The fascination of catching big fish is something I have written about at length over the past and my thoughts on catching a special fish are well known. If we were all to go out and catch that special fish everyday then it would become the norm and we would look for other challenges that would become more and more extreme. However after spending a couple of weeks back and forth to the famous Ebro in search of a base for my angling trips I can understand the attraction of the big fish scene. To be honest I would not have missed the experience for the world. A catfish being caught and landed from the bank is a sight to behold. We only managed a couple of kittens at 50lb and 30lb respectively with the time we had, but all the same a fantastic insight into the world of this monstrous prehistoric creature. Riverside Lodge near Riba Roca is an anglers dream, well managed by fellow anglers Mick and Mary Page - good food, drink, accommodation and swims twenty five metres from your room. The carp are visible in and out of the weed beds and look as though they are fed on steroids, 30 to 40lb not being out of the ordinary. This is a special water and, as usual, local knowledge is the key to success. Mick and Mary summoned the locals Geoff, Alan and Steve to share their vast experience of the river to show me the ropes, both out on the boat and from the bank………..frozen boiled eggs on a hair rig for carp! Zander are also present and again massive, it is not just a matter of putting the rods in the water. It is very important to make sure the tackle used is up to the job. They all smirked at my 15lb mono line and 30lb leader followed by a subtle suggestion that I may be better equipped with double the poundage braid and that is just for the carp. They did point out in the bar over a beer later that when a take occurs it is similar to tying your line to a large dog and banging two dustbin lids together……point taken! Cats are a different story and the equipment used is basically big game sea gear, size 6/0 hooks and 200lb leader. It was again explained that when one these monsters takes the bait from the bank an hour and a half battle can commence.
Out on the boat we covered a three kilometre stretch of the river in all the known haunts of the cats and I had several takes where the massive float took off against the current at high speed. I was told not to strike as the smaller cats, the kittens, often just play with the baits and are not on the hook. A tinge of disappointment hit me as the float suddenly stopped and drifted back downstream but to be honest the whole experience is something that is so different. The locals have so many stories of these creatures, it would fill a book and the pictures on the wall of the bar back up all the tales, 140lb, 160lb, and more are all regularly caught and some even have names. An albino cat with a dark splodge on its head is known as Gorbachov for obvious reasons. It all adds to the mystery of these fish and what quickly becomes a burning desire to catch one, an angling event that will be a lifetime experience.
With the water of the Ebro being so clear I was able to observe the feeding behaviour of the giant carp and it was fascinating. Watching them suck the groundbait I had introduced to the swim in then blow it out if it was not to their liking was incredible and something I personally have never witnessed before. A lot was learnt from observing these fickle fish and a change in rig set up was made as they circled my bait many times before even going near. They seemed happier to root out a single crumb from the weeds rather than take a pile of the same produce laid on the clean sandy part of the river bed. A fantastic few days and time just flew by, fishing from seven in the morning until eight at night with a break for a full English and then a sandwich on the bank. I know the more I learn about this river and the monsters that lurk beneath the surface the more I will want to return to explore the angling adventures it has to offer.
Copyright © Gary Smith