Your main base will be at the La Jacetania Lodge, Santa Cilia, near to the town of Jaca, which is centrally located in the foothills of the Pyrenees, half way between Barcelona and Bilbao. We have priced your trip based on staying at this lodge. Ivan Tarin also has a second lodge called La Ribagorza Lodge, Aren, which is a couple of hours drive to the East (see map above). If you intend to spend a week fishing with Ivan, then we would recommend staying at both lodges during your trip as this gives the best access to all the waters in the region. We know both lodges and can discuss all the options with you.
The fishing season is long in this region of Spain because fishing exists at altitudes from 1,000ft in the lowland farming areas, right up to 7,500ft in the higher mountain valleys where the snow may not leave some of the high altitude lakes until July. In the peak season of July and August, access to fishing at all altitudes makes brown trout, zebra trout and brook trout fishing possible - giving lots of options.
Travelling to the La Jacetania Lodge at Santa Cilia is easy. The main international airports are Madrid and Barcelona, and fast trains connect from there to Zaragoza where Ivan Tarin will pick you up and drive you to the lodge. Ivan can also collect you from Pamplona. We can discuss the full details of the best arrival points with you during the trip planning stage.
Season: March 1 - November 30
Pricing and Dates: Please contact Orvis Adventures directly for current prices and availability.
Your main base will be La Jacetania Lodge, Santa Cilia, near to Jaca, Spain. We recommend flying to Madrid or Barcelona airports and then taking the train to Zaragoza, or flying to Pamplona, where lodge staff will pick you up. La Jacetania Lodge, Santa Cilia, is 2 hours drive north from Zaragoza. During the trip planning stage, we can discuss these options with you.
"I admit it: I traveled to the Spanish Pyrenees as a skeptic. After all, I'd never heard anyone say that Spain has great fly fishing for trout. But my week with Ivan Tarin and Salvelinus Fishing Adventures opened my eyes to the incredible fishery to be found in the heart of the Old World. We fished all kinds of water - from high mountain streams to low-country rivers to lakes - in some of the most beautiful settings imaginable. Better yet, we caught plenty of good trout. The opportunity to catch "striped" brown trout in their native streams was especially exciting for this wild-trout nut, but I also enjoyed the rainbows, "regular" browns, and even brook trout. Everything about the trip, including the quality of the guides, exceeded my expectations, and I'm already thinking about how I can return to sample more of the eighty-plus waters that Salvelinus fishes."
- Phil Monahan, former Editor of American Angler
"I stayed at Salvelinus Lodge and La Ribagorza Lodge in July 2010 for 5 days, fishing eight different rivers in order to gain a good understanding of the huge potential of the Pyrenees region. Ivan, his Guides, and Ana the Lodge Manager & Cook could not have been better hosts. I was royally fed and expertly guided. We caught big rainbows on ants in crystal clear rivers that looked just like large spring creeks, and lively brookies on grasshoppers in a tumbling high mountain streams. The variety of fishing, spectacular mountain scenery, tapas and Rioja were a heady combination! I want to go back next year and discover more."
- Ian Maclean, Orvis UK Sporting Traditions
Salvelinus is the only Orvis-endorsed Outfitter in Spain. For more details about booking a trip, please visit www.salvelinus.com.
Transfer from Pamplona Airport or Zaragoza Train Station/Airport to the lodge at the village of Santa Cilia. Welcome drink and appetizer if you feel like one and check in to the lodge. Iván Tarín, Salvelinus Head Guide and one of the owners, will talk to you about the most important things you should know during your stay: the specialities of the region, fishing locations, rules, species, flies and equipment. Depending on your time of arrival, you can take a short hike in the local area or fish the Aragon River that runs through Santa Cilia.
High Meadow Spring Creek: Going upstream on one of our neighboring rivers we enter the Reserva de los Valles. There we can enjoy the ancient villages of Hecho and Ansó and have some traditional “tapas” at the local bar. We drive right up to the top of the valley along restricted-access forest tracks and then walk for about 25 minutes to the river. We will be able to fish, in the meanders that flow amongst the grass meadows of this unique high mountain spring creek, deep into this spectacular U-shaped glacial valley. Sight-fishing with hoppers is very usual in this 3-10 metre wide river.
Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Parks: After a spectacular 1.5-hour drive along forest tracks surrounding the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, we can enjoy fishing in a turquoise blue river, considered the wildest in the whole Pyrenees. From more than 35 km of streams and pools we can choose many different stretches to fish. During this trip, fishing is complemented by extraordinary views of the borders of one of the most important National Parks in Europe.
Brook Trout Canyon: We climb by four-wheel drive on forest tracks to the upper stretch of the River Aragón valley and enter the Anayet Nature Park, after a short (about 30 minutes) high mountain walk. Then we reach our goal: two canyons, each about 0 km, with extremely cold and well oxygenated water. Here brook trout are in their ideal habitat, growing up rapidly and offering a good fight to anglers. It is a very visual and active fishing style, with few, short-range casting strokes, and continuous catches, due to the high population.
Helicopter trip (an extra cost) to high altitude "ibons" (glacial lakes): After a short 10-minute approach by helicopter, overflying 3000-metre peaks, and crossing the Garcipollera National Reserve, we land on the shore of one of more than 400 lakes in the Pyrenees: a specially selected "ibon" for sight fishing extremely strong brown trout. The water is so clear here that we can easily see the bottom of the lake up to 5-metres down as well as the trout's vertical ascent to take our offering. The trout will not reject imitations due to the lack of fishing pressure; always we do a natural presentation. After a two-hour, effortless descent, a vehicle will be awaiting us to go back to the lodge.
Trophy trout on the Aragon River, near the lodge: The very first rays of sunshine will find us deep in San Juan de la Peña Natural Park only 10 km away from the lodge. We can contemplate, from the outside, the majestic Medieval Monastery, under a big rock, the place where Aragon was born. Our objective: Trout up to 20 inches. Here we find a bigger, 10-25 meter wide river with a lot of pools, holding a good number of trophy trout in some of them, which are used to feeding early in the morning. Sometimes streamers offer the best results. At midday we go back to the lodge for lunch. We will choose our next destination depending on your preferences in the moment: brook trout, high mountain spring streams or lower reaches.
Departure: Transfer from the lodge to Zaragoza or Pamplona, depending on client requirements.
The Spanish Pyrenees is considered to be one of the most natural regions in Europe today. Over the last ten years, Ivan Tarin and his guides have spent countless hours researching the rivers, streams, canyons and lakes to ascertain their fly fishing potential. They have walked more than 70 possible river canyons with many potential places to fish and selected the best spots. Scouting more than 400 high mountain lakes on foot to select only the twelve best has required seasons of hard trekking and work – all for clients' benefit.
The style of fishing Salvelinus offers is considered technical. Fishing small and medium-sized mountain rivers using light floating lines and finding the best hotspots where you have to work to catch a good fish. The rivers are excellent for fishermen who delight in not just catching but also understanding what kind of fish there are and under which conditions they can be caught.
The scenery throughout is to put it simply, spectacular. Fishing trips take place in valleys situated inside Protected Natural Areas, many of them recognized as Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO. Ivan has obtained exclusive access to many protected areas, allowing his vehicles to drive on forest tracks that place clients near to the best fishing spots.
The Brown Trout is the most common trout in the rivers and lakes in the area. The Autochthonous Brown Trout Mediterranean genotype, present in these waters for thousands of years, inhabits today in some rivers of the Pyrenees. It is recognized for 4 striping in the body and a pale pigmentation. There are Browns in lower reaches up to 30 inches (75 cm) long in different rivers in our area. To catch these fish we have to look for them in special areas, in the early morning and it is recommended to use big streamers or nymphs, being very patient!
Hidden at the source of some of the mountain rivers, we find the perfect habitat for Brook Trout (Salvelinus Fontinalis). We usually catch many "brookies" each day in some of the small river canyons we visit. Also, there are some lakes at around 2,500 metres (7,500 foot) altitude where we can find trophy brookies. Extremely cold water and much snow and ice during the majority of the season only allows us to fish these virgin locations during late July and August. To access the lakes we need to walk 5½ hours or use a helicopter for only 30 minutes.
There are many different fishing conditions to experience in the Pyrenees. Typical high mountain streams have large rocks, small pocket waters and tumbling rapids. Mid-sections of rivers offer more comfortable fishing with smaller rocks, rapids, churning pools and calm water with an average width of 10 to 15 yards. The lower reaches of rivers have slower flowing water up to 90 yards wide. The rivers here are between 2 and 6 feet deep so they are suitable for wading. Temperatures vary between 50-60 Fahrenheit (11-17 °C.) Hidden in the high mountains at around 6,500 feet (2,000 metres and above), there are a large number of Ibons. "Ibon" is a Pyrenees word for a high mountain lake of glacial origin. These spectacular lakes are only accessible by trekking on foot for between 2 to 6 hour or by helicopter.
Insect hatches are in abundance from April to October and the variety of species is enormous due to the high quality of the water. The most widely used and successful flies include:
As part of your trip planning we can notify you of the best flies for the month of your visit.
For dry-fly fishing on rivers we suggest rods be 8 to 9 feet, line weights 3 or 4. Floating line, 9 ft leaders with a final tippet of 4X to 5X. For lake fishing and streamer fishing we recommend a 9 ft rod, line weight 6. Floating WF line, 9 ft leaders with a final tippet of 2X to 5X.
The lodge itself is situated on the bank of the Aragon River, in Santa Cilia de Jaca, a small Pyrenean village of some 190 inhabitants, most of who are involved in agriculture and dairy farming. It is very close to the confluence of two other main rivers at Puente La Reina, these rivers flow from the nearby Hecho and Ansó Valleys. This places the lodge at a strategic location in the centre of our area of operations in the Pyrenees; there are over 800 miles (1,000 Km) of rivers and 30 high-mountain lakes inhabit by trout, in a 30 mile (50 Km) radius to choose from. Set in a rural and tranquil atmosphere, next to the bell tower of the Church of Santa Cilia, the lodge, once an ancient 15th century small palace belonging to the monks of the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña, has been converted into an operative fishing lodge.
The old winepress, built from big, rectangular, stone blocks, is today a rustic sitting room where you can enjoy an after dinner relaxing with a drink with friends, planning your next fishing day with the help of a map, or selecting some flies according to the season and the section of river to fish tomorrow. All the bedrooms have been decorated in keeping with a rustic style. They can be furnished with two single beds or one double bed. Three rooms have a private bathroom and good clothing storage cupboards. The lodge has a full time cook and manager who will provide all your meals in the North Spanish style, accompanied with local wines. The relaxed and informal atmosphere means you can choose your time of breakfast and discuss with the cook what you would like for lunch – which is most often taken by the river.
A charming traditional hotel in the Pyrenees with superb local cuisine serves as the main SALVELINUS base of operations in the eastern Pyrenees.
La Ribagorza Lodge – Hotel Spa has 15 double rooms with en-suite bathroom and balconies. There is a lounge on the ground floor, Spa, massage saloon and a room for drying your waders.
This is a non conventional lodge, wonderful intimate accomodation nestled in the village of Aren. All meals at La Ribagorza are served at the nearby hotel restaurant. The meals feature local, organic foodstuffs and wines, and are anything but ordinary. Traditional dishes are enhanced by a predilection for organic produce, and everything is fresh and tasty.
The manager, Juan Antonio and his family have owned the restaurant since 1800, and their attention to culinary detail shows.
Lunches and dinners are served with quality red wines and a large selection of typical starters. Wine lovers have the option – for an extra charge - of sampling special reserve wines from the restaurant’s historic cellar.
After dinner there is an opportunity to talk with the guide about the following day´s fishing. The lodge is just a few minutes from the Noguera Ribagorzana River. The river crosses the Pyrenean village of Aren.
It is very close to the confluence of two other main rivers from the nearby Aigues Tortes National Park. The lodge is strategically located in the center of some great fishing; there are over 700 miles (900 Km) of rivers and 40 mountain lakes, in a 30-mile (50 Km) radius to choose from. Just a 10 minutes drive from Aren, is the Sopeira reservoir and the medieval village of Montañana. Another option is visiting the Congostos del Montsec Natural Park, with the impressive Noguera Ribagorzana canyon, one of Spain´s most important areas for otters.
Other great excursions – only an hour´s drive from the Lodge: Aigües Tortes and San Mauricio National Park, French Pyrenees National Park, Canyon Natural Park and Sierra de Guara, Arán Valley and Baqueira Beret, or the Posets Maladeta Natural Park.
Andorra Pyrenees is another shopping option. Remember that Andorra is tax free! Helicopter fly – in fishing to “ibons” (tarns) commonly known as high mountain lakes is also available.