Fishing in Portugal
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When you come fishing in Portugal you can choose between fresh water fishing, sea fishing, including big game fishing, beach casting and cliff fishing.
An appropriate location for the World Fishing Championship in 2006, fishing has long formed an integral part of Portuguese culture and diet. It is a fantastic fishing destination with a long season and lots of different fish and angling experiences.
People who want to give fishing a go or learn new skills can take one of the many day trips available where tuition is provided if necessary. While for the more experienced angler, the sizeable range of habitats in such a small country offer the opportunity for more challenging sport and some whopper catches!
Fresh water fishing in Portugal
More and more anglers are choosing Portugal as a destination for coarse, specimen, feeder, and fly fishing and it has some of the best carp fishing in Europe. It is possible to fish throughout the country at an abundance of rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs. So if you are planning a general holiday anywhere in Portugal you could set aside a day for fishing or you could plan an all-inclusive fishing holiday- a great way not only to indulge your passion but also to explore some of the most beautiful and unspoilt parts of the country.
Many of Portugals waterways are only rarely fished and so have a great reputation amongst those in the know for large fish, with particularly huge carp found near the dams. Other fish to try for include wels catfish, bass, barbel, shad, sturgeon, chub and pike. Anglers who prefer fly fishing should head to the Northern rivers for salmon, rainbow trout and trout where you'll also find European bullhead and spined loach.
To get the most out of your fishing in Portugal, it is a good idea to hire a local English-speaking guide who can take you to all the best spots and maybe let you into some secrets.
You will need a license from the local authorities for fresh water fishing in Portugal but fishing trip organisers and guides will normally arrange this for you and will be able to give you detailed information about seasonal restrictions and other regulations. If you prefer to fish independently you can get a permit cheaply from the local council but you will need ID and it may take a day or so to come through. You are not allowed to practise night fishing in Portugal.
Sea and Big Game Fishing in Portugal
With over 500 miles(800km) of coastline and a strong maritime tradition, Portugal has no shortage of locations for sea fishing! It is said that up to 200 different species of fish can be taken from Portuguese waters including 1000lb (450kg) marlin!
Thanks to the benign influences of the Atlantic and Mediterranean oceans, the Gulf Stream and the continental shelf the Portuguese coast attracts many large fish and has gained a reputation as one of the best sea fishing destinations in Europe.
For many fishing aficionados big game (deep sea) fishing provides the ultimate thrill and it is very popular in Portugal, Madeira and the Azores. With breathtaking scenery and the challenge of massive tuna, blue and white marlin, shark, scabbard fish, conger, ray, salmon bass, tunny and mackerel amongst others, your photos and experience will be the envy of your friends!
Most boats now operate a catch and release policy. You can charter a boat privately at any time or join a group on a prearranged trip from one of many marinas.
The Azores and Madeira are currently believed to be some of the best locations in the world for big game fishing
Big Game Fishing in The Azores
From July to late October the gulf stream brings very large marlin and, in recent years, large blue-fin tuna to feed in the waters of the Azores. The islands hold six out of ten of the current IFGA men's blue marlin world records and a total of 22 world record catches for different species. As well as these giants there are plenty of other big game fish including white marlin, bigeye and yellow fin tuna, spear fish, swordfish and mako sharks so hopefully you'll go home triumphant!
Big Game Fishing in Madeira
The blue and white marlin seasons lasts from May to October in Madeira. Very large fish have been taken here and the World Cup Blue Marlin Championship was won by fishermen in Madeira in 1995, 1996 and 1997. As well as the marlin, there are albacore, dorado, spear fish, big eye tuna, blue fin tuna, skipjack, amberjack and wahoo ensuring good fishing all year around.
Big Game and Sea Fishing in The Algarve and Mainland Portugal
Shark fishing trips in the Algarve report a good success rate. Blue sharks are the most commonly caught but Mako and hammerhead sharks have also been taken. As the water temperature rises, the marlin come to the Algarve and there are yearly marlin fishing competitions run from Vilamoura marina and Tavira. An IGFA Record Marlin was caught in Tavira in the Algarve. There is also a good variety of other fish to be had with corvina of up to 100lbs (45kg) a particular highlight.
Further up the coast recommended sites for sea fishing in Portugal include the area around Sines in the Alentejo and Sesimbra, Peniche and Nazaré in central Portugal, near Lisbon.
For the hungrier, less experienced or more modest amongst you there are also great reef fishing half-day and day trips available from marinas across Portugal. The guide will provide you with, insider knowledge, fishing tackle and bait, a comfy chair and if you're a beginner will show you the ropes. One of the best things about these trips is that after an invigorating day in the sea air you can normally take any fish you catch home for the barbecue!
As you sail out to sea you will first find bream, sole, grouper and jewfish, then as you head further out you pass over an extension of the continental platform where medium size fish build their nests and swim in big shoals giving you the opportunity to catch anchovy, mackerel, sea bream, rock bass, conger eel and spurdog. Finally as you head out towards open sea there are shoals of tuna, sharks, sawfish and sprat waiting to test your skill!
On sea fishing trips there may be discounts for non-fishing friends or family who you can lure along with the promise of great scenery and a sun tan and the possibility of spotting wild dolphins and whales!
While you are near the coast you should also try for mullet, eels, sole and snook in the river mouths and estuaries.
Beach Casting and Cliff Fishing in Portugal
Beach, or surf, casting is very popular in Portugal thanks to the wide, golden beaches. Take a stroll along the beach and you'll find locals fishing here from dawn to dusk, particularly on days and in places where the sea is a little deeper or choppier. They are mostly fishing for bass, but you might catch bream, mullet, mackerel or sole. In order to fish successfully from the beach you need to use the right equipment- it should be very flexible and balanced, know about the habits of the fish and choose the right bait. I hear that clams are popular. So its useful to go with a guide or start getting friendly with the locals!
A more precarious, but also common, alternative is cliff fishing where the angler balances on a cliff many meters above sea level. This is a dramatic spectacle around Sagres and the western coast of the Algarve and Ericeira in Central Portugal. The highly skilled local fishermen are after gropers, jewfish, turbot, moray eels, conger eels, sea bream, gilthead, bream, bass, mackerel, garfish, and mullet and make it look easy. Prawns, sardines, worms and mackerel pieces make effective bait. Obviously though you have to be extremely careful as there is a real possibility of slipping and falling or being swept away by big waves. So you should never try this without a very experienced local guide!
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Fishing in Portugal photos copyright: Alex Vinter, Dennis, Neil Goulder, Daly Sorvongsavanh, Gustavo R Costa, Vitor Antunes