Category Archives: Catfishing

Stags on the Ebro – Part 3/3

The final day

So, it was finally upon us, the last day of our adventure fishing the mighty River Ebro.  Some of the non-anglers among us decided to give fishing a miss on the last day, and instead did a spot of sight-seeing.  Having already caught some huge fish, and been subjected to the blistering heat for two days straight, a break from it for the less ‘hard core’ to spend time soaking in some of the local culture was a fair shout.

With the party of anglers now slightly smaller, our guides suggested we go out as one group instead of splitting into two, more manageable groups as the previous two days.  This worked really well, as the spot we went to fish had been baited the day before by our group, and all being together we could have a bit of banter and all our rods in one area.  We certainly couldn’t have fished as one group if everyone in our party was fishing, there would just be too many anglers on the bank in the same spot, and way too many lines out, as it was we had a fair number in the water!

41As the day wore on, getting hotter and hotter action was steady but fairly slow.  A couple of German guys pitched up for the week across the river had landed one cat if memory serves me in the early hours, so not a lot of action.  They’d fished it solid for a week, sleeping right on the bank under the stars, kept warm at night by a few crates of vodka!

Nearly everyone in our party had by this point caught fish of over 100lb, which was basically our loose ‘target’ for the trip.  Only Dave was yet to bank one over the magical 100lb barrier, fingers crossed he’d bag one today!

0.92It certainly felt like the hottest day of the trip, I’m sure the beers at night, small amount of sleep and the previous two days fishing were taking their toll too, so we took refuge from the heat wherever possible.  By far the best way to cool down was to jump in the river and have a swim about with the big cats!

Here we take a dip to cool off while Ben poses for the camer with one of his cats. At least I think thats what he’s doing! (this camera had a soaking by the way hence the blur)

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Boating the baits out as normal, Gaz also crashed the boat around and across his own bow wave, cats are well-known for being attracted by noise and vibration, and though it looked totally wrong by normal fishing standards, it proved to be a valuable trick as we soon started to catch fish! If your curious about cats and sound/vibration, google ‘clonking’….

40First out the blocks and into a fish was Ben, and it wasnt long before the first cat of the day was ours!

4243Soon followed by Dave! Would it be the fish he was after, a 100lb plus fish? It was certainly a decent size, and inside I was praying for him that it would just nudge the scales over the mark.  Unfortunately, it didn’t quite, and correct me if I am wrong please Dave, but I think it went 98lb!

45It actually turned out to be one of the bigger fish for the day.  As the day wore on, we continued to catch quite a few fish, but often smaller cats in the 40-70lb bracket.  Great sport, but the biggies were noticeably absent from our catches.

When it was my turn to have a scrap with a cat, being so hot the lads decided to ‘help me out’ and douse me in water mid fight, yeah cheers lads!

10399401_138560418355_4206038_n10399401_138560483355_4762555_nCarl also had a couple of cats through the day to add to his tally.

53 54Then Dom hit into a fish, that was a little different!  Clearly a bigger fish, and hell bent on staying a long way out in the flow.  It surfaced close on half way across the river, and we all saw it was a fish of a colossal size, before it disappeared again into the depths!

55Some 20 minutes into the battle now and all hell was breaking loose!  We did what we could to help Dom out, moving rods out-of-the-way and generally giving him stick in his ear, all good fun!

56The battle raged on for some time, and it’s always difficult to estimate how long, but it must have been getting on for three quaters of an hour before it was close in, and tired enough to glove, or so we thought.  A last gasp lunge from the fish and my heart sank, the hook had been removed by this point and I could see it rapidly vanishing into the murky water churned up from the battle.  However, quick as a flash Scotty dove straight after the enormous fish and wrested it back into our safe hands! Incredible gut reaction from the man to save the day!

On the bank, weighing it at 186lb, it certainly was an impressive creature to behold:

57This incredible encounter with such an impressive creature took my breath away! Gaz guided us to the fish, Dom played it to perfection all the way to the bank, we all helped move rods out-of-the-way, and Scotty saved the day at the last gasp, a real team effort!

58 59I don’t know many people who can hold a cat of 186lb like Gaz can!

10399401_138560388355_6860740_nDom made it into the top 15 fish caught with Catfish Capers during 2009 with this capture!58.1Not only this, but on the second day, he also caught the biggest carp of our trip, a lump of a Common at 37lb!

1.123Doms huge cat capped off a great trip all round, great fishing, great company, great location and we made some fantastic new friends!

If you want to go to the Ebro fishing, and are looking for a guide, search out Gaz, Paul or Scotty, you wont go wrong I promise you! I’d seriously recommend anyone going out for the first time to book a guide.  If you are lucky enough to locate, and then hook a cat of 186lb, its imperative you know how to handle them correctly, for yours and the fishes safety. Along with this, they will put you on the fish every time!

The journey home was as sombre as they always are after such an amazing adventure, and it wasnt helped by a total lack of baggage handlers at Stansted, leading to a really long delay at check out once back in the UK. I think nine planes landed around the same time, and there was only one baggage crew on.

Airport issues and boat groundings aside, the whole trip went brilliantly and without a hitch, and to this day lasting and fond memories of the trip stay prominently in my mind, for all the right reasons!

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Tight Lines

Gav

Stags on the Ebro – Part 2/3

Day 2 on the bank

After the first days fishing got off to a great start, and we duly celebrated in the Jolly Fisherman, waking up on day two we were filled with questions yet again.  Would we catch more cats?  Would we catch more carp?  Would we catch bigger fish, more fish, less fish or no fish at all?

We scoffed breakfast as quickly as we could and headed off to find some answers to our questions.  We split into the same two groups as the first day, only this time the guides switched places and guided opposite groups.  The group I was in headed back to the spot we’d fished on the previous day.  It made sense as we’d had fish, and put a fair amount of bait out for the cats to feed on.

So the script was largely the same for us, row out the baits and big leads, baiting up as we go, setting the rods high in the air keeping line out of the powerful flow.  Baitrunners ON and bells on the rod tips.  I emphasise the fact baitrunners need to be on, as without them rods are easily snapped by ferocious takes from big cats.

The sun beamed down again as we patiently waited for a bite, chewing the fat, and putting anything and everything in the world to rights!

18It wasnt too long before we were into action again with the cats, with Owain into his first ever Wels Catfish!  A non fisherman, Owain controlled the fish superbly, gaining line when he could and letting it run when he couldn’t!

19Notice Carl stood to the right of Owain, calmly watching the action unfold, well that didn’t last as the rod in front of him tore off!  On it as quick as a flash Carl was also into what looked like another good fish.

21Now this was interesting!!  Two rods with what looked like big cats on the other end.  Owain by this time had almost gotten his fish to the bank after an immense battle.  I gave him a few playing tips along the way, which, probably weren’t needed, and to be fair bit me on the arse later anyway!

As Owains cat finally gave in and he had it in his hands it was an amazing sight to see.  A total newcomer to fishing he showed exceptional, natural fish care skills.  Keeping the fish in the river, and constantly covering it’s exposed back with water whilst the mat and weigh scales were prepared.

20Carl had in the mean time skillfully steered his catch to the bank also, and both anglers along with two very big cats rested in the edge of the river after their respective battles.

23Taking cues from Owains top fish care we gave Carl a good soaking too!

22Both cats once weighed tipped the scales a nudge past 100lb!  Which was a cracking result, the aim before the trip had been for everyone, if possible, to bag a ‘ton up cat’.

Of course with such a special capture of two target fish on the bank we set about a shot of the brace.  This was fantastic, and really was a highlight of the trip, I was so pleased for them both at catching special fish, at the same time too!

24A cracking picture of the brace, this is what it’s all about, big beaming smiles on faces!

Following this flurry of activity, it was me who hit the next bite on one of the rods over to my right.  I struck into what felt like the bottom of the river, but then it moved…….not a lot though, and then it just felt like I had hooked a log and was dragging it across the river.  I disappointingly explained to the lads what was going on, and that I wasnt attached to anything but one of the large logs we’d seen.  At this point I thought I heard Gaz whisper behind me to someone, ‘This is a big fish‘, but I couldn’t be sure, maybe I was just dreaming again, as I all too often do!  I heaved and heaved this log across the river, until it got to about half way across, kicked, and charged back over to the opposite side and way up river at a seriously quick pace!  This, wasn’t a log, and it was just a case of hanging on while it went where it wanted to go!

25Owain returned the favour I’d bestowed him, and offered me some tips on how to control the run, acknowledging my earlier attempt at giving him some tips, ‘it will kick and shake its head, it might go on a few powerful runs’ he said, yeah cheers mate!

26It really was immense, and the only real words that do it any justice at all are ‘sheer brutal power’.  I’d never felt anything like this before, in any aspect of my life, not just fishing.  It charged and charged like a raging bull, then gently let me gain a little line, then a little more, reposition my feet for a better grip, then charged off again!  I have no idea how long the fight lasted, but it felt like a lifetime, running through every emotion in my mind, and searing every muscle in my body.

27As it drew closer, and we both grew weaker from the struggle it finally came into view about 15meters out in the river.  I was awe-struck.  Firstly, I hadn’t been battling a log, which was a relief, but more importantly it was the most magnificent creature I had ever seen.  Whats more, just a few more careful maneuvers and a safe landing would see me get up close and personal with this stunning creature.

28With the expert guidance of Gaz we landed the fish without incident, and I was just blown away.  This, to date, is my personal highlight in my angling life.  I have many great memories of fishing trips, but this one moment, in the water with this special creature, was very special to me.  At 156lb there are much bigger cats about, but this one gave me a glorious memory that I’ll treasure forever, I’ll let the pictures tell the story of how I felt…….29303133 After all that, this is the one picture that sums it all up.  It captures as well as a picture can exactly how this moment made me feel.  I was awe-struck, full of pride and admiration, and felt truly privileged to be this close to such a stunning creature.  After the long battle I let the fish recover on my lap for as long as it wanted.  Until it was ready, flicked its huge tail, and slipped back to its watery home.

36That Night

Buzzing is a word that’s overused to describe a feeling of being energized from something, but that’s exactly how I felt all night!  Telling the story and trying my best to describe how the fish felt over and over again!

Off we went that evening for a chinese in the local town, which was simply amazing!  If I remember right (and if I don’t I’m sure I’ll be corrected) we paid €20 each for an all you can eat mega meal, which was stunning, stand out point for me were the spring rolls hanging of the sides of the plates they were that big!  We then stumbled off into the night, full bellied and a little tipsy, and back to the bar for a swift one before turning in.

Could day three possibly bring anything to top this…………..

 

Tight lines

Gav

 

 

Stags on the Ebro, Part 1/3

In 2009 a very special event took place, my soul mate Holly and I got married!  The wedding was an amazing occasion, full of emotion and high spirits.  That story is for another day however, this is the tale of one aspect in the traditional build up to the big day, the ‘stag do’!

Me being me, and being a fishing nut, I wanted to do something a little different.  At the time I’d never been to the Ebro in Spain, but I had read a lot about the giant Wels catfish that now call it their home.  These fish interest me immensely, not just for their colossal size and power, but I also really admire their tenacity, there unflinching drive for survival.  They really are extremely well evolved creatures, able to not only cope with most conditions, but thrive almost everywhere they’re found.  So I put the feelers out and a small but dedicated group of friends ranging from experienced anglers to newcomers to the sport, signed up to the idea of a three-day trip to the Ebro in search of catfish!

The journey begins

3Our destination was Caspe on the outskirts of Zaragoza, which is the capital city of the Zaragoza province.  Zaragoza is situated on the banks of the Ebro river and its tributaries, the Huerva and the Gállego, near the centre of the region, in a valley with a variety of landscapes, ranging from desert to thick forest, meadows and mountains.  The area fitted the bill to perfection, the river was on our door step, and there promised to be some nightlife too!

Meeting at my house and setting of first thing the mini bus we pre booked whisked us to Stansted airport, at the other end of the country.  A journey of about 4hrs, which felt so much quicker as we excitedly chatted away about the coming few days.  The satnav played up the whole way down, which put a nag into my mind that we might be doomed before this journey even gets going.  I needn’t have worried however and our driver duly deposited us and our luggage at the airport in plenty of time.

0.20.1Bags checked in, and a little time to relax with a swift one before we get on the plane!  Only the one of course, and no spirits of any kind.

0.3The flight was uneventful, just as I like them to be.  I’m not a great fan of flying, it’s not so much the being high up its more the cramped conditions and uncomfortable seats.  Being tall doesn’t help matters, but anyway, it’s a short hop of a flight really so nothing to worry about.

Landing is always an eye opener whenever I fly abroad, I know its going to be hot, but it always seems to hit me like a ton of bricks.  We landed in Zaragoza in the evening, and it was still really hot, not unexpected really for late July!

12See that nice attendant in the hi-viz jacket in the picture.  She gave me a bit of a slapped wrist for taking these pics!  Maybe she thought I was an international spy casing the joint, who knows.  You can’t be too careful these days I guess.

Once through Zaragoza airport all that was left for us to worry about was making the transfer to our apartment.  This posed a slight worry as we had arranged to meet our guides at the airport, and they would take us to our accommodation.  All set up perfectly you’d think, however we couldn’t find anyone for some time, or so it seemed.  It was probably only a couple of minutes but it felt like an eternity looking for our guide.  We found him eventually, or rather he found us, and he transpired to be the wonderful Scotty, who stayed with us throughout our visit, top chap he is too!

Once all bundled into another mini bus we trundled along into the night getting closer and closer to our destination.  We were treated to a few glimpses of the river on the way, but for now, that would be as close as we would get.  It was bordering on midnight if not a touch after, we’d had a long journey and just needed to settle into our beds and rest ready for tomorrow.  Which of course we did….

45No, the cards came out along with some every welcome refreshments, and for the next couple of hours we really relaxed into our surroundings and became one with the adventure we were now in.  The observant among you will notice my t-shirt, or rather the subtle slogan across the front of it.  ‘Petal Fish’, is my wifes pet name for me, or was back then, she’s more to the point these days.  I have no idea where it came from or how it evolved, but anyway Carl my best man picked up on it and very thoughtfully had a t-shirt made for me with it emblazoned across my chest.

Day one on the bank

Good morning fellas!!  Just for reference, yes that’s me in the background being woken up to go to the river looking ‘fresh’.  More importantly, that’s Carl in the foreground, also looking ‘fresh’.  Gotcha mate!

0.4So we’re here, it’s the morning of the first day fishing and I am absolutely bursting with excitement, as are the rest of the group.  It’s always the way when you look forward to something for so long, it almost doesn’t feel real when you finally arrive.  But real it was, full breakfast in the bar, The Jolly Fisherman and we were off to the river, all with full bellies and brimming with excitement and anticipation!

0.5As we were quite a large group we split into two for the day, one half going with Gaz, the other half with Paul.  Both excellent guides, and if you fancy a trip to the Ebro I’d recommend searching either of them out.  There are a few companies to choose from when visiting the Ebro fishing, we went with Catfish Capers, and we were well looked after in all areas of our stay.

Another short ride to the river, and when it finally comes into glorious view, and my heart is in my mouth!  It’s exactly the same feeling I have had with fishing since the very first time I went.  What is down there in the depths?  I know there are big catfish in the river somewhere, are they here?  Will we see any, or catch any to have a closer look at?  A million questions race through my mind as at the same time I’m grinning from ear to ear!  It’s that magical feeling I always get at the start of every fishing adventure!

7So this is home for the day, where we will pit our wits against nature in an effort to get closer to it.  To momentarily become part of the catfishes secret world!  We set the rods up in a row, and Paul took the lines out in the boat as he baited the swim up.  He knew the spots to drop our rigs on, that was evident.  With everything set, we waited, watched and tried to avoid soaking too much up of the blistering sun!

6We waited for quite a while for our first bite, which wasnt exactly a hardship in such interesting surroundings and glorious sunshine!  As it was my ‘do’ the lads let me hit the first take.  Which turned out to be a cat of about 80lb!  Using strong braid, beefed up carp rods and big reels, this still felt like nothing I’d experienced before.  The fish used all of its power, along with the force of the river to try to pull me in, rather than me pull it out!  I was eventually victorious however, and pleased as punch to meet my first big catfish.

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Mitch helps me hold my first big cat!

The rigs we used were essentially extremely long hair rigs.  With about eight 22mm halibut pellets threaded on.  However instead of putting a stopper in the end loop, the loop was placed back over the hook point, creating what looked like a necklace no-one would want to wear, stinking and oily!  Perfect for the cats though!!

As the day went on Carl hooked a few nice Carp, as did Nick, on the single carp rod we had out to the left of our swim.  Just a single pellet on this rod with a few free pellets scattered around it.

110.94Then there was a lull in fish activity as the peak of the day emerged and the heat was really up.  We scrambled for a bit of shade, and some had a swim to cool off as much as possible.  We had plenty to drink (provided by the guides) at all times, which is extremely important when spending long periods of time on the bank in the sun.  The heat seems to bounce up of the water and temperatures are hotter than normal.

As afternoon crept round it was Nicks turn to see what these cats were all about.  The bite was as ferocious as the first, and although we had bite bells on the rod tips, they weren’t really necessary, as the rod tip hooped over and the reel started to spin it was obvious something big had taken the bait!

13Something very big is now attached to the end of the line, which is attached to the rod, that Nick has hold of!  It’s an awesome sight, and as much as I love catching fish, seeing my friends catch is just as enjoyable!  We’d had a few carp since my Cat, so we knew straight away this wasnt a carp and was another cat, and it looked like it was going to be much bigger than mine!

Sure enough when on the bank it went 146lb, what an incredible creature!  Magnificent in its display of power coming in, and equally mesmerizing in its sheer size and beautiful colours on the bank.

14A rightly please Nick posing with his huge catfish!

That was the end of the action for us on our first day, all that remained was to pack up and head back to base for the night in readiness for the next days fishing.  Upon returning to the apartment, the other half of our group were yet to return, so we settled in with a beer and chatted about the days events.  I was convinced we wouldn’t see a bigger fish than Nicks, he was convinced we’d see much bigger, the next two days would reveal all!

The other half of our group still weren’t back late into the evening, and word started to filter through of boat accidents and stuck vehicles.  This was all very worrying, until we heard that Dom had driven the boat up the river the wrong way and basically run out of water, grounding the boat!  An easy mistake as lots of the scenery can look similar, especially at night, but we weren’t surprised it was Dom involved, he’s a true character alright!  A rescue party was dispatched in the Land Rover, and shortly after we were all reunited at the apartment, swapping stories of huge cats and carp.

The catch reports from the other half of our party told of how they’d caught more than us on the first day, however the pictures said other wise!!

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Seriously though, they had some cracking fish, Dom and Baz both with nice cats here.

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A nice picture sequence of Baz playing, posing and releasing a big catfish.636465You’ll notice upon release the cat didn’t swim off.  More so it turned around and almost glared at the lads on the bank.  When asked what it was doing, Scotty the guide replied, ‘its Pee’d off’!  What a great attitude these creatures have, all round proper animals, in every sense of the word.

That evening we went down to the bar and had a few beers, all content with our adventure so far, and bubbling over with anticipation for the next two days fishing.  We had a couple of drinks that evening, the whole group together with the guides, enjoying each others company and fishing stories.  There need be no further explanation, the pictures tell the tale, and there are rules anyway, ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour’.

170.950.96Day two fishing on the river coming in the next blog update, can the fish get even bigger?  You’ll find out soon!

Tight Lines

Gav

 

Cats and Carp on the Lower Ebro, Spain

It’s late July 2013, and several friends and I have arrived in Mora La Nova, Catalonia, Spain.  After a first flight for our then 18 month old daughter, we’re greeted by David White at the airport, owner of the villa we are staying in, and all round nice guy.  We’d arranged with David to collect us from the airport and take us to the villa, which I have to say was great and meant we could relax as soon as we stepped off the plane.  It also gave us a good opportunity to chat to David about the local area and he gave us a great insight in its history along the short journey.  David and his wife Jane own and run Finca Alessandra, a stunning villa right on the banks of the River Ebro in Mora La Nova.

Fron to villa mora la novaWe chose this villa for several reasons.  Our group consisted of two ‘hard core’ anglers and their wives, and three others who wanted to visit and see the local history, and relax by the pool, and of course our daughter Olivia.  With a wide variety of interests within the group we needed somewhere that offered something for everyone, along with being safe for the little one, Finca Alessandra fitted the bill perfectly.  For me personally I wanted to fish the river as much as possible, but at the same time I didn’t want to be too far away from my family and friends.  With the fishing literally from the villa jetty, this was perfect!

Upon arrival we went out onto the balcony overlooking the river, and I have to say as an angler it was breath-taking.

View from the balconyIt looked like a ‘proper’ river, wild, powerful and full of character.  Peering over the balcony my heart stopped as we spotted carp cruising up the margins right underneath us.  The balcony is some height above the waters surface, however in the crystal clear water the fish were easy to spot.  Large catfish glided slowly up the river in the flow, very elegant for such large creatures.  Often they were followed a few meters behind by carp, some of which we saw straight away looked huge!  We couldn’t wait a minute longer and baited up a couple of spots we’d seen fish, and a couple of spots David had pointed out to us.  We fished for a couple of hours, but being honest time was limited, and we retired for the evening and relaxed with a beer by the barbecue, excitedly chatting about the coming days adventures.

Up early the following morning and with only mild hangovers, we spent ten minutes on the balcony spotting fish.  Again we could clearly see fish feeding, this time someway out in the river, just beyond a large weed bed.  The cats gave themselves away easily as they turned on their sides to feed on our bait, flashing their green and silver colours along their flanks.  It truly was magical to see.  We baited up heavily again with halibut pellets, a firm catfish favourite, and a bait carp will also take.  Though we went aiming for cats, we also put two carp rods out to see what we could tempt, and I also took the opportunity to take along a bait which was under test at the time for us to try at some point.

73438_10151792257940396_1594918306_nIt wasnt long before we started to get amongst a few fish, Dom here with a battle on his hands with one of the first ones we caught.  Interestingly we couldn’t tempt the carp to feed on the pellets at all, and wondered if our heavy baiting had drawn too many cats into the area for the carp to feed comfortably.  It was a bit of a mystery as we were still seeing carp swimming through the weed close to the margins.  It was time to get the test bait out.  Like I have said, this trip was really all about the cats, but I’m not one to pass up on an oportunity to do some bait testing, and learn as much as possible about its performance and capabilities.  So we baited up with a few boilies over two spots, one to the left past some weed but still fairly close in, and another off to our right under an overhanging tree.

558795_10151792256085396_242717637_nBy now we we’re catching cats consistently, so we decided as the day drew to a close and the barbecue beckoned, to continue the heavy baiting strategy for the cats, and scattered a few more boilies on the two margin spots for the now some what elusive carp.

Dom with a catIt’s now mid way through our stay, we’re catching plenty of cats, and we’ve got it cracked, or so we thought.  The cats just stopped coming.  It was strange, we could see them from the balcony, roughly in the same areas, maybe a little further out in the flow, but we are not getting any bites.  What was very evident, was the height of the river, it was some 2ft higher than we had seen previously.  The Ebro has several dams further up river from our location, and they essentially control a massive percentage of the rivers flow.  When shut the river drops dramatically, when open it rises with a spectacular amount of power pushing through.  This was obviously effecting the fish, and where and how they were feeding.  We stuck to our guns, and stuck to both baiting strategies, heavy with pellets out in the flow past the weed for the cats, and our two marginal spots with boilies for the carp.

The cats became difficult to hook, they seemed off the feed, and holding bottom in the powerful flow was tricky with the leads we had.  We had a ledge just past the weed that we could cast a lead out into the flow and let roll back up to, which would hold it in the area we needed to be in, but still the cats we’re quiet.  The carp however had found our bait in the margins and we had a quick hit of a few carp up to 28lb (at the time a villa record for a brief period) before the bait ran out and we couldn’t get them to take anything else!  That’s the problem with test baits, you can’t buy more in the middle of rural Spain if you don’t take enough with you!  Lesson learnt!!

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                                                                             We didn’t manage to get a good picture of the biggest carp as it was just on dusk, and with only our phones at the time it made taking decent images difficult.

The following day we decided a change of tactic was in order to get us back amongst the cats.  We didn’t have any more of the test bait left, so all our efforts would be focused on the big cats we could see, but were struggling to hook into.  We knew the heavy baiting was drawing the cats in and holding them, but not close enough, and we were struggling with the heavy flow out in the main body of the river.

We came up with a couple of cunning tactics.  Firstly we went into Mora La Nova to get some heavier leads, however this proved difficult and we could only get 3oz straight leads.  That will have to do, we’ll have six please.  We tied the leads together in odd shapes using 80lb braid to form gripping points to help us hold bottom.  Then we came up with a plan to use a trick that often pulled fish out of the bag in tough times in the UK, and that is to make a paste up out of the pellets.  The theory was the paste would continue to hold the cats in our area, but would dramatically reduce the amount of actual food available they could eat.  Effectively our baits would be sat in a soup of halibut pellet paste!  The plan sounded flawless, so we set to it.  We threw large balls of paste over the same spots, way up river to account for the flow, and used 6 pellets on the hair all wrapped up in a huge ball of the paste.

1001019_10151792241950396_2112326599_nTo say this tactic worked would be an understatement, we began to hook cats ‘on the drop’, before the baits had even touched the river bed, the cats were on them.  Maybe drawn in by the splash of the large bait hitting the water, and sent into some sort of feeding frenzy by the strong smell in the water from the paste, but seeming lack of edible items, our baits were being pounced upon!

CatfishThe only problem with this was we were running out of paste fast.  Now I doubt many people have made paste from 21mm pellets, but let me tell you it is hard work.  We needed to use our grey matter again, and came up with a cunning plan to take some of the work out of creating the paste.  We put a sack of the pellets on the gravel, and drove the car over it several times.  This broke the pellets up enough for us to throw them in a big bucket with some water and start working them into a paste.  With plenty of paste made up, and night drawing in, we called time on the fishing and had a good nights sleep, excited that again things were falling into place nicely.

Morning broke on our last full days fishing and the cats came thick and fast.  I’m unsure of the final count but we were well into double figures of fish, probably nearer to twenty for the day averaging between 30-40lb.  There are no huge cat’s in this section of the river, and a 100lb fish is a real prize, so we were more than happy with our captures.  (more in future blogs on really big cats!)

photo (4)

1000524_10151792247030396_174199107_n(1)This was the largest cat we had at 68lb.  But all were stunning creatures that gave us the pleasure of their company for a brief moment on the bank, and one heck of a tussle getting them there!

Hol with CatHolly also had the chance to feel the full force of her first catfish, another really memorable moment.

998400_10151792256935396_2049412794_nAnd at 45lb it wasn’t a bad one to cut her teeth on either!

On the last evening David and Jane had offered to take us to a festival in the streets of a local village.  It involved masks, fireworks, small streets and music.  It all sounded very interesting, so we tagged along.  I have to say it was like nothing I have ever experienced before, it was crazy!  There were wooden trunks filled with fireworks being dragged through the streets with people taking them out and firing them in the air.  All the time hypnotic, drum based music pulsated through our bodies, adding hugely to the drama and atmosphere of the whole occasion.  The sound was amazing as it ricocheted back and forth through the narrow streets.

1001375_10151792265875396_1216093379_nIt was lovely to be part of a local, traditional festival, it really did feel special.  Something I’m sure would be difficult to pull of with such aplomb in the UK, such feeling and such raw, almost savage emotion and freedom to go wild.  It was a fantastic feast for the senses!

1003020_10151792266425396_2102742436_n579547_10151792266870396_938043334_nAs the night drew to a close we headed back to the villa and invited David and Jane over for a drink which they accepted.  We all chewed the fat into the small hours and reflected on a really special adventure in many ways.

We will of course, be back.

554869_10151792251530396_1394608650_nTight Lines

Gav