Portugal is a priceless gem of a country to all those who love nature. It is one of those wonderful places where you can escape harsh winter weather and enjoy carp fishing at its best. The country has some surprises for both amateur and accomplished carp anglers.
Expert Guide to Carp Fishing in Portugal
Unlike countries like France and the UK, Portugal only recently made a name for itself on the carp fishing stage. Most of the carp in its lakes and rivers have never tasted a hook before, and are ferocious fighters.
If you want to experience wild carp in all its beauty and glory, or perhaps just want a sedate experience in a commercial fishery, Portugal has got it all for you.
Plus, you will not find a more beautiful place to take your family on holiday at the same time.
Rules and Regulations of Carp Fishing in Portugal
The Portuguese are some of the kindest and helpful people I have encountered in the course of my fishing expeditions. They take the care of their fishing waters seriously, but will gladly help you get your license and everything else you need fish for carp legally.
To begin with, there are two types of licenses in Portugal: the General license and a Special license. The General license can be either National, Regional (North, South, or Central), or Municipal depending on the area of jurisdiction.
The Special License is required for all inland freshwater fishing, as well as for fishing in reserved waters. Visiting anglers without a residency permit also need a Special license, but don’t need the General license.
To angle for carp, you will need both licenses because it involves freshwater fishing. In general, Portugal has the following rules that affect carp fishing:
- Angling for carp is on a catch-and-release basis.
- Night fishing is allowed on some waters as of January 2018. Previously, it was not allowed at all. The restrictions on it are very severe, so pay attention to the rules regarding where you want to fish.
- The fishing season generally runs from April to November.
- Kids under 14 don’t need a license if they are accompanied by an adult with one.
Applying for a Portuguese fishing license is fast and hassle-free. You can even do it via email from the Institute of Nature and Forest Conservation (email@example.com).
There are also a lot of local bylaws regarding fishing in local rivers. You should visit a local fishing club and learn as much as you can about those to avoid getting into trouble.
I would advise that if you are visiting for the first time, do so through an agency who can sort everything out for you.
Finally, I should also let you know that no paper license is available.
You can have proof of your license via email (as I said before, they are very helpful), or in case you’re stopped just give your particulars which will be used for verification through a database.
Carp Fishing Seasons in Portugal
The carp fishing season in Portugal generally runs from 1st July to 14th March. That is about three-quarters of the entire year and gives you lots of time to enjoy hassle-free fishing.
That means that you can catch some great fishing at almost all seasons, only missing a part of the summer peak season.
Given that winters in Portugal can still be rather warm, I would say that any time is carp fishing time in Portugal except for March, May, and June.
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Where to Catch Carp in Portugal
Whether you decide to visit through a fishing company, hire a guide, or just wing it, Portugal is full of carp fishing opportunities. From my years there, these are the top 5 places I would recommend in a heartbeat.
One of the largest dam reservoirs in Europe, Lake Alqueva is also a premier carp fishing spot with a reputation for ‘few but large’ carp. It measures a massive 61776 acres (250 sq km) and is part of the Alqueva Multipurpose Project on the Guadiana River.
It is also quite deep, with a maximum depth of about 320ft/100m. You can fish from its firm gravel shorelines, where there are numerous points, drop-offs, and weeded sections. Plenty of places for big carp to hide.
You can also hire a boat or join a company expedition for a small fee. Whichever one tickles your fancy, just be sure to bring along some tough tackle. The fish here are real fighters. They run fast and will cut you if you hesitate.
The lake is also near some good towns, such as Alqueva on its right bank from which it takes its name. All things considered, lake Alqueva is not for the faint of heart but the rewards are huge.
Located close to the Portuguese/Spanish border near Badajoz is the small carp fishing paradise called lake Alfarofia. It is a 15-acre lake in a 103-acre private estate, first created in 1992 to provide water for rice farming.
It features an average depth of about 4m/13ft with the deepest parts being 6ft/19ft.
It was stocked with 1500 mirror carp, which 28 years later have now become massive. Even though it was opened to the public back in 2007, it has only recently come to the attention of the carp fishing elite due to the size and quality of its fish.
Since most of its carp are yet to be hooked, they are wild and feisty. The lake enjoys the most conducive water conditions for fish, with the water getting completely renewed every year thanks to irrigation.
It also has plenty of weeds, crayfish, and other carp delicacies that ensure carp reach their full potential.
The carp record for lake Alfarofia so far is 52lb/23.5kg, but you are invited to break it. The big fish are still waiting for their match down there.
Rivers Pera and Zezere
Both big rivers in their own right, the Pera and Zezere and tributaries to the larger River Tejo, or the Tagus in English. They and their distributaries are prime fishing spots for trout and carp if you know how to find them.
Most people are unaware of how good carp fishing in the upper reaches in these rivers. In the downstream reaches, they are often polluted and over-utilized. If you have the patience to wing it to the upper reaches, I can promise blissful and serene angling with big rewards.
While the regional permits allow you to fish almost entire lengths of the river, you need to get in touch with local authorities. Some will assign you a ‘beat’ or specific stretch if there are other anglers in the area, but you can usually do as you please.
River Ceira and Alto Ceira Dam
Located on the Northern side of the Lousa mountains, Rio Ceira is a tributary of the River Mondego and has some great carping spots.
The same also applies to other rivers in the locality, such as the Rio Arouce. You will need to get local fishing permits for these, and you will have to do some traveling before you can find the perfect spot.
Algarve Coarse and Carp Fishing
Algarve Coarse and Carp Fishing is a company/agency that caters to the needs of anglers from all over the world. They have their own syndicate lakes for those that prefer specialty carping.
Apart from that, Algarve Fishing also has a network of lakes (not their own) where they can take you for carp fishing all over Portugal, but especially in the Algarve area.
If you’re looking for some stress-free carp fishing, contact them and they will hook you up with a nice package. You can for day or night fishing, and they will supply the equipment if you like. Plus, they know all the best spots.
Founded by the one and only John Bate, TightlinesPortugal has seen some coarse fishing action over decades. Bate has been running numerous trips for hobbyists and professional anglers alike and offers the best carp fishing experience in all of Portugal.
No, I’m not exaggerating. John has connections with some of the best private carp fishing spots in the country. I caught many double-digit carp during my time there, and I have heard reports of 50-pounders.
If you don’t fancy angling on private lakes, you can be hooked up to some prime spots such as the Alqueva dam. Whatever you need, Bate will have you sorted.
Many people are now discovering the magical fishing available in Portugal. Just because it’s a hot country doesn’t mean that it lacks prime fishing. The truth is, it has the most beautiful mirrors I have ever seen.
The commons I caught there also have some strange mouths and elongated bodies, perhaps due to their main diet of crayfish. If you have the time, make sure to visit both Portugal and Spain. I promise you that you will never forget the fishing experience there.
Niels Thomas is a wildlife expert and fishing fanatic that works with major fishing brands like Deeper Sonar, Abu Garcia, Berkley, PENN, BassPro and Pure Fishing. Through sharing the best fishing tips, tricks, gear reviews, locations and much more he hopes to inspire fishing fanatics to start their own journey towards becoming the King of the Catch!