Fishing in Andorra: general information


One often reads about "fishing paradises" throughout the world, places were we would love to spend a week or two catching the monstrous fish that appear in the brochures and sleep in the luxurious lodges situated along trout or salmon filled rivers and lakes. If only we had the money and time..

Andorra is not on the list of top five fishing resorts. As a matter of fact, this beautiful 180 square mile country in the heart of the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France doesn't even appear on most maps, let alone in fishing guides.

Although many people have heard of Andorra with it's kilometers of tax-fee shopping and its five ski resorts, only very few (including many of Andorra's 65,000 inhabitants) have actually ventured into the mountains were a different world awaits them. Still untouched by mass tourism and far away from the main shopping street and resorts, the select few find mountains ranging up to over 2,900 meters, quiet and beautiful valleys and over 60 mountain lakes... add meadows sprinkled with cows and semi-wild horses (which sometimes wake you up in the morning when they lick the dew off the side of your tent), forests with crystal streams and, most important, very few people.

Best of all, the lakes have fish! and lakes with more than three fisherman are considered crowded.

The Nou lake, hard to reach but worth it
 

However, to take advantage of the breathtaking scenery, lakes and rivers filled with Farios and Rainbow you have to work for it. Although a few rivers and lakes can be reached by car, most of waters, especially the best ones, are above 2,000 meters and mean a one to two hour hike from the nearest road. So fishing in Andorra is not for those that want to just roll out of a king sized bed and catch record breaking trout with the video camera running after having a huge American style breakfast and watching the latest news on cable TV.  Trout fishing in Andorra rather is for those that enjoy a day and perhaps even a night under the stars and catching a few trout for a tasty breakfast before a short hike to another lake or stream. The water in the lakes and streams is so clean that you can drink it without second thoughts. Although the average lake trout is about 23cm in length, it is surprising what you can find in a lake not exceeding 60 meters in diameter. I recently caught a 37 cm trout in the lake pictured above! It is recommended to fish at dawn of at dusk and spending the rest of the day contemplating the spectacular scenery of taking short hikes to the surrounding summits which are all easy to climb without the need of any special equipment.
 
 
Careful fishing in the Incles river For those that do not fancy long hikes, Engolasters Lake is a reachable by car. Tristania as well as Pessons Lakes involve only a short walk. All streams are small, fast and are filled with rocks and boulders of all sizes. The first sections of the Valira d'Orient, the Riu d'Incles, Riu de la Coma and the Valira del Nord flow close to the road and are therefore very accessible. Streams like the Madriu or the lakes of Illa, Estany de la Nou, Ensagents and  Montmalús, which are among the prettiest fishing spots, do involve quite a hike. 

 
 
Tackle

Waders are not necessary (unless you have spare room in your bag) as one can fish right from the edge of the lake or stream. Lure and bait anglers can use a six to seven foot rod and light line. One may fish with almost any bait except maggots and cheese.. Silver or fluorescent yellow or orange colored spinners size 2 or 3 and perhaps a small "countdown" Rappala take nice fish. For naturals, we recommend grasshoppers, tineas and earthworms, especially in the streams, all mounted on fairly small hooks!
 
 
Flyfishing

 
David Newsam on his first day! photo: P. Mikhelson
Andorra is a paradise for fly fishing although casting can be difficult as flies brake off on the rocks which make up the steep banks that surround most of the lakes. They also get caught in the trees and bushes along the streams. Roll or Steeple casting (for those that like to impress the natives) is therefore recommended for the lakes and tongue biting for the streams.

 
 
Large hatches are rare, but the water is so clear that it's like fishing in an aquarium. The insect life at that altitude is so different compared to valleys that it would be a good idea to take some fly tying equipment with you and tie as you go.  I've seen trout feed on most peculiar looking insects I've never even heard of before. However, Trichopteras, Sedges and Duns mounted on hooks from 12 to 16 and 9 to 10 foot rods with no's 4 or 5 DT or WF lines should bring the best results. The exception to confirm the rule: a large morning hatch. photo: P. Mikhelson

 
 
Weather

Although Andorra enjoys a warm Spanish climate from Spring to Fall with temperatures reaching the mid 90's during the day, things can get tricky even in the summer. Short but violent storms can crop up in no time and that's when the mountain huts come in handy.  The lakes being at a relatively high altitude, it can get cold at night. So a warm sleeping bag and a thick carry-mat are indispensable as well as woolly hat and gloves for those lonely early mornings fishing sessions where your only companions are the marmots. As in any mountain environment, good footwear is essential.
 
 
 
Access

Unfortunately, Andorra cannot be accessed by rail or air. The closest airports are Barcelona in Spain and Toulouse in France, both which are at a 3 hour drive from Andorra. Therefore, your best bet is to rent a car at the airport for the length of your stay. Having a car will also enable you to visit more of the country and reach more fishing spots (or at lest get close to them!).

By car:
Andorra is at a 3-hour drive from Toulouse, Perpignan or Barcelona.

Routes to follow:
        From Montpellier:        Narbonne-Carcassonne-Mirepoix-Foix-Hospitalet près l'Andorre - Andorra
        From Toulouse:          Foix-Hospitalet près l'Andorre - Andorra
        From Perpignan:         Bourg Madame - Puigcerdà - La Seu d'Urgell - Andorra
        From Barcelona:         Follow for Lleida and then Andorra

By air:
The nearest airports are Toulouse (France) and Barcelona (Spain).  There is a regular bus service from Toulouse to Andorra every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.  There are also regular buses and taxis from Barcelona to Andorra. Ask your travel agent for details.  For transport from Toulouse call the TRG at the Toulouse train station (00 33 5 62 15 17 45).  If you arrive in Barcelona after 20:00 there is no way to get to Andorra except by taxi (20'000.- pta!)
By train:
The closest train station is "L'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre" and "La Tour de Carol" in France from which there is a bus service to Andorra.    For more information call 00 376 82 13 72.

By bus:
In order to get to Andorra from virtually any city in Europe by bus including Barcelona, cantact Eurolines.

There is also a regular bus service every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday to and from Toulouse.  Departure from Toulouse: 07:30 and 18:30, departure from Andorra: 11:30 and 19:30.  Price for a return ticket: 4.500.-pta.  For more information, call the bus station in Toulouse: +33 5 62.15.17.45

Once you're in Andorra, the best thing to do is rent a jeep, the best vehicle to get from one fishing spot to the next.  You can also enjoy some great off-road fun, visit the country side and even go rafting!
 
 
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