FLY FISHING IN NAVARRE

The ultimate guide to fly fishing in Navarre: species, season, permits, regulations, and much more.

Navarra is a region in northern Spain famous for the novel "The Sun Also Rises," written by the renowned author Ernest Hemingway. This novelist enjoyed trout fishing in the Irati River. Other notable rivers for fly fishing in the region include the Bidasoa, Arga, Urrobi, Erro, and Urederra.

Our fly fishing trips in Navarra

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INDEX

WHY CHOOSE NAVARRA FOR FLY FISHING?

Choosing Navarra as a destination for fly fishing means immersing oneself in a setting that Ernest Hemingway himself explored and admired. The renowned American author, a nature and fishing enthusiast, found inspiration and adventure in the rivers and landscapes of Navarra. Hemingway was captivated by the beauty and diversity of Navarre’s rivers, such as the legendary Roncal preserve and the iconic Irati River.

The region offers a unique experience for fly fishermen, with rivers of various sizes and environments, from the Bidasoa in the Cantabrian basin to the Urrobi, Erro, Urederra, Larraun, and others winding through picturesque valleys, some in the heart of the Navarrese Pyrenees.

While Navarra currently faces significant challenges, it is important to remember that in the past, it was nationally recognized for its outstanding fly fishing in places like the Roncal preserve and the Irati River. Surveys conducted by the Department of Environment of the Navarra government reflect a marked decline in trout populations in the headwaters of rivers. In response to this decrease, a complete fishing ban was imposed on all upper salmonid watercourses, lifted after 3 years, although the trout populations did not experience a significant increase.

Formerly prosperous preserves, such as Roncal or Arive on the Irati River, now show a noticeable reduction in trout populations, and the situation is even more critical in rivers like the Salazar. Perhaps the river that retains healthier trout populations is the Bidasoa, belonging to the Cantabrian basin. Despite these challenges, stretches of rivers in Navarra still exist where it is possible to catch beautiful native trout. Although the quantity has decreased, these remote areas nestled in the Pyrenees preserve a pure genetic line and enjoy exceptionally high-quality waters.

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WHAT SPECIES CAN BE CAUGHT WITH FLY FISHING IN NAVARRA?

The main species of interest for fly fishing in Navarra are brown trout, salmon, and barbel.

The hydrological relief of Navarra is characterized by the watershed that separates the Atlantic and Mediterranean slopes in the north. The rivers in this region belong to various hydrographic basins, such as the Ebro, Norte, or Cantabrian basin. The diversity of basins and rivers influences the species present in the region:

  • Brown Trout: Two distinct lineages are distinguished. Rivers like the Bidasoa flow into the Cantabrian Sea, and the trout belong to the Atlantic lineage. Brown trout in the Ebro River basin are Mediterranean trout with stripes, also known as zebra trout.
  • Barbel: In Navarra, two species of barbel are found: the «common barbel» (Barbus bocagei) and the «mountain barbel» (Barbus graellsi). The common barbel is abundant in Navarrese rivers, especially in the Middle and Ribera areas, while the less common mountain barbel is found in upper stretches of rivers such as the Esta, Salazar, and Aragon. Although their differentiation can be challenging, the mountain barbel is distinguished by its more slender appearance, black spots on the body, and reddish coloration in the fins.
  • Atlantic Salmon: According to the Atlantic Salmon Management Plan in Navarra, results indicate that the salmon population in the Bidasoa River remains in an unfavorable state. The number of ascending salmon is below the favorable conservation limit but above the critical limit. Despite this, recreational salmon fishing is authorized, while management measures are implemented to improve conservation, and efforts to repopulate and recover their habitat continue.
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FLY FISHING SEASON IN NAVARRA

To enjoy fly fishing in Navarra, it is essential to carefully review the fishing seasons established by Navarra’s regulations. In broad terms, three fishing seasons are distinguished based on the targeted species:

TROUT

  • Fishing Season: In the waters and rivers of the mixed salmonid region, trout fishing is allowed from April 1st to August 31st, using only a fly rod.
  • Fishing Days: Trout fishing is permitted every day of the week, except non-holiday Tuesdays.

SALMON

  • Fishing Season: The salmon fishing season begins on March 30th and concludes upon capturing the 60th specimen. If the maximum limit is not reached, July 20th marks the closure of the fishing season. Outside this period, fishing for all species in the main course of the Bidasoa River inhabited by Atlantic salmon is prohibited.
  • Fishing Days: Every day of the week is considered suitable for salmon fishing, except non-holiday Tuesdays.

OTHER SPECIES

Eel, barbel, common carp, carp, tench, rudd or roach, catfish, catfish, flounder, bleak, chipa, and gudgeon.

  • Fishing Season: These species can be fished with a rod throughout the year, except in the waters or rivers of the salmonid region during the trout closure. Each angler can use up to a maximum of two rods in non-trout sections. In the waters or rivers of the cyprinid region, net fishing is allowed year-round, except from March 1st to August 15th, both inclusive.
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Finally, it is worth noting the fishing hours during the fishing seasons for fly fishing:

FISHING HOURS

The allowable fishing hours in the waters of Navarra, except for crab fishing, vary monthly:

March and April: From 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

May: From 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM.

June and July: From 6:30 AM to 10:30 PM.

August: From 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

September and October: From 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

For the rest of the year, fishing is allowed from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.

FLY FISHING REGULATIONS IN NAVARRA

To engage in fly fishing in Navarra, as in the rest of the regions in Spain, it is crucial to be familiar with the fishing regulations. These regulations outline the fishing seasons, locations, river classifications, permitted baits, the cost of daily fishing permits, fishing days, and other relevant aspects.

This regulation is issued annually through an «Orden Foral» that elaborates on the Fishing Regulations in Navarra. You can review the regulations at the following link: NAVARRA FISHING REGULATIONS.

In recent years, the «Orden Foral de Vedas de Pesca de Navarra» (Navarra Fishing Closure Order) has not been sufficiently conservation-oriented, as it continues to accommodate the suggestions of traditional fishing associations. Another negative aspect is that only 4 catch-and-release fishing permits are allowed. In essence, the outlook is not promising, as the trout population has reached a historical low in recent years, even lower than the levels recorded in 2008 when a three-year fishing ban was implemented.

For all these reasons, there is an increasing consideration for a change in the fishing management model in the Community of Navarra, a model based on catch-and-release fishing and the destigmatization of the fishing season.

FLY FISHING LICENSE IN THE REGION OF NAVARRA

The fishing license is a personal, non-transferable, and mandatory document that authorizes the practice of fly fishing in Navarra. The Navarra Fishing License is valid for one year and can be requested by both national and foreign anglers who wish to fish in areas without special permits. The cost of the license is €12.

The license can be applied for either in person at the Hunting and Fishing License Counter or online through the provided application. The required documentation includes a completed form, the ID card (DNI), Foreigner Identity Number (NIE), or Passport of the license holder, and, in the case of minors, the ID card and the responsible guardian’s declaration. The online application process is straightforward, requiring DNI validation and the completion of personal and postal information.

The website for processing the Navarra fishing license online is: NAVARRA FISHING LICENSE.

FLY FISHING GUIDES IN THE REGION OF NAVARRA

Guided fly fishing in Navarra is tailored for all those romantic anglers who follow in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway. This Nobel laureate described fishing in Navarra as «the closest thing to heaven.» Our fishing guide company offers an exclusive package in May and June to fish for wild brown trout, following in the footsteps of the famous writer