Well as you can see it has been a busy time on my fishing calendar, back from Lochnaw roach fishing for just a week and I was off again on a Catmaster Tour trip to Spain, roach and carp being the target. The start of the trip was not good when the Monarch Airways flight going out was delayed for four hours, but we eventually got going after the fault had been fixed. That ‘we’ I mentioned are John Found, Pete Reading and myself, all well-known and successful roach anglers who also fancy a bit of carp fishing on the side. All three of us had previously tried the Spanish roach fishing on a previous carp trip, catching roach to over two pound, but this time we would allow more time in their pursuit.
Picking up a self-drive car at Barcelona the two hour drive to Mequinenza was soon completed and with a phone call it was arrange we would meet our guide to show us the apartment where we would stay. This proved to be a very satisfactory accommodation with all that we needed for our holiday there but for those intending to go out to Spain, take your teabags with you! Once settled, we had already decided not to fish on the first day and we made out way to the local eating establishment - The Citron Blue. We again met up with John Deakin who was to be our guide for the week and over a meal we discussed the various options open to us. John suggested we fish just up along from the town frontage in an area that had been producing a number of good fish so that was agreed and having set a start time we retired to bed.
John Deakin chats with John Found after checking all was well .
Just after dawn John came along to take us to our swims and before too long we were fishing out to the distant weed beds that could be seen on the surface some 80yds or so out from the bank. There were gaps in the line of weed as it followed the bank and we were attempting to place baits within these areas with a single 22mm pellet along with a bag of 6mm pellets as an extra attraction. The 3.5lb test rods were supplied by Catmaster, but the Biomaster reels were my own and loaded with 15lb line and a 45lb shock leader, this would make casting the 4oz lead safer and also give extra resistance against the weed when playing any fish that was hooked. John had mentioned that a number of anglers had lost fish through them going into the weed and becoming totally snagged, I was determined this would not happen to me.
John in the camp, Pete in the background, and myself to the right of the photo
The weather was very nice with what wind there was coming from slightly behind us and the temperature going over 20C. We were spread out over perhaps fifty yards of bank which allowed for a little exchange of comments during the hours we waited for action, but then just before midday my indicator began to scream and I was quickly playing a big fish. You will probably know that pumping a fish gives it ample time to move away as you reel in the line you have gained as you pump the rod upward, I used the other way to get him away from the weed beds. With plenty of open space behind me available in this swim I just clamped up and walked slowly back away from the water’s edge. This is a method I’ve used over the years at various times when snag fishing and space is available to do it, it works a treat. Once I had gained perhaps twenty yards and I was reasonably certain he was clear of that problem I began to reel in and walk forward making sure the tension was kept on the line whilst doing so. It took a little time, but eventually an obvious big common came towards the waiting net that John held ready and he slid in to be safely mine. John gave a surprised comment when he went to remove the hook and all three of us looked in wonder at the state of the hook that had brought him to the net, how much longer it would have held is anybody’s guess but I soon changed to a much stronger pattern.
Mugga hook before and after capture.
It was with a lot of excitement that the weighing was completed since I was positive this would be a new personal best common carp for me and so it proved when the scales showed 44lb-14oz. That was to be the only carp of the day for our group, though others staying with Catmaster did get fish after dark, but we packed up at dusk having had enough for the day.
44lb-14oz pb Common.
Since the carp fishing was mostly my idea, the other two not being anywhere near as interested in their pursuit we would spend most of the rest of the holiday after roach and the next day saw us start. From previous trips we had come to the conclusion that the roach are spread throughout the river downstream of the Mequinenza Dam and all you need is a suitable bank to fish from. Sounds easy, but there are cliff faces and rocky reinforced banks all over the river side and suitable fishing spots can be at a premium. Fortunately there are still plenty to go at, and we were set ready with tackle already assembled in the chosen swim at dawn. This can always be a useful time to be on the bank if it is reasonably calm as the roach do tend to show themselves for the first hour or so of light before they disappear from the surface for the day. Fortunately we saw enough to give us high hopes and we settled into our chosen spots. Although you can at times get away with using bank sticks it is far easier to use the carp pods provided along with chairs etc. At the moment Catmaster is not geared up for the roach angler but I’m sure this will be changed as they take advantage of this incredible fishing on their doorstep.
The veiw from one of the roach swims.
Griffin Vulture soars overhead.
My tackle comprised of two rods which I had taken out with me along with a suitable small net and landing net pole. With those rocky banks you need the longest rod it is reasonable to use and I had chosen a Drennan Medium 11.5ft to 13ft Feeder rod with the intent to use it at the 13ft length. Along with this I also took a Drennan 12ft 1.25lb test Avon Specialist which I could use either as a standard top joint or the quivertip top joint option should I need. My end rig was a simple water knot paternoster rig of 6lb main line. This was tied to give a 1ft length for the Drennan 35 gram open ended cage feeder, and a 3ft tail going to a 4lb fluorocarbon hook length and a size 10 wide gape Drennan super Specialist hook. The bait was single grain of corn that had previously proven to be deadly bait for the roach and this was readily available from the local store, we think they must have wondered what had happen as we emptied the shelves each night of the tins they put out.
It did seem that any groundbait that carried a high halibut content worked better, and this would of course make sense with the amount of pellets fed in for the carp and catfish. Indeed it can sometimes be a problem for those anglers to wind in and find a large roach stuck on the size 4 hook or even bigger, much to their dismay. That first day set the pattern for those that followed and John opened the 2lb plus account with fish of 2lb-3oz and what proved to be the largest of the week at 2lb-12oz. At first Peter was catching roach at a far better rate than John and I though we eventually realised that it was just because he was fishing at a greater range. This did not make much sense since we were going into 30 foot or more of water just a short distance from the bank but results were undeniable so out we went.
John's best of the trip at 2lb-12oz.
The scenery is both bland and majestic at the same time, mountains dominate the region and very little grows on the banks while what had grown had already dried up to a tinder. The cliffs behind this swim and also another we visited hold a group of griffin vultures, magnificent birds that ride the thermals with ease throughout the mornings. The weather held up throughout our stay with the wind being the only problem on one of the days causing us to finish early avoiding the waves crashing over the bank and drowning us as we sat there. Daytime temperatures went over 20C and even the late evenings were still in the mid-teens. Over the five and a half days we fished we caught 16 roach over the magic two pound figure with the best going to John at 2lb-12oz as already mentioned. Peter and I both had a best fish of 2lb-8oz, but all of us caught a good number of the fish just under the 2lb mark these going 1lb-14oz and 1lb-15oz, still magical fish but not what we came to Spain for. The 3lb fish are there to be caught, but don’t make the mistake of thinking they will fall for your bait every day. The value of a specimen fish is that they are exceptional and with 2lb plus roach being a worthy target and caught almost every day, it is nice to know the 3lb fish could be the next bite.
My best of the trip at 2lb-8oz
A rare shot of me with a hat on plus a sunny 2lb roach.
Pete's 2lb-8oz taken at dusk.
An equally sunny 2lb-6oz for Pete.
Throughout the roach days I occasionally put out a carp rod as my second rod and this did produce another carp though nowhere near the size of the first. Meanwhile we were being kept updated on the results of the other groups of anglers with Catmaster and these seemed to be doing very well indeed with another 40lb carp along with lots of 30’s, and two catfish over the 200lb mark falling to one lucky angler who was definitely pleased with his weeks fishing.
The larger of two 200lb cats landed by David at 205lb.
The second 40lb common in the week at 40lb-2oz for Iain.
In closing I would mention that the one essential bit of gear we missed was that of a small unhooking mat for those rocky banks, but I’m sure Colin Bunn will have those available should the anglers take up this roach fishing as should be the case. Mild winter weather and great sport catching specimen fish, give it a try you will not be disappointed!
My carp is returned but not forgotten.