Anne and I have returned from our latest Spanish cat & carp fishing holiday to the rivers Ebro and Segra at Mequinenza a few weeks ago and what a good trip it was, as usual. I’ve said it before, but that place has a certain pull for us and we can’t wait for next year already.
As usual, we arranged our trip through Jason Latham from Fatcatz, Finecarp, who did us proud once again. Jason arranged the licences, rods, reels, unhooking mats, weigh slings, scales, boat and all the bulky, hard to get on the plane gear, for us. Just having the correct licences, cat rods and reels and the other gear ready meant we were able to fish the first evening, which is not normally possible, so we gained one day on our fishing holiday straight away, having a nice chill out on the bank until midnight. Good one, Jason.
We always hire the gear from Jason and go off on our own (Jason was fully booked for this time, anyway), so the next day we had a good look around. We were after swims where I could handle the big cats pretty much single-handed, looking for nice slow slopes into the water to get the fish up the bank myself. Unfortunately, all what I classed as the best swims for this were taken, so we ended up in a swim just below the Segra bridge, the opposite bank to Mequinenza. This swim does produce big fish, I’ve seen them caught there myself, but we blanked miserably on the cats and only landed one small carp. That was two nights wasted, so we packed up and went looking for another swim.
We ended up on the right hand end of the point, a swim I really do like but not one many others do. It is the most exposed swim on the river, no shade from the sun, wind or rain, horrible steep rocky banks, dusty and generally an inhospitable place. “WICKED”. We didn’t get set up 'til late that evening, but we had a take about 10pm which I hit, played and lost. Brilliant, first take wasted, after 3 nights as well, but very promising.
Next morning, after the shop run and everything else, we got all the rods out. I saw 4 definite catfish shows and felt very confident of a daytime take, which in the end occurred at about 2pm. I love it if we see fish and have caught every time when they are rolling. It really is a sight to see, 6ft plus monsters wallowing along the surface.
This fish did what the lost one the night before did, came straight in, jigged about a bit under the rod tip and then got angrier and angrier, taking me back out into open water and giving me some serious stick. Because of the nature of the river, snags and stuff, I tend to play them hard, testing the tackle to the maximum. The rods, reel and main line was hired from Jason, the hook link was Kryston Ton-up and the hook was a size 5/0 meat hook, so in reality the fish didn’t stand a chance this time. (The lost fish was on the same tackle except the hook was a 9/0, too big to get a good hold).
In the end, the tackle did me proud and Mikey, Jason’s mate, helped me land what was obviously a big beast. I put a stringer on it while Mikey held its head above water and it was then well and truly mine.
Some Germans had moved in next door and helped get the fish up the bank, weigh and photograph it. At 200.08lb it was definitely a new PB for me. It was an absolutely stunning animal as well, very impressive which at 200lb it was going to be, wasn’t it?
As far as I know that was the third 200-pound plus fish of the week. The whole population is getting bigger each year, which is good for the venue. To be honest, though, the size does not matter much to us. 100-pounders are nearly as impressive and just as much of a handful. The bigger they are the more trouble they are. Still, we’ll just have to put up with it. Never mind, eh?!!
In the meantime, Jason and his customers had been catching every day from just up stream, so we decided to stay on the point and try to build the swim up. Neither Anne or I mind sleeping under the stars and in that heat, up to 38 degrees in the day time, the cooler nights were a bonus.
This worked well and we had takes every day, as did the Germans, who came and fished the up-stream end of the point each day. We had a good feeding response going with about 40-50 kilo’s of bait going in each day between our neighbours and us. They had 4-6 rods out whereas we only had the 2 cat rods but we had the most bites, which is only right, innit?!!
To be fair, I was pre-soaking halibut pellets mixed with Nashbait’s Monster crab Monster carp pellets, Crustacean extract and Salmon oil palatant. This was soaked for two days and ended up the consistency of balls of ground bait. This had to have given our baited area a big boost, much different to the standard pellets and fish oils. It certainly didn’t do us any harm and given a swim with a few fish about, we did fairly well on our two rods. We also mixed about one-third boilies to two-thirds pellet and spread un-glugged bait over a larger area to help get the fish into the greater area. This worked better on our last trip, but I’m sure it didn’t do us any harm on the point swim.
Anyway, Anne took over the cat rods, taking every chance we had after my PB beast. The idea was to get her PB as well. Anne needed a 130 pound plus, but the next few fish turned out to be between 90 and 120lb. Awesome sport, but she definitely had the personal best bug so kept on it. I must admit Anne did really well and deserved to catch some. We fish as a pair, me doing the strenuous, smelly and wettest work, Anne mucking in as much as possible with the finesse. The past few trips, I had somehow been the one to reap the rewards so it really was Anne’s turn.
It was the third night on the point and we were going to pack up, our holiday was nearly over. It was the windiest day there was, the weed drifting down river was the worst it had ever been and all in all it was the slowest day so far. No knocks, no shows, just dust on the bank and weed on the lines.
Just as we were going to re-do our rods for the night the Germans hooked a good fish which went mid stream and then cut down stream, wiping all our rods out, cutting off my marker and then they proceeded to lose the fish. On inspection of his rig (like you do), he had a huge 9-10/0 hook on, probably the cause of the lost fish. Fishing pellet, it appears most likely to hook most fish just inside the mouth, where there isn’t any deep flesh to bury a large hook. The hook holds with the 5/0’s was good. Both the fish hooked on the point with big hooks, dropped off. That says enough for me.
Anyway, I had to gauge where to drop the rods in a strong current, with a vicious cross wind and no marker to guide me (I had a good old moan about that). To give me some kind of a clue I dropped a new marker, got the rods out, re-lifted the marker (since we were moving this night) and sat there still moaning about the Germans doing in my original marker. I had invested 50-70 kilo’s of bait on the first marked area and I didn’t think I was on the right spot.
We had the odd knock (we think) in between massive gusts of w
ind but I was feeling a bit dejected at losing my accuracy and didn’t really think much to our chances but we kept on trying.
At 10pm, though, we had a good belt on the left hand rod and Anne was into one again. It put up a right scrap and took her nearly an hour to land. It wasn’t huge, but I thought it would go 130 plus, a possible PB. I’d had to reel the other rod in to make room for the fish to kite and scream all over the swim, so I quickly put that one out again. Anne nipped round to ask Jason to give us a hand weighing and photographing the cat when he finished work at midnight, then we started to pack up when she got back.
Suddenly the last rod looped over and Anne was in again. Now we thought the one before was a scrapper, but this one went mental, but with extreme strength as well as speed. Anne was struggling to keep the rod up high but was in as much control as possible. I rushed about getting everything packed away, into the car even, except the gear we would need to weigh these two fish.
This fish went down stream 150mtrs, over shallow water, catching the lead into rocks, (we were using weak clips for the 20oz leads so eventually lost the lead), then going further right into weed and 2ft of water, before finally turning left again into the main 14-15 foot deep channel. Anne had to work harder, than any other fight I had seen, with this fish. It wouldn’t give in.
Once again, though, Jason’s tackle, the size 5/0 hook and Anne’s determination won the fight and I got down to the water’s edge and handled the beast in, popped it on a stringer and soon had it fully secured.
It was obviously much bigger than the other fish, I thought somewhere around 200lb, looking at the gut. Anne insisted it was at least 500lb – well, it felt like it!
When Jason came he was impressed that Anne had caught a second fish. Unfortunately, his back gave in, a true testament to how hard this fishing is and how many fish Jason helps catch per year. With Jason’s mate Mikey’ s expert help we eventually got the fish to the top of the bank, weighed and photographed with the proud captors help. It weighed in at a whooping 172lb. The other fish we had tied up was estimated at about 120 – 130lb. and was simply let go.
Anne with her new PB Ebro 172lb catfish
In all we did three evenings on the point for seven takes, using two cat rods. We should have caught more, we would have caught more if Jason was guiding us, but on our own doing everything ourselves, I don’t think we did too bad.
On the last night we fished near Jason and his guests. I bet €20 against Mikey that we would get the first bite, and lost the €20. Oh, well. Just on last knockings, though, we had a take, which I took as Anne had had more fish than me, and landed one about 110 –120lb. A nice result in the last five minutes of our week's holiday.
It wasn’t the easiest fishing I’ve ever had, but with just Anne and me to look after we treated the full week as a holiday. Getting out of bed when we felt like it, not bothering to fish when the weed was coming down too thick (except the last night) and generally chilling out (in temperatures over 38 degree’s C.) We even fished one night “on the front”, directly in front of our apartment, which is really pleasant, but just doesn’t feel like proper fishing.
We can’t wait to get back there next year already and I’m seriously thinking of going back in the winter for the carp. I haven’t had a good Ebro carp and although there are 40’s caught in the summer (there was at least four caught while we were there), winter is the best time.
Once again, we can’t thank Jason, Amanda and new to the scene Mikey (Gay Dancer) enough for the help they give us every time.
Jason is first to admit he doesn’t sell himself enough as one of the best guides on the Ebro, so I’ll have to do it for him.
He offers all types of deals; full guiding, part guiding, tackle hire etc. etc., anything any customer might want. We wouldn’t have caught without his help, even on this trip, so please don’t waste your holiday by not getting in touch with him. We fished every evening this session, it was the first time we had managed to be fishing on our arrival day, and that was down to Jason organising our tickets for us. Honestly, we couldn’t manage without him.
Check out his website, e-mail him and get your big catfish fishing sorted.
www.fatcatzfinecarp.co.uk - Email. Jasonfatcatz@yahoo.co.uk - Phone 0034 6333 47013
Anne liked this picture of the 200lber best