John Found and I had booked a week roach fishing at the Lochnaw venue but a couple of weeks before we were due to go it was closed down for a period to allow checks on the fish to take place. Obviously very disappointing, but these things happen and after a consultation with John and Pete Reading I was on the phone to Colin Bunn who runs Catmaster Tours in Spain. It was very short notice and I believe Colin had to do a bit of juggling about to fit us in, but he managed it and we were set for yet another attempt at getting a 3lb roach from the River Ebro.
Griffon Vulture ready for its morning flight.
We used the ‘Meet and Greet’ system at Gatwick and flew with EasyJet to Barcelona where our guide for the week John Deakin, pick us up and took us on to the Mequinenza venue. It all went without a hitch and it does seems the best way to travel. Arriving in the town we were dropped off at the apartment that would be home for the week with arrangements made to meet up later for a meal at a local bar. During this meal we made arrangements to hire a van for the week at a very acceptable rate. We like to travel around to different sections in the search for the roach, unlike the carp and cat lads that stay in one area and hopefully bring their target fish to a bed of bait.
The accommodation is great but we had to leave.
John did complain about the walk to the van at times.
Another difference is that while the usual customer has tackle available, we were after roach and as yet this option is not available though if more anglers were to travel for the roach fishing I’m sure Colin would quickly cover that need. Whilst both John and Pete had decided on fishing with quivertip rods I had gone for a bobbin fishing approach though this proved less effective and I changed over part way through the week. My tackle started as two 12ft 1.25lb test Drennan Avon rods with the standard top, this was changed as mentioned to one of the Avons with a quiver top matched with a 13ft Drennan feeder rod using 3oz quivers. A pair of Mitchell 300’s were loaded with 6lb main line and a 50grm cage feeder going to a 12 inch length of 4lb fluorocarbon hooklink and a size 14 Drennan wide gape hook. As will be mentioned I used sweetcorn while fishing the River Ebro and the bait was placed directly on the hook, at other times I fished 8mm Sonubaits soft halibut pellets and these were fished with a very short hair rig.
We had very changeable weather both sun and rain.
The Segree rig, corn straight on the hook for the Ebro
The feeder mix for both rivers.
Our reason for this difference is straight forward in that the section of the Ebro we fished there is very little catfishing done. It is the local’s match fishing section; hence it would get a fair amount of sweetcorn thrown in, but very little pellet. This is opposed to the River Segree section where there is loads of pellet put in for both the cats and the carp and it seems the roach have gain quite a taste for them
On the Monday morning were started out attempt on the town front and at 9:00am John went off to collect the van. We fished up to 11:30am and decided that the combination of the number of people about, and the fact that we had not had any indications suggested a move was in order. On previous trips we had considerable success on a section of the Ebro known as the Mines, so called after the carbon mines situated in the immediate area. This appears to be a purpose made section blasted out of the rock that is used by tourist and anglers alike, it is also a favourite place for the local anglers to have their matches. Like so much of the region the banks are either natural rock or rock placed to protect the bankside edge, hence rod pods are essential. Again from previous experience we knew that the fish on this section were at distance and the first hour or so was one constant recasting exercise to get plenty of feed out into our chosen swims. The local supermarket must wonder what has happened when we descend and pick up twenty tins of sweetcorn to get us going. After about two hours I got my first bite and landed a fish of 1lb-9oz which was at least a start. As mentioned I was fishing with bobbins and by and large I only got a positive bite which resulted in a fish. Pete meanwhile on his quivertips was seeing lots of tiny pulls that would not show on the bobbins and even at that early stage I did wonder about changing over to the quivertips though I stayed with the same method for another couple of days before changing.
My first roach of this trip.
While waiting for the bites to come you observe many interesting sights, John noticed that the ants were behaving in a strange fashion. Lines of ants could be seen all over the place and when you checked the ants going one way were carrying a seed head or some such food item. The ants following exactly the same track in the opposite direction were apparently heading out to get such a food item, not rocket science but interesting at least! Then there was the passing snake and the bee eaters flying overhead, too high as fast to photograph even with my 20x zoom, it all adds to the experience of the venue.
The ants going left are clearly carrying food.
Fortunately he stayed in the water.
The following day we tried towards the dam, but again no bites by 11:30am so we moved this time up onto the River Segree near to where the lads were fishing for catfish. This would prove a reasonable change in that I caught seven roach with a best of 2lb-7oz. Back to the same swim the following day and this time I took nine fish with three over the 2lb mark, again the largest of these was 2lb-7oz. We had been told that the cats and carp were spawning and it did appear that at least some of the roach had also spawned giving us a resulting drop in the number we caught compared to previous trips.
One of two at 2lb-7oz off the Segree.
Having the van gave us the chance to move about quite easily and the following day we decided to return to the Ebro. I had put a rod out for the chance of a carp and the bite I did get produced a little catfish not quite as small as the one shown though!
Not all the cats are big!
The day proved quite difficult in that very few bites came our way but one did produce the largest fish of the week to Pete, at 2lb-15oz it was a new Spanish pb for him and it equalled the best we have had from the venue. With the slow sport we moved back to the Segree at 2:30pm but it only gave us a couple of fish and it was a case of maybe if we had stayed they could have come on where we were in the morning.
Pete with his 2lb-15oz specimen roach.
Pete checks his latest capture with John Deakin looking on.
Back on the Ebro the next day and this time they did show and I took ten fish to a best of 2lb-10oz a new pb for me as well. As mentioned the numbers were down, but the average was up and many of the back-up fish were in the 1lb-12oz to 1lb-15oz range, good fishing by any measure you like to apply.
My 2lb-10oz Spanish pb.
As you will have noticed I’ve commented on my catches but obviously the lads were doing their own thing and catching just the same. John did not have the fortune of Pete and I having both less fish and losing one very big roach right on the rim of his net, he still managed fish to 2lb-3oz though so not too bad.
John's 2lb-3oz specimen.
A little smaller than the one above but a much better photo.