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Catfish on the fly, River Ebro, Spain

This trip came about all on a spin off, of a night camped out on the river Ebro. Me and my good friend Lee Carpenter, were sleeping out this night as Lee had been guiding my party for cats and carp. I remember it like it was yesterday, October time and a big full moon after finishing something to eat and sitting back, the water began to erupt I could hardly believe my eyes and ears there were fish up everywhere smashing the shoals of bleak on the surface, an insane sight and one I will never forget.

I remember saying to Lee could I get one of these big kippers on a fly, as there were so many of them about and that is when Lee told me he knew a place where I could get one. I would need to come over earlier in the year July time, when the water was still up, I turned round and said to him it’s a deal there and then book me in and I will be here next year for sure.

Well the next year was on us quicker than I thought and it was time to go in search of a catfish on the fly, all my fly’s were tied, rods, reels at the ready, I was so excited about this one. I was picked up at the airport by Lee and we headed to his house to pick up the boat and gear for the job in hand, it was not long before we were on the river and heading up stream to the weir pool that Lee had in mind.

Time was getting on and Lee thought it would be a great idea to pull into a big beautiful looking bay not too far from the weir pool and where we could hit the pool first light and on the plus side he knew there was a lot of good carp fishing around the bay. So after setting up camp we put the rods out and his instinct was bang on, I landed 4 carp to 25lb within the first hour then it all went quite for a few hours so it was time to get an early night for the quick start in the morning. I just went into my bivvy to get something when all hell broke loose I could hear my reel screaming as I got to it and lifted the rod I knew it was no carp.

But lady luck was on our side this night and a monster catfish took the pellet we intended for the carp, I was only fishing with 14lb main line and a 2 3/4 lb test curve rod but this thing was trying to pull my arms off. After some heart stopping epic runs and a full hour later she was landed 144lb and totally blew my mind. To say I was still buzzing the next morning was a total understatement I was flying and had a feeling deep down I was going to smash a cat on my fly gear. The boat was packed up and we headed up to the weir pool, once we got there and had a look about, it was time to start.

I opted for a floating line as it was mostly shallow with some fast runs and a few pockets of slower water that I thought the fish would be lying up in. Later into the morning and I had my very first bit of interest, unfortunately the fish never stuck this time coming off, but this sent my confidence levels through the roof, as I knew I was doing something right. Lee nosed the boat into the bank, there was a lot of slack water in this area perfect I thought and even better as a very fast crease was up ahead within casting range, so I fired a long cast into the fast run letting it swing round in the faster water, before I began my retrieve, pulling my fly into the slack pool from the fast run and at this point my line went solid a quick hook set and it was fish on. A real good scrap on the fly set up and this fish was only small being less than 30lb but what power.

It was time for a quick coffee and rest the pool after all the commotion, we set up a drift again but this time we went in front of the fast run. Lee guided us onto it brilliantly using the electric motor, I made a cast along the crease and began to keep in touch with my fly in the faster water this time, again the line went solid but this fish shot towards me and I could not get a proper hook set on it and with the first big slow run it took me well into the backing. Now I knew this one was much bigger as it felt very strong, I started to get some line back on him but as soon as I got it near the boat pop the hook pulled out!!!! To say I was gutted would have been an understatement maybe my luck just run out.

What an amazing adventure I had on this trip, staying and fishing on the bank with this guy was truly awesome, we totally smashed it!!! from lots of smaller cats, to lots of smaller carp, then to big carp to big cats and finished with a cat on the fly and all in a weekend too.

Another highlight of this trip for me was at night after the fishing we would just sit chilling in the camp telling fishing story’s and one night Lee told me about the big perch and largemouth bass that can be found on the Ebro system wow!!!
Yes!! You guessed I was starting to go that crazy way again, the very same crazy way that started this journey for me and I asked Lee that very same question "Lee could you get me them on a fly"

To be Continued.

Dream fishing.
The tackle I used for this was:
12wt rod
12wt reel
100lb floro leader
Fly’s 9 inch long with lots of movement and pulse
Basic Tarpon gear

Alex Wilkie

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