teeth in the breeze that whistled among
the rocks of this exposed tableland.
The little Adaja glides in a silvery streak through
the only strip of fresh green which can be seen
from the ancient walls of the town. We found
our way to the river. It was clear, on a sand and
gravel bed, with weeds here and there, and sharps
that looked like the haunts of trout. Such a swift,
From Andalusia to Castile 85
clean little stream ought to produce fish of the
Salmo family. One afternoon I left the hotel with
my fly-rod. No one was abroad. It was the time
of siesta. I made my way to the glittering river,
and arranged my tackle, putting on a fine cast
and one little hackle fly. Scour after scour was
carefully cast over, and every likely corner tried.
I had no rises, and saw not a sign of a fish. The
river was perfect ; only the fish were wanting.
Presently I came to a mill and an overflow. It
was a pleasant spot for a lounge. I filled my pipe,
and reclined on a sward, watching the racing
stream, the goats that nibbled the herbage, the
woman washing linen, and the distant walls and
towers of the marvellously beautiful town. Then
I fell asleep. So passed the first and only day of
attempted fishing at Avila.
There are no trout in this part of the Adaja.
If you want plenty of trout and cheap quarters in
a wild, mountainous district, inquire of the land-
lord of the Fonda del Ingles, who will give you
particulars about the coach journey and the
accommodation. I met two Castilian fishermen
on the Adaja. One was a postman. He brought
letters to the fonda, and I gave him an English
roach float. His own float, like the rest of his
S6 Fishing and Travel in Spain
tackle, was rude, and highly insulting to any self-
I accompanied these Pescadores one afternoon.
They were dignified, courtly Castilians, with a
fellow-feeling for a brother of the rod. I did not
trouble to bring my own tackle, for the dace of
the Adaja average about ten to the pound, and do
not appear to abound. Yet these anglers were
extremely keen. They tramped miles to and from
their swims, and seemed well pleased if they
returned with three or four brace of these diminu-
tive dace. Their bait-box was a curious entomo-
logical surprise packet — an olla-podrida. It con-
tained worms, grubs, caterpillars, beetles, and
live flies. They fished the little eddies near the
banks, where the water was about 2 feet in the
deepest part. One of them had a cotton-reel on
a nail for a winch, and his line was thick enough
to tow a punt. The gut was * medium salmon,'
and the floats fashioned out of goose-quill and
Honest anglers ! I respect them. They fished
for a love of the sport, and not for the larder.
Who could dream of the larder when the basket
never contained anything but a few fish of medium
sardine size? No, they were true fishermen:
From Andalusia to Castile ^7
patient, observant, fond of the open air and the
riverside. They deserved a better stream for the
pursuit of their simple and wholesome recreation.
I can see them now. One was a stout man in a
frogged coat, with fur collar and cuffs, and a
sombrero. The postman was tall and thin, with
a sober, olive-tinted countenance. We soon be-
came amigos. I felt flattered. It is a great
credit to one to be accepted as the friend of a
native of Old Castile.
Everyone in Avila has an air of romance.
Remember that this is a town of Old Castile,
where Romans conquered, Moors came into posses-
sion, and Christians finally prevailed.
It is the birthplace of the remarkable Santa
Teresa. The very beggars are proud Castilians
in their mien. I often dream of Avila. It is a
wonderful place. But you need not unpack
your fishing-tackle until you reach the mountain
streams beyond the valley of the Adaja.
STREAMS IN LEON
After several weeks spent in sight-seeing in the
towns, we continued our peregrination northwards
to the district that may be described as the
Scotland of Spain. We left the dry heat of the
central plains for the mists, rain-showers, and
cooler atmosphere of the wild and beautiful
kingdom of Leon. The chief province of the
kingdom bears the same name, and in it is the
ancient city also called Leon. In the north-east
this province juts to that of Santander, and on the
east it is bordered by Palencia, while to the north
lies the kingdom of Asturias, oddly misnamed * the
Asturias ' by some English writers.
Leon is mountainous on the west and north.
From the capital southwards and eastwards the
country is of a fairly level character, watered by
the Orbigo, the Esla, and numerous minor
streams. Most of the rivers of the mountain
Streams in Lc6n 89
districts contain trout, and there are some lakes
at a high altitude which abound with heavy fish.
These lagunas are not easy of access. They are
far up among the peaks, but some of them can be
approached by pack-mules. It is necessary to
carry a camping outfit, for there are no habita-
tions near to the tarns providing accommodation
for the stranger. I have met one angler who has
spent a pleasant time in these solitudes, where
days pass without the sound of a human voice.
Bears still range almost unmolested upon these
sierras, and wolves and wild-cats are by no means
scarce. In severe winters wolves have been
known to range almost to the gates of the city of
Le6n. The best time for fishing in the lakes
of Northern Spain is from June to August, when
the snow has melted upon the lower slopes. Snow
crowns all the higher summits throughout the
We crossed the Douro, and by a slow and
tedious railway -journey travelled to the north-
eastern corner of Leon. Lofty mountains are
reared in savage peaks and ridges above the rocky
slopes of the river valleys in this remote territory.
The Penas de Europa rise to a height of nearly
9,000 feet, and the Pena Espiguete and the Prieta
90 Fishing and Travel in Spain
are almost as high. These peaks are only rivalled
in loftiness among the Spanish mountains by two
or three summits in the Pyrenees.
Most of the rivers of the well-watered kingdom
of Leon flow in a southerly direction, and join
the wide Douro. A typical Leonese river is the
tributary that rises in the Asturian Mountains and
waters a narrow hill valley down to the little town
of Bonar, on the railway from Bilbao to the city
of Leon. The journey from Bilbao is slow but
highly interesting, as the train makes many
curving ascents, and runs along the slopes of wild
mountains, across gorges, and through charming
glens. We came to Bonar, by way of Leon, on
a day of great heat. Upon our arrival a polite
native of the town offered to escort us to the
hotel. Leaving our baggage to be brought on in
a cart, we accompanied the stranger, who proved
to be the landlord of the principal inn. He gave
us such a good account of the trout-fishing in the
neighbourhood that we were inclined to suspect
him of drawing the long-bow.
While dinner was being prepared the sky
darkened, and there were distant growls of
thunder. I went out to look at the river, which
was rather low and extremely clear. In a shallow
Streams in Leon 91
pool below the bridge I noticed several trout
rising, and wished that I had brought my rod with
me. A number of flies were sporting over the water,
and in spite of the thundery weather the fish were
feeding hungrily. In ten minutes I saw at least
thirty rises in this single pool.
My observations were interrupted by a sudden
downfall of rain. A cloud had drooped to the
hill-tops on either side of a fine gorge, and overhead
the purple pall was riven with a streak of forked
lightning, followed by an alarming crash of
thunder. I retreated hurriedly for the inn. When
I reached the plaza the rain was running in
rivulets through the street, and the violence of the
storm had increased. During such tempests as
this the village priests of this district sometimes
ascend the towers of the churches and pray to
Santa Barbara to still the thunder and to stay the
disastrous lightning strokes.
As we dined upon the usual omelettes, steak,
cheese, and oranges, the rain pelted down, flood-
ing the road 2 inches deep, and filling the
brook with foaming, turbid water. In the morn-
ing the heat had returned. At eight o'clock
the sun was shining fiercely, and the sky was
92 Fishing and Travel in Spain
Was there any hope of sport with the fly upon
such a brilliant day ? I remembered those rises
in the pool by the bridge. The river seemed full
of trout, and I longed to try my skill with them.
We held council, and decided to go fishing. A
chico was soon found to act as our gilly. He was
a bright lad of about fourteen, in a boina, a
canvas blouse, and canvas shoes braided with blue
worsted. We gave him the wading-stockings and
brogues, and he led the way with an air of
importance, with his chin well up, exhibiting
pride in the performance of a new and mysterious
Our hostess had given us a luncheon of hard-
boiled eggs, meat, bread and cheese, and the usual
pint of wine. We attracted but little notice in
the street. At the riverside our chico surveyed us
with solemn curiosity as we put on our wading-
stockings and made ready our tackle. Two old
men stared at us from the bridge.
At the first sight of the river I realized that
fishing was almost hopeless. The storm had
brought down a flood from the mountains. The
slow pool, where I had seen the trout rising on the
previous evening, was like a rapid, and the water
was a dark yellow colour. We began to spin
Streams in Leon 93
Devon minnows in the eddies close to the bank,
and fished upstream till we came into the gorge.
Neither of us touched a trout. Then we tried the
worm on Stewart tackle, and finally, towards
evening, when the water had cleared somewhat,
we put on our fly casts. One diminutive fish of
the boga variety rewarded our steady perseverance.
I shall have more to say of bogas anon. They are
a kind of dace.
The chico shouldered our traps, and strode off
to the town. He apparently experienced a con-
tempt for us, and for our foreign notions of
fishing. But he gratefully acknowledged his silver
coin, and went off triumphantly with the remains
of the luncheon. The landlord was sympathetic.
* Dios ! how could one expect to catch fish with
the river in such flood ? But patience ! to-morrow
we would be well rewarded.' In the clubroom
adjoining the inn I was subjected to a close
questioning after dinner. Why had I come to
this out-of-the-way corner of Spain ? Was I
prospecting for mines, like all the English ? Did
I sell my fish ? If not, why did I spend so many
hours in fishing ? Did the water penetrate those
things I wore on my legs ? etc. A gentleman who
was staying in this mountain retreat for his
94 Fishing and Travel in Spain
health advised me to use the worm, and shook his
head at my flies. All the Pescadores of this part
used the worm. A priest who was among the
company expressed the hope that I was a good
Catholic, and asked me many quaint questions
After dinner we went for a ramble up a rough
lane leading to the mountains. Thunder was
again brewing. The clouds were purple, edged
with copper, and the air heavy and oppressive. It
was the worst kind of weather for fishing.
Presently a few big drops of rain fell ; then
thunder rumbled in the distance. Before we
reached the fonda forked green lightning was
darting in the clouds that lowered upon the
mountain-peaks. It was a grand sight. But the
disturbed condition of the atmosphere boded ill
for sport with the rod.
On the morrow the river was in better order.
The weather was still bright, and the heat almost
too great for fishing during the hours between
10 a.m. and 5 p.m. I saw plently of trout rising,
but my flies would not tempt many of them.
Better fortune awaited us in the evening. A
fresh breeze sprang up at sunset, and the sky
grew cloudy. The fish began to feed with a
Streams in Ledn 95
furious hunger. A shallow which had seemed
deserted by trout in the early part of the day
was now ringed all over with rises. Every cast
brought a tug at the flies, and though the trout
were as nimble in dropping the fly as they were in
seizing it, we had an exciting time until darkness
set in. The length of the stream close to the
town at Bonar appeared swarming with trout that
evening. I did not see a better rise after sunset
on any other Spanish river.
We kept a lookout for nets, horseshoe traps,
and other indications of fishing, at Bonar, but saw
nothing that would lead one to suppose that the
trout are thinned out by these means. There is a
professional fisherman in the little pueblo, who
appears to make a living by catching trout with
the rod and line. He is a bottom fisher, like the
majority of those who fish to sell.
A more charmingly varied trout-stream than
this at Bonar would be difficult to find. The
banks are mostly open near the town, and runs
alternate with gliding stretches of deeper water.
Were I arranging a fishing tour in Spain, I would
certainly revisit this picturesque valley in Le6n.
The lodging at the fonda is not luxurious, but
the place is clean and the landlord obliging.
96 Fishing and Travel in Spain
Fishing may be varied with mountain climbs
and the exploration of the surrounding wild
The trout that we caught were none of them
over J pound apiece, and I should think that
the average weight is less than that. Still,
quantity makes up for weight when trout are
strong, and there is no question that the trout
at Boiiar give capital sport for their size. In the
gorge, especially high up, there are pools holding
much bigger trout. I was advised to fish this part
of the river, and to hire a vehicle to take me
about five miles upstream, where the trout are
said to be still more plentiful. Unfortunately,
after our evening's sport another thunderstorm
broke over the mountains, and a deluge of rain
again flooded the river. We were sorry that our
engagements would not allow us to stay at Bonar
till the stream fined down again. The river was
so well stocked that we would have no doubt
repeated the success of that evening. But as
it was still raining when we awoke the next morn-
ing, and the river was rising, we resolved to start
The chico's mother, a handsome woman in
picturesque dress and wooden shoes, came to
Streams in Leon 97
the railway-station to bid us farewell. She was
much interested in the queer English people
who went fishing for amusement. A group of
peasant women joined her, and we departed
amid the farewells of these friendly, honest Leon
Bonar is en route for the Sil and the other rivers
of the North-west of Spain, which I shall describe
in other chapters. It should not be missed by
the angler. The river is an ideal one for fly
fishing, and there are plenty of fish in it. For
this stream, as for other waters in Spain, the
flies should be fairly large. I killed most trout
on sober-coloured flies, such as the olive dun.
Let the fisherman take a good stock of flies
with him, as most of the flies procurable in Spain
are of French manufacture, and badly tied.
Madrid and Bilbao were the only towns where I
found fishing-tackle shops. I was often questioned
as to the prices of English rods and tackle and
asked for the addresses of makers.
THE WILD LIFE OF SPAIN
Most fishermen are more or less naturalists.
Those who do not observe the wild life of the
riverside miss one of the chief pleasures accompany-
ing the sport of angling. Moreover, the observant
fisherman, the one who has trained his eyes to see
and his brain to retain impressions, is usually the
most successful wielder of the fly-rod. * How do
the blackbird and thrassel with their melodious
voices bid welcome to the cheerful Spring,' writes
Izaak Walton, * and in their fixed months warble
forth such ditties as no art or instrument can
reach to !'
We began our fishing itinerary just as the buds
were opening and the birds beginning to sing. It
was a new pleasure to watch the birds of a strange
country, and to hear their voices in the tender
green of the woods. For the first time we listened
to the melodious, haunting piping of the golden
The Wild Life of Spain 99
oriole, a rare visitant in England, and watched
the brilliant bird flit from tree to tree as he called
to his mate. I noted down the date of the first
flight of swallows, and I find that we saw these
migrants on March 29, by the Ason.
Along the Bidasoa I noticed the familiar
common wagtails, wrens, robins, thrushes, and
chaffinches. Hawks of several kinds abound in
the mountainous parts of Spain. Buzzards,
circling in companies, were often to be seen high
over the rocky summits of the Cantabrian Range
and along the wooded lower slopes of the Pyrenees.
On March 13 lizards came out in large numbers to
sun themselves. We often heard the cry of the
owl at twilight, especially in Portugal.
The North of Spain abounds with bird-life. In
Castile the foolish destruction of the trees has
almost banished the birds. The farmers cut down
the timber because trees harbour birds, and
birds eat seeds. Around Madrid the State, realiz-
ing the folly of denuding the exposed and wind-
swept land of all foliage, has made many big
plantations. In the north there are mighty forests
of pine and chestnut, haunted by many kinds of
birds. Quails and partridges are fairly numerous
in some districts. We saw a number of partridges
loo Fishing and Travel in Spain
around Toledo, and here only were hares at all
The marismas, or marshes, of the tidal Guadal-
quivir teem with all kinds of wild-fowl. Snipe are
fairly plentiful on the flats by the Minho estuary
in Portugal. We saw many storks. One had made
her nest, which had young birds in it, on the top of
a church-tower at Avila. Storks may often be seen
sailing high over the city of Seville, and there is a
colony of small brown hawks upon the roof of the
The swamps and ponds in the neighbourhood of
rivers swarm with bright green frogs. They are
larger than our English frogs, and they pass most
of their time in the water. On a still night you
may hear their peculiar croaking a mile away. It
is a monotonous and constant rumble, and one can
scarcely believe that the sound is emitted by frogs.
The legs of these green frogs are a table delicacy
in parts of Spain. They are cooked in batter,
and form a course at some of the fondas. Quite
unwittingly we ate these dainties at one of the
comidas (dinners) in Le6n. We were a little
puzzled at the dish. The tender legs were like
those of birds, starlings or wheatears, and it was
not until we had eaten them that we learned that
The Wild Life of Spaizi\L ;:io>; • ;\?
we had tasted frog! Perhaps in this case * 'tis
folly to be wise!'
We had not the fortune to encounter any of the
larger fauna of Spain, though we were often near
the haunts of boars, wolves, and deer. At one
hamlet on the Rio Sil, I was offered the loan of
a gun to go in quest of a hind and her calf that
had been seen once or twice in a neighbouring
vineyard. I am not a deer-stalker, and if I were I
would certainly not choose to murder a female
deer and her young in June.
That fine wild creature the ibex still ranges the
peaks amid the eternal snows. Interesting accounts
of adventures in pursuit of Spanish ibex will
be found in Messrs. Chapman and Buck's * Wild
Spain,' and in Lord Walsingham's contribution to
the volume on * English Sport.' Boars are hunted
with hounds in the South of Spain, and in the
neighbourhood of Gibraltar Senor Larios and his
friends pursue the fox in the British style. Foxes
are very plentiful in the wild parts of the country,
and the wild-cat is far from scarce. The marten is
The otter is fairly distributed, and is rarely
molested in the Peninsula. I have never heard of
otter-hunting with hounds in Spain. The sport
IQ3 Fishing and Travel in Spain
has been introduced into France. There are
rivers in Spain and Portugal that would provide
splendid otter - hunting from February until
An intelligent farmer from Asturias, v^hom v^e
met on a coach ride in Leon, said that bears
v^ere still fairly common in the mountains of his
part of the country. A friend of his had shot one
during that year. I was told that bears haunt the
mountains near Reinosa.
I saw no snakes in Spain except vipers. These
were very common along the rocky banks of the
Rio Sil above Orense. You could scarcely walk 20
yards without seeing one or two of these hand-
some, venomous animals. At first I made a
circuit of a few yards to avoid these viper-haunted
spots, but in a few days I grew accustomed to
vipers, and occasionally trod on one of the reptiles
by design or accident. Our gilly shunned them
as ' muy malo ' (very bad).
As for the fish, I shall write of them as we
proceed. Two species, the boga and a bigger, chub-
like fish, were quite new to me. The shad of the
Minho also interested us. I have not read any
modern Spanish work on ichthyology. Walton
speaks of *an ingenious Spaniard,' one John (or
The Wild Life of Spain 103
Juan) Valdesso, whose * Hundred and Ten Con-
siderations ' were translated into English in 1638.
Valdesso remarks that * Rivers and the inhabitants
of the watery elements were made for wise men to
contemplate, and fools to pass by without considera-
tion.' Who was this Valdesso ? And are his
'Considerations' always upon beasts, birds, and
fishes, or upon matters in general ? I cannot find
his name in the admirable * Bibliotheca Piscatoria,'
1883 edition, though other Spanish names are
given in the volume.
Among the trees of the country we saw the palms
of Andalusia, which were probably introduced by
the Moors. The ilex abounds in the forests between
Avila and Madrid. Chestnuts clothe the slopes
of many of the rivers, and afford pleasant shade
from the scorching noonday sunshine. The
orange, olive, myrtle, and almond, flourish almost
In Navarre the woods resembled those of
our country. There we saw primroses and
daffodils, the former in profusion along the
Bidasoa. We were not fortunate enough to come
into the habitat of the Spanish iris, which is
exported in such large quantities to England. In
Castile we passed through thousands of acres of
I04 Fishing and Travel in Spain
wild-lavender. These great patches of purple give
beauty to the plains, and the odour of the flower
fills the air. A species of heath grows to the
height of 4 or 5 feet in some parts of Spain and
Portugal, and forms impenetrable jungles. In
Portugal we could not walk by some of the rivers
without treading upon the beautiful osmunda fern.
It is as common as our English bracken in many
parts of the Peninsula ; in fact, when we wanted
ferns to cover our fish from the sun we were
obliged to use the osmunda, for there was often no
choice between that and any other. We noted
many varieties of ferns throughout the North of
The ornithologist and botanist will find a fertile
field of observation in Spain. In the semi-tropical
area of the South many interesting species of birds
frequent the river marshes and the forests, while
the sterner North affords the study of other
varieties, both familiar and scarce. Amid the
luxuriant vegetation of Portugal, and upon the
plains and mountains of Spain, the student of
plants will discover innumerable kinds of curious
flowers, ferns, and mosses.
OUR HOME IN THE GORGE
At times we had to endure some amount of dis-
comfort. One of our trials was hunger. In most
of the fondas of the Basque Provinces, and in the
towns, we had very fair board, but in Leon our
diet was sometimes Hmited to eggs, leathery, lean,
and tasteless beef, hard, stale bread, and thin wine.
There is not sufficient sustenance, for those leading
an active outdoor life, in white bread, without
butter, and omelettes or boiled eggs. We some-
times longed for a good, plain substantial English
dinner of joint, vegetables, and pudding. The
Spaniard's breakfast consists of a cup of chocolate,
or coffee, and a piece of dry bread. One cannot
start for a day's fishing on such a slender repast.
At most of the inns we bargained for eggs with
One misses butter, farinaceous food, and vege-
tables in Spain. Strange as it may seem, in this
io6 Fishing and Travel in Spain
fertile land table vegetables are not abundant. 1
never saw a cooked cabbage, a dish of green peas
or beans, carrots, or turnips, on a Spanish table.
Here and there we could obtain salad, and some-
times globe artichokes. Some of the dishes reeked
of garlic, others of malodorous oil. A crust of
decent bread and a piece of Cheddar cheese would
have been a luxury. The bread was too white to
be nourishing, and the cream cheese was sour.
Sometimes we fared really well, but now and then
we had a week of very indifferent and inadequate
meals. Once or twice my wife had to smoke
cigarettes to stay the sense of keen hunger by the
A gentleman in Wales wrote to inquire whether
he could take his daughter on a fishing tour in
Spain. Was it a suitable country for ladies ? I
flinch at such a question. So much depends on
the ladies. For the sake of travel, experience,
and sport, some women will endure extreme dis-
comfort with fortitude. A woman who cannot
bear changes in climate, long rail way -journeys,
cramped travelling in coaches, fasting, midge-
bites, rough quarters, and social intercourse with
labourers and muleteers, will not enjoy a fishing
excursion in the wilder parts of Spain. Dainty
Our Home in the Gorge 107
and fastidious lady anglers may be advised to stay
at a first-class hotel in Scotland, where there are
warm baths, lifts, downy beds, a good table, and
refined company, and to avoid the rough inns and
the hardships attending an unconventional tour in
Spain and Portugal.
On the other hand, women who are not bound
hand and foot and soul itself, as some are, by a
hundred conventions, precedents, traditions, and
prejudices, and who possess fair health, will gain
pleasure and knowledge of the world by a journey
through the remote districts of the Peninsula.
They will find that Spanish bed-linen rivals our
own in cleanliness and whiteness. Let me give
them a word of advice. If tea is essential to their
comfort, as tobacco is to mine, let them take a
spirit-stove in their bags. Horniman's tea in tins
can be obtained in most of the Spanish towns.
So even that direful institution, afternoon tea, is
not impossible in the rudest parts of Spain.
A few miles above the town of Orense, on the
railway, is the grand gorge where the river Sil
joins the Minho. A third stream from the moun-
tains of Galicia flows into the Sil at this point, and
at the junction of the three waters is the remote
village of Los Pearas, where the natives depend
io8 Fishing and Travel in Spain
chiefly for a livelihood upon their vines and
chestnut-trees. We arrived at the station of Los
Pearas late at night. Inquiry for a casa de
huespedes (house of hospitality) brought us a
guide, who lit a lamp, shouldered our bags and
tackle, and conducted us along the railroad and
across a crazy footbridge to a cluster of houses.
Our porter knocked at the door of one of the
houses, and a woman's voice was heard within.
' They cannot take you in,' said our guide. There-
upon we held a conference. Was there another
house for strangers ? It was nearly midnight, and
we were tired and hungry. The prospect was
somewhat dispiriting. Should we be forced to
spend the night on the mountainside ?
But just as we were turning away the door was
opened, and we heard a man's voice. To our
great surprise, he spoke in perfect English.
* Come in,' he said. * They will put you up. I
had no idea you were English.' We entered a
quaint apartment, half kitchen and half village
shop, and were very cordially received by the
worthy host and hostess. The Englishman was
a boarder in the house, a sportsman and keen
angler, who spends the greater part of the year in
this mountain retreat. We congratulated ourselves
Our Home in the Gorge 109
upon our good fortune, and in a short time we
were sitting to supper at the table of the hostess,
and Hstening to the English angler's report upon
the river. He held out no promise of brilliant
sport with the fly, but he spoke of * twenty-pound
baskets of trout ' made by spinning the natural
bait. It was morning before we retired to our
little bedroom, for the chance of talking with an
English sportsman was not an event of everyday
occurrence. Mr. L. had fished the Sil during
several seasons, and he knew every pool for a
dozen miles up the river. His reputation as a
fisherman was the talk of the natives, and many
dishes of trout were given by him to figure upon
the table at local fiestas.
We lay down to sleep lulled by the cry of the
wild foaming river. It was a queer little room,
clean, but not sumptuous. The morning was
chilly, but gloriously bright. Martins were hawk-
ing by the window of our room. A scent of coffee
mounted the staircase, and we heard Mr. L.
whistling as he dressed.
We had breakfast the next day on a big balcony
overhanging the turbulent river. At ten o'clock
Mr. L. proposed that we should try the fly until
luncheon-time. He took us to some likely-
no Fishing and Travel in Spain
looking water, which we fished for an hour with-
out rising a fish. In the afternoon we obtained
some bogas for bait, and spun with them. Luck
was, however, against us during our visit to
I will relate some of the experiences of our
English friend, whose skill in spinning from the
Nottingham reel, and knowledge of the where-
abouts of big fish, insure him excellent sport in the
deep, rough pools of this wild river. Mr. L. often
catches from three to four trout in a day, occasion-
ally weighing together about 20 pounds. He has
caught fish in the Sil up to 10 pounds, and he has
seen a trout weighing as much as 30 pounds,
which was killed by a peasant with a digging-fork
in the shallow water of a tributary. There is no
doubt that there are trout of huge proportions in
these great pools of the Minho and Sil at Los
Pearas. The local anglers, who have learned to
work a spinning boga, after a fashion, occasionally
lose very big fish. My friend uses a stiffish spin-
ning rod, a salmon-line, a strong flight, with
swivels, and for bait a boga of about 4 inches.
He casts from a wooden reel without a check, and
spins off the tail of the broken water where it
tumbles into a pool.
ON THE BANKS OF THE RIO SIL.
Our Home in the Gorge m
These Sil trout fight Hke salmon. They tear
the line off the reel, leap repeatedly, and some-
times sulk. A long reel-line is necessary, and the
tackle must be as strong as that used for ferox in
Scotland. The trout are beautifully shaped and
coloured. They can rarely be tempted by spinning
artificial baits. The boga appears to be their
staple food, and they will not take a fly. I caught
a few small trout with the fly in the tributary, but
I could not rise a fish, except bogas, in the main
I asked Senor Sastre, our host, if he had ever
seen any English anglers on the river besides
Mr. L. and ourselves.
* Yes, many years ago,' he said, *two English
gentlemen came, and set up a tent across the
The senor was an important man in these parts.
He kept the only tienda, a general store where
one might buy anything — from a dozen eggs to a
pair of boots. His wife was young, gentle, and
amiable, with a refined, sensitive face. She was
a perfect hostess. We fared excellently. Good
roasted joints decked the table ; the fowls were
tender, and the wine of the district bright and
free from logwood. We had most of our meals on
112 Fishing and Travel in Spain
the big balcony, with the cool air blowing upon us
from the mountains. The children romped around
— little girls with olive skins and dark hair. My
wife soon won their confidence. It was an ideal
Spanish country home.
IN THE KINGDOM OF GALICIA
One hot afternoon I went up the little stream
that flows down to the Sil through a deep and
delightful glen. The chico of the house accom-
panied me. Mr. L. was entertaining some Spanish
visitors, including two of the Guardia Civil, who
had come to look for certain highway robbers who
were causing terror among the natives of the
hamlet in the gorge. We followed a track up the
glen, among vineyards. The grapes were small,
and in green clusters on the riotous vines. Below
us the burn murmured in its rocky channel, and
above were wild hills devoid of foliage.
The chico talked in Spanish. He thought I
would understand him better if he raised his voice,
so when I was at a loss to catch his meaning he
shouted the phrase in a louder tone. I gathered
that the little river had been badly poached. My
companion pointed to a herb growing by the
114 Fishing and Travel in Spain
waterside. It resembled our wild hemlock, and
had yellowish leaves and flowers. A few handfuls
of these poisonous leaves, bruised and thrown
into a small pool, will bring all the trout to the
top, gasping for breath. The action of this plant
upon fish seems as fatal as that of lime. I uttered
a malediction upon the herb and those who use it
for the wholesale murder of trout.
The glen was even wilder and more beautiful
as we proceeded. No trace of a path was to be
seen. We scrambled over rocks and through
undergrowth, and came to a scour that looked
tempting for a trial of the fly. I fished upstream,
casting as well as I could among the rocks, and
trying to avoid the overhanging boughs. Not a
fish rose to my fly. The sun's rays penetrated
the boscage, and the rocks of the stream were
burning hot. It was too bright for fly fishing,
and, moreover, I doubted whether the poachers
had left a single fish in the burn.
I sat down and smoked a pipe, while the chico
reclined on the grass. The beauty of the little
ravine cannot be described. It was a veritable
fairyland. Masses of boulders rose in chaos from
the verge of the stream ; the wooded slopes were
impenetrable, and there was a long strip of deep
In the Kingdom of Galicia 115
blue sky above two high cHffs that seemed to bar
the passage of the burn. From below the gray
cliffs came the rumble of falling water.
I wandered on in this enchanted glen, and
came to the cliffs. The stream rushed in a white
torrent between the banks, and fell into a clear
pool. * Surely there must be trout here,' was my
reflection. I took off the fly cast, and put on a
small gilt Devon minnow. At the very first spin
there was a yellow flash in the water, as a trout
darted out from beneath a flat, sunken rock. He
hovered, saw me, and shot back to his holt. * At
any rate, I have seen one trout,' I said.
The chico joined me, and watched my operations
with interest. Presently I was actually fast in a
trout. My rod was bending to the plunges of a
fish, and I saw my prey as he rushed up the pool.
I turned his head, and netted him as he came
down. This was the only trout that I caught
during about two hours of careful spinning — a fish
of less than | pound.
We returned on the other side of the stream,
and before I went indoors I made a few casts
with the fly over a dammed-up pool near the house.
Here I hooked a few small bogas and rose one
ii6 Fishing and Travel in Spain
The next day Mr. L. started for a village several
miles away over the mountains. The priest of the
aldea had invited him to attend a fiesta. We
were sorry to lose his company. His man started
early to carry his traps, and after breakfast Mr. L.
set out on foot, and cHmbed the steep, winding
path to the open summit. With the good little
chico as our guide, we went up the main river to
spin for trout. Our gilly had provided several
bogas for bait.
We went up and down along a narrow, stony
path by the wide foaming river. Vipers glided to
cover at our approach. Every fresh bend of the
river seemed to open out a finer, more savage
prospect. The roar of the water at some of the
falls was almost deafening. Our lad led the way
nimbly, jumping from rock to rock. We reached
a pinnacle, and gazed down upon the powerful
flood surging among the boulders. These deeps
of the Sil are almost horrible to look upon, as they
swirl and eddy beneath the crags and banks of
After a pleasant repast in the shade we began
to spin. The chico said that Mr. L. had caught a
five-pound trout in this very pool a few days before
our coming. We hoped that such luck would fall
In the Kingdom of Galicia 117
to us. Alas! the desire was not to be realized.
Pool after pool was tried, and two spinning tackles
lost among the rocks. I pricked one trout. He
came out from under a boulder, plucked at the
bait, and then fled. This fish looked as though
he might weigh a couple of pounds.
* Hard lines, but it can't be helped,' I said, as
we threw ourselves down to rest below a huge
mass of dislodged rock.
I took out my dictionary to look for a Spanish
word. When I had found it, the chico asked if
he might have the book. I gave it to him, and
he turned over the pages with intense interest.
Presently he found a word that excited his
orthodox indignation. * Cismdtico ' was the word
of terror. ' Cismdtico malo, malo !' he murmured.
I suppose that from the boy's point of view a
schismatic is a very dangerous and immoral person.
Good little chico ! there are many things undreamt
of in your philosophy. How odd that the child
should have chanced upon that word * cismdtico ' !
Shad ascend the Sil, and spawn in these higher
reaches of the river. They are netted in some of
the pools, and even taken in long-handled nets in
certain parts. A few salmon, no doubt, come up
as high as this reach at Los Pearas ; but the over-
ii8 Fishing and Travel in Spain
netting in the estuary, and, in fact, all the way
along the Minho and Sil, has ruined the salmon-
fishing for anglers. Ford speaks of the Minho as
a productive salmon river. It may have been so
in his day. At the present time only a few salmon
can escape the nets that are always at work in the
lower reaches at Caminha and Tuy. Yet what a
grand salmon river it might be ! Water that can
produce trout up to 30 pounds in weight ought to
be capable of providing mighty salmon. As for
the shad, they come up in large numbers, as I
shall show in another chapter.
We saw nothing grander in Spain than this
lonely, rugged gorge of the Sil at Los Pearas. It
is a scene of beauty and majesty mingled with the
terrific. The rolling, roaring river is cruel in its
might, fierce and remorseless in its wild flow. It
has claimed many victims. The loud cry of its
tumbhng, tossing waters lingered long in our ears.
My wife was haunted with tragic dreams of this
strange, fear-inspiring flood.
George Borrow refers to the Minho in his
'Wild Wales,' in writing upon Monmouthshire.
Monmouth is named after * the river Mynwy, or
Minno,' as Borrow has it. This tributary of the
Wye is more commonly called the Monnow, and
In the Kingdom of Galicia 119
it is a good trout stream. * There is a river of
much the same name, not in Macedon, but in the
Peninsula,' says Borrow, * namely, the Minho,
which probably got its denomination from that
race cognate to the Cumry, the Gael, who were
the first colonizers of the Peninsula, and whose
generic name yet stares us in the face, and salutes
our ears in the words " Galicia " and ** Portugal."'
According to Dr. Isaac Taylor, in his valuable
'Words and Places,' gal is a Celtic root. It is
found in Gall-ia, Gal-way, Done-gal, and other
place-names. Dr. Taylor says * the inhabitants of
Gal-icia and Portu-gal possess more Celtic blood
than those who inhabit any other portion of the
In appearance they bear a certain resemblance
to the Welsh Celts. They have a hard struggle
with Nature in these rocky regions ; but they are
thrifty and shrewd, and very little seems to suffice
for their wants. Every bit of soil that can be
cultivated in the Valley of the Minho is planted
with vines, potatoes, and other vegetables. The
Galicians are hardy, like most mountaineers.
They love their savage, romantic land, and they
fought fiercely to beat back the Moorish invaders.
The Gallegos, as they are called in Spain, have
I20 Fishing and Travel in Spain
their own tongue, their own customs, songs, and
dances. Their women wear bright bodices and
shawls, and they are fond of big earrings. Upon
their heads they tie gaily-coloured handkerchiefs.
They work in the fields with the men, and work
as well as their husbands, brothers, and sons,
turning the soil with forks, training the vines, and
garnering the chestnuts and grapes. The life of
the Gallegos recalls a passage in ' Don Quixote,'
where the Knight resolves to turn shepherd :
*"The oaks, the cork-trees, and chestnut-trees
will afford us both lodging and diet, the willows
will yield us their shade, the roses present us their
inoffensive sweets, and the spacious meads will be
our carpets, diversified with colours of all sorts ;
blessed with the purest air, and unconfined alike,
we shall breathe that, and freedom ..."
' ** Sure enough," quoth Sancho, *' this sort of
life suits me to a hair." '
The Gallegos do not care to roam far from their
country. They are said to possess so great a love
of their native land that home-sickness is with
them a true malady.
Before leaving Los Pearas, let me say that the
best water for the heavy trout is a league or
more up the river. Some of the pools are 40 feet
in depth. Here and there the river rushes with
tremendous force between great boulders, or falls
in cascades of 5 feet or 6 feet in height. Very
little of the water can be waded. Spinning from
the rocks is the most successful mode of fishing.
These big fighting trout afford magnificent sport.
Mr. L. is often compelled to play a fish for half an
hour. An apparently beaten trout will sometimes
make another great rush for the opposite side of
the pool. These upper pools of the Sil and Minho
may be said to produce the largest trout in Europe.
The rivers are poached in various ways, but these
huge deep pools baffle the illicit fishermen, who
devote their attention to the shallows and tribu-
122 Fishing and Travel in Spain
We were sorry to leave the good Sastre couple
at the end of a week's pleasant sojourn. A long,
slow railway-journey brought us to Ponferrada at
two in the morning. The fonda omnibus was out-
side the station, and two or three sleepy passengers
left the train. We entered the vehicle, which
rattled and bumped us through the silent streets
of the little town. At a kind of sentry-box the
omnibus drew up, and a man in uniform, holding
a lantern, peered into the coach.
* Turistas, Ingleses,' I said to the officer.
He muttered something to the driver, and the
pair of scraggy horses started at a gallop up the
street, and over a bridge spanning the Sil. A
steep serpentine road led us to the plaza and the
fonda. The senora was up to receive guests, and
she led us to a room at the back of the house.
I stepped on to the balcony. Daylight was just
stealing over the mountains, and a snowy crest
was tinged with pink and gold. The moon was
shining above a grand escarpment of rock, and
daybreak had not yet paled the brilliant stars. A
loud crow issuing from a fowl-roost was the only
sound besides a low murmur of flowing water. I
could hardly leave the balcony. The scene was
At Ponferrada 123
Ponferrada is amongst imposing mountains, and
situated on a hill over 1,600 feet above the sea.
It has quaint buildings, and commands a splendid
view of the Sil, which issues from a gorge about a
mile upstream, and flows through the town. The
place can boast of a fishing association, and holds,
therefore, the esteem of the angler. The members
are rod fishermen, with a detestation of dynamite.
The ley de pesca (fishing law) prohibits the
employment of explosives for killing fish, but in
these lonely valleys it is no easy matter to discover
poachers, and a large quantity of fish is destroyed.
I am glad to say, however, that trout are
increasing at Ponferrada. Since my visit I have
received a letter from a local fisherman, who tells
me several heavy trout, some of over 6 pounds,
were taken with the fly during the spring of 1903.
The bogas are also more numerous than they were,
which should show that both trout and coarse fish
are multiplying through the efforts of the associa-
tion to suppress the use of infernal dynamite.
You can even buy artificial flies in Ponferrada.
The maker is a professional fisherman and tackle-
maker named Gancedo. He has fished the Sil for
many years, and his son is also an angler.
Gancedo's flies are big hackles, with plain, sober
124 Fishing and Travel in Spain
dressing. The gut is coarse, and the flies are
rough. But they kill fish in the Sil, as I shall
show presently. Altogether the outlook is hopeful
at Ponferrada, and I trust that English fishermen
will not forget to contribute to the association.
There is a choice of two hotels at Ponferrada.
We chose the one in the plaza, and paid 5 pesetas
per diem for moderate accommodation. The
weather was anything but favourable, but upon
the day after our arrival I engaged an attendant to
carry my bag, brogues, and wading-stockings, and
started out at ten in the morning to fish up the Sil.
Antonio, my companion, was a good-humoured,
attentive lad, with merry blue eyes. He told me
that he had been out fishing once before with an
Englishman, who ' caught nothing.'
A young chum joined Antonio before we were
out of the town. The day was fiery hot and dead
still. No ripples showed on the clear green pools.
I fished several runs with the fly.
We came to a long shallow with enough stream
for a wet fly, and I waded in and began to cast.
For half an hour I fished without rising a single
trout. In the gorge, half a mile further up the
river, I was more successful. I rose several fish
and caught a brace. Then the natural flies
At Ponferrada 125
disappeared and the trout ceased to rise. As
Antonio declared that there were trout as long as
his forearm in the pool, I put on a small Devon
minnow, and tried spinning close to the rocky
bank. This failed to tempt a fish, so I put on the
fly cast again and went up to some broken water.
Here I took another trout of about ^ pound, and
rose a fish here and there.
On a dull day I think the pool would yield
some good trout. I saw several big fish near the
surface, but the glare was so intense that one
could not cast without putting them down. A
three-pounder jumped in one of the runs further
up, and I saw enough rises to satisfy me that there
are a very fair number of trout in this length.
Antonio's friend departed at mid-day, after
sharing the contents of the luncheon-bag. My
gilly was a jewel. He was inexperienced in fishing,
but he knew instinctively what was required of him,
and he seemed at once to understand the queries
that I put to him in imperfect Spanish. Antonio
told me that bears, wolves, wild-cats, and foxes,
inhabited the mountains of the district. He spoke
of a laguna, several miles from Ponferrada, full of
very big eels and no other fish.
I was much impressed by the intelligence of the
126 Fishing and Travel in Spain
Spanish rural working class. These people have
a rare native v^it, and are without the stupidity
and apathy often associated with the terms * rustic'
or * bucolic' Here was an ostler at a country inn,
who could converse in an entertaining fashion
with a foreigner who possessed a meagre acquaint-
ance with the language of the country. What is
more, Antonio often read my thoughts before I
uttered them. When education spreads among
the people of Spain, we shall hear less dismal
prophecy of her downfall. She will be born again
before many years have passed.
Antonio and I had the river to ourselves. We
met not a solitary peasant throughout the day.
I was casting over a pool, when my attendant
uttered a cry and began to strip off his clothes.
He pointed wildly to the river, and in the middle
of the stream I saw a floating fish. Antonio
was into the water in a trice. He swam with
a powerful stroke, retrieved the fish, and came
ashore with a look of pride. The fish looked
like a chub of about a pound in weight. I did not
handle it, for it was a * demmed unpleasant
body ' to look upon, and possessed a powerful
The lad threw the fish away, and was into his
At Ponferrada 127
clothes almost as quickly as he had disrobed him-
self. I had a mind to follow his example, and to
take a plunge into the deep, cool water ; but I was
too tired and lazy to take off my brogues and
This was an enjoyable day, though my bag only
contained six trout at five o'clock. I might have
waited for the evening rise, but I had promised
my wife that I would be at the fonda by the
dinner-hour. We had a long, rough walk before
us. Antonio proposed a short-cut. There is a
Spanish proverb, translated by George Borrow, to
the purport that ' He who takes short-cuts makes
more labour for himself in the long-run.' A stiff
climb in the broiling sun brought us to a long
rocky ridge over the river. The effort of climbing
was rewarded by a wide and glorious view of the
mountains stretching away into Asturias, the course
of the Sil below Ponferrada, and the snow-capped
summit which had met our first gaze from the
balcony on the morning of our arrival. It was
indeed a most noble panorama of grim mountain
grandeur, green fertile plain, and silvery stream.
Upon the following day I went alone by an
early train to Toral de los Vados (the Chief of the
Fords), a village situated on the right bank of the
128 Fishing and Travel in Spain
river, a few miles below Ponferrada. Antonio
looked greatly disappointed when he saw me start
alone. However, I had no especial need for his
services. At Toral I took a glass of red wine
at the fonda, and asked the hostess if she could
provide sleeping accommodation. She answered
that she would be pleased to do so.
' Good/ I said ; * if there are many trout here, I
will come with my wife.'
A tributary joins the Sil at Toral de los Vados.
The main river flows through a wider valley than
that of Ponferrada, and spreads itself over gravelly
shoals. Better water for wading and fishing the
fisherman could not desire. I looked up at the
ardent sky. There was not the slightest sign of a
change in the weather. The river was clear as
crystal. Well, perhaps I might entice a few trout
from the rough water. There is nothing like
I fished down the tributary to the big river.
Plenty of troutlets darted away from the banks of
the little stream, and I caught one of them on the
orange dun. Then I came to the Sil, and found a
fine tumbling run, which seemed a likely place.
The truth is not always interesting. I must,
however, honestly confine myself to dry fact. No
At Ponfcrrada 129
fish, except the fingerling and one small boga,
came to hand that day. I hooked one good fish.
I saw him turn in the water, but in a second he
was firee, and I was lamenting.
Most of the day was spent in the shade of a
grove near the river. The heat was tremendous,
and there was no breeze to cool the air of the
valley. I saw two men building up fish-traps with
stones, and one solitary and sun- scorched herds-
man tending some cows and goats. At about four
o'clock I had to catch the train for Ponferrada.
The train was crowded with harvesters, hundreds
of Gallegos in the costume of their country. They
crowded at the windows and filled all the seats.
I was glad that the journey would only be one of a
few minutes. Antonio was at the station.
* Many?' he asked.
* Nada' (Nothing), I replied.
He offered sympathy, and I got into the
THE HAMLET OF MATAROSA
We found agreeable company at the fonda. The
registrar of the town was a constant guest, and he
showed us great politeness. This caballero was
an educated man, with a refined face and pleasant
manners. We also made friends with the Mayor
of a pueblo amongst the mountains, about twenty-
five miles from Ponferrada. He said that if we
would go up into his country we should * catch
trout enough.' Was not the river full of fish ?
Why, there were men living there who made it
their business to catch trout for the Madrid
market. They lived by fishing.
* Do they use nets ?' I asked.
* Not so much,' the Mayor replied. ' They
have canas (rods) like your own.'
One evening the registrar said : ' Senor, I have
seen to-day a man who speaks English, and
knows much about fishing.'
A SPANISH VENTA, OR WAYSIDE TAVERN, WITH THE HOSTESS,
HER DAUGHTER, AND GRANDCHILD AT THE DOOR.
The Hamlet of Matarosa 131
* Bueno — many thanks,' I returned. * I would
like to meet him.'
'You shall do so this evening,' said the regis-
trar. * His name is Angel Gancedo, and he
is a waiter at the casino of which I am a
After dinner, the registrar, the Mayor, and
another caballero escorted us to the club. Great
respect was shown to the English senora, who was
still unmistakably English, though she wore a
black mantilla. I cannot say whether Spanish
ladies visit the clubs. At any rate, my wife's entry
caused no astonishment. We all sat down to a
table, and the Mayor called for coffee. Then
Angel Gancedo appeared. He is a young man of
about twenty-eight, the son of Gancedo the fisher-
man of Ponferrada.
' So you speak English ?' I said.
* Oh yes,' he replied, with an apologetic shrug
of the shoulders. ' I was servant to an English
family at Rivadavia, and I have travelled with an
English merchant.' He mentioned a name well
known in Covent Garden.
* You are also a fisherman ?'
* I have fished all my life, and my father before
132 Fishing and Travel in Spain
Our Spanish hosts listened to the English tongue
with smiling interest.
* Is it good English that he speaks ?' asked one
' Very good,' I said.
Angel rose at once in the estimation of the
company. He was actually able to carry on a
long conversation with the English strangers.
Bravo, Ponferrada ! Even in Seville there are few
men who can speak the English language.
We arranged that Angel should accompany us
up the river, to act as our guide and interpreter.
He proposed to bring his rod, and some mysterious
bait, which he had found very deadly for trout.
We agreed to meet at the fonda upon the following
morning. After an exchange of civilities with our
friends, we left the casino.
Angel arrived at the hotel at about nine in the
morning. The diligence did not leave Ponferrada
until one o'clock, but our guide had resolved to be
punctual. We strolled about the town, and Angel
showed me his house. He is a married man with
one child. The house was purchased from the
proceeds of transactions in the way of exports
with the gentleman in Covent Garden. It was
strange to hear a native of this out-of-the-way
The Hamlet of Matarosa 133
corner of Spain talking of Covent Garden. Angel
had never been to England.
Then my companion proposed that we should
drink a glass of white wine. We entered a wine
tienda, sat down, and exchanged cigarettes. The
landlady questioned Angel about me. Who was
I ? English or French ? A fisherman for pleasure !
Caramba ! how queer ! Well, no doubt the
English are a curious people. When we returned
to the fonda, a very important person was standing
in the portico. He saluted me by raising his
sombrero, and I lifted my boina. I gathered from
Angel that the gentleman was a Deputy-Governor
or some other official of rank. He wished to see
my artificial flies. I handed him my fly-book, and
he turned over the leaves.
* Bonita !' (Pretty !), he remarked. * But they
are small, very small.'
Compared with the huge moscas used by the
Leon anglers, my flies were certainly small, though
in Yorkshire or Derbyshire they would be de-
scribed as big. The senor gave me back the fly-
book with a gracious bow. I raised my boina,
and he went his way.
Angel's infallible bait was the live stone-fly.
He had a tin box containing a number of these
134 Fishing and Travel in Spain
insects. His rod was about 20 feet long, made of
bamboo, with a switch for a top. Attached to
this was a length of cord, and a cast of stout gut,
strong enough to hold a twenty-pound salmon.
This was all the luggage that he carried.
The coach was supposed to leave at one o'clock.
It was about two before we started. Angel and
the Mayor occupied the interior, and my wife
and I sat by the driver. There was a mixed team
of gaunt mules and bony horses, six in number,
each with jangling bells around his neck. The
jehu started his steeds with the customary yells
and oaths. They broke into a lolloping canter
along a straight dusty road, and the coach swayed
from side to side.
Before we had gone a couple of miles, the flanks
of the half-starved beasts were wet with sweat. I
knew what was coming. The man took up his
whip, and began to butt-end the ribs of the
wretched creatures. Whack! whack! whack!
Every blow seemed to fall upon us, to sting our
flesh. I could not endure it. I longed to fling
the fellow from the box.
'No, no !' I cried, as the driver was dealing a
fearful blow at one of the horses.
I held his arm firmly.
The Hamlet of Matarosa 135
* Oh, please don't beat them,' begged my wife.
* We are going quite fast enough.'
The man looked astounded. A frown crossed
his face, and I feared that we might have a quarrel
and a scene. However, he put the whip down
without uttering a word. No doubt he regarded
us as lunatics. His beasts were not Christians ;
they had no souls. The Holy Church had never
forbidden him to beat them. Ah, this cruelty to
animals, it is a sad blot upon Spain !
Our remonstrances had some effect upon the
coach-driver. For the rest of the stage he used the
lash less freely, and never the handle of the whip
to thrash his skinny jades. We were glad when
we reached the halfway house, and the horses and
mules were led away to a stable. Poor animals !
their legs shook beneath them, and their coats
were reeking. The roadside venta stood at the
foot of a pass, a lonely hovel, one bare room with
earth for the floor. Angel said that robbers had
broken into the house one night, bound the
proprietor to a chair, and stripped him of his
belongings. It was the kind of den where one
might expect to meet with adventures.
The fresh team started at a gallop up the steep
ascent. A new cochero held the reins, and
136 Fishing and Travel in Spain
cracked his long whip over the ears of the leaders.
Jingle-jangle we went up the hill, which was
almost as steep as the upper part of the Pass of
Llanberis. Our driver stamped his feet, shouted,
raved, swore, and brandished the whip. He
behaved in this fashion until the team broke into
a canter along one of the few level stretches of the
road. Gray mountains bounded the valley. The
country was sterile and the grass parched. Thick
dust lay upon the highway, and trailed behind the
wheels of the rumbling diligence.
The district is sparsely populated. We passed
only one village, a primitive place on the rocky
bank of the Sil, with squat houses, picturesque
peasants, and an air of poverty. We stayed here
for a few minutes, and then went bowling along a
lovely vale, with wooded slopes below rocky peaks,
and the river foaming deep down in its rugged
* Matarosa,' said the driver, pulling up at the
door of a small stone-built posada.
The Mayor alighted, and we were introduced to
the host and hostess of this very humble tavern.
Mountains, rocks, fir-trees, a bridge over a deep
pool, the Sil, a few squalid houses by the roadside,
and a boy in a sheepskin coat — such was our first
The Hamlet of Matarosa 137
glimpse of Matarosa. Daniel Perez was our
host's cognomen. He was a burly, swarthy man,
in a blouse and boina. The hostess was plump.
She carried a baby in her arms, and wore a short
green skirt of many pleats, a bright bodice, and a
pink handkerchief upon her head. We bargained
for boarding terms, and agreed to pay 4 pesetas
each by the day.
Then Perez led us to his wine-shed, and we
tasted wine from a huge cask while his dame
prepared a meal. We dined in a room which
would be described as a * tap ' in England. The
table was of rough wood ; the seats were wooden
benches. Behind a small counter were a few big
sausages, a tub of pickled trout, and sundry
bottles of wine and spirits. There was no glass
to the window. You passed through a covered
courtyard, where mules were stabled, to enter this
apartment. The place was undoubtedly rustic,
and the fare was plain.
Muleteers, herdsmen, and wayfarers formed
the company at this tavern. They were rough-
looking fellows, but all of them picturesque, and
none of them uncivil. Angel had had some
misgivings concerning our reception at the
138 Fishing and Travel in Spain
' These are good people,' he whispered. * It is
* Good appetite attend you, gentlemen,' said an
old man from the doorway.
He sat down and began to question Angel. The
old peasant was a fisherman, and he made his own
flies. I have some of them in my desk as I write
— big hackles, with bodies of string, on large
* He says we shall catch trout to-night,'
The old fisherman looked at my flies. Santa
Maria ! they were pretty enough. But, man, how
could I catch big trout with those little hooks?
And the rod, it was too short, too slender — a mere
toy, fit only for children. He jerked his thumb
to the road, where his 20 feet of bamboo rested
against the balcony. That was the sort of cana
for the trout of the Sil. A group of open-eyed
peasants, men, women, and children, stood in the
doorway while we talked. I addressed them in
English, and they smiled and laughed. We were
the first English folk seen in their hamlet. They
talked in a dialect which was wholly unintelligible
to me, and sometimes baffling to Angel. We were
among the people : there was no doubt about it. I
The Hamlet of Matarosa 139
wonder whether they were as interested in us as
we were in them.
There were still two hours of daylight. We
started up the river, accompanied by the old
fisherman's son. The glen was beautiful in the
fading sunlight. Angel and the native took one
side of the stream, and we fished from the other
* A rise,' I said, as the water was troubled close
to my point fly.
* I have him !' cried my wife.
She had hooked a trout just off a wild rush of
water among rocks. There was no doubt that the
fish was a good one, for the little greenheart rod
bent like a sickle, and the line flew out of the reel.
But fish and hook soon parted company. Never
mind: this was an earnest of sport to come.
That evening, however, not one of us brought
a single fish to the bank. I rose at least a dozen
fish, and pricked some of them ; but luck was
against us. We went back to incur the banter of
the landlord. Four rods and no fish ! Perhaps
he muttered the Spanish equivalent for * duffers.'
We were, at all events, satisfied that the river was
well stored with trout. The evening was passed
in conversation with Angel.
BY THE WILD SIL
'Another burning, cloudless day,' I said, step-
ping on to the balcony of the inn.
It was half-past seven, and the sun was high
over the mountains. Two Civil Guards, with
their rifles under their arms, came down a path
on the opposite side of the Sil, and crossed the
bridge. They had been scouring the mountains
during the night. Were they in search of brigands
or of contrabandists? The Guards saluted as
they passed the house.
* Good-day, senor ; I hope you are rested.'
These exchanges of courtesy in Spain are
pleasant. They make the stranger feel at home
in a foreign land, and show that the people are
kindly disposed towards one.
' Yes, many thanks. It is very hot.'
* Si, senor. God be with you.' And the men
passed on, the sun gleaming upon their glazed,
By the Wild Sil 141
black, three-cornered hats and the barrels of their
At the end of the balcony was a heap of bed-
ding and blankets. Perez and his wife, good
souls, had vacated their own bedroom, and slept
on the balcony, so that the English people might
have the best apartment that their posada could
' What shall we do ?' I said to Angel. * This is
not a good fishing-day.'
* Yes, it is a good day for my bait,' he responded.
* Well, we shall see,' I said. * It seems to me
that we had better wait till the sun is low.'
*No, it is better when the sun is high,' pro-
We went out into the glare, and followed a
path along the right bank of the river. Angel
chose to stay at a deep pool where the water was
suitable for his style of fishing. My wife and I
proceeded up the river, and came to a broad
shallow, broken with a few rocks. Wading was
safe here, and the water was perfect for fly
fishing. A few small trout were bagged, and one
good fish broke the gut of a dropper fly.
In a deeper length, where the water eddied near
the bank, a trout of | pound came at the orange
142 Fishing and Travel in Spain
dun, and was duly netted. This eddy was full
of fish. They were rising everywhere ; but the
water was clear, and it was difficult to prevent
one's shadow from falling upon the pool. How-
ever, the eddy yielded two more trout, and we had
several rises. Then I went down to Angel's pool,
to see what he was doing. He had twice risen a
big trout with the stone-fly, but the fish had
refused the infallible lure.
* It is too bright,' I said.
' No, it is good for my fishing,' asserted Angel.
I left him to his dapping, perched on a rock
over a pool about lo feet deep. It was just the
spot for a big trout ; but the sun-glare was power-
ful on the clear water, and every standing fish
could see his shadow.
My wife had to retire to the shade. The
heat was exhausting, and the glitter of the swift
water tired our eyes. I wished it would rain. A
little real English weather would have been a
grateful change. There had been no rain for at
least a fortnight. In England our friends were
grumbling at the incessant downpour and the low
temperature. * We envy you,' they wrote. Well,
the sunshine was glorious ; we had been warmed
through and through with it since the beginning
By the Wild Sil 143
of March, and our faces were well tanned. Still,
I wished that it would rain. Here was a grand
river, full of trout that would rise to the fly, but
the sunshine proved a serious hindrance to sport.
We decided to return to the inn and take a
siesta until six o'clock. At that hour the sun
would be hidden by the higher peaks of the moun-
tains. Angel had not met with success. The
infalHble stone-fly had been refused with disdain,
and our little hackles had done more execution.
Some peasants were eating their mid- day meal in
the tavern. One of them was a fine handsome girl,
named FeHcia Gonzalez. * Strapping' is hardly
expressive enough as an adjective to convey her
proportions. She was a veritable giantess, and
her age was only fourteen. Felicia appeared to
be quite twenty years old. She was fair-haired,
with a golden-brown skin, blue eyes, and refined
features. I cannot describe her costume. It was
a wealth of colour from her head-kerchief to her
green stockings. She was a goat and cow keeper,
and one of the best singers and dancers in
Matarosa. Felicia's meal consisted of a foot of
bread and a piece of fat bacon. How she enjoyed
it ! For our part, we could scarcely swallow our
soup and stewed fowl. It was too hot to eat.
144 Fishing and Travel in Spain
A team of mules pulled up at the door, and the
* Good-day, gentlemen ; a good appetite attend
Perez fished up a couple of trout from the pickle-
tub, cut off a hunk of bread, and poured out a
glass of red wine for the hungry muleteer.
Naturally, the new-comer asked who we were,
and what we were doing at Matarosa. Angel
gave him the information. Having finished her
luncheon, Felicia took her staff and stalked out
of the inn, the soles of her wooden shoes clacket-
ing upon the road. The muleteer and Angel lit
their cigarettes, and we retired to sleep until the
It was cloudy towards the late afternoon.
Rain was actually threatening. A fresher breeze
came down from the pine-covered hills, and
whirled the dust on the road. We were refreshed
by our siesta. Estanislas, the boy in the sheepskin
coat, was waiting to accompany us up the river.
He had brought his long, heavy bamboo rod
and on his back was a basket something like an
ordinary creel, but without a lid to it. We made
our way up the river.
The water was no longer dazzling bright, for
By the Wild Sil 145
the gathering clouds cast a shadow over the narrow
valley. I determined to try the minnow in some
wild, rushing water that afforded plenty of har-
bourage for trout among the rocks. To my
delight, I pricked a fish at the first cast. I dis-
tinctly dislike pricking trout with the ghastly
array of hooks on an artificial minnow, but I
was pleased to find that the minnow so quickly
attracted a fish. This pricking and missing
is the worst part of minnow fishing. I think
that the flying triangles are to blame. It is not
often that one loses a fish hooked on the tail
Meanwhile, Estanislas was pulling out trout
with his formidable bamboo rod. He cast with a
loud switching noise across the stream, and let
his dozen big flies swim down in the broken water.
At each cast the weight of the rod nearly toppled
the little fellow into the whirling current. But
this chico is a good angler. He catches quite as
many trout as the men. My wife took a photo-
graph of the boy casting over a pool, near the
bridge at Matarosa. I continued to spin off the
rough water close to the bank. Presently a
number of stones came rolling down the slope
behind me. They were either set going by some
146 Fishing and Travel in Spain
mischievous person, or dislodged by goats. When
a second volley rattled by me I put down my rod,
looked up the cliff, and roared out threats of the
Guardia Civil. No more stones were thrown. I
do not wish to think that the missiles were aimed
at me by a native. They may easily have slipped
from the feet of a wandering flock of goats high
up in the gorge.
The next trout that came at the minnow was
well hooked. He was a stubborn fighter, and the
reel sang as he made downstream in the rushing
white water. I drew him sideways from the
rapids, and worked him to slower water, where
he gave a leap. His golden sides showed for an
instant in the air. I saw that he was a good fish.
After a few minutes of give and take I tired him
out, and slipped the net under him. He weighed
I failed to take another trout in this troubled
length, though I am sure that there were many
fish in it as big as the one that I had caught.
Coming to a quieter reach, I put on the fly-cast,
and rose two or three fish in midstream. Near
the bridge I turned over a very fine trout, but he
escaped. A few small trout were taken and
returned. It was now almost dark, and as the
By the Wild Sil 147
rain began to patter down we returned to the
Reflecting upon the day's adventures, I arrived
at the opinion that the natives were right when
they condemned our flies as too small, and our
casts as too fine. Most of the fish that I had
pricked and lost made at once, upon feeling the
hook, for the foaming, heavy water. Say what
you will about skill and fine quality gut, it is very
easy to lose a fish in these tumbling rivers. The
strain is tremendous when a trout of 2 or 3
pounds weight rushes into these seething white
runs and gets out of hand. You need a fairly
powerful rod, a medium loch cast, and a hook
with a good barb, to get on even terms with these
wild, strong fish. I would undertake to rise and
prick three times as many trout as the fishermen
of Matarosa, by using small flies and drawn
The natives leave the pools alone unless they
are discoloured by flood-water, and fish only in
the broken streams. On the pools I rose and lost
a number of good trout. This pricking and
missing became intolerable. At last I threw all
my British prejudice to the winds, bought a cast
of the local flies — about eight in number — and
10 — 2
148 Fishing and Travel in Spain
followed the examples of the Pescadores. I used a
fourteen-foot rod with both hands, a grilse line and
reel, and the aforesaid thick cast and enormous
flies. The result was that I rose fewer fish, and
only scared them in the pools ; but those that I
rose in the runs I almost invariably brought to
The sense of power that this heavy tackle gave
me was remarkable after using a light, whippy,
ten-foot rod, a thin line, and fine cast. I feared
none of those terrific rushes into the boiling runs
and tossing rapids. A hooked trout was held
hard, soon played out, and brought to the bank.
After all, it is senseless to lose good trout through
a bigoted fealty to the tradition that it is un-
sportsmanlike to use tackle that gives one two
chances instead of one in combat with fish.
In big rough waters of the main rivers of the
Peninsula, small flies, such as one would use in
Devonshire or Derbyshire, are almost useless. It
stands to reason that a trout must be very near
the surface, and keenly on the alert, to notice a
tiny olive dun hackle-fly amid the swirl and wash
of a heavy run. If he sees the fly and takes it,
the chances are that he will fight free ; for besides
the strength of a fish bred in strongly-flowing
By the Wild Sil i49
water, and accustomed to fighting the streams,
you have to contend with a great strain upon the
cast caused by the push of a wild run. I am no
advocate for tackle that will yank a pounder out
without any play ; but I have proved the futility
of fishing too * fine ' in such strong rivers as the
Ason, Minho, and Sil, where it is quite within
the bounds of probability that you may at
any moment have to try your cunning and
the strength of your cast with a three-pound or
four-pound fish in a tremendous force of tumbhng
With my long rod and strong cast, bristling
with the local flies, I was able to catch more trout,
though I am sure that I could have obtained more
rises in the slower water with my light rod,
fine gut, and small flies. However, the fish
fought well enough on the stronger tackle, and I
was often compelled to let them run out the line
and to humour them to the net.
After the rain there was a tinge of colour in the
Sil. I tried the minnow again, and had many
runs, beside taking trout up to a pound apiece.
As the water was fining, we had some sport with
the fly. Still, the local anglers easily excelled us
in the number of their captures. For one reason,
150 Fishing and Travel in Spain
they had the good sense to begin fishing at about
three in the morning, while we were soundly
asleep. They also had the advantage of knowing
all the best runs up and down the river for several
miles, and their clumsy flies were of the right
pattern for the trout of this productive water.
At Matarosa, for the first time in Spain, we had
to confess ourselves beaten by the native anglers.
They brought back fine baskets of fish almost
every night, ranging from half - pounders to
pounders, and sometimes heavier trout. Just as
we were beginning to know the river, it was time to
move on, for we had planned a long peregrination.
All things considered, however, we were gratified
with our experiences at this queer little hamlet on
the higher Sil.
The river here is unquestionably very productive
of trout. It was seldom that the old fisherman
and his son returned with less that 7 pounds
of trout on the brightest days, and their catch was
often 10 pounds in more favourable weather.
Catches of this weight are not out of the common
in parts of the United Kingdom. But the dry-fly
angler who can match these takes in weight from
the much-fished streams of Derbyshire must be
By the Wild Sil 151
On the Wye, for example, in the length from
Bakewell to Rowsley, a ten-pound basket would
be considered highly extraordinary
Writing on the Derbyshire rivers in the Fishing
Gazette^ August 29, 1903, Mr. J. Paul Taylor says :
*An occasional good day may be had (my best
was four brace of fair trout 7 ounces to 9 ounces
each), but it is balanced by many days averaging a
brace or so.'
Half a mile of the Darenth is reckoned to be
worth anything from £2^ to ^^30 for the season.
No doubt the trout are big. But there are
heavier trout in the Sil, and more fish, and you
may angle in fifty miles of the river for two
months at a less cost than the rent of a half-mile
length on the Kentish streamlet. The actual
expenses of fishing are restricted to the purchase
of tackle ; the cost of living is about 25s. a week,
and the rest of the expense is in railway travelling.
Unfortunately, one cannot run down to the Sil for
a week-end. What would this length at Matarosa
be worth in England ? Here is an advertisement
from the Field of March 5, 1904 : * Six miles
of excellent trout-fishing on the Don. £^0 to the
end of April.'
You must be content with rough lodging if you
152 Fishing and Travel in Spain
go to Matarosa. The fare is the best that the
house can provide, and it is hardly up to the
standard of a wayside inn in Great Britain.
However, the big peas (garbanzos) are very
nourishing, to say the least ; and if the hens are
tough, they are still fowl. Eggs, goats' milk,
bread, and wine, complete the menu, though I must
not forget the cold pickled trout. I asked Perez
to show hospitality to any of my compatriots who
might visit Matarosa. He promised to do so,
though he shook his head, and said : * I do not
think any English will come.' Who can tell ?
Perchance the tavern at Matarosa may grow into
an anglers' hotel. We have a nomadic tribe of
fishermen in England who will travel any distance
in quest of trout.
During our last night at Matarosa I felt a
distinct tremor of earthquake, which awoke me.
In the Spanish newspapers of the following day I
read that shocks had been noted in several parts
of the Peninsula.
We left the hamlet with the goodwill of the
people. A group assembled to bid us * adios ' when
the coach drew up at the door. Estanislas was
delighted with a few centimos. We drank the
last glass of red wine, and Angel fastened his long
ESTANISLAS : A NATIVE FISHER-BOY.
By the Wild Sil 153
rod along the roof of the vehicle. * Adios, adios !*
We waved our hands to the smiling group. Our
cochero began to rave at his team, and to thump
the footboard with his feet ; and off we started
down the noble valley of the Sil for Ponferrada.
DOWN THE MINHO
The noble Rio Minho rises in the north of the
kingdom of Galicia, in the province of Lugo. Its
source is among the mountains of Meira, to the
south-east of the town of Mondonedo. Flowing
southwards, and receiving numerous tributaries,
the Minho passes the town of Lugo, and, watering
some lovely valleys, enters the province of Orense
at Los Pearas. Here, as I have said in a former
chapter, the Sil joins the Minho, and the united
streams form a wide, swirling, unnavigable river
down to Tuy and the tidal water. My readers
who know the fine limestone ravine of the Derby-
shire Wye, between Monsal Dale and Miller's
Dale, can gain a mind-picture in miniature of the
Minho in its course above the town of Orense.
In the neighbourhood of Rivadavia the gorge
of the river is magnificent, though stern and
desolate. It is the ravine of the Wye on a mighty
Down the Minho i55
scale. The rocks are steeper, grander, and more
fantastic than those of Miller's Dale, and they are
warmer in tone than the Derbyshire limestone.
For leagues the Minho pursues an eager course
through these lonely rugged glens. Here and
there, one notes a few huts and signs of cultiva-
tion on the stony banks ; but as the train runs on
you enter another and wilder gorge, without any
token of life save the hovering kite or roaming
stonechats. In these unfrequented reaches of the
river, far from human haunts, there must surely
be a good store of fish. The migratory shad
certainly abound in the Minho during the summer,
and a few salmon come up to spawn. Mighty
trout, as we have seen, lurk in the deep pools, and
in the tributaries are shoals of troutlets and
bogas. Another fish of the Minho is the escalo,
which suggests a cross between a chub and a
dace. Mr. Oswald Crawfurd, in * Round the
Calendar in Portugal,' notes that the Spanish and
Portuguese dace * is not the same as the dace of
England, but is Lenciscus aula, or, to be quite
correct, a Peninsular variety of L. aula,'
I have seen escalos of a pound in weight, and
they may be taken heavier. These fish rise to the
fly with avidity, and though they have not the
156 Fishing and Travel in Spain
pluck of the brown trout, they do not tamely yield
to the fisherman. I shall presently relate our
experiences with escalos. As for the shad of the
Minho, they are apparently proof against any sort
of bait that is offered to them. I cannot say why
this is the case, for our English shad are not so
disobliging to the angler, and I have described
how the sabalo (shad) of the Guadalquivir are
caught on baited drag -Hues. But more of the
shad presently. Besides the species above enume-
rated, there are swarms of eels in the Minho.
Following this grand river downwards, we broke
our rail-journey at the town of Orense. The day
was rainy, and the weather cooler than it had been
for many weeks. We were driven into a caf6 to
shelter from a heavy shower. Some youths were
playing billiards. When the rain ceased, we
roamed about the town, and met a man with a
fishing-rod. I saluted him as a brother pescador,
and he showed me his flies. They were home-
made, but neater and smaller than those tied by
the anglers of Matarosa. The man was not very
communicative, but perhaps he could not under-
stand my Spanish.
By the river, which is wide at Orense, flowing
rather sedately over a gravel bed, we saw some
Down the Minho 157
men baiting lines, which they threw out into the
stream. I asked them what they caught, and they
repHed : * Principally eels.'
Our next halt was at Rivadavia, a queer little
town on a hillside, at the confluence of the Avia
and Minho. An electrical engineer who was
staying at the fonda could speak some English.
This gentleman knew very little about the fishing
in the neighbourhood, but he said that trout
could be caught in the Avia. This charming
river rises in the north-east of the province of
Orense. I cannot, however, recommend it from
any other point of view but the scenic. We had
one day along its pretty, verdant banks, but it
was blank so far as the fishing was concerned. In
appearance the stream is very alluring. It is
shallow, clear, and abounding in runs that ought
to be full of trout. We soon arrived at the view
that the stream had been poached to the decima-
tion of trout. Not a rise was seen to our flies
after five hours' fishing upstream. I fear that the
Avia — in its lower lengths, at any rate — is a ruined
river. At a ferry a boatman hailed us, and I asked
him if there were any fish left in the stream.
* Very few,' he said, shaking his head regret-
158 Fishing and Travel in Spain
And I gathered that the net had been used for
years past. Still, the beauty of the river tempted
us on, and we had our repast upon a green islet in
a charming reach, with Rivadavia in the distance
perched on its hillside.
As we were skirting a cultivated field, two girls,
who were at work with hoes, suddenly caught
sight of us. With a scream they flung down their
tools and ran as though for their lives. We stood
to watch their flight, wondering at the cause of
their scare. Possibly they fancied that we were evil
spirits. The Galicians are very superstitious.
Our fishing costumes no doubt enhanced their
terror, for they had never seen the human form in
such fantastic attire.
It was useless to remain at Rivadavia if we
wished to catch fish. Therefore we paid our score
at the fonda the next morning, and took train to
the village of Arbo, a few leagues lower down the
Minho. Arbo has a station overhanging the rush-
ing river, whose torrent here is almost deafening
in its roar. A very rustic inn and a few houses
cluster around the railway- station. Across the
river are groves and a few cultivated fields below
the gray mountain ranges of Northern Portugal.
It is a lovely retreat in the midst of some of the
Down the Minho i59
grandest scenery on the Minho. I think we were
asked about half a crown each for a day's board
and lodging. I know that these were the cheapest
quarters that we found in the course of our
wanderings in Spain and Portugal.
The room commanded a grand panorama of the
mountains and the river-valley. We made shift
with a few hardships, for the people were kind and
attentive, and the scenery compensated for the
roughness of the lodging. Moreover, we had a
good day with the trout of a lovely tributary
which joins the Minho about a mile above the
hamlet. Mr. L., our friend at Los Pearas, had
fished there some years before, and the hostess
* Yes, he was the English caballero who threw
in all the little truchas, and only kept the big
I think the landlady feared that we might lose
ourselves in the Galician wilds, for she insisted
upon our being accompanied by her daughter of
fourteen. The girl was small for her age, dark-
eyed, olive-hued, and intelligent. She attired
herself in festal costume, and had an exceptionally
bright handkerchief upon her head. Her meal
was wrapped in a handkerchief. She was soon
i6o Fishing and Travel in Spain
joined by a ragged boy, who assisted in carrying
our wading-stockings and brogues, and played the
cavaHer very prettily to the daughter of the inn.
We reached the stream at its meeting with
the Minho in a charming shady glen. Vines were
trellised along the banks of the burn, and the
chestnut-trees cast their shadow over the golden
shallows. In a pool below a fall I saw several
small trout rise to flies, and bogas were snapping
at every insect that floated down. We caught no
monsters in this fairy glen. The trout were
nimble and golden, but the biggest that I saw
would probably not weigh more than J pound.
We caught some quarter-pounders and a number
of troutlets and bogas, much to the delight and
excitement of our young friends. The scenery was
exquisite beyond description. We rested by a
waterfall beneath the trees, close to a quaint mill.
Women were washing clothes in a tributary
brook. It was a delightful picture. The children
dabbled barefooted in the river ; the gay colours of
the girl's dress gave life and beauty to the scene
of gray rock, drooping boughs, and tumbling
The heat at mid-day was almost insupportable.
We were glad to escape for a time from the sun's
Down the Minho i6i
scorching rays, and to rest in the inn until the
shadows of the mountains fell across the Minho.
Then we went down to the mouth of the tributary.
The evening was peaceful, and a lingering golden
light rested upon the Minho. We forded the burn
near its mouth, and made our way by the brawling
main river, by whirling rapids and weird, sombre
pools, till we reached a kind of weir, built of stone.
There were narrow channels for the current to
flow through, and in each of these was a fixed bag-
net, shaped like an eel-basket. These traps were
set for the sabalos, or shad.
Below the weir was a shallow glide, broad
and fairly swift, with trailing weed growing from
the gravel. This seemed a likely haunt of trout.
I cast upstream. A rise ! I cast again and
hooked a fish. He swam for the weeds, and fought
bravely, though not with the strength of a trout.
When I brought him to the bankside, I saw that I
had caught an escalo of about | pound. He was
a coarse, dull-looking fish, not unlike our British
A shout from my wife brought me to her side.
She was wading in a sharp scour, and had hooked
a heavy fish. I have never seen the little greenheart
1 62 Fishing and Travel in Spain
rod bend as it did at that moment. The fish had
rushed into midstream.
* Let him run !' I cried. * He's a grand fish,
whatever he is !'
The rod still bent almost double, though the
line was flying from the winch. A splash broke
the water 20 yards away, a splash that set our
hearts beating. Mercy, what a fish ! Was it a
salmon, a shad, or one of the mighty Minho trout ?
We shall never know. The rod flew back to the
straight, and the line came mournfully limp
to the bank. A grand fish lost ! My wife was
I returned to my run below the weir. The
escalos were madly on the rise. They came up two
and three at a time, and contended with each other
for my flies. I pulled them out as fast as I could
cast, escalos of i pound, and bogas weighing
rather less. The bank was strewn with them ;
the stream bubbled with rises. I believe I could
have filled a sack with these rapacious fish had
I stayed for an hour at the weir. But my wife's
adventure with the big fish stimulated me to try
the fly over the scour below.
Darkness was creeping over the hills. The weird,
sombre pools were black. I fished down to the
Down the Minho 163
ford across the burn, picking up bogas and escalos
as I went. From the small stream I took a few
trout. None of them were more than J pound.
It was almost too dark to see our flies upon the
water. We tried to ford the tributary, but our feet
sank in the ooze, and we had to retreat to the bank.
Where was the crossing-place ? It was difficult
to find it in the gathering gloom. At last we had
to tramp up to a railway-bridge that spanned the
river. We found the track through the trellises of
vines that led to the terraced highroad. Owls
called from the chestnut glades, and large dusky
moths flitted by. We could still see the peaks of
the mountains of Portugal. The night breeze
brought the cry of the river, and as we neared the
dim lights of the hamlet of Arbo, we heard a
peasant trolling a GaHcian ditty. He sang of the
joys of the bandit's life. Truly, we were in a
country of beauty, adventure, and romance.
II — 2
THE SHAD OF ARBO
Shad-fishing in inland waters is still a flourish-
ing industry in the Valley of the Minho, and
every riverside hamlet has its Pescadores, who
live by netting and snaring the fish during the
warm months of the year. We spent several
days among the fisher-folk of the upper lengths of
the Minho, and watched their modes of capturing
At Arbo there is a little colony of shad fisher-
men, who have erected solid stone piers, about
a yard apart, across the Minho, with channels
between them for the passage of fish. In each of
these artificial channels, or guts, a trap-net with
a large aperture, and tapering almost to a point at
the end, is set and secured by chains.
One of these trapping - places on the Spanish
side of the river had three piers, built at a height
of about 10 feet above the green, rushing water.
The Shad of Arbo 165
It was the fishery of the village padre, who spent
many hours of each day upon the piers, smoking
scores of cigarettes, and occasionally raising one
of his traps to see whether a fish had entered it.
The priest was one of the most successful fisher-
men in the village. Now and again he caught a
brace of shad in one net, and it was interesting to
watch him lift out the great silvery fish on to the
pier, skip nimbly with his burden over the stones,
and lay his captures in the shade of a big tree.
Surveying the shad with an expression of delight,
he would light another cigarette, wash his hands
with sand and water, and return to his platform,
to lower the net again, and to await the advent of
another shoal of migratory fish.
My friend the padre knew the ways of shad, and
held the opinion that the mouth of the net should
be concealed partially by a green bough. He was
always careful to adjust the bough before sinking
the trap ; and as he appeared to take more fish
than his neighbour on the Portuguese bank of the
river, this precaution may have been the secret of
He told me that the green branch looked like a
water-weed to a travelling shad, and that the fish
swam without suspicion through the twigs and
1 66 Fishing and Travel in Spain
into the net. I noticed that in most cases the
shad were dead when taken from the trap. No
doubt the pressure of the powerful current, com-
bined with their inability to open freely their gills
in the small end of the bag-net, soon suffocated
the struggling fish.
The padre, and a carabinero who was on the
watch for contrabandists from Portugal, were
much amused when I said that I would like to
take a photograph of two freshly-caught shad to
show to my friends in England.
No bait has been yet discovered which will
lure shad from the Minho. I asked the natives
whether anyone had ever caught a shad with any
sort of natural or artificial bait. * No, nada,
nada I' There is apparently no known bait for
the Minho shad. But in the Guadalquivir, at
Cordova and Seville, these fish will take various
Shad can be attracted to the surface by bright
lights used at night. As the fish come up, dazed
and off their guard, they are scooped out in large
landing-nets. I should say that the sabalos of the
Minho average about 4 pounds in weight, but
they are taken up to 12 pounds. May and
June are the months when the shad most
The Shad of Arbo 167
resort to the upper pools of the river. We had
shad for dinner at Arb6 and elsewhere. The flesh
is of a delicate flavour, but one must exercise
caution to avoid swallowing the small bones.
Sabalo is a favourite dish in Spain and Portugal.
It is served up cold, with sliced onions and
It requires some agility to skip from one of the
piers to another. They are only about a yard
or 4 feet apart, but the wild current flows deep
and swift between them, and a false step or a
stumble would send the luckless fisherman into a
fierce rush of water, that would buffet and toss the
most powerful swimmer, and probably suck him
down. It makes one almost giddy to stand on
one of these towers or piers, watching the hurry-
ing torrent that breaks against them, and flows
through the channels in a green shoot of water.
Lowering and raising the trap-nets are opera-
tions attended with peril. The nets are secured
to the stonework with chains. These piers are
made wedge-shaped, to break the force of the
As I have never seen an English shad, I can-
not say whether the shad of Spain differ in any
way from our own. The Welsh name for the
1 68 Fishing and Travel in Spain
fish is ysgadan, i,e,, herring ; for shad are very near
relatives to the herring, if they are not actually
the same fish. The two kinds of shad that
frequent parts of our coast, and ascend some of
the rivers to spawn, are known as the twaite and
the allice. Now, twaite are taken with the rod and
line, and it is curious that the shad of the Minho
cannot be tempted with baits. If I lived by the
banks of that stream, I would spend some time in
endeavouring to lure sabalo to the hook. Surely
there must be some dainty morsel or another that
would induce shad to overcome their indifference.
The sport with these Minho shad would be
exciting. I handled a brace of sabalo taken from
the padre's net, and one of them was between
8 and g pounds, while the other was about
10 pounds in weight. In these heavy waters such
big fish would make a mighty struggle for liberty,
when hooked by an angler.
I tried lobworms on a leger, one hot afternoon,
at Arb6. The rocks by the Minho were so scorch-
ing that I believe one could have fried bacon upon
them. There was not a stray breath of wind
moving, nor was there any shade by the big pool
below the village. The strain of the current on
my line bent the middle and top joints of a
BOTTOM FISHING IN THE MINHO.
The Shad of Arbd 169
salmon-rod, and a very heavy bullet was needed
to keep the bait on the bottom. I had not
waited for many minutes, when there was a sharp
jerk at the rod-top. Seizing the butt, I struck
sharply. But I was too late; the fish had
dropped the bait. I threw in again, and kept
the line between my finger and thumb. Another
tug ! I struck again, and felt the plunging of a
' It can scarcely be a shad,' I thought as I
wound in the line.
It was not a shad. Our experience of attempted
shad-fishing on the Guadalquivir was renewed.
My capture was an eel, weighing about J pound.
I threw the wriggling beast to a boy who was
watching me, and put on a fresh lobworm. Eels,
nothing but eels, came to my hook. I could have
caught a dozen or so of these small eels. How-
ever, three contented me. There seemed no likeli-
hood of catching a shad. My seat on the shelving
rock was almost as hot as the grill of a West End
I went panting to the shade, and flung myself
upon the green grass. Bogas were rising to flies
in the bay before me. Swifts skimmed to and fro.
Beyond the roaring, swirling, foaming Minho, the
ijo Fishing and Travel in Spain
stern mountain heights of Portugal seemed to
touch the burning blue sky. The padre stood
on his tower in the river, watching his nets,
and the soldier was at his lookout, smoking a
cigarette. It was our last afternoon at beautiful
TuY is a small picturesque town on the Spanish
bank of the Minho, about fifteen miles from what
George Borrow would term 'the disemboguement '
of that river into the ocean. As * disembogue ' is
used by the classic Addison, we need not quarrel
with the word, which is certainly a goodly one
upon the tongue and a long one to write. Before
disemboguing itself, the Minho flows in a serener
mood through a fertile valley, bounded by the hills
of Pontevedrain Spain and the ranges of Northern
Tuy has a grand position for a view of the river
and the hills. Richard Ford says that the town
is a fishing-place. It is certainly well supplied
with netsmen, but the Minho at Tuy does not
invite the rod fisherman.
A few letters were awaiting us at the post-office.
The official was gracious and attentive.
172 Fishing and Travel in Spain
* You have much correspondence,' he said, with
If the receipt of three or four letters constitutes
a claim to social distinction, we were certainly
persons of importance. I dare say the good man
mistook me for another rich mining speculator,
fresh from opulent Britain, and all agog to buy up
a mountain-side. Let it be said, however, that
had he known us for two literary folk, the post-
master would have shown us no less respect.
Spain is one of those lamentably improgressive
and uncommercial countries where the artist, the
author, and the journahst, be they even unable to
keep a gig or a motor-cycle, are still esteemed as
worthy and profitable members of the community.
Time may correct this tendency towards misplaced
respect. 'Literature, reading!' sneered a Jew
merchant of London in my hearing. * My friend,
the best reading for me is on cheques and five-
pound notes ! ' Well, such frank Philistinism as that
is superb. In Spain, by the way, the paper-money
bears the portraits of men of letters and painters.
Our reception at the fonda of Tuy was less agree-
able than the interview with the postmaster.
Perhaps the hostess and her daughters suspected
us for Portuguese immigrants. They do not love
Around Tuy 173
their neighbours in Tuy. At any rate, we were
refused luncheon to take out with us on a fishing
excursion. Such an innovation was appaUing.
Dios ! we must be mad to ask for such a favour !
However, there are caballeros and sefioras in Tuy.
I found a very poHte Civil Guard in a cafe.
* Sefior,' I said, ' I am an English stranger, and
a fisherman for recreation. Can you tell me where
I can catch trout hereabouts ?'
The officer reflected for a moment.
* Yes, certainly I know where there are truchas,'
We were counselled to follow the highroad to the
east, for a mile or so, until we reached a bridge
over a stream. That was the river for trout. The
designation Civil Guard is a fair one. These smart,
intelligent, and obliging custodians of life and pro-
perty are a credit to Spain. They are ex-soldiers
of high character, trained to arms, and used to dis-
cipline. By their efforts the country has been
almost freed from the terror of a powerfully organ-
ized brigandage. These guards often showed us
kindness and rendered ready service. Upon the
only occasion when I offered one of them a * tip,'
he politely replied that it was against the rules to
accept any reward from the public.
174 Fishing and Travel in Spain
Upon the morning of the day following our
arrival at this curious little border town, we went
out early to find the stream to which the Civil
Guard had directed us. Although the hour was
eight, and the sun had not reached its highest
point in the dazzling sky, the heat was great, and
the exertion of walking and carrying our fishing
paraphernalia was not wholly enjoyable. The
road lay straight and glaring before us, and there
was no shade on either side. We were glad to find
ourselves in a bosky glade by the green banks of a
singularly limpid stream. The verdure was fresh
and restful to the eyes. Chestnut and aspen trees
formed a forest in a secluded vale. There was
no track by the river. We made a path through
ferns and sedgy swamps, and looked for an open
length of the translucent stream whereon we might
cast a fly. But the banks were thickly grown with
trees and plants, and there seemed very little chance
of fly fishing. However, with short lines, we cut in
under the trees, and fished upstream.
The omnipresent boga rose at once, though not
in a ravenous manner. On a golden shoal, a few
fish flashed to the bank before I could cast. They
may have been trout. I cannot say that I saw a
single trout in this delightful little river, though it
Around Tuy 175
was well adapted for the nimble trucha. Besides
bogas, we noted some red-finned fish that looked
like roach. But even these were easily scared by
our approach, for the river was one of the clearest
I have ever seen, and the sunshine through the
boughs revealed every stone upon its bed.
Golden orioles were numerous in this wooded
vale. We heard their voices on either side of the
stream. Wood doves cooed softly in the tall trees,
and a kingfisher shot down the water's edge. Jays
screeched an alarm note as we invaded the solitude
of this lovely woodland, and plunged into its most
Fishing was futile. The sky was of the deepest,
hottest blue, and the heat was increasing. We sat
down on the sward close to the stream and listened
to the golden orioles and the doves. Suddenly I
observed a swelling wave in the clear, shallow pool
at our feet. The wave sped across the river and
lapped the bank. Then up came the head and
shoulders of a large otter. He looked us full in
the face for an instant, and with a plunge, he sank
back and swam rapidly away under the water. No
doubt he had intended to land on our side of the
stream, for he came straight across from the
opposite bank. The presence of an otter in the
176 Fishing and Travel in Spain
stream proved that it held fair-sized fish, though
probably the creature's chief prey would be eels
* A blank day, but a pleasant one,' I said as we
turned away from the river. * Times have changed
for anglers at Tuy since Richard Ford wrote his
" Handbook for Spain." '
JUNE DAYS IN LUSITANIA
Bright sunshine accompanied us into Portugal.
We were nearing the longest day, and the weather
was hopelessly * settled.' Think of it, luckless
Londoners, in the murky alleys east of St. Paul's !
While you were languishing for warmth and sun-
light we were inclined to rail at the clear skies and
the benignant sun. Well, the fates were rather
cynical. As soon as we reached a big town,
such as Oporto, for example, down came the rain
steadily, and we had visions of freshened rivers
alive with rising trout. When we returned to the
wilds, the weather changed at once to fair and
cloudless, the rivers ran down to a low level, and
became finer every day, and trout hid themselves
and were coy.
North Portugal is Paradise. We speak of it as
we found it in this golden June weather. And,
honestly, is there any other part of Europe where
178 Fishing and Travel in Spain
the mass of the people enjoy a serener life ? I am
told that the Italians are more gay. The capacity
for exuberant joyousness is not so manifest in the
Portuguese race. But in the enjoyment of a quiet,
even happiness the rural folk of Portugal appear
to be the most highly blessed among the peasantry
of the Continent. This is, perhaps, not the occa-
sion for tracing the source of this sweet content-
ment. It is due to climate, environment, tempera-
ment, and, by no means least, to the system of
land tenure. These people are yeomen, stout,
independent, and cheerful in the tilling and
improving of a soil in which they realize that they
possess a share. If anyone wishes for a sunny
picture of the peasant proprietor's life, he will find
it in the province of Entre-Douro-e-Minho, to the
north of Oporto.
We entered Portugal at Caminha, at the mouth
of the broad Minho. The chief river is joined
here by several minor streams, which flow down
from the mountains on either side of the noble
estuary. Barmouth and the Mawddach estuary
will give an idea of the view at Caminha on a
smaller scale. Salmon, shad, and other fish are
netted here to a considerable extent. The salmon-
fishing is, however, decaying, and I think that
June Days in Lusitania 179
the cause must be sought in the overnetting,
the destruction of parr by netsmen and rod
anglers, and the depredations of poachers in the
higher pools of the river. Pollution of the water
is certainly not accountable for the diminution
of salmon, for the Minho is pure from its source
to the sea. Few rivers in Europe could vie with
this in the production of salmon if proper preserva-
tion was enforced.
At the railway-station, as we stepped from the
train, two women took possession of our bags and
fishing-rods. One of them was a perfect example
of Portuguese loveliness. She had dark brown
hair under her pink head-kerchief, a pair of merry
and tender brown eyes, an olive, golden skin,
neither ruddy nor sallow, and well-shaped features.
I felt ashamed when these women, who are
employed as porters, poised our bags on their
graceful heads and strode off to the town. It is
difficult to overcome one's prejudice against heavy
labour for women. And yet these Portuguese
women certainly do not appear to suifer in health,
nor to lose their physical charm, through active
muscular exertion. I tried to take the rods from
one of the women. It was of no use ; they would
not allow us to carry a single article. Walking
12 — 2
i8o Fishing and Travel in Spain
swiftly and gracefully on their shapely bare feet,
they preceded us up the road, laughing and
We learned that the beauty was a sailor's wife.
The good man was on a long voyage to South
America. Was she dependent upon her earnings
as a porter ? She seemed well nourished and
cheerful. As I spoke not a word of Portuguese, I
left the women to use their own judgment in
selecting a fonda. They led us to a house in the
main- street of sleepy-looking shops, and went up
a staircase. The hostess could not speak much
Spanish, but we contrived to make terms, and I
paid the porters. The handsome woman said
something to the hostess, and I gathered that she
was offering to take us to the house of a British
resident. We agreed to this, but informed the
landlady that we would like a meal as soon as
The Portuguese fare better, on the whole, than
their Spanish neighbours. After crossing the
border from the plains of Salamanca, and through
the stony defiles of the Douro, one is struck
by the richness of the vegetation in Northern
Portugal. It is almost like entering the tropics.
The sheltered vales are green, the slopes are
June Days in Lusitania i8i
grown with vines and fruit-trees, and the gardens
are well tilled and productive. Fruit was ripe in
the orchards. We feasted upon huge strawberries
and beautiful cherries.
The Portuguese bed is a curiosity. It is about
a foot from the floor, very spacious, and as hard
as a stone. The bedding seems to be stuffed
tightly with sawdust or chaff, and the pillows are
unyielding. No doubt such couches are the most
healthy, but they are not luxurious. One arises
with a bruised sensation in the muscles. It is
different in Spain, where the spring-beds are
After dinner we found our guide waiting to
conduct us to the house of the British resident.
She led us along the main-street to a side-
thoroughfare of good houses. The street was
clean and bright, and the dwellings were pictu-
resque. A charming lady received us, and spoke
in our own tongue. How strange it seemed to hear
English spoken ! Her husband was not in, but he
would be pleased to see us. We were invited to
return later on in the evening.
We ascended a hill, and saw the sun sinking in
the ocean. It was a serene summer's evening, and
the sea was blue and still as far as the eye could
1 82 Fishing and Travel in Spain
reach. Shadows lay in the coombs sloping
down from the stern hills, and across the salt
flats, where cattle were roaming. The air was
perfumed with wild-thyme and the salt odour of
the sea. We could trace the Minho from a dark
gorge to its meeting with the ocean, and on the
wide estuary were the craft of fishermen. The
burden of a plaintive song reached us from a
cottage below the knoll.
The evening was spent in the company of the
British resident, his family, and the family of an
English Protestant missionary. Everyone spoke
in English, and we passed a pleasant time. The
world goes very well at Caminha. There is no
bustle, no sordid strife to grow rich, and no
palpable want among the poorer people. One
could live very contentedly at Caminha with a
sailing boat, a gun, and a fishing-rod. There are
several trout-streams within reach of the little
town, besides sea-fishing. The estuary would
afford fine sailing, and the roads are very fair for
cycling. There is wild-fowHng in the district, and
rough shooting on the mountains.
As for the climate, it is never very cold, and the
heat at midsummer is tempered with breezes from
the Atlantic. There is a fair rainfall in North
June Days in Lusitania 183
Portugal, which tends to keep the country fresh
and green. The rain is heavy while it falls, and
the weather soon clears. It is not * chronic,' as
an Englishman remarked, when describing the
rainfall of our country during 1903-4. Then, the
air ! It is enticing, odorous, and health-giving, a
happy blend of sea and mountain breezes.
The Romans were completely reconciled to
their existence in this peaceful region of Lusitania.
They found a land like to their own, a land flow-
ing with wine and glowing with sunshine. The
conquerors settled in the happy vales, and felt no
yearning for the country of their birth. Bacchus
and his friend Lusus came here and founded a
colony. The juice of the grape ran from the press
in a purple stream ; they discovered an elysium,
and called it Lusitania, the land of Lusus. Mr.
Oswald Crawfurd tells us that the Portuguese
have preserved the traditions, the legends, and
the speech of the Romans. * Sonnets have been
written in Portuguese that will pass for Latin,'
says this author.
But I have wandered from the gathering ot
British compatriots in the house of Mr. F. at
Caminha. Our host was in charge of the Atlantic
cable off this coast. He told us of the breakages
184 Fishing and Travel in Spain
that sometimes occur, when the mighty wire link
between the continents is not strong enough to
resist the ceaseless assault of *the multitudinous
seas.' Our imagination could scarcely convey an
idea of the tedious and difficult operation of
repairing this girdle round the earth. It was
altogether too big a matter for our lay intelligence.
The men who lay cables, and build railways, and
construct viaducts, seem to me almost superhuman
beings in their daring and skill. One should be
humble in their presence.
A few years ago, there lived at Caminha a
gentleman who held the post of British Vice-
Consul. He was a keen angler. I had heard of
him in Avila, and we hoped to make his acquaint-
ance. Unfortunately, he had left Portugal. Mr.
F. knew him well, and described his enthusiasm
for trout-fishing. He related how Mr. S. would
tramp many miles to throw a fly on one of the
numerous clear streams that water this glorious
territory. There was no one who knew more
about the fishing in the neighbourhood than Mr. S.
One day this angler was fishing a stream, a few
leagues from Caminha, when a wild-boar thrust
his head over a projecting crag, and had a good
steady stare at the invader of his solitary domain.
June Days in Lusitania 185
Mr. S. wished that a gun instead of a rod had
been in his hand at that moment.
To the south of Caminha is the port of Vianna
de Castello, at the mouth of the Rio Lima. Mr.
Edward Dodgson, who has left very few corners
of the Peninsula unexplored, tells me that he has
walked the whole length of the beautiful Lima
Valley. He describes the scenery as enchanting.
There are trout in the river. The boys of the
villages spend their summer days in the pastime
of diving for trout. Now, diving for pearls is one
thing, but pursuing trout under water, after the
fashion of the otter, is another affair. My readers
will tax me with drawing the longbow, and
attempting to palm off travellers' tales upon them.
Well, Mr. Dodgson was disposed to discredit the
story of these human otters, until he saw them
with his own eyes. And if further evidence is
necessary, let me refer the curious to an interest-
ing account of this mode of fish-capture contained
in Mr. Oswald Crawfurd's * Round the Calendar
in Portugal,' pp. 24, 25, and also to an illustration
of this primitive trout-fishing in the same volume.
These amphibious Portuguese peasant lads are
just expert trout-ticklers, plus a cultivated capacity
for remaining many seconds under the water.
1 86 Fishing and Travel in Spain
Any fairly strong diver can bring up half a dozen
stones from the bottom of a pool lo feet deep.
An adept at trout-groping can secure his fish
during an equal lapse of seconds. The scared
trout make for the ledges, and holts under
boulders, and the diver deftly tickles and catches
Between Caminha and Vianna are the villages
of Ancora, Affife, and Arcosa, all upon the railway.
Each of these places is beautiful. The coast is
bright, with reefs, sandy bays, fishermen's cots,
and vineyards and grain-fields down to the verge
of the ocean. From the shore rise heathy hills,
and bold bluffs project to the sea. At the villages
are boarding-houses, which provide lodging for
summer visitors from Oporto. The limitless
ocean thunders along this coast in stormy
weather, changing its colour from violet to blue,
and from blue to green. Many a fisher-lad has
gazed across the foam, and yearned to follow in
the track of the bold adventurers of old, whose
passion for exploring built up the prosperity of
In the river of Ancora there are big trout. It
is a clear stream, flowing through a district of
woodland, orchard, and vineyard in its middle and
June Days in Lusitania 187
lower lengths, while its upper waters run between
uncultivated slopes and open banks. Mr. F.'s son
kindly offered to accompany us to the Ancora
River, where he had fished once or twice. It
was a favourite stream of the aforementioned
We took train to Ancora on a hot afternoon,
carrying our waders with us. A young man of the
village was engaged to bear our traps, and we
threaded our way through luxuriant vines and
fruit-trees to the sparkling river. I was soon
wading in a pool below a weir, where a few small
trout rose lazily to my flies. Blazing sunlight
fell upon the river, and fish could be seen darting
from the shallows. My wife made photographs
of two picturesque peasant women as we roamed
along the well-cultivated banks. At a farm we
bought about a dozen oranges for a copper
coin, and slaked our thirst with their grateful
We came to a swift, narrow shallow, with high
banks on either side. Some good trout were
rising here. I cast over them, and hooked a small
one immediately. Then I played and lost a nice
trout of quite a pound in weight. After this
mishap the run only afforded bogas, which rose
1 88 Fishing and Travel in Spain
hungrily. A little further up the river we caught
two or three more small trout.
A boy came down the stream, and bargained for
an artificial fly in exchange for a quantity of
cherries. Our guide had already gathered a
number of cherries from an orchard, after obtain-
ing the ready permission of the woman who owned
it. We had fruit galore that afternoon. We were
not so fortunate in obtaining trout. The sunshine
was remorseless, and the fish were exceedingly
shy. Nevertheless, the Ancora River should
show good sport in favourable weather, and I
believe that there are plenty of fish in its higher
It was growing dark when we returned to
Ancora, whence we decided to follow the high-
road to Caminha. Our gilly diverted us on the
way back by his rigorous endeavour to save us
the annoyance of being followed by inquisitive
urchins. Whenever a boy left his play and his
companions to join our party, the vigilant youth
promptly dealt him a stroke with the handle of the
landing-net. One after another these youngsters
dropped back, with their sleeves to their eyes,
uttering loud wails at the attack of our body-
guard. I must say that we were not willing
June Days in Lusitania 189
accessories to this assault and battery. The
offence was not serious enough to merit chastise-
ment. But it appeared to be done in our service
and for our comfort, like the charge of police to
clear the roadway when a pageant is approaching.
After leaving Ancora we met several parties of
field-labourers, men and women, returning from
their day's toil. How gay and artistic was their
dress, and how comely were the wholesome tawny
and olive faces ! They stopped their singing to
wish us good-night, and resumed the ballad as
they strode on, their voices dying away at a bend
in the road. This is a land that makes one glad,
a climate that inspires to song. Almost every lad
can play on the guitar or the mandolin, and all the
swains and lasses know how to dance gracefully.
Perhaps the England of Herrick's day was like
this, ' a nest of singing-birds,' a country with a
peasantry of whom it might without satire be
written in the words of Gray : ' How jocund did
they drive their team afield !'
We went on, in the growing darkness, by the
sound of the waves, through gloomy fir-woods,
where the gnome-calls of owls aroused the heavy,
brooding stillness. The sky quivered with the lights
of millions of stars. From the swamps came the
I90 Fishing and Travel in Spain
continuous rumbling chorus of the big green frogs,
and in the thickets night-birds lifted a few sweet
treble notes to this sonorous bass. What a rare
and beautiful night ! It seemed sinful to leave this
loveHness to the stars, and to shut out the scene
from our room. When shall we revel again in the
witchery of a midsummer night in Lusitania ?
But we were tired from the heat and the exertion
of the long day. The last mile seemed lengthy,
and we were glad to see the lights of Caminha and
the dark broad estuary under the starry sky.
The tributary that joins the Minho on the left
bank at Caminha is tidal in its lower length. For
a mile or two it winds through salt-marshes, the
resort of snipe in the winter, but higher up it flows
through a wild ravine, and forms several fine falls.
The pools below these cascades are full of trout.
They can hardly be reached on foot, but vehicles
can be hired cheaply in Caminha.
We did not fish the Lima, but I heard it well
recommended as a trout-stream. In its lower
reaches this river is navigable. The Lima rises in
Spain, in the province of Orense, near the town of
Sandianes, where there is a large laguna. It enters
Portugal at Lindoso, and at Ponte de Lima the
angler will find quarters. The scenery of this
June Days in Lusitania 191
river- valley is superb, and the people are hospitable
and very picturesque. A number of streams flow
to the sea between Caminha and Oporto, and in
most of them the fly fisherman may expect sport.
South of Oporto is Oliveira, a little town in a well-
watered region. There are several trout-streams
within reach of Oliveira, which is mentioned as a
fishing-resort in ' Round the Calendar in Portugal '
by Mr. Oswald Crawfurd.
TROUT STREAMS AND COARSE FISH RIVERS
Oporto is one of the most beautiful cities in
Europe. It has won from Camoens the title of
* the Proud,' and it deserves the distinction. The
position of the city is romantic, at the widening of
the gorge of the wild Douro, and commanding
wide prospects of the Atlantic Ocean, purple
mountains, and luxuriant vineyards, grain-fields
and groves. Terrace rises above terrace on the
sides of the ravine, and a handsome suspension-
bridge spans the brown river.
We spent three days in the Wine City, and
made a trip to the sea at Sao Joao da Foz, a
village recalling the minor watering-places of our
own South Coast. The day was stormy, and the
waves broke high at the perilous bar at the mouth
of the Douro, while black clouds broke at intervals,
and rain fell with a roar upon this wind-beaten
Trout Streams and Coarse Fish Rivers 1 93
Our fishing-tackle had suffered considerable
dilapidation during our tour. Four months of
hard wear had worn holes in my canvas brogues,
which were well seasoned at the beginning of our
peregrination, having done much work in Wales
and Yorkshire. At Seville I took the brogues to
a shoemaker in the Plaza de la Constitucion, who
announced on a sign, in English, that boots were
' repaired with invisible patches.' This son of St.
Crispin was an excellent workman. He put the
neatest of patches on the canvas, stitched up the
leather soles, and pipe-clayed the brogues. The
leather parts he painted and varnished. I suppose
the good man thought that these shoes were for
street and park wear, a new style in English
footgear, for he took great pains to make the
worn-out brogues look smart. When I told him
that they were for use in the water, he shook his
head in utter mystification, and remarked that he
'could not understand.' His charge was most
moderate, and he actually insisted upon presenting
me with a pair of old wooden lasts upon which he
had carefully stretched the brogues.
I tried to make good some of our losses in tackle
while we were in Oporto. There is tackle on
sale at a toy-shop in one of the chief streets.
194 Fishing and Travel in Spain
Fishing-tackle and toys go together in the
Peninsula, which suggests that the angler is
regarded as a child needing a plaything rather
than as a sportsman requiring serviceable para-
phernalia. The selection of fishing-tackle in
Oporto was of the poorest description. Who
dumps this inferior tackle into Spain and Portugal ?
It is not made locally. One might suppose that
gut is plentiful, good, and cheap in Spain. I can
only say that the fisherman will regret it, if he
fails to take his own casts and flies into the
country. Most of the gut used throughout the
world is produced in Spain, where its manufacture
is a big and thriving industry. Yet I could not
buy a decent cast in the country. You see hanks
of gut displayed occasionally in the windows of
grocers' shops in the large towns. It is coarse and
of inferior quality ; there is apparently no local
demand for medium and fine gut. The hooks
that I bought in Spain and Portugal were about
No. 5 size, according to the new scale, and
mounted upon gut strong enough to lift a five-
pound fish. These are supplied for trout-fishing.
They are useless in a clear river, and too big under
any conditions. The high quality of our English-
made fishing-tackle excited the admiration and
Trout Streams and Coarse Fish Rivers 1 95
envy of the Pescadores in all parts of the
Peninsula. More than once I was asked if I
would sell some flies.
The fisherman can enjoy all-round sport in
Portugal and in some parts of Spain. From Oporto
he can reach by the railway many trout-streams, and
rivers abounding with barbel, bogas and escalos.
The Douro is perhaps the finest river for barbel-
fishing to be found in Europe. The Spanish and
Portuguese barbel is somewhat different from our
barbel of the Trent and Thames. It is a hand-
somer fish, and not so coarse. You see barbel
exposed in many of the markets, and they are
fairly good eating. When freshly caught, the
Spanish barbel is more golden in colour on the
underside than our own, and the scales are less
thick. I am unable to give the Latin name for
the barbel of Spain and Portugal.
In travelling from Salamanca to Oporto the
railway ride is through the Valley of the Douro.
This swirling brown stream teems with barbel in
many of its lengths. At the frontier town of Barco
d'Alva, where one's luggage is examined, we were
detained for about one hour at the little station in
the savage ravine. Two officers searched our
bags, and when they looked at the rods in their
196 Fishing and Travel in Spain
cases, they began to discuss with each other in an
animated manner. By dint of a little Portuguese
and a few phrases in Spanish, I learned from these
gentlemen that the river below abounded with
heavy barbel. They were both anglers. No
doubt they fished with tight lines and long
bamboo rods, after the fashion of the shad-fishers
of Seville, for they spoke of losing many big fish
in the rushing water.
* How much is a rod like this ?' asked one of the
officers, handling my salmon-rod with a keen
I told him that such a rod would cost about
50 pesetas. He raised his eyebrows in astonish-
ment, and passed the fishing-rod to his companion.
They were evidently fascinated by the springiness
and balance of the greenheart sixteen-footer. Such
a rod had never been seen by them.. I wrote down
the address of the maker and gave it to the senior
officer. I wonder whether he has become the
possessor of an English fishing-rod ? If so, he has
probably brought a few of those big barbel to hand.
I would have liked to spend a few days at
Barco d'Alva by the side of one of those eddying
pools, with a leger and plenty of lobworms for
ground bait. Barbel-fishing has occasionally come
Trout Streams and Coarse Fish Rivers 1 97
in my way, but I have never followed the sport
with the real zest of the Thames enthusiast.
Perhaps some of our barbel experts, who think
nothing of spending a five-pound note upon two
or three days' baiting and fishing in a Thames
swim, may one day travel to the Douro, and show
the natives how to lure and take the mighty fish
of that river.
The river is deep, strong, and swift, with pools
here and there that look very tempting to the
coarse fisherman. In this rocky solitude and
desolation many rare birds have their nesting-
places among the crags. As the train runs on, you
see only a hut or two for miles along the ravines.
There is no overfishing here, and no well-educated
barbel, but almost virgin water, and fish of an
ingenuous nature, who would not sulk and turn
up their noses at a lobworm.
I had one morning by the Douro at Zamora, in
Spain, and tried for barbel with the orthodox
leger. The river is wide here, and less eager than
in its passage through the gorges of Portugal. It
has the appearance of a good coarse fishing water,
and I saw several anglers at work close to the
town. They had the usual bamboo rods, coarse
tackle, and rough, home-made floats. The
iqS Fishing and Travel in Spain
favourite bait was a piece of cooked meat. One of
these Pescadores was fishing above the picturesque
bridge below the walls of the town. I asked him
what he caught, and he answered : ' Barbos.'
Barbel seem to be fairly plentiful here, for I saw
them on the stalls in the market. I had no
success in the swims that I tried above the bridge
at Zamora. The morning was heavy and sultry,
with thunder brewing. I sat in the broiling heat
for about three hours, and during that time I
had not so much as a nibble at my bait. Fish
continually broke the surface of the water in my
swim. What were they ? The landlord of the
hotel said that there were no truchas in the river,
but these fish rose to flies. I tried in vain to
catch sight of the rising fish. I was using my
salmon-rod, so I changed the tackle, put on a cast
of small flies, and whipped for these mysterious
fish that rose to every passing insect. My effort
to secure one of them failed, and my curiosity
remains unsatisfied. Perhaps they were bogas, the
irrepressible bogas that frequent most of the rivers
of this part of the Peninsula.
A mighty river is this Douro. Rising in the
province of Soria, it waters Old Castile and Le6n,
and flows westward to Portugal and the sea. It
Trout Streams and Coarse Fish Rivers 1 99
has numberless tributaries, and some of them are
goodly rivers. Some of the affluents, such as the
Tormes, have a reputation as trout-streams.
Our fishing experiences in Spain and Portugal
came to an end in June, 1902. We had travelled
many hundreds of miles in the Peninsula, fished in
rivers good, indifferent, and bad, from the Basque
Provinces to scorching Andalusia, and from Castile
to Leon, Galicia, and Portugal. There are rivers
almost innumerable that we did not visit, but of
some of these I can speak from hearsay. In
Asturias there are many trout-streams, watering
this alpine and romantic kingdom, and falling into
the Bay of Biscay. The Cares, the Navia, the
Nalon, and the Eo, all contain trout. Passing into
the province of Lugo, the angler will find several
streams flowing both to the north and the south.
Along the indented coast of Coruna many charming
rivers meet the ocean, and I have heard good
accounts of the fishing near Ferrol. At Carril and
Vigo in Pontevedra there are also trout-streams
not quite unknown to English anglers. At Vigo
there are a fair number of British residents.
Richard Ford, in ' Murray's Handbook for Spain,'
often refers to the salmon and trout rivers of the
Peninsula. His information is not always reliable.
200 Fishing and Travel in Spain
for conditions have changed since he lived in Spain,
and, moreover, one cannot be sure that he fished in
any of the rivers which he describes. I do not wish
to underrate this observant and entertaining writer,
who possessed an intimate knowledge of Spanish
people and places. But it is right to point out that
his notes on fishing need revision. For example.
Ford refers to the Minho as a splendid salmon-
river, which indeed it ought to be, but at the present
time it cannot be recommended to the angler.
Taking a line from the eastern slopes of the
Pyrenees to Coruiia, on the Atlantic Ocean,
there are hundreds of wild streams producing more
or less trout. Some of these rivers, as we have
seen, contain plenty of fish, and in this northern
district the fisherman will never find himself more
than a league or so from a sport -yielding stream.
The Ebro waters the north-eastern region of
Spain, and flows into the Mediterranean Sea to the
south of Tarragona. Its source is in the province
of Burgos, on the slopes of the Cantabrian Moun-
tains. A tributary flows through the city of Burgos,
and, upon the authority of a Spaniard, this stream
holds big trout. Above Miranda, south-west of
Vitoria, the Ebro is a good trout-river. This length,
and other waters in the North of Spain, were
Trout Streams and Coarse Fish Rivers 201
described in a series of fishing articles that appeared
in the Field during 1901. There is little doubt
that the rivers draining from the Pyrenees, on the
Spanish side, would afford sport to the fly fisherman.
Travelling southwards from the mouth of the
Ebro, we reach a river called the Mijares, or
Millares, which waters the province of Teruel.
Mr. Edward Dodgson, who knows the town of
Teruel, tells me that there are trout in this river.
I have no definite knowledge concerning the
trout-fishing in the province of Granada, on the
south coast. But I have been told by an English
resident in Spain that the streams flowing from
the Sierra Nevada contain plenty of trout. This
wild and magnificent range, with its summits of
over 11,000 feet, provides sport with the gun as
well as with the fishing-rod.
The turbid Guadalquivir and the Tagus are
coarse fishing rivers, though some of the tribu-
taries of the Tagus, flowing into its higher reaches,
produce trout. Rounding Cape St. Vincent, we
soon approach Portugal, a land of many rivers,
all of them containing fish of various kinds, from
trout to barbel.
Among the fishing waters that I have not
already mentioned are some streams in the
202 Fishing and Travel in Spain
neighbourhood of Pueblo de Tribes, in the
province of Orense. If time had permitted, I
would have visited this district, for I have a very
encouraging report from an English angler con-
cerning the trout of these rivers. To the south-
east of this town, which is reached by coach from
Rua Petin, on the Monforte line, is the Lago de
Castanedd, which is said to provide excellent
sport with big trout. Near the Pueblo de
Sanabria, to the south-east of Castanedd, are
several streams mentioned by Ford.
The angler who visits Spain will no doubt find
the selection of his fishing streams somewhat
perplexing, when he examines the map. Rivers
abound in the north, in Portugal, and along the
Mediterranean ; they are traced in bewildering
profusion upon the map of the Peninsula, and
suggest unlimited exploration. I realize that we
may have missed many good streams that flow
along, or near to, our route. Years instead of
months would be needed to explore thoroughly all
the fishable waters of Spain and Portugal. The
fisherman who cares to follow in our track may
gain assistance from an epitomized sketch of a
Let us suppose that you have arrived at Irun
Trout Streams and Coarse Fish Rivers 203
from Paris. Stay one day in Irun, and book a
place in the coach for Oyeregui on the following
noon. From the Palacio Reparacea fish the
Bidasoa for a week. Return to Irun. A long
day's railway-ride will take you to Ampuero and
Marron station on the Ason, via Bilbao, or you
may break the journey, and try the Deva at the
fourth station from San Sebastian. From Am-
puero travel to Renedo, by way of Santander, a
journey which will occupy the greater part of a
day. Fish the Pas from Renedo, and proceed to
Bonar on the railway from La Robla to Bilbao.
From Bonar journey to Ponferrada through
Le6n. Fish two days in the Sil at Ponferrada,
engage a guide in the town, and take coach for
Matarosa, higher up the river. Return by coach
to Ponferrada, and take the train to Los Pearas
beyond Orense. It will be advisable to write to
Senor Vicente Sastre, Los Pearas, Provincia de
Orense, to ascertain whether he has a vacant room.
This tour will absorb most of your month,
unless you hurry from one place to another,
regardless of the condition of the water. If the
Ason was giving sport, it would be ill-advised to
leave it quickly, though, on the other hand, if you
devote too many days to one river, you will not
204 Fishing and Travel in Spain
gain a knowledge of the country. Your own
predilections and discretion must guide you. Let
us imagine, however, that you have more than a
month at your disposal. In that case you may
continue your excursion into Portugal, fish the
rivers between the mouth of the Minho and
Oporto, and return to England by steamboat, or
via Salamanca, Irun, and Paris, a journey of
about fifty hours.
As an alternative route after your stay at
Ponferrada, you may proceed to Villafranca del
Vierzo, where report states that trout are
abundant, and find your way by rail and coach
from Lugo to the Eo, Navia and Nalon rivers in
Asturias, and back to Irun by the line through
I cannot speak from personal knowledge of the
rivers flowing from the Pyrenees on the Spanish
side, nor of the numerous streams of Eastern
Spain running into the Mediterranean Sea. I
have heard that the sea-fishing is good near
Barcelona and other ports upon this coast.
There is plenty of sport for the sea-angler all
around the shores of the Peninsula from the Bay
of Biscay to the Atlantic, and in the Mediterranean.
A MIXED CREED OF PRACTICALITIES
An angler writing for the instruction and guidance
of brothers of the rod should never conceal his
errors and failures, for, in the words of a half-
remembered saw : * By others' faults wise men
amend their ways.' Therefore, if you are wise,
you will not be misled, as I was, by the counsel of
tackle-makers who tell you that very fine casts
are necessary for the capture of the * small trout ' of
Spain. These gentleman have never fished in the
Peninsula. Their judgment is based upon the
orders for tackle that they have received from
Englishmen living principally in the South of
Spain. I can only say that in the northern and
central districts there are but few rivers of any
importance that do not contain big trout. My
losses include fish of 4 pounds in weight, hooked
while fly fishing, and the heaviest trout brought to
2o6 Fishing and Travel in Spain
hand was 2 pounds. Trout weighing i pound are
by no means uncommon in the Ason, the Pas, and
tributaries of the Sil and Minho, while in these
two main rivers trout grow to the weight of our
heaviest ferox. A pound trout in the Sil fights
like a demon, heads for tumbling water, tears out
the reel-line, and gives more sport than a two-
pounder in a chalk stream in England. You may
be able to hold and tire him on a fine-drawn cast,
and I dare say I shall be told that any fairly
expert fisherman can do so. Let that be as you
please ; but, for my part, though I detest coarse
tackle, I would not go again into Spain without
gut strong enough to put a severe strain on two
and three pound trout. In the chief rivers, where
there is usually a full flow of water in the spring
months, the hungry trout take the fly viciously,
fight fiercely, and are not gut shy. Of course, in
the small tributaries, during seasons of low-water,
it is advisable to fish fine, and to have only one
fly on the cast. But in the big rivers let your
tackle be of the best, well tested, and only of
medium fineness. For spinning in the Sil and
Minho, you will require casts of the grilse
Take a liberal supply of casts, or gut lengths.
A Mixed Creed of Practicalities 207
with you. Do not forget spare swivels, Stewart
hooks, shot, cobbler's wax, binding silk, thread, a
spring-balance, and material and solution for
mending wading-stockings. I will here give a
list of the flies that proved the most attractive to
the trout of Spain and Portugal. Those marked
with an asterisk are hackle-dressed ; the others
are the ordinary winged patterns used for wet-fly
fishing. I am not barring cock-winged, beautifully
constructed dry flies. These may be taken, and I
believe that they would do good work on the
pools of many of the rivers, especially after the
end of May.
1. Blue Dun (two sizes).
2. March Brown (two sizes).
3. Olive Dun.
5. Orange Dun.*
6. Wickham's Fancy.
7. Red Quill Gnat.
9. Black Gnat.
10. Whirling Blue Dun.
11. Partridge and Green
12. Teal and Green Body.
13. Dark Yellow Partridge.
Nos. II, 12, and 13 should be sea-trout or loch
size. I am not aware that the Spanish salmon
evince a preference for any specific pattern of
fly. Ordinary salmon-flies in four or five dressings
should be taken.
We now come to the question of the handiest
rods. A sixteen-foot salmon-rod of greenheart or
2o8 Fishing and Travel in Spain
split cane will serve very well both for salmon and
for the heavy trout of the Sil. There is such
difference of taste among fishermen as to the
length of a trout-rod that it will be better for the
angler to use his own judgment. My own trout-
rod was a rather heavy greenheart, ii feet in
length, while my wife used one of lo feet, of
lighter make. If the visitor does not object to
encumbering himself with impedimenta, he may
take an extra trout-rod. In any case he should
have a second top joint. A short bottom-fishing
rod may be taken for legering and coarse fishing.
A long-handled landing-net, with a spike at the
bottom, is an aid in preserving one's balance while
wading on the rough beds of the strong Spanish
streams. A gaff should not be forgotten. The
best reel for spinning for big trout is a wooden
Nottingham, with an optional check and line
guard. This may also serve for salmon if the
angler wishes to limit his paraphernalia. But if
he prefers to use a metal check- reel for fly fishing
for salmon he should take one. Two metal check-
reels for trout-fishing should certainly form part
of the kit. It is not absolutely essential to add
another reel to the list for bottom fishing, but if
the angler has any intention of fishing in the sea,
A Mixed Creed of Practicalities 209
or trying his fortune with the big barbel of the
Douro, he should provide himself with suitable
winches. A creel is somewhat cumbrous when
travelling. I prefer a bag of waterproof canvas
or stout jean, which can be used as a haversack to
carry a number of articles when moving from place
to place. Unless the traveller is fortunate enough to
possess a valet, he should study compactness and
portability in the selection of his accoutrements.
Wading-trousers would be found useful, but they
are exceedingly hot for wear in such a country as
Spain. I contented myself with a pair of ordinary
wading-stockings. These should be of good quality
and as light as possible. Canvas brogues may be
chosen in preference to those made of leather, as
they weigh less and are easier to pack. My wife
used a pair of the canvas and hemp-soled Basque
shoes for wading. These wonderfully well-made
shoes cost but eightpence a pair, and can be pur-
chased in all parts of Spain. The soles grip fairly
well upon slippery rocks, and the shoes are light to
carry. If you wear out four pairs, you will only
have spent about half a crown.
The choice of clothing is a matter of individual
predilection. I wore a Burberry camel-hair knicker-
bocker suit, with Norfolk jacket fitted with four
2IO Fishing and Travel in Spain
capacious pockets. The coat was unlined. The
great essential is that the clothing should be light,
and at the same time able to withstand hard wear.
For ladies the skirt should be short, with a contriv-
ance for raising it while wading. Short mackin-
tosh coats to reach the waders will be required.
For headgear there is nothing better than the
gaberdine fishing-hats. They are light and cool,
and a strong wind will not bear them away. The
Spanish boina is light, but rather hot. Those who
suffer firom sun-glare may wear a Spanish sombrero
of felt. A Panama straw hat is calculated to attract
attention and comment. As Spanish women rarely
wear hats, any form of feminine headgear will
arouse interest. A pair of shooting-boots and a
pair of a lighter make should be taken.
In travelling from one district to another in
Spain, marked differences of temperature will be
noticed. In the mountainous regions it is not safe
to be without woollen underwear ; for although the
days are frequently very hot, the air chills rapidly
after sundown. While journeying by rail and
during a stay in the towns, fishing-clothes should
be exchanged for an ordinary walking-suit. Ladies
who wish to escape notice should not wear tailor-
cut gowns and travelling-hats.
A Mixed Creed of Practicalities 211
The pipe-smoker must learn to appreciate the
flavour of the coarsely - cut Havana tobacco.
Scarcely one man in a thousand in Spain smokes
a pipe. Cigarettes are cheap, but they will scarcely
suit the palate accustomed to fine brands of
Egyptian and Virginian manufacture. The im-
ported cigars are of good quality, but, owing to
the heavy duty, they cost more than in England.
English packet tobaccos can be bought in some of
the towns at a very high price. A poor substitute
for whisky is the spirit called cafia. It is cheap
and fiery. Cognac, or aguardiente, is tolerable, and
very reasonable in cost. The ordinary table wines
supplied with meals cannot be recommended, as
many are * doctored' with logwood. The Rioja,
sold in sealed bottles at a moderate cost, is whole-
some and agreeable. Excellent wines can be
obtained in the towns. Good bottled cider is
sold in the North. The Spanish beer (cerveza)
resembles lager, and is bought in bottles. There
are various kinds of aerated waters, and non-
alcoholic syrups, known as refrescoes. A favourite
liqueur is anisette. I think I have already said
enough about the cuisine to prepare the stranger
for surprises agreeable and otherwise. Those who
are not habituated to long fasting would be well
212 Fishing and Travel in Spain
advised to provide themselves with some portable
form of concentrated food, such as Brand's beef
It must be borne in mind that, even in the beaten
track in Spain, English is rarely spoken, even at the
big hotels. In the Basque provinces many of the
better-educated people speak French. But this
acquaintance with the French tongue noticeably
declines as one travels South. A great deal can
be accomplished in Spain by the use of a few
phrases and gesticulation. There are several
Spanish and English phrase-books, and the tra-
veller should take one of these and a pocket
dictionary. If possible, obtain a few lessons in the
language before starting. This will aid in a right
pronunciation. A knowledge of either Italian or
Latin is of assistance in acquiring Spanish.
Dismiss from your mind all preconceptions
anent the dishonesty of the Spanish people. It is
difficult to account for the origin of this libel upon
a fine and hospitable race. The popular and
ignorant idea of the Spaniard is that of a swarthy
hidalgo, ever ready to pick a quarrel and prone to
resentment. As a matter of fact, the Spanish
people are proud of the traditions of their race,
and show a fine courtesy to the stranger who
becomes their guest. Whenever we were brought
A Mixed Creed of Practicalities 213
into personal relations with Spaniards of all
classes, we encountered kindness and generosity.
Never once in Spain, upon any pretext, was an
extra peseta added to the stipulated charge at the
fondas and casas de huespedes. Be assured that
you will not be cheated in Spain. I may note here
that the laundry work is excellent, and astonish-
In Spain the title caballero is not dependent
upon birth or station. The innkeeper equally
with the duke is accorded the courtesy which he
extends to others. Any assumption of social
superiority should be strictly avoided in associa-
tion with the people. Snobbery, the bane of
human intercourse, is unknown in Spain. Polite-
ness costs nothing, and yields an abundant return
in esteem and ready service.
When engaging an attendant, it is well to accept
the recommendation of the keeper of the fonda.
When you ask your gillie, ' Cuanto pago para el
dia ?' (How much do I pay for the day ?) you may
be surprised to hear the answer, *Nada ' (Nothing).
This is not to be accepted in its literal sense. It
is merely equivalent to the British * I leave it to
you, sir.' A boy will be content with a peseta and
his lunch. The lad will refuse to share the contents
of your luncheon-bag unless you press the food
214 Fishing and Travel in Spain
upon him. This is a rule of his code of politeness.
I have spoken before of the intelligence of the
Spanish rustic. Without exception, I found my
youthful gillies adaptable and helpful in leading me
to the best lengths of water.
Before penetrating into the wildest regions,
especially in the South, inquiries should be made
at the quarters of the Civil Guard concerning
a reliable guide, the accommodation, and the
safety of the proposed route. Brigandage has
been practically stamped out, but there are still
one or two districts where highway robbers lie in
wait for the unwary traveller.
The visitor to Spain should provide himself with
a passport. In Barcelona the law enjoins that all
passports shall be vised by the Consul. Money
may be taken in circular notes, which can be
changed in most of the large towns. English
Bank of England notes are accepted everywhere.
The rate of exchange varies from day to day.
Since the war with America it has been greatly
in favour of the English traveller. In Portugal
Spanish money can only be changed at a great
loss, and the value of the exchange of British
money in that country is much lower than in Spain.
THE SPANISH FISHERY LAW
One can imagine the consternation that would be
caused in Spain if a law was enforced prohibiting
the taking of fish from fresh-water by any other
means save the rod and line. Such a law would
be stubbornly resisted by the populace. The mass
of the people in every country need education to
the end of preserving their own interests, and in
this respect Spain by no means stands alone. In
our own country we have witnessed strong opposi-
tion to measures for the preservation of the fish of
the Norfolk Broads, and the trout of the Scotch
rivers, during the annual spawning period. In
Wales the people are only just beginning to
comprehend the advantages of the organized con-
servation of the rivers and lakes. Fishermen who
have known the Thames all their lives tell us that
it was never better stocked than at the present
time. This is due entirely to the increases of rod
2i6 Fishing and Travel in Spain
anglers, and to the development of wisdom and
foresight amongst the fraternity of the angl6.
Some time must elapse before Spanish legis-
lators can be convinced of the economic utility of
a complete revision of the ley de pesca (fishery
lav^). Beyond the enforcement of a close season
for salmon, salmon trout, and common trout, and
a few inadequate rules respecting the use of nets
in fresh-water, nothing is done to protect fish-life.
What is the use of protecting spawning fish, when
thousands of the fry are scooped out of the small
pools of tributaries with poke -nets during dry
seasons ? I have seen trout as small as whitebait
cooked for the table in the Spanish fondas.
Imagine a poultry-breeder who protects sitting
hens, and kills the chickens about a week after
they are hatched. I have referred to the wanton
decimation of salmon-parr, and the astonishment
of the natives at our plea for the preservation of
I am not prepared to say that the rivers through-
out Spain could be made the rivals of those of
Norway. Mr. Kennedy, in his * Thirty Seasons
in Scandinavia,' tells us of the remarkable pro-
ductiveness of these Northern rivers. But the Sil
and the Minho contain even bigger trout than
The Spanish Fishery Law 217
those of the Norwegian streams, and are probably
only to be beaten in weight, and that rarely, by
the trout of New Zealand. For trout of a sport-
giving size, Spain is a rival to our own country,
despite the primitive and defective fishery law.
There is no doubt that Spain might become a
fisherman's paradise in the course of a few years.
This would tend to the general welfare. More
salmon would ascend the rivers to spawn, and
more would fall to the rod and line of the angler.
In the long-run, netsmen in the tidal estuaries
would benefit, for it is obvious that the more
salmon that descend the river after spawning, the
greater will be the number to return to the river
the next season, and that more smolts will go
down to come back as grilse. A decade of reckless
netting in tidal and fresh water will work havoc in
any river. Add to this the inevitable depredations
of poachers, employing snares, spears, and deadly
dynamite, and what chance remains for the un-
fortunate salmon ?
Trout hatcheries are almost unknown in Spain.
A private hatchery was established upon the
Bidasoa some years ago, and I believe that King
Alphonso rears trout for turning into his own
streams. I have also heard of one case of stocking
2i8 Fishing and Travel in Spain
a mountain lake in the northern provinces. Trout-
rearing would not be necessary in Spain if the
law was revised, poaching suppressed, and the use
of the net in fresh-water prohibited, except in
some cases, where the average size of trout in a
lake might be increased by a discreet thinning of
undersized fish. Trout are so prolific, and the
rivers of Spain so excellently adapted for the
production of fish, that sane methods of pre-
servation would be alone sufficient for very
many years to come. Rod fishing could not
injuriously diminish the stock of fish in such
rivers as the Ebro, Ason, Deva, Nalon, Pas,
Besaya, Saja, Minho, and Sil, among many
Spain might attract anglers from all parts of
Europe if the State and the people realized the
source of revenue their rivers could be made to
yield. The encouragement of legitimate means of
taking fish will be fostered by the example of
visiting anglers. When the Pescadores of the
Basque provinces saw that we could catch trout
with a rod and fine tackle in the main rivers, some
of them doubtless reflected that this was a more
profitable form of fishing than poking about for
pequenos (little ones) in the brooks. They asked
The Spanish Fishery Law 219
us to buy them some flies in England, and seemed
disposed to review their own methods. It will be
remembered that at Matarosa the most prosperous
of the natives earn their livelihood by the legitimate
capture of trout with rod and line. A speculative
middle-man of that district purchases the trout
from these men, and stores them in a refrigerator
until they can be sent to the market. So far as
my observation went, these men found that rod
fishing paid them better than poaching, and it is
interesting to note that they were all fly fishermen.
But before rod fishing can become popular in
Spain the people must be able to buy suitable
tackle. It is pathetic to watch these keen and
patient anglers endeavouring to lure trout with
their big, clumsy flies, salmon gut, and stiff
Pisciculture is now a question of legislative
interest in nearly every nation. There is quite a
literature upon the subject in France. Spain is not
without its angling writers. In 1850 Francisco
Fernandez de los Senderos published a work upon
the fish of the southern coast of Spain. Even as
early as 1786 there was issued among the records
a paper upon the * Propagation of Fish and the
Method of transporting them to other Lakes and
220 Fishing and Travel in Spain
Rivers.' Ramon de Silva Ferro wrote a memo-
randum referring to the industry of fishing as
represented in the Universal Exposition of Paris
in 1878. One chapter deals with fish-culture, and
another with the management of salmon-fisheries.
These are among the few works upon angling
subjects published in Spain. A list of the books
upon Spanish fisheries will be found in * Biblio-
theca Piscatoria.' The sporting literature of Spain
is concerned almost entirely with the national pas-
time of bull-fighting. Upon this topic there is
a mass of authoritative writing. Angling is not
regarded as a sport in the Peninsula, and has no
enthusiasts who have been urged to sing its
charms in verse, nor to write technical treatises
upon the gentle art. Manuel Pardo, 11 Espoz
y Mina, Madrid, has a few books upon sport,
including translations of some English works.
Among the works of Cervantes I have only noted
one reference to angling. It is in * Don Quixote,'
where an innkeeper says, * Sir, you must angle
with another bait, or you will catch no fish,' as
a rejoinder to an assertion that the books upon
chivalry are fictions.
A copy of the laws relating to shooting and
ThcilSpanish Fishery Law 221
fishing (* Caza y pesca ') can be purchased for
half a peseta at the booksellers' shops in most
towns. This little pamphlet contains the ordi-
nances of 1834, 1^79, and 1895. Article I. of the
Act of 1895 states that the close time for fishing in
fresh-water for salmon, sea-trout, common trout,
grayling (umblas), and all fish of the salmon
family, lasts for six months and a half — viz., the
first day of August to February 15. For rain-
bow trout the close time is from October i until
April 15. It would appear from this rule that
salmon and trout begin spawning very early in
the season in Spain, otherwise the enactment is a
strange one. It will be noted that salmon and
sea-trout are protected at the very time when they
begin to afford the best sport in many of our own
rivers. The season for grayling ends in Spain
when our own grayling are growing into condition.
This curtailment of the open season for trout by
two months, and for salmon by three months,
seems quite unnecessary.
Article IV. refers to the modification of the law
of close time in the case of persons employed in
the official establishments of pisciculture. I failed
to obtain information concerning these hatcheries.
222 Fishing and Travel in Spain
Article VII. deals with the penalties for infrac-
tion of the fishery law. The Act enjoins that
persons found fishing without a license will incur
a penalty of from 5 to 25 pesetas. Offenders using
dynamite are Hable to a fine of not less than 40
and not more than 160 pesetas.
In spite of this and similar decrees, dynamite is
still used in the Sil and Minho, and it is extremely
doubtful whether 50 per cent, of the fishermen take
out a license. These laws practically overlook the
existence of rod fishermen, but are concerned
with netting and trapping fish. The legitimate
angler, in the English sense, is hardly mentioned,
for the very simple reason that so few persons
follow fishing as a recreation.
The order of procedure in obtaining a fishing
license is somewhat complicated. First of all
you buy your statutory permit at the estanco. If
you look in a Spanish dictionary, you will find that
estanco means ' water-tight, embargo, monopoly,
tank.' You will be directed to a tobacconist's
shop, but you must find the right kind of
tobacconist — that is, one holding authority to
issue licenses. The license is a green card,
worded on the front as follows :
The Spanish Fishery Law 223
LICENCIA DE PESCA.
4^ Clase. 5 Pesetas.
Correspondiente i cddulas personales de 6'' clase
PROVINCIA DE GUIPUZCOA.
El Gobernador Civil
concedo licencia d. D. V. Valter M. Gallichan
vecino de San Sebastian con cddula personal de clase
numero para pescar. En San Sebastian d i8 de Marzo
^ EL GOBERNADOR.
As a letter W is not in the Spanish alphabet,
my Christian name proved a stumbling-block to
the worthy Governor.
On the back of the license it is announced that
the holder has the follovv^ing * signs ' — namely, age,
stature, eyes, beard, colour, and profession. A
space is left for v^riting these particulars. In our
case a description of these tokens appeared to be
unnecessary, unless it was that the oiBcials were
entirely floored in describing a lady angler. It is
doubtful whether they had ever been asked to
issue a fishing-license to a lady.
This license permits the angler to employ
methods of taking fish which would involve him in
heavy penalties if he practised them in the United
224 Fishing and Travel in Spain
I have reached the end of my narrative of
fishing and travel in Spain and Portugal. In
writing it I have lived again through many of the
days of a happy spring and summer. Before me
is a post-card just received from a friend, who is
wandering in Spain. He writes of blazing sun-
shine and picturesque towns. The atmosphere
and the beauty of Iberia are like nothing else in
Europe, and the people are charming and romantic.
Farewell, then, for the nonce to the bright land of
to-morrow, with its inscrutable customs, quaint
prejudices, courteous people, glorious mountains,
vast open wastes, brawling rivers, and nimble
Adaja River, 84-86
Ampuero, 24-46, 203
Ancora, 186-19 1
Andalusia, 77, 82
Antonio (gillie), 124, 129
Ason, 22, 49, 149, 203, 218
Asturias, 3, 88, 102, 199
Avila, 84-87, 103
Barbel, 195, 209
Barco d'Alva, 195
Basques, 20, 61, 212
Bears, 89, 125
Besaya River, 52, 62, 218
Bidasoa River, 4-21, 99, 217
Big trout, 205, 206, 217
Bilbao, 22, 23, 90, 97, 203
Birds of Spain, 98, 99
Boga, 93, 102, 160, 169, 174
Bonar, 90, 95, 96, 203
Borrow, G., 118, 127, 171
Cares River, 199
Climate of Spain, 63, 224
Cost of fishing, 151
Crawfurd, Oswald, 155, 183,
Dapping for trout, 142
Deva River, 203, 218
Diving for trout, 185, 186
Dodgson, Edward, 185, 201
Douro River, 89, 180, 192, 195
Ebro River, 200, 218
Eels, 78, 125
Eo River, 204
Escalo (chub), 161
Esla River, 88
Estanislas, 144, 145, 152
Fishing law in Spain, 215
tackle, Spanish, 193
Flies, 36, 40. 45. 55. i33, i47.
Floods, 64, 92
Ford, John, 171, 176, 199, 202
Galicia, 3, 14, 107, 119, 158
Gancedo, Angel (guide), 131-
226 Fishing and Travel in Spain
Golden oriole, 99, 175
Guadalquivir, 69-81, 166, 169,
Guardia Civil, 113, 140, H^,
Irun, 4-6, 202, 203
Kennedy, Mr., 216
Kit for anglers, 209, 210
Lago de Castanedd, 202
Leon Province, 88-97
License for fishing, 223
Los Pearas, 105-120
Matarosa, 66, 130-139
Minho, 14, 100, 107, 154, 164
Nalon, 199, 204, 218
Navia River, 199, 204
Navarre, 17, 103
Oporto, 177, 178, 191, 192
Orense, 107, 156, 190, 203
Otters, loi, 175
Oyeregui, 8, 66
Palacio Reparacea, 8-21
Pas River, 54-68, 218
Perez, Daniel, 137, 152
Poaching, 13-17, 51, 123
Portugal, 104, 107, 119, 177
Pueblo de Tribes, 202
Quixote, Don, 120
Renedo, 54, 203
Rua Petin, 201
Salmon, 33, 42, 178
Samlets, 28, 32, 34, 40, 61
San Esteban, 5
Sebastian, 23, 51
Santander, 24, 47
Sastre, Sefior, iii, 122
Sea-fishing, 45, 182, 204
Sea-trout, 33, 43
Seville, 63, 69, 82, 193
Shad, 70-81, 164-170
Sil River, 105-112, 128-153
Smolts, 25, 61
Spanish anglers, 32, 33, 50, 51,
fishing books, 219, 220
Spinning for trout, no
Tagus, 83, 201
Toral de los Vados, 127-129
Tormes River, 199
Torrelavega, 52, 54
Uztariz, Marques, 8
Vianna de Castello, 185, 186
Walsingham, Lord, loi
Walton, Izaak, 102
Weather in Spain, 177, 210, 224
' Wild Spain,' 2, 51, loi
Wolves, 8g, 125
Wye, Derbyshire, 151, 154
BILLING AND SONS, LTD., PRINTERS, GUILDFORD
BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
Crotvn 8w., cloth gilt, 3s. 6d. net.
Fishing in Wales.
H XTbotouob Guibe tor tbe Hug ler»
Standard. — " No angler can afford to go to Wales without
putting this modest but compendious little book into
Field. — '* No more excellent guide-book to the fishing to
be obtained in Wales than this by Mr. W. M.
Gallichan has yet been produced."
Westminster Gazette. — "A thoroughly practical book.
It is written by an angler who knows his business, who
has fished most of the streams and lakes which he
describes, and who, without any beating about the
bush, supplies anglers with the facts they want."
F. E. ROBINSON & CO., 20 GREAT RUSSELL STREET
THIS BOOK IS DUE ON THE LAST DATE I
AN INITIAL FINE OF 25 CENTS
WILL BE ASSESSED FOR FAILURE TO RETURN
THIS BOOK ON THE DATE DUE. THE PENALTY
WILL INCREASE TO 50 CENTS ON THE FOURTH
DAY AND TO $1.00 ON THE SEVENTH DAY
res 5 1934
FEB 6 1934