FLY FISHING IN THE CANTABRIAN MOUNTAINS

Guided fly fishing trips and complete guide to fly fishing in the Cantabrian Mountains.

Fly fishing in the Cantabrian Mountains offers anglers the opportunity to fish for trout and salmon in stunning locations, such as the mountains of León. This northern Spanish mountain range is considered the second primary destination for fly fishing in Spain.

Our Fly Fishing Trips in the Cantabrian Mountains:

Fly Fishing Cantabrian Range

GUIDED TRIP CANTABRIAN RANGE

Fly Fishing Cantabrian Range

CANTABRIAN MOUNTAIN RANGE TOUR

INDEX

WHY CHOOSE THE CANTABRIAN MOUNTAINS FOR FLY FISHING?

The Cantabrian Mountains are a mountain range that runs parallel to the Cantabrian Sea, located in northern Spain. On the southern face of this range, rivers flow into the Duero River basin, hosting a population of Atlantic-origin trout specific to this basin. On the other hand, the Ebro River basin also has rivers on the southern face of the Cantabrian Mountains. This basin is famous for being the habitat of the well-known marble trout. On the northern face of the range, anglers can enjoy fishing for Atlantic brown trout, sea trout, and salmon.

This extensive mountain range hosts some of the best fishing scenarios in Spain, such as León, Picos de Europa, Montaña Palentina, and Asturias. While it may not match the fishing opportunities of the Pyrenees, the Cantabrian Mountains offer a wide variety of options. From the regulated rivers of the plains of León to the beautiful mountain rivers of the Galaico Leonés massif, to turquoise-blue rivers like the Cares River, or fishing in the Palentina Mountains, known for its populations of bears and wolves.

These rivers are steeped in history, as many run alongside the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route and have a notable fishing tradition. An example of this is the Curueño Valley, where the famous León roosters are raised, and their feathers are used in fly tying. These roosters and their feathers were already mentioned in the Astorga Manuscript, dating back to 1624, which discusses fly fishing in some rivers on the southern face of the Cantabrian Mountains.

Another important historical aspect is salmon fishing, which in the past was a food source for the populations of Asturian rivers. The first caught salmon, known as Campanu, announced its arrival with the sound of bells in the village.

 

The Cantabrian Mountains offer not only an exceptional fishing experience but also a rich culture, history, gastronomy, and the beauty of national parks like Picos de Europa. Therefore, it has become the second most renowned destination for fly fishing in Spain.

Fly Fishing Cantabrian Range

WHAT SPECIES CAN BE FLY FISHED IN THE CANTABRIAN MOUNTAINS?

As mentioned earlier, it’s important to distinguish between the northern and southern faces of the Cantabrian Mountains, as well as between the rivers belonging to the Duero River basin and those belonging to the Ebro River basin. According to this classification, the following species can be fished:

  • On the southern face of the Cantabrian Mountains, we find the Atlantic brown trout, characteristic of the Duero River basin, as well as the Mediterranean trout or marble trout in the Ebro River basin. In some rivers in this area, various species of barbel can also be found. Finally, in artificial lakes created for fly fishing, rainbow trout can be found, although these are not native.
  • On the northern face of the Cantabrian Mountains, one can fish for salmon (an endangered species), sea trout, and brown trout. In the past, there were lakes in the Picos de Europa National Park that hosted brook trout, but these fish were eradicated by the administration through conservation projects in the National Park.
Fly Fishing species in the Cantabrian Range

THE BEST FLY FISHING LOCATIONS IN THE CANTABRIAN MOUNTAINS.

Choosing the best rivers for fishing in the Cantabrian Mountains can be challenging, but within this mountain range, some regions stand out for their exceptional fishing quality. These areas include:

  • Mountains of Burgos and Palencia: The Natural Park of Fuentes Carrionas and Fuente Cobre stands out in these mountains, where the headwaters of the two most important rivers for fishing in the area, the Carrión and the Pisuerga, are located. In this sector of the Cantabrian Mountains, the fishing pressure on the rivers is very low, as it is located in a sparsely populated area with incredible wildlife, known for having the best populations of bears and wolves in Spain. Notable trout fishing areas in this zone include Pino del Río, Carrión, Cardaño, and Rivera.
  • Mountains of León: The mountains of León form the junction of the Cantabrian Mountains with the Galaico Leonese Massif. This sector is located in the westernmost part of the Cantabrian Mountains, between the region of Galicia and the provinces of León and Zamora. Its main river is the Sil. It is a region with granitic terrain and excellent fishing. It is a wetter area, maintaining good water flow in the rivers throughout the year. Notable fishing areas include the fishing reserve of Villafranca on the Burbia River, the fishing reserve of Pereje on the Valcarce River, and the AREC of Palacios de Sil on the Sil River.
  • Asturias: In the Asturian part of the Cantabrian Mountains, anglers can fish for trout and salmon. The salmon rivers of Asturias are the Cares, Sella, Narcea, Canero, Esva, Navia, Eo, and Nalón. Salmon populations in Asturias are declining, and it is likely that the species will be classified as endangered in the coming years. The best trout fishing reserves in Asturias include Taramundi, San Isidro, Agüeira, Navia, Pigüeña, Alba, Aller, Purón, Piloña, Espinaredo, Esva, Ibias, Nalón, Bedón, Narcea, and Navia.
  • Foothills of the mountains in the Basque Country: In the Basque Country, fishing in two intensive reserves stands out. These reserves are restocked with rainbow trout in the reverse season. The reserves are Araxes and Leitzarán.

FISHING REGULATIONS IN THE CANTABRIAN MOUNTAINS.

The Cantabrian Mountains consist of four different Autonomous Communities or Regions: Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, and Castilla y León.

If you want to fish in this mountain range, the first and most important step is to familiarize yourself with the fishing regulations of each of these regions. As explained in other articles, Spain does not have a unified fishing regulation for the entire country; instead, each region publishes its own regulations in regional bulletins known as «fishing closure orders.»

In these closure orders, you will find information about how to obtain licenses and permits, the fishing season, allowed baits, rest days, limits, and water classifications for each region. Below are links to the regional platforms where these closure orders are published:

  • Fishing regulations in Galicia.
  • Fishing regulations in Castilla y León.
  • Fishing regulations in Asturias.
  • Fishing regulations in Cantabria.
Enjoy a guided fly fishing trip in the Cantabrian Mountains: