Characteristics of Alqueva lake
With a capacity of 4150 hm3 and a flooded surface area of 25000 hectares, Alqueva lake is the largest in Western Europe. 3300 hectares are located in the province of Badajoz and the rest in neighbouring Portugal. It is a reservoir for hydroelectric power production, but also has important agricultural uses.
The waters of the Alqueva reservoir are relatively clear in winter but the rest of the year they are usually quite turbid due to the proliferation of algae in suspension. In addition, the surrounding clayey soil also has an influence on this turbidity, as during heavy rainfall the runoff washes this clay away and the water turns quite brown.
Bottom composition and structures
The Spanish part of the reservoir is quite shallow in general, with shallow depths and slight to moderate slopes. The bedrock is mainly slate and the soils, as we have already mentioned, are quite clayey.
As we advance towards the area of the dam, the large beaches alternate with rockier areas: slate points, transition areas with rip rap… The creeks of this reservoir are really long and irregular with many inlets and overhangs, ideal areas for predators.
The main problem in locating them is that at first sight there are hundreds of attractive areas, so we must go a little further and analyse the changes in depth, water inlets, areas more or less buffeted by the prevailing winds, areas with algae… This is the only way to focus the shot, as we can spend the whole day “pitching” trees without getting a single bite.
On the Portuguese side there are also several docks, bridges, buildings, walls… and other submerged anthropic structures. On the Spanish side there are also docks in Cheles and Villarreal, and some submerged stone buildings.
Vegetation and cover in Alqueva lake
There are a large number of submerged trees (mainly holm oaks and cork oaks) at different depths. Practically whatever the level of the reservoir, we can find this cover in different areas of the reservoir. The lower the level, the greater the number of trees, as in many areas they were not felled prior to the construction of the reservoir.
Level changes are frequent, although due to the large size of the reservoir these changes are not as noticeable as in other more confined reservoirs (such as Alcántara, for example). In this link we can see the level, although it is only updated once a day.
Main fish species
Fishing in Alqueva lake is very varied, and most of the predator species present in the community can be found there.
- Black Bass. The population is abundant, and although this is not a reservoir where “PB” specimens abound, we can enjoy days with multiple catches of medium size. Of course a +2kg is possible, and very exceptionally you can catch specimens over 3 kg…
- Zander. It is probably the most abundant predator in the reservoir. It is currently considered unfishable in Extremadura.
- Channel catfish. This invasive species has been in the reservoir for many years and acts both as baitfish in its small sizes and as a predator when it exceeds 2 / 3 kg. It is currently considered unfishable in Extremadura.
- Pike. Alqueva is not noted for its abundance of pike, although in certain areas we can find some concentrations.
- Iberian barbel. Due to the interesting populations of shark and crab, it reaches very large sizes and can be fished both with lures and other techniques (carpfishing, feeder, matchfishing, on the fly…).
- Carp. Carp are also very abundant in this reservoir, with an abundance of medium-sized specimens.
Baitfish in Alqueva lake
The bleak is the main baitfish species in Alqueva, which hosts very important densities. It is not uncommon to find large balls of bleak, both in shallow areas and at depth.
Crawfish are also very abundant in the reservoir, and it is very common to find their skeletons and claws along the banks. In addition to fish, otters, herons and a good number of waterfowl feed on them.
There are also sunfish, crucian carp and catfish.
Access and navigation
Most of the shores are passable, although it is not an excessively comfortable place to walk. There are large beaches with flat shores but also steep shores with slate and some slope. An important limitation is the accesses, as there are not too many of them and they are spaced several kilometres apart.
Both motorised and non-motorised navigation is allowed, after applying for a navigation permit at the CHG (CHG). On the Spanish side there are 2 small wharfs from which to launch boats: in Cheles and in Villarreal de Olivenza.