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Ebro fishing

When fishing the river Ebro is mentioned what comes to your mind?

Perhaps based on previous experience or what you have been told it likely to be something like this... Breakfast at 8 o’clock (ish) that has been arranged by the guiding company you have chosen. Arrival at the river around 9.30 to 10am and into a swim you know will be available as people have been paid to sleep there over night as they have for the past months. Quite soon you will be fishing with the inevitable buckets of pellet being poured into the same area as yesterday, the day before and the day before that - in fact every day for the past few months. As you sit watching heavy rod tops against an azure blue sky whilst applying large quantities of Hawaiian tropic sun oil the sense of anticipation is not diminished by this perhaps, slightly artificial scene. The occasional ’badoosh’ as yet another giant carp leaps or the heavy slap as a catfish tail scythes the surface are the only sounds that break the concentration until one of those rods tops hoops over and all hell breaks loose. It will never stop being exciting but perhaps it is a little predictable - especially if you have done it all before.

So, let me paint a slightly different picture for you based on my most recent trips.

You are out on the river before the sun has risen over the cliffs arising from the edge of the original river bed. The activity is incredible with carp and catfish rolling everywhere with huge jacuzzi like fizzes of bubbles rising from so many spots as to belie belief. Thousands, if not millions of bleak are ’plinking’ on the surface and even right alongside the boat catfish can crash into these sending water into the boat! By now you are watching rod tops against a grey/orange sky as dawn breaks properly. Two at the stern are trolling lures directly behind the boat at different depths. To the port and starboard are the bright orange tubes that support the planing boards that hold lures out well away from the boat. The sense of excitement is intense as you know that if one of those lures is engulfed by a big cat the take will be savage and simply getting the bucking rod out of its holder will be the first problem to overcome. You could of course troll whilst holding the rod but make sure your heart is in good shape before you undertake that practice!

As the sun finally rises above the cliff face the planing board glows as if on fire drawing your attention to it and you become mesmerised. Suddenly, and in a flurry of water it disappears as some monster engulfs the whole thing...........’.jeeez ,(or something like that)- did you see that’ is exclaimed as the cat spits it back out with distain and it pops back to the surface. The surface lure is working only a few meters behind and before anyone can suggest it might get hit it does. The cat has now found a target with hooks in it and judging by the bent rod and screaming clutch it ain’t happy! I could go on but by now you have the idea that there is more to the Ebro than many would have you believe.

As the surface activity diminishes and all the anglers start to arrive not knowing what they have missed it is also time for us to give the pellet a try. Not however, from one of the well worn and (sad to say) dirty bank areas but from the boat, anchored under one of the cliff faces far away from other anglers - proper fishing!

By mid afternoon we are back at our digs having a siesta and waiting for the evening session that will either be casting heavy fly gear and lures at Escatron weir or back on the main river sight fishing from the boat with fly or lure for the cats that have been lured to the surface by the vast bleak shoals once again accumulating there. Just try drifting out there in the pitch black (no light pollution) with an incredible starry sky moving slowly around - the only indication that you are moving. Plink, plink – the bleak are taking shelter near the boat. You know what is coming next but even so the anticipation of exactly when is electrifying..............calllummphhh......the sound echoes all round the gorge as a monstrous mouth slams shut among the bleak shoal a yard from the boat. Turn on some lights and there they all are – cats of all sizes lying up like submarines. Take your pick and put a bait to one but hang on tight, it might get ugly!

Normally, to comply with regulations you will be on your way back to the digs after midnight but no doubt planning the next trip and what to fish for.

Having decided that arms and backs have taken quite a beating in the last couple of days Roach are decided upon as the target species. Make no mistake, these are serious fish and worth a trip on their own. I have seen some monster fish but wondered if there was a touch of hybrid about them. Crossed with what I really don’t know as they look so much like Roach – just not quite right – at least not compared to the regular 2, 3 and occasional 4lber that you catch that are definite Roach!! Fishing the feeder with corn or small pellet is the ‘normal’ way on the Ebro but as I don’t ‘do’ normal I get the float rod out with waggler or slider where depths dictate. It is possible to get quantities of maggots if pre-ordered for not much more money than in England. Hemp and ground bait is easy to obtain and tins of corn from the supermarket as back up. You might as well fish relatively fine but make sure your hook link is a lower breaking strain that your main line by quite a bit. You will hook carp and catfish on the float and, unless they are of a size where you have a chance of landing it you might as well give up early. An hour playing a carp only to lose it is time wasted for the Roach. Try and bully the big fish and if you ain’t gonna land ‘em you will ‘do’ your hook link and be ready for the Roach again in no time. The maggots you buy in Spain by the way are incredible. I have had them for a few days out in ridiculous temperatures and they have been fine – no sweating, stretching or dying – quite amazing. They are definitely different to our maggots as the casters just go hard and black so I assume they are not a bait option. Sometimes the Roach fishing is fast and furious but that tends to be with shoals of smaller fish – if it takes a while to start ‘happening’ and you get fewer bites rest assured there is the chance of a lifetime best. Be prepared to be able to ‘bulk down’ on any rig you use as sometimes the bleak can be a mare in the upper layers. Corn is a definite option until the bleak shoal goes away or, as is often the case, gets scared away!

I hope this has started at least to portray a different side of the Ebro. There really is much more to it than static pellet fishing. It has an unbelievable bio mass of fish of so many species.

I have not even mentioned the Zander and Carp fishing here – let alone the Bass and Perch which can all be very special.

To discuss any of this and to tailor a trip to your ideals give Lee a call – I promise you will not be disappointed.

Tony Booker

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