10 best rivers for fly fishing trout in León

León is the Spanish province with the most extensive network of trout rivers and is steeped in history and culture. Its capital, also named León, stands renowned for its impressive Gothic cathedral and its traditional gastronomy. The province is renowned among anglers for the renowned feathers of its roosters, which are utilized for crafting flies.

The oldest known document concerning the art of fly tying, the Manuscript of Astorga, dates back to 1624 and holds incalculable historical value.

The primary source of many rivers in the province of León, Spain, is the Cantabrian Mountain Range, a significant mountain system that stretches along the northern coast of Spain, constituting one of the country’s major ranges.

 

The rivers of León are widely celebrated and support thriving trout populations. Numerous of these rivers are controlled by reservoirs utilized for irrigation purposes. The rivers of the León province evoke memories of Argentina’s waterways. Despite existing in a dry climate, the rivers of Patagonia contribute rainwater to these rivers, mirroring the situation in León with the Cantabrian Mountain Range. In this analogy, Asturias corresponds to Chile and León to Argentina.

Personally, I consider the best rivers for fly fishing in León to be the following:

  1. CURUEÑO RIVER:    

    The Curueño River is a watercourse that originates in the Cantabrian Mountain Range, within the province of León. It meanders through the Babia region. This river is renowned for its rugged mountain landscapes and its impeccably preserved natural surroundings.The Curueño River has gained fame due to its association with the breeding of the Gallós de León, a local rooster breed.

    These roosters yield feathers of exceptional brilliance from their kidneys, which hold substantial value. If you decide to engage in fishing along this river, we highly recommend a visit to the Museo del Gallo de León (Museum of the León Rooster) and suggest taking a moment to procure feathers from the local breeders situated in the village of Gállos de la Cándana.

    Tolibia, Valdepiélago, and Valdelugueros are the prime fishing locations along the Curueño River. Additionally, beyond fishing, you can indulge in the region’s culinary delights at establishments such as Venta del Aldeano. While exploring the area, you’ll encounter Roman bridges that possess remarkable beauty, as seen in Valdepiélago, and encounter unique fauna like bears and capercaillies.

                                                 
  2. SIL RIVER:                

    The Sil River holds significance as a crucial tributary of the Miño River, coursing through the western expanse of the León province. While its source lies in Galicia, a considerable stretch of its journey traverses the Bierzo region within León. The Sil valley garners acclaim for its terraced vineyards, which cultivate the mencía grape, the cornerstone for crafting exceptional wines.

    Angling along the Sil River boasts a storied history. Records underscore the significance of trout fishing in villages neighboring the river since medieval times. In fact, historical documents revealing manorial tributes paid to the Count of Luna from the 14th to the 19th centuries enumerate a listing of 250 trout.

    Two decades ago, the Sil River grappled with ailing trout populations due to mining-induced pollution. However, recent times have witnessed a substantial resurgence in these trout populations. The closure of mines and the subsequent water purification efforts have contributed significantly to this rebound. For a visual glimpse of the river’s transformation, I recommend following the YouTube channel of a Spanish angler who goes by the moniker «Hisma Old School.» His videos showcase the impressive trout caught through traditional «leonese» fishing methods.

    For our preferences, the prime fishing territory along the Sil River encompasses the elevated region proximate to Villablino, the AREC of Requejo, and the EDS of Ponferrada.

  3. PORMA RIVER:

    Within the Porma River, we can discern two distinct sections:

    • Upstream of the Porma River Reservoir: The upper stretch boasts an abundance of trout both within the main river and its tributaries cascading down from the mountain passes. The prominent sanctuary in this region is called Vegamián, extending approximately eight kilometers. Within this preserve, enclosed trout and salmon populations flourish – a consequence of a historic escape from a fish farm. These fish ascend from the reservoir for spawning, emulating a self-contained cycle akin to ocean behavior.

    • Downstream of the Porma River Reservoir: The Porma River Reservoir, also recognized as the Barrios de Luna Reservoir, holds paramount status as a crucial reservoir within the León province of Spain. It was established in 1956. As a result of the Porma Reservoir, remnants of the Vegamián populations persist beneath its waters.

    Fishing downstream of the Porma River offers an excellent experience, although it is influenced by water discharges for irrigation and electricity generation. Prime months to engage in fishing within this river region are March, April, and October. Distinguished angling preserves encompass the Cotos del Condado and Cerezales.

    If the opportunity arises for you and your family to explore this river through fishing, I wholeheartedly recommend a visit to the Miguel Delibes River Classroom. This educational hub provides an insightful perspective into water’s significance, imparts fishing skills, and underscores the pivotal role of river ecosystems.

    The Porma River stands as one of the largest rivers in León, originating in the Cantabrian Mountain Range and predominantly coursing through the León province before merging with the Esla River. It gracefully winds through several towns, including Boñar and Vegacervera. Flowing across siliceous terrain, the Porma River’s fishing experience is profoundly influenced by the presence of the Porma’s headwaters reservoir.                                                                                                                                                                                      
  4. ESLA RIVER:   

    The Esla River holds prominence as another pivotal tributary of the Duero River and stands as the principal river within the León province. Originating in the Cantabrian Mountain Range, it navigates its course until confluence with the Duero. Similar to the Porma River, fishing along the Esla River is shaped by the presence of a headwater reservoir, specifically the Riaño reservoir.

    Known to the Romans as the Astura River, the Esla River was referred to by this name due to its association with the Asturian tribes, a pre-Roman people who posed a formidable challenge for the Roman military’s subjugation efforts. These tribes inhabited the river’s banks and beyond.

    In scrutinizing the fishing prospects within this remote river, even in the context of the Romans, we can delineate between two distinct segments:

    • Upstream from the Riaño Reservoir: Spanning a mere 30 kilometers from its emergence in springs near Puerto de Tarna to the Riaño reservoir, this section offers unique angling opportunities. The solitary sanctuary in this stretch is the Acebedo preserve, demarcated by the Acebedo bridge at its upper boundary and a new bridge upstream of Burón as its lower limit. The prime fishing months for this tract are June and early July.

    • Downstream of the Riaño Reservoir: The Riaño reservoir was erected in 1987, a decision that generated substantial controversy due to the inundation of numerous villages to bring the reservoir to life. This intervention fundamentally transformed the river’s course. In the downstream stretch, the river widens, and its current slows. Optimal fishing months for the section regulated by the Esla River dam are March, April, September, and October.

    Notable preserves downstream of the reservoir encompass the AREC – Cistierna, the Gradefes preserve, the Pesquera preserve, the Quintana de la Rueda preserve, and the AREC – Mansilla de las Mulas.

                    

  5. ÓRBIGO RIVER: 

    The Órbigo River originates in the Cantabrian Mountain Range and courses through the La Maragatería region within the province of León. Notably recognized for its medieval marvel, the Puente de Órbigo, this river is steeped in historical and cultural significance. A significant event in its past is the renowned medieval joust known as the «Paso Honroso,» which unfolded there during the 15th century.

    In keeping with the trend of many rivers in León, the Órbigo River’s flow is governed by the Cerrajera dam, the Selga de Ordas dam, and the Barrios de Luna reservoir.

    Among the most celebrated fishing preserves along the Órbigo River are Santa Marina del Rey, Sardonedo, Villanueva del Carrizo, and Villaroquel.

    For any angler seeking to immerse themselves in the rich fishing history of this Spanish region, a visit to the Fishing Museum of Hospital de Órbigo is an absolute necessity.   

                   
  6. BERNESGA RIVER: 

    Originating in the northern reaches of the León province, within the Cantabrian Mountain Range, the Bernesga River gracefully winds its way through localities such as Cármenes and Vegaquemada, among others, before merging with the Esla River.

    The most favorable fishing spots are concentrated in the upper reaches, adjacent to a restaurant and bakery positioned along the main road connecting Villamanín and Villanueva de la Tercia. Another alluring stretch is situated just prior to reaching the Ventosilla bridge, offering an ideal setting for tandem fishing.

    Lastly, within the urban enclave of León, a no-kill urban fishing preserve has been recently established. Regularly replenished with native trout of varying ages sourced from the Miguel Delibes fish farm, this area provides an excellent opportunity for angling enthusiasts to engage in their passion.

                
  7. OMAÑA RIVER: 

    Flowing through the Omaña region within the province of León, the Omaña River is characterized by its picturesque mountain landscapes and its pristine natural environment, untouched by the influence of major cities such as León and Ponferrada.

    This isolation has served as a crucial protective factor, ensuring the conservation of its trout populations and river ecosystems. At present, this river finds itself encompassed within the Biosphere Reserve of the Omaña or Luna Valleys, further holding the distinction of being recognized as a Site of Community Importance, Natural Area, and Special Protection Area.

    Nestled between the mountains of León and the Cantabrian Mountain Range, the Omaña River boasts two renowned fishing preserves:

    El Castillo Preserve: I recommend engaging in fishing activities from El Castillo upstream, extending to its lower boundary near Guisatecha. This medium-sized river offers a captivating blend of tranquil pools and dynamic currents, making it an ideal destination for dry fly fishing.

    The Coto de la Omañuela: Spanning from the Omañuela Bridge at its upper limit to the Castro de la Lomba Bridge leading to Riello at its lower limit, this fishing zone is another notable gem along the Omaña River.

    The allure of the Omaña River lies in its unspoiled beauty and the rich angling opportunities it presents, encapsulated by the serene landscapes of the Omaña region.

                  
  8. DUEÑAS RIVER: It rises in the Mampodre Massif, in the Collado de Vioba, and is a tributary of the Esla River.
    It is a river that is catch and release throughout its course.
    The stretch of the river we like to fish the most is upstream of the village of Ciguera.                                                                                                                                
  9. DORMA RIVER:

    The Duerna River is another river in the province of León, which rises in the Cantabrian Mountains and runs through the Maragatería region before flowing into the Órbigo River.
    Its two most famous preserves are the De Duerma, which runs between the town of Boisan and Molinaferrer and the Priaranza preserve. This last preserve was created in 1989, a few years after the Duerna preserve, located upstream. Since 1995 the fishing modality is catch and release.

 

 

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