Fishing in the Spanish Pyrenees – Fishing for Zebra Trout

Now there must be a good, damn reason why I went to the Pyrenees, correct? Yes! Another fishing trip for this elusive fish species: Zebra Trout! I’ve never even heard of this type of trout before so after doing some reading about the possibilities of catching them only in the Pyrenees, I knew that I had to do this fly fishing for them. An unusual fish species… well, kind of. More like a subspecies of a Brown Trout that somehow got cut off from the rest of the Europe during the Ice Age. Well… that’s what people say. Zebra Trout is not a separate fish/trout species. It’s actually a subspecies of Brown Trout due to the black vertical markings on each side of the body.

I was extremely excited on this day as I was hoping for great success, bigger than the last time I fished which happened to be a 7 pound pike in the UK. Spain has always been good to me since the last time I fished in Spain, I ended up fighting a 110 kg (240 pound) thresher shark and landed it! My all-time best, heaviest fish caught so far so I’m looking for some similar excitement and a good catch as well. Of course, fishing in alpine/mountainous rivers and creeks don’t always produce monsters but you just never know. I pulled up a 14 pound lingcod out of nowhere not really expecting it.

mountain creek water

There’s water… but fish? You just have to look hard and test it with a fly line.

mountain Spain pyrenees fishing la pesca trucha zebra marron

It doesn’t look like much in this creek with no big trees around but it can be productive fishing! These Zebra Trout will surprise you.

At first, I have to admit that it was challenging because I knew how to fly fish with my most recent trip not too long ago fly-fishing in the UK but because I was using a lighter rod with a lighter line being used on narrower water lanes aka a creek, let’s just say that it’s been awhile since I did this. I think I missed the first ten trout by being too late on getting that hook set. But then I changed tactics to be much faster on setting the hook and that’s when I finally started landing these fish! My first hookup and land was a tiny Zebra Trout, my intended fish species! In these waters where there isn’t a lot of food sources, the fish tend to be a lot smaller so there aren’t any trophy-sized fish here.

zebra trout fishing spain spanish

I caught a ton of these Zebra Trout but they are challenging. This is an up-close picture of one of the Zebra Trout. The black vertical markings are what make these fish different from regular Brown Trout.

small zebra trout fly fishing pesca con la mosca

Here’s my proof that I’ve landed Zebra Trout. Yes, yes, the fish are small.

brown trout in midst of Zebra Trout

I also managed to catch a regular Brown Trout as well. This was probably my biggest fish for the day. Haha.

Overall, I had a lot of fun catching these tiny fish because it’s not that easy having to cast with a fly rod (sometimes a little far at times to get the proper distance) and accurately aim the area you want while being ready to set the hook. I must have caught about 80 of these fish in two days and probably lost close to 50 fish. My guide was telling me that most people that go to these creeks only catch about 15 fish in a SINGLE day! What??? I caught 80 of them in 2 days even though it’s been years since the last time I went mountain creek fly-fishing! I must have transferred that big game fly-fishing skills to the Pyrenees!

zebra trout trucha en Espana Huesca

On my second day, I caught a lot more Zebra Trout. Thanks to the previous day’s experience, I landed a lot more fish than losing them. There was quite a big section of the river where it was deep enough for multiple Zebra Trout hanging around. I landed a few including this one which was probably my biggest fish on the second day.

small zebra trout

These Zebra Trout are generally small when fishing in mountain creeks. And luckily for me, it was just me and my guide who was showing me where to fish. I caught almost 80 fish in 2 days!

Luckily, after one day of fishing, I was able to complete my task at hand: catching a Zebra Trout. So instead of needing two days, I completed the task on the first day with the second day being more of fishing for a much bigger fish but sometimes you cannot force it to happen. Unlike the failures in Slovenia for Danube Salmon and in Scotland for Atlantic Salmon, I was able to catch a specific European fish species for once! No more failure juice for me back at the hotel and airport! You can pour that right into the toilet and not on the fabric making all those stains on it. I guess the biggest fish that I caught was about 25-30 cm long despite catching about 80 of them. That’s just how it is, but a lot of fun.

Some requirements should be heeded before doing this – make sure you know how to fish, know how to fly fish with a floating line and dry fly (and practice it like I did in the UK about a month prior to this trip), be in shape (there is a lot of hiking and walking around!) and know Spanish. You could get an English-speaking guide but it happened to be that my guide was Spanish only. It kind of reminded me of the fishing that I did in La Paz, Mexico, on the San Juan River in Nicaragua, and out in the jungle of Peru: these people are only speaking Spanish. English might be understood to a small extent, but my Spanish fishing guide was not as well versed as the other European guides in Madeira, Azores, Iceland, Slovenia, and Czech Republic since they see a lot more tourists so they are able to learn the language quicker. You could go without knowledge of Spanish but it might make it tougher to communicate any advanced tactics. Usually though once the guide sees how you fish, then he might not say much at all if you know what you are doing. So if you catch less than 15 in one day then there’s probably something wrong with your fly-fishing ability and knowing Spanish would probably help a LOT.


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Spain – Visiting the Pyrenees

Due to the climbing temperatures of the summer nuclear heat, I thought it might be a good idea to try to escape the burning weather’s oppression by going inland up into the mountains of the Pyrenees, the mountain range between Spain and France (which has also conveniently been a natural border as well between the two countries and reminded me of Andorra). It’s probably a surprise that I went back to Spain by going to Barcelona but no: no FC Barcelona game this time around, unfortunately. Instead, it’s a natural way to inhale some fresh mountain air and green scenery instead of car smog, buildings, and going shoulder-to-shoulder with other tourists.

The small town that I stayed in was Biescas, right in the Pyrenees mountain range area. It’s a small, quiet town where there is a great view of the mountains and valleys and yes, the weather is a bit cooler in this area during summer compared to other places of Spain where it’s scorching red hot. Higher elevations do help in reducing the heat thanks to the cool air coming down from the mountains.

In Biescas, a quaint little mountain village like any other in Spain, it was quite nice with the dearth of tourists in this part of Spain since places like Barcelona, Madrid, and beach places like Costa del Sol and Mallorca would be overfilling to the brim with nothing but tourist crowds and rising temperatures. But another reason why there weren’t that many people where I was at is because many Spaniards who live inland will generally take their vacations in the summertime to the coastal areas where it’s a lot cooler than inland since Spain is very hilly and/or plateau-like. This causes heat to rise as well as the sun is bearing down heat at a shorter distance especially during the summer unless you get that cool breeze off the mountains. In my opinion, this is a good time to check out the Pyrenees because during other times, there might be a lot of rain and/or snow so it might be harder to visit or you don’t want to visit.

mayor city council small town house office Spanish Spain Pyrenees

This is the Ayuntamiento De Biescas or Biescas City Council. It happens to be placed pretty much in the center of the small town with a water fountain in the middle of it. Nice little place.

church small town

The town has two churches or parishes. This is Iglesia De San Pedro Apostol or the Church of San Peter the Apostle. You can actually see the church’s tower from afar.

Parish of the Savior church faith

The other religious place, the Parish of the Savior.

Biescas Huesca chimney chimneo

Another interesting thing about this town is that some of the older buildings have the old-style chimney like the one on this house. It’s unique to this area.

Tip: The people don’t speak a lot of English so learn Spanish! There is a reason for no English since the locals don’t really see a lot of tourists in these small towns which makes sense unless it’s a tourist spot.

Tip: Spain has a lot of toll roads for some reason so I recommend taking the trains if traveling inland. The rail company in Spain is RENFE which has a website in English as well where you can search the train schedule and buy train tickets. The main train station in Barcelona is Sants station which is not far from Camp Nou. So if you have time, you can do the Camp Nou stadium and FC Barcelona museum tour before you head off to other places of Spain.

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Castles and Fortresses in Transylvania, Romania

There are quite a bit of castles in Transylvania but probably the one that everyone thinks of Dracula’s Castle even though its real name is Bran Castle. Most people think of Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s Castle) as a haunted place but it’s not even close. Even the area of Transylvania that was designated as the home location for vampires and Dracula are all entirely false. To me, it’s just purely a marketing ploy to sell the vampire stereotype. It’s all due to the myths and stories created to help design Transylvania as a mythical and strange place out to the rest of the world which is somewhat working. Film producers even filmed a movie (Brad Stoker’s Dracula) at so-called Dracula’s Castle despite the castle’s incredible small size. Luckily the magic of Hollywood was able to make it bigger than it seems.

castle marketing dracual vlad impaler movie romania

Built on a hill, Bran Castle aka Dracula Castle is actually quite small for a castle. I have to say that it was kind of disappointing for such “marketing.”

innercourt bran dracula castle

Even the innercourt of Bran Castle is quite small. Not much space for anything really.

If you still want to go to Dracula’s Castle, by all means, take a trip but note that it’s not called that. The actual name is Bran Castle. Despite the name, there’s no connection to Brad Stoker’s Dracula. The book was more connected with Vlad the Impaler, even though the man probably never set foot in Bran Castle. I think the character and Bran Castle were great inspirations for the book and eventual movie as colloquial references to each other in addition to Romania’s attempt to open up the tourist marketing to the rest of the world. The castle is more of a museum than actual castle.

If you want to go to an actual castle, then the better selection would be Peles Castle. This castle was intended to be the summer estate for the Romanian royal family so there was a lot of elaborate construction to make it lavish and grand. I’m assuming that the royals also used it to entertain guests who would visit them there so they also created to impress visitors. Now it’s a popular tourist attraction as the castle is now a museum as the Romanian royal family has been banished by the Romanian Communist Party and after the communist era’s end, there was no big push to bring back the royal family so that was that.

peles castle green forest bushes lawn

That is the view of Peles Castle as you walk up the road. The Romanian royal family picked a great spot for it stick out well.

peles castle on a hill romanian royal family residence museum

And when you finally walk up closer and look at it, that’s what it looks like.

fountain front entry peles castle

It seems like as you get closer, Peles Castle becomes more and more better looking. Here they installed a fountain so imagine all the guests that came and were wowed at the sight of this place.

inside peles castle

Even the inside of Peles Castle is well decorated and heavily detailed to make a great impression on visitors.

food dinner table room Peles

And if you happen to be lucky to dine with the Royal Family, imagine what would be served here.

And right nearby Peles Castle is Pelisor Castle. Some even consider the two castles to be part of the same area complex. The castle was intended to be a private residence for the Romanian royal family so it’s not readily accessible for the general public to make visits although you never know…

pelisor residence

Another well designed castle/building – Pelisor Castle.

If you want to go a real castle, a fortress, then it would be best to go to Rasnov Citadel. This fortress was built on top of mountain which oversaw the valley so it could maintain defense against invading armies en-route to Brasov. I could see that the locals were concerned that the Ottoman Empire could send troops without warning so this place was a way to observe and stop any intrusions farther inland.

rasnov fortress

Rasnov Citadel was built on a hill overseeing the pass to ensure enemy troop movements were detected and slowed by this fortress.

strategic view point rasnov castle citadel

You can get some great views from this place. I can see why people back then chose such a spot.

Another interesting fortress is the one in Fagaras, about a 40-50 minute drive from Brasov. It’s very close to the impressive Fagaras Cathedral which is an Orthodox church.

Fagaras Cathedral church orthodox gold white Romanian Romania

Fagaras Cathedral which was built in the town’s center area that you cannot miss it especially with the golden tops.

This fortress, called Fagaras Citadel, is how most people would imagine a castle, actually has a moat around it! There are no alligators in it despite that some people might imagine a moat having them. Instead, the water is meant to be a barrier so troops cannot just run up with ladders and overrun the fortress. Water in this case is utilized as another form of protection, making it harder for enemies to overcome.

Fagaras Citadel Romanian castle fort fortress protection

Fagaras Citadel is quite big and they offer tours for a small price.

Tip: Be wary of all those Dracula’s items that the restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and street peddlers try to sell you such as Dracula’s lemonade, Dracula’s soup, Dracula’s candy, Dracula this, Dracula that, Dracula etc…. It’s all just a marketing ploy. A few Dracula items for purchase shouldn’t kill you in the wallet department but remember it’s all just marketing in making you the sale where your hard-earned money flows from your pockets and into theirs.

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Brasov in Transylvania, Romania

Romania has a lot to offer due to the country being basically the legacy of what used to be part of the last vestiges of the Eastern Roman Empire as it slowly became cut up from intrusions from all directions. Even the Romanian language was derived from Latin and is one of the Romance languages despite some inclusion of Slavic words and verbs. But that was to be expected when the country is surrounded by Slavic-speaking countries such as Bulgaria, Serbia, Ukraine, and at one time, the Soviet Union (when Moldova and Ukraine were both part of it). There is quite a bit of history in Romania but don’t just consider Bucharest, the capital, as the only destination to go to. Instead, a lot of the cities and the countryside outside of Bucharest have far more to offer. That’s why Brasov, also known as Kronstadt, should be one destination.

medieval gate old Brasov

This is known as Catherine’s Gate which is one of Brasov’s oldest and only remaining gate from the medieval-Brasov.

hollywood sign copy for Brasov town

If you look closely, you can see the Brasov sign up in the forested mountain in an attempt to emulate the famous Hollywood sign.

Compared to the urban jungle of Bucharest where the capital city of Romania is nothing but streets and cars and more streets and more cars, Brasov is neither too small nor too big and rather well located in central north Romania, a great starting point to actually start the Romanian journey. If you’re into the winter sports of skiing and snowboarding then Brasov is pretty well-accommodating to tourists since the locals are also used to the summer traveling tourist hordes (or more like smaller groups moving about in the country). The locals in this part of the country are quite friendly in the sense that their country had suffered greatly under the Soviet iron curtain so any way to advertise the country’s offerings to foreigners is a great thing for them. That’s why the Romanians are looking to invest vast sums into their own infrastructure and their tourism in order to improve the country into the next century so as to not fall behind.

Brasov has quite a bit of neat looking buildings that contain quite a bit of history. The city itself was actually known as Kronstadt which the city and the area of Transylvania was actually part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. It was after World War I when Austria-Hungary disintegrated when Transylvania proclaimed its union with Romania which it is now part of today. However, there is still Austrian, German, Hungarian historical influences, however, scant that might be.

Romanian fortress old white protecting Brasov Translyvania

Nestled between mountain ranges and forests, Brasov was established in a nice valley area where it was important to construct some kind of fortification to protect the city and the roads.

Biserica Neagră Lutheran church Kirche

One of the biggest attractions in Brasov has to be the famous Black Church. Built back in the 1300s, it was originally a Roman-Catholic church but now it’s a Lutheran church for not just the city but for this part of Transylvania. Tourists now flock there to see it.

black church up close Romanian religion religious site tourist attraction

Looking up close to it, you can see that it’s quite old and has had extensive repairs over the years. The church is quite amazing at night.

Tip: Most Romanians cannot speak English. Some of the younger generation people in the cities can speak some English but you might benefit even more from knowing French, Spanish, and/or Italian since some of the words are similar due to the Latin foundation. Some Romanians might even know another Romance language because they might have lived and worked there. I met an older lady working in a restaurant who could not speak English but spoke Spanish so we communicated in that language instead.

Tip: Stay away from the panhandling gypsies. I’ve encountered them before in Spain and I usually just walk away from them but there are far more gypsy beggars in Romania, probably a higher concentration of them in Romania (and Bulgaria) than in other parts of Europe since the living standards are lower in this part of the world or they have setup some kind of foundation for themselves there such as a farm. Gypsies for the most part are nothing but trouble and they WILL rob you if you are not careful so heed extreme attention to where you are at and where are your belongings are. That includes your stuff in your vehicles if you rent an automobile. They will be sly by trying to avoid physical one-on-one brute encounters with you and will instead take your stuff when you are not looking unlike the street urchins in Lima, Peru, where they’ll come out to ambush-pummel you.

Tip: Romania has two peak seasons: winter and summer. Winter brings in all the snowboarders and skiers while summer brings in all the warm-weather folks. Since Romania is still relatively undiscovered by the tourist masses as a big-time tourist destination, I would have to say the summer time is a great time to go. You’ll still encounter tourists all over the country regardless of the season but you be prepared for some weird weather at times so bring an umbrella. You just never know when it will RAIN!

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Predator Fishing in England – can I catch a big fish (over 10 or 20 pounds) for once?

It’s time to go after that hard to catch Pike or Zander during the late Spring, early Summer time frame while fishing in the UK. I figured with the weather conditions warming up, the predator fish should be more active especially Zander as they finally emerge from the cold deep depths of the water and feed near the surface or in the shallows at least. Never mind the “or” in the first sentence I wrote. I want BOTH! And they better be big ones too! I demand big fish this time around since I’ve been working to fish successfully!

After doing that Red Snapper fishing in Madeira, I think I’m ready to go after the big lumps of fish flesh, freshwater-style again! I was actually hoping for a Carp after returning back to the UK since I’ve caught a ton of them in the Czech Republic and tried for them in the Grand Union Canal, but I suppose it was not meant to be. With the wind and weather doing weird things as this was supposed to be summertime, it was back to the basics of fishing: try hard, cast as many times as possible, and hope for the best.

The first day was quite difficult due to the weather doing some weird things being cold and extremely windy. This is not winter nor spring! It should be breezy, sunny, and somewhat warm, but instead, the climate conditions have been quite odd in summer. The constant changes make the fish a little antsy as they don’t like the continuously edits to their environment particularly when it comes to feeding cycles since some of the fish are used to certain cues as to what types of food to feed on: flying insects, bug hatches, underwater hatches, etc.

net a jumper jumping rainbow trout

Sometimes luck is key during a hard day of fishing. This rainbow trout jumped 4 times trying to spit the hook out. Fortunately, I was able to net it.

weather changing fishing

One of the few fish that I caught that day. This 2 pound rainbow trout was probably my best for that day. Weird, hard days of fishing due to the constant changes in the weather.

So instead of catching a lot of fish, I caught quite a bit of empty reel ins on the first day. I did catch a few jumpers especially this one rainbow trout doing the aerial acrobatics, doing 4 airborne jumps trying to do its best Steelhead impression.

fly fishing on boat reservoir fish stocked

Casting in futile… that’s what I thought at times. And then I get a bite! And then it gets away! Damn fish!

Unfortunately, I hooked up a 5-6 pound rainbow trout but that fish eventually came off with a Houdini escape! I was not happy about that especially after getting the hookup via dry fly on a large reservoir. I dwelled and mulled on that fish for quite some time, but, there would always be tomorrow…. and tomorrow was difficult as well, but as you know, if you want something, then you have to force yourself into doing the hard work of casting and re-casting, over and over and over again. Multiple times, striking out many times before I get a good chance to hit a home run. And of course, after working extra hard and some may argue, being extra stupid, there was nothing. Just one bite and it was a small perch that somehow got away.

casting spinning rod hook in the sun and clouds

This day was a huge change from the previous day’s windy, wacky, cloudy weather. This day was less wind, some cloud, and some sun. Fish generally don’t like that kind of changes as it affects their feeding patterns as well.

Of course, after hours of casting and moving and more casting, the self-doubt starts to kick in slowly but surely. It’s like a rationalization fly: should I land on the poop or should I land on people? But in this case, it was: should have I done something else instead of going on this trip to England to fish? As time went on, the self-pity thoughts kicked in but before they could go full blast, I had a great hookup on my fishing rod – I had a fish on! And it was bigger than the usual! Yessssssss!

I was very excited to fight a decent-sized fish and after netting it, I went to full-celebration mode! Yay! All that pain and worry went right out of the window and into the vortex. This 6-7 pound pike saved me from additional mental anguish!

spinning rod for predator fish england UK reservoir waters

After many hours and casts and retrieves, I finally get a good hookup of a bite and land this 7 pound pike! It’s not as big as the previous ones but it’ll do! Especially on a hard day of fishing. This was caught on a crankbait lure with a spinning rod.

fish dentist pike lure crankbait hook deep

My guide, the fish dentist, to the fish’s rescue of pulling the lure out of its throat. You have to be delicate as these fish like to thrash around and make people bleed.

The rest of the day was pretty much a wash, but I did get several more bites, one perch, and one big perch. The biggest of my life, but not the biggest one out there.

perch english european on a boat spinning reel

I can’t imagine how a little perch like that was trying to swallow down that little crankbait.

Despite my efforts for a really, really big fish, it was still a victory thanks to that 7 pound pike’s sacrifice to make it my day and also save the previous day’s big fish failure so I was good to go. That’s fishing – you never know what will happen. Good days and bad days will always be there. The monster fishing days such as my Thresher Shark and Sailfish with days where I just get skunked.

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