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Peñarroya Lake and the pools of Ruidera


The Pools of Ruidera's landscape is one of the most beautiful countryside in the whole Iberian peninsula , and since 1979 they became part of the Natural Park of the same name. It is situated in the Cuidad Real province, and limits with the Albacete province. It can be reached from several roads, but the easiest way is through the national road N430 that joins the cities of Albacete and Manzanares. This road passes through the town of Ruidera , in one side the main part of the pools and in the other some small ones and the Embalse de Peñarroya. It covers a total area of 3772 Ha , and it is inhabited by numerous species of birds and fish. The river that flows through the park is the river Guadiana , forming a total of 15 different sized pools communicated by small rivers, cascades and underground flows. At the end of the pools you can find the artificial dam of Peñarroya. The platform where the park is situated is composed by a thick layer of sediments from the Mesozoic Age (200 millions years ago). The terrain is disposed horizontally, the lower layers are from clay, and that makes it impermeable and the higher layers are from limestone that makes those layers permeable. The stepped position of the pools along the valley has been possible thanks to the impermeable of the bottom. We have no constancy of the pools to have been drained in the last few hundreds of years, so they have the perfect conditions to hold big cyprinids such as the carp, or some other endemic species such as the Barbel Microcephalus. The water is extremely clear, in some pools you can see the bottom from the surface even un depths of 10 metres . This helps the growing of weed so the bottom is covered in the main part of the pools by huge weed beds. In some areas these weed is short, but in some others their filaments reach several metres and they form like forests. There is one kind of weed very hard and strong that has an awful smell. This smell is so strong that if our boilie lies next to them for a while it will loose his smell and absorb the weed smell. The areas free of weed are usually of a white mud because of the high concentration of limestone, and are the best areas to position our hookbaits. Because of this old bottom, it is free of snags, with the exception of the weed beds and some sunken trees near the banks. Excepting a few swimming areas, most banks are absolutely inaccessible. They are covered by huge reed beds and there are only a few swims available. This abundance of vegetation helps the growing of great varieties of insects and wildlife, very important in the feeding habits of the fish. Apart from millions of insects and their larvae, we can find shirmp, crayfish and autochthonous clam. There are some other species that inhabit the pools, such as the Lucius Esex and the Black Bass. There are often different species of exotic birdlife that spend the winter there. Sometimes you can find deer, wild boars and even foxes that come into the water an night to drink. Not all the pools are good for carpfishing. We are going to talk about them and downstream we will reach Peñarroya. The first one is the Blanca pool, a pool with no interest. The second one is the Conceja, and there are here big carp and barbel, but the fishing is forbidden for protection of the birdlife. For this reason there is no angling pressure, so it is easy to catch a good one, you only need a good place to hide. After that, we will see the Tomilla and Tinaja pools until we arrive to the San Pedro pool. In this pool there are a lot of small and medium sized barbel, and it is easy to catch a few even during the day.

After this pool we can find the Redondilla, Lengua and Salvadora pools, until we arrive to the Santos Morcillo pool. This is a very small one, but it holds carp and barbel of very good sizes. The next ones are the Batana pool and the Colgada pool that connects with the Rey pool. Theses ones are the biggest and the hardest to fish. Both hold big carp and barbel. The Rey pool finishes in the town of Ruidera , and from there and until the lake, there are a few other pools, but of little interest for the fishing.


In the pools the carp and barbel population is small, but they hold big specimens. It is strange to catch singles and double-figure carp, and the few barbel are above the 5 kg mark. 80 % of the carp are commons, with the rest being mirrors and linears. There are a lot in the 11- 14 kg . bracket, and the biggest one that we know is a 16 kg . common. The pools hold three varieties of giant barbel, the common barbel up to 9 kilos, the microcephalus up to 11 kg and the comizo up to 14 kg . It makes the pools look like a true fishing paradise, but because the low density of fish, the huge quantities of natural food and the clear water, the fishing is really hard. The boilies most used are fish meal based (clam, crayfish, squid), and personally the best results that we have had have been using the Four Seasons Fish boilies from Eurobaits and the Monster Pursuit from Nashbait. The dip that provided best results has been the crayfish dip from Mistral. The best tactic is to prepare a baited zone a few weeks before the fishing. Because of the little time available and the low population of fish, if we want good results, the best thing would be to make a light baiting of fast attraction. Depending of the time of the year, the fishing activity varies a lot.

For the carp, all the times are good, but in winter the activity lowers a lot. For the barbel is best the winter and the start of the spring, but we have to say that they are very hard, there have been a lot of anglers that have fished for 15 days to catch only one, but others have caught up to five in a special day. The main problem is that like in the rest of the country, bivying and night fishing are not allowed. Being a natural park there are much more vigilance, and the fines can be very high, up to 15.000 euros, but if it is your first time being caught, they will be up to 300 euros

The Peñarroya Lake

The Peñarroya's dam was finished in 1959. It is a long lake ( 13 km approx.) and with as few small arms. Its depth is very variable, with a maximum depth in the entering of the main river of 6- 8 metres . There are some wide zones, but the lake is mainly quite narrow. The deepest areas are at 14 metres approximately depending on the water level. The dam area is the deepest, with a depth up to 20 metres . The reservoir has a capacity of 48 Hm3 and covers an area of 412 Ha. To arrive to the lake, from the town of Ruidera you have to pick the road that goes to Argamasilla de Alba. Approximately 3 kilometres from Ruidera there is a path at the left of the road that indicates la Moraleja. From here, we have a non asphalted path that goes a few kilometres down the valley until we arrive to the lake. At the right hand of the lake the path is only 500 metres long, and we can only fish a few swims, there are only a few accesses and are private. At the left hand there is a path that rounds the lake; the first three kilometres can be driven with a normal car, but from here the path has a lot of holes and a 4x4 is needed, above all, if it has been raining recently. The path is very inclined and muddy, and there is a risk of our car falling into the water. When we arrive we will find a big bay with sunken trees, full of snags but very good for fishing. The bay finishes in a point swim with an area of gravel, very good for the barbel. To go to the dam, we have to keep driving through the main road to Argamasilla de Alba, until we find a castle next to the dam. To the left of the castle there is a path that finishes in an area of some semi submerged poles, a very good area for barbel in winter. There is not a lot of vegetation on the banks, and you can fish from everywhere, there are plenty of swims available. The landscape is beautiful, full of old oaks through the banks and beds of rosemary, whose smell fills everything. In the spring there are even zones of red poppy. The bottom of the lake is much harder that in the Pools, with a lot of big stones and only a few muddy areas. There are not a lot of weed beds, and only in the area where the main river feeds the lake. It is a very snaggy lake, in this area there are a lot of submerged trees. The quality og the water is very good; when the water level is high, the water is very clear and full of oxygen. In years of draughts and in dry months (July, August) the water level drops a lot, and the water turns green, and the fishing becomes much more difficult. The lake is not as rich with regards of natural food such as clam and shrimp, but there area lot of crayfish, and are the main larder of natural food for the big fish. Despite being connected to the pools and being so near, the lake is much different. There is a big head of carp, with a smaller average size of 6 kg . but there are a lot of carp in the 8- 13 kg . bracket. Bigger fish are very rare, although the biggest known was 18 kg , bigger than the Pools record. Approximately 95 % of the carp are commons, and captures of mirror carp are rare, but usually bigger in size. As in the Pools, the strength of these fish are incredible, because of the abundance of natural food and the high levels of oxygen. A small one can fight as hard as a bigger one in a different lake. With regards to the barbel, it happens the same, there are more but smaller ones than in the Pools. Most are in the 5- 7 kg . bracket, and the biggest that we know was a 9 kg . comizo. We also don't know of captures of microcephalus. Without doubt there are much bigger barbel, but because the big head of carp and small barbel makes the fishing hard.


Apart from carp and barbel, there is a big head of pike, with captures up to 15 kg. In the lake fishmeal based boilies work very well, such as Nashbait Shellfish boilies, but in the hotter months it is better a sweet flavour such as Big Red Seed from Eurobaits and White Chocolate Nashbaits. Big beds of bait in spring an autumn is they way to success, 15 kg of particles and 5 kg of boilies can be a good starting point. With this baiting we can have a slow start, but from the second day it will be common to have 12-20 runs in a day. The lake belongs to the Natural Park , but it is so big that the vigilante is much lower than in the Pools. You can bivvy up with not a lot of risk, but be sure to keep it well dismantled during the day.




Entering the town of Ruidera we find the Hotel Restaurant Guadiana, one of the best restaurants to try the typical food of the area along with a good wine. The head of the restaurant is our good friend José Luis Uceda, who will attend you personally. You can sleep in the hotel or he can prepare an apartment to your disposal.



Hotel Restaurant Guadiana

Avd. Castilla la Mancha , 65

13249 Ruidera ( Ciudad Real)

Tel./Fax.: 926 52 80 65


Boats are allowed, but only rowing. Electrical motors are not allowed. The needed permits can be obtained in the next address:

Fishing permits:

Delegación provincial de agricultura y

Medio ambiente.

C./ Alarcos, 21 Planta Baja

Ciudad Real

Tel./Fax : 926 27 94 75




You will be able to find more information in the International Carper Nº12 Oct. 2004.