Among all the lakes and reservoirs in the country, there is a special one, which inspires respect only when people mention its name. A lake where the biggest and strongest fish in the history of Spain have been caught. A lake that we heard about first from our grandparents captures. We are talking about the mythic Embalse de Orellana.
THE LAKE IN NUMBERS
The Embalse de Orellana was built in 1961 between the towns of Orellana la Vieja y Campanario, in the province of Badajoz (Extremadura). It covers an area of 5550 Ha , with a length of 37 km . The dam is 63 m . height and 737 m . in length, with a total capacity of 824 Hm 3 . The quality of its water is exceptional, and they have been certificated as the clearest waters in the country.
HOW TO GET THERE
By road, the best way is to surround Madrid trough the M40 or M50 highway and to take the A5 highway to Badajoz . In the km. 287, take the road to Miajadas and there, take the road to Don Benito. Half way to this town, take the road N430 to Ciudad Real , and 27 km . after, you will arrive to Acedera, where there is a restaurant (Hotel Viaducto) where most of the local anglers meet. After 8 km . more, you will arrive to Orellana la Vieja , where you will go to the chosen area of the lake.
To be able to fish, you need to be in possession of the regional license. It can be bought in the Caja de Ahorros de Extremadura in the town of Orellana la Vieja. It only costs 4.20€ and is valid for a year. You can use up to three rods and live bait is forbidden. Also night fishing and bivvying are not allowed. To use a boat, you need another permit, which costs 26€, but the Confederación Hidrográfica del Guadiana takes up to 4 months to give them! Also navigation is only allowed in the lower part of the lake, from the Cogolludo Bridge to the dam, and with motors up to 5 HP insurance is not needed. Our advice is that you should contact an agency to buy this permits before travelling. You can also use a small inflatable, enough for feature finding or taking the baits out, but when you are not using it, it is better to hide it in the bank.
Most carp in the lake are commons, with captures in the past up to 26 kg . There are also a few mirrors from previous stocks that have been caught up to 30 kg . and there are also rumours of even bigger fish. The mirror shown in the picture weighed 30.5 kg.The carp in Orellana are very nomadic; they form big groups that travel a lot of km. around the lake. This may have helped in the extraordinary size of their fins. This, and the high level of oxygen in the water, make the carp really hard fighters. Another specie that inhabits the lake is the barbel, in both varieties of common and comizo. Both species grow quite big and are an obsession for a lot of anglers who fish Orellana exclusively for them. There are also a lot of crayfish present, almost a plague, and they are the main food larder for the carp that inhabit the lake. There are so much crayfish in the lake that the locals use them as an important resource, catching them and then selling them. They surround the whole lake with their boats, setting traps in the bottom attached to floats. They examine the traps regularly, to retire the crayfish that have fallen. From June to September there are so many traps in the water that makes fishing impossible in some areas, because the carp would snag in them. Orellana is a paradise for wild life, with otters ( Lutra lutra ), badgers ( Meles meles ), genets ( Genetta genetta ), giant runner toads ( Bufo calamita ) and birds such as vultures ( Gyps fulvus ), eagles ( Aquila chrysaetos ), …
We have to bear in mind the crayfish when we are baiting. They will have a lower activity during the colder months and it will let us fish. But in the warmer months, they can eat all our bait. There can be also big groups of carp that can eat all our bait in a few minutes. After a few years of sessions of our mates and ours, we can advice that the best way is to prebait a week before the session starts with a lot of bait (20–30 kilos). We usually prebait with 10 kg . of boilies and 10 kg of maize and habas (a kind of bean used by the locals) to attract the fish to our area, and then a smaller baiting when the session starts. Sweet boilies are the ones which result best of all, our favourites are which have given us best results are Scopex Squid Liver of Nash. If you are not able to prebait a week prior to fishing, we advice to have only a few handfuls of bait next to the hookbait.
Orellana is full of small mountains, islands and peninsulas. Except the rocky mountain of Cogolludo , in the middle of the lake, the lake is plain, with a lot of bays where you can become lost if you are not careful, because all the bays are similar. In the entrance of those bays we can find depths up to 20 metres that decrease progressively nearing the banks. In the banks we can find oaks, which give a very needed shade in the warmer months. Next to the water the bottom is very hard and rocky, with a lot of areas of sharp slates, so snag leaders are a must. There is also different types of weed in the shallower areas, but in deeper water weed is not present. Be careful because the carp tend to look for sanctuary in these weedbeds. Despite of this, there is no need of fighting the fish from a boat, most captures are from the bank without too much trouble.In winter and spring the water level is usually very high, so we can fish in the shade of the trees, but in summer and autumn the level is much lower, and we can be fishing far from our rods because the bivvys should be erected between the trees to camouflage it. So remember to use remote receivers for your alarms.A pod is a necessity, because most banks are very hard and full of rocks, so standard sticks are not useful. The pod should be very stable, because the wind at Orellana blows really hard at times. The surroundings vary a lot depending of the area. Next to the dam there are a big wood of eucalyptus and oaks that finishes in the southern bank of the lake, and in the northern bank there are a lot of urbanizations and big houses. There are also a few islands, some of them are big and full of trees, but fishing from them is forbidden. In the area of the Cogolludo Bridge the banks are full of private areas full of oaks that are used for cattle raising. Those areas are fenced, but there are paths and doors through them to keep the cattle in its place. If we use those paths to access the banks, make sure that you keep the door as you found it (opened or closed) to avoid the cattle to escape. There are also paths through public areas that are much more convenient.
In Extremadura, the tradition is to fish hard on the bottom, and there they keep the tradition more than in other area of the country. Is not uncommon to see a family in the bank of the lake, with big tents ready to fish a few days. They use a lot of rods that put 30 metres of each other along the bank, filling the whole bay. They usually use 20 rods per angler. The lake is so big that those anglers are not afraid of risking of being caught by the Guardia Civil. The worst part is that the carp that they catch are not released, and usually finish in the garbage, in the kitchen of local pubs or sold as crayfish bait. The educational labour that we at Webcarp are doing, above all our friends at Extremadura, is giving rewards. Little by little, more and more anglers who killed their captures in the past are now releasing them, but there are a lot of anglers left who don't understand our philosophy, because of the hard of their tradition. We have no doubts that Orellana has the right conditions for the carp to grow big; if the locals hadn't been killing the carp for so long, we will be talking about a new St. Cassien, or even better. But look carefully for its future, because our work will give rewards and the “catch and release” motto win!
AYUNTAMIENTO DE ORELLANA
Tel. 924 867801
Carretera Nacional 430, Km . 131
Tel. 924 825018
HOSPEDERIA EMBALSE DE ORELLANA
Cerro de las Herrerias s/n
Orellana la Vieja
Tel. 924 866400
CONFEDERACIÓN HIDROGRÁFICA DEL GUADIANA
Carretera de Porzuna, 6
Ciudad Real 13002
Tel. 926 274942
You will be able to find more information in the International Carper Nº19 Mai. 2005