Portugal’s Alentejo Region

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.

Holm oak and Cork oak, common trees of the Alentejo region.

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.

Here, most important is to find the carp, know the fish position and what he is doing. Then you can approach correctly, make the cast and present the fly in the right place. When you set the hook, you only remember the moments before that, so this means that “the size is not important”!
#8 and #10 hook flies with 1X tippet is the way to get the big carp in when they feed in shallow 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.

You can tie carp flies with many types of material. My favorite is marabou. This material beats all the others of it’s tied well.
Melchior from The Netherlands lands a good sized fish. This was the last of the day. When you fight a fish, you need to pull hard. Sometimes we win, sometimes don’t.
Nerses from Germany, on his 4th trip with Carp on Fly Adventures, holds a nice carp. The challenge is an addiction.

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.

When we make the perfect cast and the perfect presentation, and the carp want our fly, we get connected. Then we need good equipment for the fight. An 8-weight fly rod and a good fly reel are important. And of course, don’t forget tropical floating lines or you will be in trouble with the heat.
Any carp, big or small, is a challenge to catch with 100% sight fishing in shallow waters.
The landscape during the dry season reminds us of the African savannah. But relax…no lions here!

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.

Cork oak, a protected tree in Portugal. The cork production is everywhere in this area and is sent worldwide, including to big fly rod building companies. Maybe the cork from your fly rod comes from our carp fishing areas?
The beautiful dead. Some of them need to die for others to grow healthy and strong.

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.

Kelley Moen

Perfect and healthy fish…these are our wild carp.

Contributed By

José Rodrigues

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.


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