Fly fishing contents
Beech trees forests, fast waters and boulders
The river of Don Ernesto Hemingway
The Irati became famous for a few lines written by Ernest Hemingway in "The Sun also rises". The appealing idea at this time was to take a fresh fishing mountain break while attending the frantic San Fermines fiestas and the social summer life of Biarritz and San Sebastian. This was in the 20's of the past century, but everything is still there to walk on footsteps of the great writer. As from Key-west to Venice, from Cuba to Schrunz, from Ketchum to the Ritz hotel in Paris and many other spots, I have never seen Hemingway making a mistake when choosing a place to "use"... You'll understand why, I am recommending the Irati. The very small villages are incredibly well kept and preserved. The mountains are wild and beautiful, hosting fresh torrents running across the old beech forests of Ibañeta and mount Iraty.You can (re) read Hemingway's wonderful lines on these places in The sun also rises, Chapter 11, and in the Dangerous Summer Chapter 9. They are great moments of litterature... Que nostalgia !
Bridge on the Irati
Access by air-plane possible to Pamplona, Biarritz or Pau. From Madrid approx 400 km. Nearest Big city, in France Biarritz / Bayonne, 2 hours. Nearest Big city, in Spain Pamplona 1 hour, or San-Sebastian 1.30 hour.
Coaster of the famous café Iruña in Pamplona
Villages, landscapes of the Basque Land, mountains and beech forests of Ibañeta, and Irati. The wood-pidgeons hunting butts (palomeras), at the pass (Puerto) of Ibañeta. The Monastery of Roncesvalles (Roncevaux). The city of Pamplona. The picturesque town of Saint Jean Pied de Port. The seashore and elegant towns in France like Saint Jean de Luz or Spain like San Sebastian. In Pamplona, you shouldn't miss the Bar Txoko, and the Café Iruña. The Monasterio de Roncesvalles is a place with a heavy load of historical memories, like all the valley and the pass (puerto). Here, Roland or Roldan, nephew of Emperor Carolus Magnus was defeated by the Saracens in 778. The kings of Navarra also used the place as a residence. Then it has been an all time famous stop for the Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. At Ibañeta, the beech forest mentionned by Hemingway in The Dangerous Summer, is an enchantment.
Beech forest and torrent of the Monte Iraty
The trout season is only open in May & June
The Irati flows from France (mount & forest of Irati above Saint Jean Pied de Port), to a new dam situated under Oroz-Betelu, there are fishing stretches to be found all along the course until the vicinity of the dam. Like everywhere, the river is divided in stretches of restricted access ("cotos"), free access stretches, (free for anglers bearing a license), and stretches where no fishing is allowed. There is one famous "coto" on the Irati. If getting a ticket without local acquaintances would be hopeless, we can usually cope with this and get you access. The Irati offers a lot of free access stretches and we provide all informations to find the best spots as well as for the other streams to explore like the Urrobi under Burguete, the Salazar around Oronz or the Esca under Isaba.
The regions of Gipuzcoa and Navarra are highly reputed for the gastronomy. In San Sebastian, people join "gastronomy societies" like if it was a sport, or an overwhelming hobby. Hence, the restaurants have to be good to please such an amount of gourmet connoisseurs, and there is a lot of (amazingly many) good places in the region ! If you wanted to experiment some really high cuisine, let us point out that San Sebastian is the place in the world offering the most affordable top quality restaurants. The Michelin red guide has granted 3*** stars to "Arzacq" in San Sebastian and to "Martin Berasategi" in Lasarte. "Zuberoa" and "Matteo" in Oyarzun also boast a few stars. As far as mountain gastronomy is concerned, the dishes are simpler and less based on seafood, but hams, soups, wild mushrooms scrambled eggs, trout and mountain cheese will leave wonderful memories.
Our favourite hotel is an old traditionnal village house, very clean, neat and good looking. The young owners are extremely warm and friendly. There are only 7 rooms ! (We do have alternatives, but if you want this one, hurry up to book !). The hotel sits in a well preserved traditionnal hamlet. Most villages of the area are equally taking good care of the pleasure of the eyes. This place is out of time.
The Irati offers a nice combination...
of rather fast stretches...
and clear shallow parts
My first trout on the Irati... caught with a borrowed rod !
Casa de Baños
the Irati, it is easy to combine your holiday with a stay in
France on the other side of the Pyrenees. See our pages for
Béarn & Basque Country in France.
SPAIN OTHER REGIONS
-1- Catalonia The upper valleys of Cataluña, for a perfect break from Barcelona. -2- Aragon Impressive high valleys in the National Park of Ordesa in the Pyrenees. -3- Navarra The famous rivers fished by Hemingway when he was attending los Sanfermines bullfight fiestas in the 20's and again in the late 50's. -4- La Rioja La Rioja is best kown for the wonderful wines, but Spanish anglers grant an equally good reputation to its waters. -5- Cantabria Excellent rivers and unspoiled charming valleys of easy reach from Santander and the elegant seashore of the mar cantabrico. Likely to be awarded 1st Spanish wife endorsed destination. -6- Asturias Famous coastal rivers Carès, Deva, Sella (and others) for the amazing trilogy: Salmon, Sea run trout, and Brown trout.
The region is also famous for the hunts of passing woodpigeon. Click to see more