Best Fly Fishing Rivers in the Basque Country

The Basque Country, specifically the province of Guipuzcoa, provides excellent opportunities for fly fishing for trout, with the inverse season being particularly notable from September to March. Here are its best rivers.

According to our experience, these are the top 6 rivers for fly fishing in the Basque Country:

1 – LEITZARÁN RIVER🥇

Description: The Leitzaran River, from its source in Leitza to its confluence with the Oria River in Andoain, shapes the picturesque Leitzaran Valley in Gipuzkoa. Despite its low population density, the valley houses a rich historical and cultural heritage, evidenced by prehistoric remains, ironworks, and the influence of the «Plazaola» mining railway.

This river has several fishing reserves. In the upper part, below the Plazaola dam, there is the Leitzarán I fishing reserve, and in the lower part, near the confluence with the Oria, there is the Intensive Fishing Reserve of Leitzarán II. Brown trout can be found in the upper part of the river, and rainbow trout in the lower part, which are periodically restocked from September to March.

The most famous stretch of the river is the aforementioned Leitzaran Intensive Fishing Reserve, established in 1987 to extend the fishing season, covering 5 km. This reserve attracts numerous anglers from all over Spain during the inverse season. The optimal flow for fishing in this intensive reserve is 3-6 m3/second. There are also free fishing stretches with catch-and-release policies and even sections adapted for physically disabled individuals on the river.

Species: Brown trout, rainbow trout, and barbel.

Fishing season: March 19th to the end of July. The intensive reserve is open year-round.

Fishing license: Guipuzcoa fishing license.

Best reserves: Leitzarán I and Leitzarán II.

Size of catches: Small to medium, except in the intensive stretch where large rainbow trout can be found.

In favor

against

Destination Raking:

9,2

Variety of species
70%
Scenic beauty
50%
Extended fishing season
100%
Possibility of trophy trout
70%
Dry fly fishing
40%
Fishing pressure
90%

2 – ARAXES RIVER

Description: The Araxesa River is a tributary of the Oria River in the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula, originating in Navarra and flowing into Guipúzcoa. With a length of 24 km, it passes through various population centers in Navarra and Guipúzcoa. The Araxesa Valley in Guipúzcoa features beech forests and a rich fauna, including endangered species such as the European mink.

In its upper reaches, the Araxesa River hosts wild populations of brown trout. Between the upper limit with Navarra and the Amaroz dam, there is a catch-and-release fishing reserve with a healthy population of brown trout. Further downstream, between the Insalus dam and the Amaroz dam, is the intensive catch-and-release fishing reserve. This reserve is home to both rainbow and brown trout.

Species: Brown trout, rainbow trout, and barbel.

Fishing season: March 19th to the end of July. The intensive reserve from August 1st to March 15th.

Fishing license: Guipuzcoa fishing license.

Best reserves: Araxes Intensive Fishing Reserve and Araxes Catch-and-Release Fishing Reserve.

Size of catches: Small to medium.

In favor

against

Destination Raking:

9,2

Variety of species
70%
Scenic beauty
50%
Extended fishing season
100%
Possibility of trophy trout
50%
Dry fly fishing
60%
Fishing pressure
80%

3 – ARANTZAZU RIVER

Description: The Oñate River, also known as the Aránzazu River in Basque, flows through the southern part of Guipúzcoa. It is formed by various tributaries, including the Ubao, Olabarrieta, Olaran, and Auntz rivers in the Aizkorri and Urkilla mountain ranges. In this small-sized river with dense vegetation, there is a popular catch-and-release fishing reserve highly sought after by Basque anglers. This reserve has its upper limit at the Miruerreka dam and the lower limit at the San Pedro Bridge, in the municipality of Oñati. In this area, you can fish for wild brown trout.

Species: Brown trout.

Fishing season: April 1st to the end of July.

Fishing license: Guipuzcoa fishing license.

Best reserve: Arantzazu Catch-and-Release.

Size of catches: Small to medium.

In favor

against

Destination Raking:

9,2

Variety of species
50%
Scenic beauty
50%
Extended fishing season
30%
Possibility of trophy trout
40%
Dry fly fishing
60%
Fishing pressure
70%

4 – ZELAI RIVER

Description: The Celai River, also known as Berastegi and Elduarain, is a tributary of the Oria River in the province of Guipúzcoa, Spain. It originates in Berástegui, near the border with Navarra, and flows for about 13.6 km before joining the Oria in Tolosa. Between the months of March and July, the fishing reserve of this river is open, with the following limits: between the dam and the Ugane farmhouse up to the Belauntza bridge. It is a small-sized river, densely vegetated, featuring highly technical fishing, and abundant medium-sized brown trout.

Species: Brown trout.

Fishing season: March 19th to the end of July.

Fishing license: Guipuzcoa fishing license.

Best reserves: Zelai catch and release.

Size of catches: Small to medium.

In favor

against

Destination Raking:

9,2

Variety of species
50%
Scenic beauty
60%
Extended fishing season
60%
Possibility of trophy trout
40%
Dry fly fishing
70%
Fishing pressure
70%

5 – URUMEA RIVER

Description: The Urumea River originates in Navarra and flows into the Cantabrian Sea in San Sebastián. Efforts are underway to restore salmon populations in the river, and it is also known for the presence of mammals such as the European mink. The Urumea River has two catch-and-release fishing stretches: Urumea I and Urumea II. The first stretch extends from the Ergobia bridge to the Eziago footbridge in the municipality of Hernani and is open for fishing from April 1st to September 30th. The second stretch runs from the bridge leading to the Lastaola industrial estate to the Arriurdiñeta dam, and the fishing season is from April 1st to July 31st. This is a medium-sized river with brown trout, featuring alternating large pools and currents.

Species: Brown trout, salmon, and barbel.

Fishing season: April 1st to the end of July or September, depending on the stretch.

Fishing license: Guipuzcoa fishing license.

Best reserves: There are no reserves; they are catch-and-release free fishing stretches.

Size of catches: Medium-sized.

In favor

against

Destination Raking:

9,2

Variety of species
80%
Scenic beauty
60%
Extended fishing season
60%
Possibility of trophy trout
60%
Dry fly fishing
40%
Fishing pressure
60%

6 – ORIA RIVER

Description: The Oria River originates in Navarra, flows through Guipuzcoa, and empties into the Cantabrian Sea in Orio. Over the last few decades, the water quality of this river has significantly improved, positively impacting brown trout populations. The Oria River features four catch-and-release fishing stretches that are of great interest for fly fishing.

Species: Brown trout, salmon, and barbel.

Fishing season: April 1st to the end of July or September, depending on the stretch.

Fishing license: Guipuzcoa fishing license.

Best reserves: There are no reserves; they are catch-and-release free fishing stretches.

Size of catches: Medium-sized.

In favor

against

Destination Raking:

9,2

Variety of species
70%
Scenic beauty
60%
Extended fishing season
60%
Possibility of trophy trout
40%
Dry fly fishing
40%
Fishing pressure
60%

7 – OIARTZUM RIVER

Description: The Oyarzun River, the shortest in Guipúzcoa with a length of 16.6 km, originates in the Peñas de Aya and flows into the Bay of Pasajes, in the Bay of Biscay. In terms of fly fishing, this river offers two stretches of interest for catch-and-release brown trout fishing. The first, named Oiartzum I, spans from the lower limit, the Gabierrota footbridge, to the Vicente Cobreros street bridge in the municipality of Errenteria. The fishing season in this stretch extends from April 1st to September 30th. The second stretch, Oiartzum II, extends from the confluence of the Oiartzun and Sarobe rivers to the junction with the Arditurri stream, located in the municipality of Oiartzun. The fishing season in this stretch is from April 1st to July 31st.

Species: Brown trout, salmon, and barbel.

Fishing season: April 1st to the end of July or September, depending on the stretch.

Fishing license: Guipuzcoa fishing license.

Best reserves: There are no reserves; they are catch-and-release free fishing stretches.

Size of catches: Medium-sized.

In favor

against

Destination Raking:

9,2

Variety of species
70%
Scenic beauty
60%
Extended fishing season
60%
Possibility of trophy trout
40%
Dry fly fishing
40%
Fishing pressure
60%

7 – UROLA RIVER

Description: The Urola River, located in the province of Guipúzcoa, spans a length of 59 km and is one of the main rivers in the region. From its origin in Mount Aitzgorri to its mouth in Zumaya, it features three catch-and-release free fishing stretches of great interest for fly fishing. In this river, you can catch brown trout, and there are also salmon.

Species: Brown trout and barbel.

Fishing season: April 1st to the end of July or September, depending on the stretch.

Fishing license: Guipuzcoa fishing license.

Best reserves: There are no reserves; they are catch-and-release free fishing stretches.

Size of catches: Medium-sized.

In favor

against

Destination Raking:

9,2

Variety of species
50%
Scenic beauty
60%
Extended fishing season
60%
Possibility of trophy trout
40%
Dry fly fishing
40%
Fishing pressure
60%