Martin Smith was one of the first to join me on our trips to the famous Ebro to fish for the large Catfish and the various other freshwater giants that inhabit this strange stretch of water flowing down through north eastern Spain. After talking to Carp R Us who had visited the same stretch of the river as us three weeks previously I knew it was probably going to be tough fishing. A river of this size always is, but with the added problems of weed and flow restricted by dams, it makes it even more difficult. Martin had joined us specifically to catch a Catfish as he had been angling all over the world and had never landed one of these prehistoric monsters. We were staying at Riverside Lodge just outside Riba Roca and the hosts Mary and Mick Paige were eager for us to enjoy our stay. I now know several of the local angling “guru’s” on this stretch of the Ebro and after some discussion thought it best to bring a very experienced boat guide in to help. Mick Bevan was hired to take my clients out on the water for the Cats. Martin and Peter Hampshire were first out for a four hour session. We had limited the time due to the heat. They visited several known haunts of the Cats and after two positive runs the float disappeared and Martin was in! You have to really strike with force to hook these fish. Martin expertly reel his prey in and an ambition had become a reality as he sat for photo’s with the Catfish on his knees. It was not one of the largest but by the smile on Martin’s face we knew he was happy.
Dave Tipler one of my other guests was fishing off the bank for Carp with me. We tried everything known to man to entice these super league size fish to take the bait but to no avail. The size of these Carp has to be seen to be believed as they swam serenely past our rod tips in the crystal clear waters. A siesta followed before Peter and Martin returned out on the boat and we continued from the bank with a little welcome cool night air arriving. We had rods out for the Cats from the bank with a large Eel to entice them. The Carp were still not playing ball so we decided to change tack for the next day and travel up above the dam where the Embassy World series was held a few years ago. The one hundred pegs are all good to fish and we had some massive takes. My fifty four kilogram braided line came in shredded after a rod bending lunge by what I would think was a giant Zander. Martin and Peter both had similar situations with Peter diving to save Martin’s rod as it took off from the bank like a speedboat. Dave and I had a session out on the boat but only had the one run. The Cat dropped the Eel as I struck so we were a little disappointed. Dave was just amazed with the size of the tackle used and I willed him to catch a monster so he could see why it was required to be so heavy. The eighty kilo braid and three hundred pound breaking strain leader together with a size 6/0 hook really come into play when you connect with a Cat. We had a visit alongside the boat from what must have been a forty pound plus Carp. It just had a look in the weeds had a look at us and drifted away…….. stunning fish. After three days hard angling we sat on the terrace at Riverside Lodge and discussed the up’s and down’s of this fickle sport over a few beers watching the Ebro shimmering in the moonlight and listening to the fish splashing around. On the way home the discussion centred around our next visit and what we would do differently and so on. Above all we had had a very enjoyable few days on probably the most famous river in Europe and Martin was still grinning. There is so much to learn about this water and with spawning being late due to an influx of snow water then the weather turning so hot so quickly maybe the fish were not feeding much due to lack of oxygen. It is one theory I discussed with the local’s and it does seem to be a problem country wide right now. Even now at Argos in our own region the activity has slowed as the water warms up. I am heading off to Extremadura soon to have a go on the famous Orellana water to fight with the giant Barbel and Carp there. This will enable me to alternate trips between the Ebro and Orellana so if one is not fishing too well I have alternatives.
Copyright © Gary Smith