As we wade in the waters of a warming planet, it is clear that anglers must adapt to the times. “Hoot Owl” hours, limits on fishing access and complete closures of various rivers have provided fish a little relief from the extra pressure of warmer water temperatures. But warming water is merely one of the consequences. Since the 19th century, the entire planet has warmed by 1.1 degrees Celsius (or 2 degrees Fahrenheit). The impact of these few degrees can be felt worldwide. This summer alone, heat waves have killed hundreds of people in the United States and Canada, floods have devastated Germany and China, and wildfires have raged out of control in Siberia, Turkey and Greece.
According to a report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, our planet is on track to continue warming despite anything we can do about it. Even if nations started cutting emissions immediately, these scientists say that global warming is likely to rise another 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. The report, approved by 195 governments and based on more than 14,000 studies, is the most comprehensive summary to date of the physical science of climate change. See it here.
At this rate of warming, scientists say that we can expect the possibility of more life-threatening heat waves. More would struggle for water with severe droughts. Some plant and animal species alive today will be gone. Coral reefs, sustaining fisheries for large portions of the globe, will suffer more frequent die-offs. And, quite obviously, angling as we all know it will demand some changes.
With this outlook, there are places on the planet where adaptation to heat has already become the mainstay. Portugal’s Alentejo region is one of these areas, and for anglers it provides the prime opportunity to catch giant carp- the notorious species of fish that thrives in warmer waters.
The Alentejo is located in southern Portugal, and the Mediterranean climate provides more than 250 days of sun each year. Here, Carp on Fly Adventures gets the angler into shallow waters for sight fishing. While the Alentejo region is affected by global warming and average temperatures are clearly on the rise, fly fishing can continue with care and a little adaptation. Some climate models indicate daytime average maximum temperatures nearing 40 °C (104 °F) in the Guadiana River Valley by 2100.
However, it’s the perfect habitat for carp.
Carp are members of the minnow family, with large golden scales. In most waters, 10-pound fish could be considered small, and captures exceeding 20 pounds are not uncommon. Native to Asia, carp were spread throughout Europe by the Romans and were first stocked as a food fish in the U.S. in the late 1870s by the newly created Fish Commission.
The Alentejo is located in southern Portugal, and the Mediterranean climate provides more than 250 days of sun each year. Here, Carp on Fly Adventures gets the angler into shallow waters for sight fishing.
Perhaps in response to the warming trend, carp fly-fishing has evolved dramatically in recent years. The growing number of enthusiasts going after this fish do it for a reason: Wild carp’s behavior, in optimal conditions, offers a great experience. Some have even compared it to fly fishing for bonefish on the flats. Sight fishing, stalking and heavy-hitting takes are common with this fish.
The Alentejo region is also home of the world’s most important area for the growing of cork. Cork-oak, known in Portugal as “sobreiro”, has been grown commercially in the region for the past 300 years. The bark of the cork-oak is still harvested by teams using locally made hand-axes. No mechanical method will allow the harvest to be achieved as effectively. The cork-oak is the only tree known that will allow this regular stripping of bark without damage. The harvest of one mature tree provides sufficient bark to produce about 4,000 wine bottle corks, and the industry provides employment for about 60,000 workers.
Perhaps Portugal offers the angler a glimpse into the future of fly fishing. As we experience warming temperatures worldwide, we can look at the example set by the Alentejo region and realize that despite the climate change, there is a way to adapt and continue fly fishing in a responsible way.
José Rodrigues, born in 1980, grew up in the Aveiro area in northern Portugal, where he started fishing at an early age. With a background in IT, he decided to change his life and dedicated himself to his passion, sport fishing. In 2009 he founded “BlueTail Films”, having produced more than fifty hunting and fishing documentaries for television. In 2012 he published a book in Spain about carp fly fishing, and in the same year he founded the fly fishing shop “Fly and Flies”. Currently, with more than 20 years of experience in carp fly fishing, he is also a guide in the Alentejo area. His international fishing experience takes him as a guide to several countries, including the Amazon. If you are looking for great adventures, you can count on him.