Blank goes in search of Spanish Kippers

Our party had been to Mequinenza, an old Spanish mining town where the rivers: Ebro, and Segre converge, a few times before, to fish for catfish and carp. Our apartment for this trip was situated across the river from the Bavarian camp and has its own jetty for launching the hired boats from. We found the apartments comfortable, and at times very handy with the air-conditioning, as the mid-day sun was of a stifling temperature!

The small town is roughly 2 hours drive east of Barcelona, and after being stocked in the 1970s with Carp, Catfish, Zander and Bleak, now has specimens of a variety of species. After speaking with guide, Gary Allen we discussed not even taking our own carp fishing tackle, as the feedback on the carp fishing was not good. We decided to take the carp gear however and rented catfish tackle. The catfish tackle, was more a boat set-up, with heavy rods and multiplier reels, spooled up with 145lb (65 kg) braid, with 220lb (100 kg) braid hook links. The hooks were rather large compared to what I’m normally used to using (Masterline size 8) and were extremely sharp, as they were size 4/0 catfish hooks.

The comparison; Masterline size 8 V's Catfish 4/0

The first day was more an exploration of the river and surroundings more than anything, but after turning the corner on the Ebro, we could not resist just slipping a live bait out for an hour. This proved unsuccessful however and we returned to the apartments to get tackled up for the evening session ahead. For this we went across the river and fished carp tackle with baits scattered at different ranges. We saw some Catfish caught by other anglers and after returning from looking at one particular fish, I noticed my dad was into a fish. After a few minutes of cranking the fish from a distance, he swung in the first fish of the trip, a lovely pound-and-a-half catfish. He slipped the hook and we all watched the little moggy bolt back to the riverbed. That was all that our group caught that night, but this made us even more hopeful for the days ahead.

The second day was pretty similar to the first, however this time; we went out in the boats with a sonar and jigs. We split up and the boat with the sonar cruised around scanning the riverbed for features and the drop-off that we had been told about, with the second boat temporarily fishing jigs on the drift. This method proved well for my mum, who hooked but unfortunately lost two Zander, both fish nailed the jigs just under the surface. We then anchored both boats just over the drop-off and fished live baits both on and off the bottom. After a few hours with no action the wind picked up, and with the conditions being quite rough, we headed for the apartments. After seeing carp crashing in the margins on our return to the apartments, we decided to do some carp fishing from the jetty. We saw many fish of all sizes crashing and cruising, but unfortunately, they did not want baits that had worked for us in the UK. However we noticed that the carp were showing in the weed that was full of life, and so we thought they were pre-occupied with the natural food. So the second day soon came to an end with no fish yet caught, but we all expected this as we were fishing a vast expanse of water.

Paradise… The beautiful sunset of Mequinenza and I’m fishing!

On third day, three of the group of four went and fished from the prom along the river Segre, just across the river from the apartments. It was our first proper carp session and we were very optimistic having been told that the carping would be very poor. To start with I cast out a 20mm fishmeal boilie roughly 50 yards out with some catapulted freebies. On the other rod was a single halibut pellet over a bed of freebies, and that was cast around 40 yards. The fishing was slow, but after about an hour-and-a-half the left hand rod screamed off and I bent into a lovely hard-fighting fish. The fish went on a few long runs and after steering it away from the marginal weed beds, the net was slipped under the first carp of the trip. I was very impressed with the size and condition of the fish and after a few quick photos we slipped the common back.

First carp of the trip, a lovely Spanish 12lb’er

After more interest on the pellet I changed the bait on my other rod to a big pellet. The sun was now climbing in the sky and the temperature was rising fast. But there were still fish showing in front of us. Roughly half-an-hour after my 12lb common the fourth party member arrived and we were all Carp fishing. As he was just setting his rods up my oppy screamed off once again and I bent into a fish. I struggled however as I could feel my backlead jammed in the marginal weed, but after plenty of pressure it came out and I could give the fish some stick. I bullied the fish to the surface but then took my time after seeing that it was a good fish and bigger than that of my UK personal best. After making a few sharp dives in the margin, she was gasping on the surface and my dad slipped the net under what was a good twenty. We popped her on the mat and I then saw the size of it and immediately weighed it. The scales went round to 26lb and I was well chuffed. Then came the photos and the fish felt like it weighed a tonne! (That’s why I’m not lifting it very high!

“It weighed a tonne!” 26lb to be precise!

After a lot of photos I slipped my first twenty back and she soon swam off, and I was on a high! The heat then became too intense, and even the fish were showing no interest. The rest of the day passed as we all had an afternoon snooze and then had a lovely meal at The Fisherman’s Inn, in Mequinenza. We turned in early ready for an early morning start.

We were back on the prom next morning around 7am and carping once again. The fishing was not as productive that day with only me catching a couple of fish, like the day before. However the fish were only singles but they still fought hard. I then learned to keep the fish clear of the weed until netting them as I lost four fish in the marginal weed due to the lead snagging.

One of my two mid-morning commons

Once again after some action on only one rod amongst the whole group, the carping went very quiet again once the sun was at its p
eak. We then went to the Bavarian camp and got the catfish rods changed from float set-ups to ledger set-ups. After doing so we got everything sorted back at the apartments and got geared up for the session ahead. We decided to fish our own way, not paying for guides, but exploring the river ourselves, therefore benefiting more when we actually caught. We had seen how the bank fishing as well as boat fishing could catch the cats, so we decided to fish until midnight (Spanish laws only allow fishing between 6am and midnight). We strung around ten big pellets onto some braid to form a necklace, which was tied to the hook. We did this for each of the four rods, and rowed them out and put around 1kg of freebies around each one. After doing so we put the reels onto the clicker (a type of indicator and baitrunner in one) and put the high-tech indicators onto the rod (a bell!). The first few hours were generally very slow with a hot period between 10pm and 12pm. Some fish were caught that night but as the locals told us, it had been a poor night. We learned a lot however by talking to Mark who helped with the tackle and gave some good advice. He stayed with us all night after which we had a better knowledge and understanding of the habits of the fish. He did this all off his own back and was a great help so, thanks Mark! We saw other anglers catch some cats but nothing above 100lb came out. Also it was our first night and our baiting technique was rather basic, and the bait was only being put in a tight area, so once again we learnt for another night.

The next day we were up early again and across on the prom carp fishing. It was slow to start off, but after a few casts with PVA bags, the swims were nicely baited, after which Dave had his first run of the week. I was sat talking with him as his indicator slowly rose and the baitrunner paid out line. He picked the rod up and bent into the fish. It fought hard and after a little excitement at the net we peeled back to see an old warrior of a fish. We noticed that it had “eye-sight trouble” and affectionately called it Nelson, who weighed a fraction over 28lb.

Dave with Nelson, the 28lb Common

The day, like the others, then passed with a few carp in the net, but nothing over 15lb and so once more we rowed out the catfish baits, but this time scattering the freebies, as suggested by Mark. Into the *hot* period we went, then one of the bells rang! We all looked at Dave’s rod as the tip bent round. He hit it and the fish was on. The rod was bent double as he fought the beast. We were all amazed at the power of the fish, and after nearly being pulled off his feet, my dad got hold of the trace, and landed the group’s first cat. She weighed 79lb and Dave was very pleased.

Dave with his 79lb moggy

We put the cat back and rowed out that bait again to a similar spot and put 1kg of freebies around. Roughly fifteen minutes later, and the bell was ringing again, this time my mum picked up the rod and bent into her first catfish. She played the fish for around ten minutes and once again we had another moggy on the mat. This fish weighed 63lb and my mum was really pleased. We took a few shots and put the fish back. Now me and my dad were very hopeful, and eagerly awaited a run on one of the rods. Unfortunately, 12pm came with no more fish, so we packed up and motored back across the river to the apartments.

Meow! Mum’s 63lb’er

Next day, it was another early start, however this time we had some 2 catfish rods out, as well as the carp rods. We had no action on the cat rods, and when it came to 11am, we decided to reel them in and all of us go for carp. Once again, my pellet rod did the business, with a steady trickle of fish was coming in. I had a couple of pretty single figure fish and was expecting a day of tiddler bashing. But then we got talking to Dean, from Catfish Concept, the same company as Mark, and he, like Mark gave us some great advice that helped us catch more fish. He suggested fishing with the rod tips in the air, as sometimes the tip would knock, without the indicator moving and it would be a fish. So after doing so I started to get a number of bleeps on my right-hand rod, which we expected to be weed on the line, but the indicator moved a touch and so I ran and hovered over my rods. The tip pulled forward so I hit it. Fish on! The fish put up a long hard fight, and as we saw it in the water a couple of times, thought it was a low double. It fought for a further five minutes, before gasping, and the net was slipped under the very long common. We weighed her and after seeing the size of her, believed what the scales read. A 26lb Golden Beauty. It was my second twenty pounder of my lifetime, let alone the second in one week! We took a few shots and then slipped her back, and I was fishing once more.

Minter • My lovely 26lb Common The second of the trip!

Not long after putting the 26lb common back, the left hand rod went again, and I was into another hard-fighting common. This time when weighed only went to 19lb, but a nice fish all the same.

The second decent common of the day - This stunner weighed 19lb

After some lovely fish, the smaller doubles didn’t seem as valuable, but none the less, I was chuffed to catch them as no-one else was catching! The session came to an end once more and once again, it was time to get the catfish rods out. My mum having caught a catfish already, decided to give the carping a go at night. So she settled into the swim that I had been fishing in the daytime, and started fishing. I was happy for her to do so, as I thought a big fish had already come from the swim-in the shape of my 26lb common. The first hour was quiet, but I sat with mum in case she did latch into one. Anyway, the indicator dropped back and then lifted, so she hit it. After a brief tussle, I slipped the net under her first carp for a number of years. It proved to be her biggest ever, and she was pleased with the 16lb beauty. We slipped her back and cast the rod out again, and just 10 minutes later, it screamed off on a real one toner. She bent into the fish and it fought hard for a good ten minutes. After diving in and out of the marginal weed, she came to the top and I netted what I saw as a good 25lb carp. We unhooked it and weighed it straight away. I was miffed to see that the scales went all the way to 30lb! The fish had a few marks, but we didn’t mind, as it was great fish not only for my mum, but the group as a whole
. But now I must say I had finished with the swim and left it, so I cannot make any claims to the fish, so well done mum for beating all our PB’s.

Result! Mum’s 30lb Monster

My dad, having not caught much all week was sitting on the cat rods as my mum carried on carping. We said to my dad that the first cat rod to go, he was having, and so typical of his luck too!

The rod went and he bent into a good fish, even Mark knew it was a better stamp of fish. But as he was playing the fish, it all went slack, and all our hearts sank as we thought the fish was off. We all sympathised for dad as he reeled in, only to realise the reel had gone faulty and the fish was still on! Dad fixed the reel and continued to play the fish. Now was my excitement, I had to land it! The fish was steadily steered towards me, and with my gloves on, I grabbed the trace and pulled the fish in. Then I put both my hands along the bottom jaw of the fish and held it until we had a sling to get the fish out of the water with. We all knew it was a big fish, just by looking at the size of its head! The sling came and we weighed the monster at 143lb-Result! My dad was chuffed to bits, having broken his previous PB by 117lb.

We then lifted the beast for some photos and then cradled her in the margins until she was ready to go back.

What a cracker my dad’s 143lb Specimen Moggy

With no more action that night we travelled across the Segre once more, going back to chill in the apartments, and a quick midnight dip in the pool. Next morning was the last day, and I was the only one with plans to go carp fishing. So I was left on the bank whilst the other group members went shopping. I fished exactly the same set-up just 10 yards away from the other swims that I had been fishing.

The fishing was slow and after an hour I considered changing swims, but the thought of wasting the bait that had gone in made me stay in the swim. The oppy bleeped a few times and the indicator rose, so I bent into the rod and a fish was on. It came in very easily and I had my smallest carp of the week, a little 2lb’er. I popped it back and cast out.

I was just tightening back to the lead and it all went solid. I looked at the rod tip and noticed it was bouncing, like when the fish pick up the bait so I hit it. The fish came in fast and was a different fight to the other fish and I saw it when it came in close. It was a small cat about 2lb. It dived into the weed however, and before I knew what was happening it had snagged me. I was very peeved as it was a nice little moggy.

I cast back out and waited again for around 20 minutes, at when point I had a real screamer on my right hand rod. The fish fought well but swam straight into the net. Just as it did so the others arrived and helped me weigh it. She weighed 16lb and I was pleased. I cast back out and the rod went within five minutes and I landed another 16lb’er. A brace of 16’s in 10 minutes, not bad! I was pleased, even thought they weren’t twenties.

Two 16lb’ers in just ten minutes!

The fishing then went very quiet for an hour. I then wanted one more fish before packing up, to end my last carp session of the trip. The left hand rod went roughly an hour after the brace of 16’s and I was into my last carp of the trip. But as I was playing it, it rolled on the surface about 40 yards out, which was strange, compared to the fight of the other fish. Anyway it came in quite easy but then I saw its tail in the margin and told my dad that it was a cat. He slipped the net under my first cat of the trip and I was well chuffed. Not the monsters that we’d seen but still a nice fish, weighing 6lb.

my first Moggy, a 6lb specimen no less!

We packed up and went to the Fisherman’s Inn for a 3-course meal for just 8 euros-Bargain! After packing we went for the last session on the prom and eagerly awaited the “hot” spell between 10pm and 12. Of course, this time I was sitting on the rods and the first run was mine. Whilst waiting I saw that both Dave and my dad had caught carp, my dad’s being 4lb and Dave’s being a lovely 18lb’er. Although 11pm had come and still no action, I was hopeful. But then a local Spanish lad managed to tangle his catfish with two of our lines. After a long discussion of which neither of us could understand, we pulled in his fish, but had to give two of my rigs the snip, and so I only had two rods out now. Half an hour of fishing to go, and only two rods (which I had accidentally pulled away from the baited area) so I was not confident but, just as I was breaking down one of the rods, the left hand cat rod bent forward. I picked up the rod and struck hard, I wound down and then struck again to make sure the hook was set. I was then “pumping” to get the fish in and after 10 minutes the fish rolled about 30 yards out. I then pulled the monster in towards my dad, who “gloved” her in the margins. We eventually got her weighed and photographed, and she was my fish of the trip, a fantastic Moggy of 105lb!

My monster Moggy weighing an impressive 105lb - Great!

We enjoyed the holiday and will hopefully be going back next year. I would like to thank Mark and Dean from Catfish Concept, for all their help and advice www.catfish-spain.com

As for now, I’m back at school, but I’m sure sessions on the Capesthorne Estate will be had in the coming weeks, until then Tight Lines.

Nige