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Big perch and black bass on the River Ebro 2014

   

It just shows you how much time fly’s, it was almost a full year since I had hooked up last with my fishing bro Lee Carpenter. Boy!!! Where does time go, anyway this only means one thing, it was nearly that time to go out and fish with him again!!! I was so excited about it, as this time Lee had promised me a crack at the big perch and the elusive black bass also known as largemouth bass. This was a promise I was going to hold him too because they are both such beautiful creatures.


The year before we spoke about them and Lee said this time it will be different because we were going to target them on lures and he was going to show me how to use them because sometimes these fish would be laid up in very deep water. Now this was different all right because I have never fished lures and me being a total fly fishing fanatic, this was going to be good, but deep down I knew what ever happened I was going to be in great hands, because this guy was awesome with them and if anyone was going to show me how to catch on them, it would be him.


I also had a plan of my own and it was to bring my fly gear with me and team it up with very fast sinking lines to attempt to reach them depths Lee spoke about. The fly patterns I intended to fish out there would be smallish baitfish patterns. Also Lee had given me a list of lures to bring out and these things looked superb I was beginning to see the attraction now. Some stunning looking bait fish patterns here and so life like, but the ones that struck me most were the glow In the dark ones they just had zander written all over them.


Again after getting picked up from the airport we headed to Lees house for the boat and gear, then we raced off to the river before the evening set in. Man how good was it to be back out there fishing again, well it was truly amazing and after such a great trip last time how could it be get any better.


Lee came up with the Idea to sleep out in the boat at night under the moon & stars, this way we could travel up and down the river and soon as it got dark we could find one of those big sheltered bays, drop the anchors down and kip there, so come morning we were starting off from where we finished. For me the big plus was more time fishing, well let me tell you this worked a treat and yeah there is something about lying outside under the moon and stars at night in the warm heat, the perfect way to finish a day’s fishing day off.


The first night out on the water Lee was going to show me some of his tricks with the drop shot rig, Lee went straight for the glow in the dark ones, now this guy is great to watch so calm and laid back, really good to learn off. With only a few hours of light left Lee started out in typical fast form banging out two nice zander in quick time, both around the 8lb mark. These were nice chunky fish and after watching Lee for a bit, I was just getting the hang of this technique when the rod bucked over, now this fish was feeling lumpy!!! But before I knew it the fish was up on the surface next to the boat splashing about and going crazy!!! Lee went for the net but this fish had other plans for the evening and after a few big head shakes, it slipped the hook sooting back to the depths. Now we both saw this fish and reckoned it was over the 10lb mark a corker!!! And my first take on the lure too wow what an awesome start, but hell this was only the first night we had the whole weekend ahead.

Next morning we were up at first light Lee rigged me up with a lighter outfit especially for perch and off we went in search of these big stripes. Now this got silly, I smashed my pb about 5 times!!! We had at least 20 fish and all before breakfast, insane fishing!!!


This weekend was a total learning curve for me, it was incredible we done lots of different styles of fishing some with bait, some with lures but!! The luring was by far the most productive we done it all from drop shotting, trolling, vertical jigging, drift fishing and bouncing big rubber shads off bottom, to spinning big mepp spoons. We had fish on them all, it even got so crazy out there, I had cats fishing for perch, zander fishing for perch, perch fishing for zander, cats fishing for zander, carp on roach gear .It was all mixed up, lottery fishing!!! And Lee had a few of the elusive black bass into the bargain wow these fish are so special, totally stunning and now that I had seen one in the flesh, I just had to have one myself.


This weekend was going so quick it was a blur. This was us on the last night and the next day would be the last full day before it was time to go home and my fly gear never even seen the light, but to be fair I was having such a blast learning and fishing with my bro Lee, basically just living a dream!!!


Back on the water, we set up for a good night ahead we approached this good mark we had a few big fish from the day before. Lee suggested for a change I chuck a big mepp spoon out and retrieve fast to see if I could get some interest from the more  aggressive fish, so I rigged myself up with a big orange/back mepp spoon. Honest my very first cast with it and bang it was fish on!!!! Second cast bang fish on!!! Third cast I got it 10 yards from the boat and I could see 6 or 7 perch following the mepp, this was going to be mass carnage.


But something deep down was telling me to try the fly and I just knew the fly was going to kill it as these fish are chasing. I told lee I was going to have a go with the fly and got set up. I opted for small 3 inch bait fish pattern, bingo!!! 5 cast 5 small perch, but nothing of a decent size. The very next cast is when everything took a big turn for me, I hooked another fish again small and as I brought the fish to the boat I saw a much bigger shadow chasing it trying to eat my catch. Me and Lee looked at each other in total disbelief now this was a big lump of a perch wow.


I automatically thought a bigger fly and got all the fly’s I had tied for the trip out, the biggest patterns I had was 6 inch jig head clouser minnows, that I tied up for zander and Lee picked out this big perch imitation and that very next cast I hooked the big lump that we had been searching for!!! This was mind blowing to say the least, what a fish it was, a tank!!! From here on in my confidence levels soared and I was catching the bigger fish on my bigger fly’s that I intended for zander what a night this was turning in to.


Now this fishing was my cup of tea and I was loving it, I lost count of the fish I had that night and most of them were all big!!! But the best was still  to come, just before it got dark Lee drifted us down river onto an old tree he knew was a hotspot for big fish and I made my cast, as I was bringing the fly nearer to the boat Lee said Alex there is a big black bass following your fly!!! I looked down to see the big shadow in the water this thing was a good size, as It looked like the size of some of the bigger perch we had  been catching wow!!! But it just kept following the fly till i run out of line, damn did I feel sick, but I quickly changed the fly from the big perch looking pattern to a slimmer flashy bleak pattern and recast into the same area. I quickly started to retrieve my fly with the odd twitch and pause, when I heard Lee say " Alex, he’s on it again" but this time I knew exactly what to do!!! I speeded up the retrieve and then just hung the fly in its face, we both watched this bass gulp down my clouser minnow, I slowly lifted the rod and it was fish on.


This was the highlight of my trip and possibly my year!!! This night will never leave me, this trip was amazing from the first cast to the last.


The next day the weather changed for the worse the wind had picked up, so Lee came up with a new game plan, it was to go out and troll most of the day till the wind dropped and then get back on the fly and lures, again his tactics were spot on as we totally smashed them on the troll. In fact the wind never dropped if anything it got worse, so we spent the whole last day trolling for a big zed. We had zander most of the day on deep trolled lures we also picked up a few smaller cats which are always great fun on light gear, but to be fair I just sat there numb from the nights before fishing in a daze, as I just knew nothing was going to come close to that!!!


Another insane fishing trip on the mighty river Ebro!!! So all I can say is watch this space for the next part of our journey.

Alex Wilkie