Leaving to new shores

Wels catfish

September/October 2014 .  Spain  .  Rio Ebro

Claudia Prahler

We had started with the dinghy in the almost dark dusk to a one and a half drive to a new fishing spot, and now I was freezing at clammy 7°C in the rising, nebulized sun at a really unapproachable scarp with less space. After I had prepared the rods, Martin came back with the boat from his sonar exploration tour. Gladly he was reporting from a wide echo on the display and immediately the marker was set on this spot. Four rods were brought out quickly and the place was prepared with pellets. Now it was time to wait and huddle up at the bank. After short time actually a very big cat was hitting the surface with its tail. Martin was on turn and waited for the first action. I recognized that this place in the chilly wind will stay shady until noon. It was the first day of our new tactic of “aggressive spot feeding” at remote stretches, where neither we nor hopefully someone else ever had fished really with pellets. Was it possible to outwit here the cats in short time, at day trips only, targeting the big ones? After two hours one rod was bending down. Nearly in the same course of motion Martin had it in his hands and jumped with it in the dinghy. Because of strong current and the force of the bended rod both were disappearing fast out of my sighting field. Around fifteen minutes later I heard an echo of elation shout far away in the Canyons. Short time later we brought the massive fellow with the boat and a special on our own constructed leash rope gentle to a gravel bank nearby. Here Martin could turn the fish around as many times he wanted, but the result of measurement stayed always the same, was at all convincing though: Heavy 2,39m! Was it fortune or a proof of a good tactic?

Ten days earlier: Our late summer Ebro tour was starting. We came closer to the river with mixed emotions. Whereas the Spanish public authorities in Aragon still were quarreling if they should bring all catfish stocks to extinction or save them completely as a source of capital of tourism, between the anglers was starting a run to the last untouched places. Hoping to be there far away from poachers and humans who were kicking nature with their feet. Fortunately we could build up our tents at one of our favorite fishing spots, where we indeed should get no trouble with others. The tactic: A wide range feeding with Pellets should attract and hold many and big cats at our spot. Immediately the first day started promising with five wels catfish up to 2,33m

At the third day the muggy hot late summer became a drastically turn. Heavy thunderstorms were cooling down the air. We faced days with permanent steady rain where sometimes the thermometer was raising at daytime not over 17°C – this was for this season very uncommon. However, with the falling water temperatures the very big catfish should get more active. And so we caught constantly fishes more than two meters. But somehow the very big run at our baits was not starting. It was getting warmer, and then the river was staying in dense clouds of fog until noon again. Thunderstorms and constant rains were changing, and between them sometimes the sun was coming out. We waited perseveringly a tour place and considered, if the poaching still was affecting our catch rate or we only should have more patience.

After ten days we were fed up with the waiting, despite some 2m surprises. On Martins Ebro maps were marked many remote spots from exploration tours of the last years, where we never had fished so far. Too small, too difficult to fish, too uncomfortable, too far away from stretches where people generally feeding with pellets, and absolutely not suitable to build up a tent. But now it was the right time for us to go new ways – we had after all nothing to lose. So we packed together our basecamp to build it up again at our friend Nick, who had also settled down somewhere in the nowhere, fishing as a guide for carps and cats.

Three days later. After the success of our first day excursion, the second day was running a little bit low, we marked and fed today a promising looking drop in the riverbed to deeper water. Two midsize cats were showing that this spot cannot be so bad. Because of many rocks and unknown river structures we had to jump at every fish as fast as possible in the dinghy. It was my turn – as I had pulled the boat over the fish, I felt the pressure on the line from shortest distance. Sedately and arduous it was hauling us upstream, without any interruptions and with constant pressure. As my combatant after ten minutes still was sticking heavily on the bottom, Martin got nervous as well. Even in the free water the battle was going on for some time, until Martin could grab the lower jaw and leash the fish. We drove slowly with the cat on the tow line to a close and well prepared bay for measuring and taking photos. This was my fish of the tour – chunky 2,37m!

Exploring day number four. The area of our choice was looking unimpressive. But Martin supposed here a migratory route between two deep holes and wide zone of shallow water. After two hours fishing we got a relentless affirmation that one of our rods was placed on the right spot. The first bite was leading to a wels catfish of 2,31m for me. We brought out the bait again, and after ten minutes it was Martins turn: Again 2,31m, but a much more skinny fish! Also the third time the rod was not for a long time in the water, and it was time for me again. Anew I had to hold up against a heavy, energy-sapping fighter. But I played the fish with success again and Martin was grabbing nervously the enormous lower jaw. The very big head made expectation of a massive body, which still was hiding in the muddy water at the bank. As we pulled the animal on the mat, we saw the complete dimension. We measured and I was extremely happy: 2,45m – my new personal best!

At the following four fishing days we could catch three more cats over 2m, even if the long ongoing rain made the fishing on muddy banks many times very difficult. So we had to stay actually one day in our basecamp, because a heavy thunderstorm was surprising us just before dusk.

This tour was definitely not relaxing, but all efforts were much worthwhile. We have experienced that we have to stay flexible and mobile all the time on our fishing trips. We are hoping anymore of the starting coming sense of the Spanish government, to prevent this paradise instead of let it going down without doing anything.

Next to the fishing we enjoyed again the time with our friends, of course. Either the funny evenings in Nicks basecamp with his guests or at our visits of Oli in Mequinenza and Nils in south of France.

Having caught in 19 fishing days 18 cats more than 2m at the end, we could drive back home very satisfied!

 

Statistic

Angler: Claudia, Martin

Cats more than 1m: 55

Cats more than 2m: 18

Carps: 2 (biggest 1,07m)

 

1.Day:5

2.33 – 1.95 – 1.92 -1.90 – 1.65

2.Day: 0

3.Day:8

2.15 – 1.79 – 1.72 – 1.71 – 1.57 – 1.50 – 1.48 – 1.23

4.Day:1

1.90

5.Day:4

2.02 – 1.92 – 1.74 – 1.56

6.Day:5

2.282.182.112.10 - 1.72

7.Day:3

1.74 – 1.71 – 1.62

8.Day:5

2.032.01 – 1.93 – 1.57 – 1.36

9.Day:5

1.77 – 1.73 – 1.63 – 1.62 – 1.60

10.Day:1

1.71

11.Day:2

2.08 – 1.39

12.Day:1

2.39

13.Day:2

1.91 – 1.50

14.Day:4

2.37 - 1.83 – 1.80 – 175

15.Day:4

2.452.312.31 – 1.87

16.Day:3

2.21 - 2.16 – 1.89

17.Day: No fishing

18.Day:1

1.68

19.Day:0

20.Day:1

2.27

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