Imagine a place where you can stalk twenty pound plus carp off the surface in January. Where the sun always seems to shine and where life is easy. Too good to be true? Well believe it or not, such a place does exist and is only a four hour flight from the UK. More and more anglers are discovering that away from the tourist resorts, lies some fantastic fishing high in the mountains of Gran Canaria.

All of the larger lakes in Gran Canaria are dammed reservoirs, situated high up in the mountains. All are deep and rocky, quite unlike carp fisheries in this country. The most famous lake is Embalse de Chira. This is about sixty kilometres from Las Palmas along the winding GC 815 road. The lake is well signposted and can be seen from the road, far below you as you pass through the village of La Plata. This lake sees carp anglers from all over Europe, eager to make the most of the warm winters. For this reason the fish can be rather frustrating and are on a par to many UK waters. The lake contains a good head of fish with the vast majority being at least double figures. About a third of the fish present are twenty pounds plus and for the fortunate few, there is the chance of fish up to nearly forty pounds. All the fish are fine looking, heavily scaled mirrors that fight hard in the murky waters.

Containing a much smaller number of fish but with an average size of over twenty pounds is Embalse de Soria. This lake is probably the best bet for the angler looking for a real challenge of uncaught monsters. The lake is very isolated though and contains perhaps only a couple of dozen fish. Right at the other end of the scale is Embalse de Ninas. This is the easiest carp fishery I have ever fished and is an ideal place for a relaxed afternoon with the family or as a break from a serious stint on the big fish lakes. Quantity rather than quality is the order of the day here. Twenty fish in a day can easily be caught using a single rod but fish into double figures are rare.

Like the UK, you must be in possession of a rod licence. With so few places to fish you are likely to get checked at some point during a trip, not only by the local bailiffs but also by the police. Season permits cost around seven pounds and can be purchased at number 2, Juan XXIII street in Las Palmas. This is sign-posted from the main coastal road, direct from the airport. To get the message across, carry a picture of a fish with you if, like me, you speak little Spanish. You will also need a camping permit if you are fishing over night and these can also be purchased in Las Palmas.

Always have the correct permits before fishing as the trip into Las Palmas takes up half a day and it is better to get this out of the way at the start of a trip, rather than have to pack up half - way through, giving visitors a bad name into the bargain. You will need a large unhooking mat as the fish are very lively and the banks are mainly rock and gravel. I use a doubled over sleeping mat to save weight but small inflatable dinghies can be purchased locally and are ideal. You will also need to hire a car to get to and from the lakes as, without exception, they are rather isolated. Sunscreen, insect repellent, and bottled water are also necessities.

One strange feature of these carp (and some of those in mainland France and Spain) is that the leading rays of the dorsal fin are heavily barbed. These can easily get caught in the mesh of landing nets and sacks, causing untold damage. For this reason I would never sack one of these fish. If you are travelling during March - July the fish will often be in very poor condition as they spawn against the rough banks of the lakes. Always carry a bottle of antiseptic and return the fish immediately. They are quite capable of overcoming the damage sustained but a little helping hand doesn't go amiss.

None of the lakes require extreme range tackle, standard English tactics are well suited to these lakes. Take a rod pod as the banks are very hard and a brolly or bivvy as the sun can be very strong. Boilies are most commonly used on Chira but heavy baiting with particles can work well and these can be bought at the local supermarkets. As I fished only short sessions, I stuck to fishing areas where I had seen fish. Light baiting with stringers was the order of the day, just to give the fish something to home in on.

On these short visits, location is the key. The problem is that other than at dawn and dusk the fish rarely show. Even if the fish appear to disappear they are still there and willing to feed but are no longer in the surface layers. If you can't find the fish stick to features, tight to reed beds is a good spot at this time of year.

Floater fishing offers the chance of selecting the bigger fish. The fish are well used to finding crusts, meant for the semi - tame ducks on the lake but are often wary of taking these baits when on a hook. Introduce a small number of dog biscuits to an area in which the fish are showing. Once the fish gain some confidence they are real suckers for a couple of freelined baits on a hair - rig. One 22 pounder took the bait with such confidence that it came out of the water up to the gill covers when it engulfed the bait! The only problem with floater fishing is the ducks. Having a helper to feed the ducks while you fish is very useful!

The smaller fish at Ninas responded much better to particle baits like sweetcorn than boilies. One evening the boilie rod produced one run, while hair-rigged corn, fished on the other rod, produced seventeen runs. The 'method' should be a real killer on this water and ton-up bags are well within reach. Still, it is worth fishing boilies on one rod as fish to 25 lb are present in Ninas and I bet the fish have grown a good deal since my last visit.

So, if slogging through a long wet and cold British winter and spring doesn't seem that appealing, book yourself a budget package and get yourself some fun in the sun.