The bulls of the Camargue

Wels Catfish

May 2011 .  France  .  Petit Rhone

Martin Sack

No water of France had produced so many big cats in the last years than the Rhone delta. Especially the small branch, the Petit Rhone, accommodated a lot of fishes beyond 2m. At this jewel you should have been angling at least one time in life.

I started with my friend Nils, who had spend with me many weeks at the Spanish river Ebro, to a two week outdoor trip. We arranged a small supply depot on a safe farmer estate and fished and slept all the time on the boat. So we were all the time direct at, above and often also with the fishes. With the cats in combat, in the water or at photo shootings. We landed up to nine cats at one day with usually one fish more than 2m.

Many of them were in midstream of the spawning period. We could find out that easily because of the miscellaneous clearly bite marks. I was a little bit surprised because this time belonged not to the best time for catches in other catfish waters. Here seemed to prevail other rules. Perhaps the predators were waiting for the mullet shoals which just started to migrate the river up to their spawning grounds?

Despite stepless action the job on such a catfish boat was hart. You needed a lot of practice to tie the livebaits with the trigger line to craning vegetation of the densely overgrown banks with the dinghy jollyboat. Eight rods were allowed. We spread the lines up to 400m – and catched the most big cats with the baits far away. Because the older fishes were very awe, all work had to be done fast and silent. Fortunately we were a good running two man team since long time. Nils, who had spent last year three month on his boat on this river, probably would have done this job by sleeping.

Our reserves of livebaits got emptier soon and the supply of new ones was not easy and took much time. At the end we had not enough baits to fish with all rods.

But not only the trigger line baits produced many takes. We tried also angling vertical and with drifting floats. Nils new remotely controlled electric motor had unpayable value. For me the trip ended with a very special highlight: By fishing with artificial casting lures a cat of 1,90m inhaled my rubber worm and made a great fight at the light tackle. I landed a nice-looking extraordinary white spotted fish.

Now I had made my experience of France. Even if we didn’t catch the really big one more than 2,30m, Nils could convince me imposingly of the potential of the Rhone.

Statistic

Angler: Nils , Martin

Cats more than 1m: 39

Cats more than 2m: 10

1.Day:                                                                                                                                                                2,14 - 1,92 – 1,52

2.Day:                                                                                                                                                                2,27 - 1,90 – 1,50                                                                      

3.Day:                                                                                                                                                               2,15 – 165 – 1,32 – 1,12 – 1,05

4.Day:                                                                                                                                                              2,042,00 – 1,91 – 1,60 – 1,56 – 1,27 – 1,27 – 1,10 – 1,08

5.Day:                                                                                                                                                                   2,12 – 1,76 – 1,46 – 1,35 – 1,12

6.Day:                                                                                                                                                               2,142,10

7.Day:                                                                                                                                                               2,18 – 1,95 – 1,90 – 1,55

8.Day:                                                                                                                                                               2,28 – 1,25 – 1,20 – 1,15

9.Day:                                                                                                                                                                  Nothing

10.Day:                                                                                                                                                              1,90 – 1,68 – 1,50 – 1,28