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carp essex

Three 12 hour day sessions
on the River Ebro, Spain…

looking across the river to the island!

The end of April arrived quickly and it was time to head off for my first fishing trip to the mighty river Ebro. I had three 12 hour day sessions to make the most of, so had planned to fish for carp and smaller catfish from the bank. We chose to stay with Gary Sherridon and his wife from as they had accommodation close to the river and Gary seemed to know the river like the back of his hand.

We flew from Gatwick to Barcelona via easy jet and hired a car for the drive down to Amposta. Gary met us in his Nissan patrol to guide us to their home by the river. The welcome was first class, and the weather was lovely and warm with the sun beating down on us whilst we sat on the veranda with a cold beer. Gary let us settle in and then after a shopping trip for supplies we went through the tackle ready for an early start the next morning.

First light I was awake and eager to get the rods in the water, so once the gear was loaded into the barrow I headed off to the swim. I took Garys advice to bait with maize and fish with popped up maize over the top. I made the first rod up using conventional carp methods for fishing the rivers in the uk - 3oz grip lead 6" mantis hook length size 6 gator hook and three grains of maize with one grain of popup maize on a knotless hair. I thought keep it nice and simple and see how it goes.

Gary had told me about the large rocks and snags around the swim and to feel the lead down until it settles on the river bed. With this information I decided to cast about with just a lead to get some idea of the river bed out in front of me. First I cast out to approx 50m where the main flow was and the lead didn’t even get near the bottom before the current dragged it round to the margin on my left! The second and third did the same, this was something I had never encountered before so a serious change of tactics was needed. I noticed a slack area in the river flow to my left where the water seemed to boil over and flow back on its self so this looked a good place to put a bait whilst I gave some thought to how to fish further out in the main flow.

The baited rig was positioned and I fired several pouches of maize and hemp around the spot. After an hour or two Gary came down to see how I was getting on and gave me some advice on rigs and keeping the lead fast on the river bed. A 16" hook length was tied and the gripper lead was replaced with a large stone that had been drilled and glued a swivel to attach to the main line via a safety clip. At this point I knew that my river carp fishing experiences in the uk would be of no use here in spain! We made up a large PVA sausage consisting of dried out maize and ground bait threaded it onto the hook length and out it went some 30m in front, I let the rig hit the bottom and placed the rod on the bite alarm, ready!

Gary then left me to it and went off for breakfast. After short while Caz came down with some breakfast and to see how it was going. Just as I sat down to eat, as you do when fishing the left hand rod was nearly pulled off the pod with an aggressive take. I reacted with what seemed to be the speed of a slug on sleeping pills, slipped over on the wooden platform landing with my arse on the bait bucket and some how managed to grab hold of the rod! What a nightmare! Sit and wait patiently for a run then when it happens you turn into some sort of muppet. After a hard fight in the current a perfect common of around 10lb was landed, what a start!

Pleased with my self for catching my first Spanish carp I placed the rod back in the same place followed by a few more pouches of maize and hemp and waited. We finished our breakfast and started to relax and enjoy the warm, peaceful surroundings, watching the Mullet feeding by the edge.

After a quiet period I decided to give some of my homemade crab boilies a go on the rod out in front. I put three 10mm baits on popped up about 2" and cast it out about 30m. Within a few minutes the buzzer screamed to life and a fish was on, no falling over this time either! The fish fought hard and seemed to really hug the bottom so I began wonder what was on the end of the line. Just as I thought I had it - it roared off again using the fast flow to carry it down river then it was back to the start playing the fish back to me again. Eventually the fish was ready for the net and soon realised this was no carp but a catfish!

First Ebro catfish

well a kitten really but in the fast flow of the river and on carp tackle it gave an outstanding fight and felt about three times its size! I was happy - a carp and a catfish - Not at all bad for the first morning!

A few more carp from the close in rod came to the net, all weighing around the ten pound mark. We then decided to go back to the house for some lunch and see Gary to let him know how things where going. After a chat with Gary we decided to spend a few hours out in the boat to have a try for a bigger catfish and to see the wildlife along the river banks.

Heading off in search of catfish with Gary

We headed up river for a few miles to one of Gary’s favourite spots and put two boat rods out baited with small carp on large floats. We drifted down stream for a short while when one of the floats shot across the water and disappeared once I had hold of the rod it was nearly ripped out of my hands, whatever had eaten the small carp was not happy! This was the first time I had used a multiplier and was finding it very strange but soon adapted and had the fish under control and ready for gary to glove out. This was my biggest catfish and second one of the day, well pleased! Several hours passed but no more takes, the light began to leave us so we decided to call it a day and headed back.

The biggest catfish of the trip

The second day on the river we decided to concentrate on the carp fishing and stay on the bank for the day and fish till dark. The morning was pretty un eventful apart from another kitten that took a fancy to a pineapple popup!

The catfish that liked the pineapple popup!

After lunch the sun came out and the carp started to feed. The first run came to the close in rod fished with trout pellets moulded round the gripper lead and a glugged crab boilie. A hard fight and the first carp of the day was on the bank, again around 10lb. We had an hour of non stop runs and several carp to 16lb were landed all from the close in rod and pellets. The weather changed again and the fish went off the feed and moved on.

As the afternoon slipped away the strong wind that seems to blow along the river eased off and the river looked like a mill pond. I noticed a few carp starting to roll a 100m or so away down river so I started to fire out some pouches of bait in the hope of pulling the fish into the swim. The fish soon got closer and soon they was rolling just beyond the baited area. I re baited both rods and cast them short of the fish and let the flow carry the rigs down to spot were the fish where rolling. I sat back and watched the kamakazi mullet leaping across the river! It was only a few minutes when one rods roared off and I was into a very hard fighting 14lb long common. The rod was soon back out and it was away before I had put the rod down. Another hard fight was on with one of these powerful fish.

The action continued for another hour or so resulting in 10 fish being landed in under two hours! Gary came along to see how I was doing and the right hand rod was away and during the fight the other rod also had a run so gary grabbed that one and we landed both fish in the one net, a nice pair of doubles! I put the rods back out as soon as I could and was into the fish again. With every fish I fired out for or five pouches of bait to keep the fish in the swim for as long as possible without over feeding over scaring them away. The fish kept feeding and certainly liked the trout pellets and crab boilies I was using so we fished until the fish moved on. As darkness fell the runs slowed down and the fish started to crash further down the river.

That was one of the best evenings fishing I have ever had resulting in several double figure fish to 16lb, not monsters but very hard fighting pristine carp that looked as though they had never been hooked before.

Caz with a perfect little common carp

The evening before day three I decided to pre bait the swim 10kg of maize and hemp ready for the next morning. I set up at first light and noticed the water level had risen by a few feet over night and the flow was even stronger so both rods where cast to the margin on my left where all the bait should have settled. I sat back and watched trees, tyres and various other objects float past. The morning was uneventful with only a mullet to show for my efforts! I did notice quite a few fish topping several hundred metres down river so maybe the bait had been carried away in the flow and the fish had followed.

Eventually after a long wait one of the bite alarms screamed to life and I was in to a fish that ran along the reed bed in the margin and under an overhanging tree then all went solid, shit! I put the rod down and waited for some movement. The rod started to pull round so I picked it up and pulled hard freeing the fish, which then headed out into the main part of the river where I could play it without as many snags. The fish went round and round in the current until it finally had enough and swam into the net. The fish was of course another common but the biggest one of the trip weighing in at just over 20lb of solid muscle.

I fished for as long as possible as it was the last day but only had a few smaller carp just before dark.

For my first trip to the River Ebro I was very pleased with the end results. With all the knowledge I gained in those three days fishing I would know the sort of approach to take next time with the correct tackle for the varying conditions. The use of longer supple hook lengths made a dramatic improvement along with scalded trout pellets moulded round the lead. I found that the glugged crab fishmeal boilies out fished any other bait used and was best placed in the slack water close to the marginal read beds.

For anyone wanting to catch some quality carp and have the chance of a monster catfish the Ebro is the place to go. We stayed with Gary Sheriden of carpdreamfishing who made us feel very welcome and is a more than competent guide to the Ebro system with a wealth of catfish knowledge!

Take a look at Gary's website for further details




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