Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Species hunting adventures on the River Ebro and Catalonian coast : Part 2.

On the forth day of our trip we went down the Ebro in the afternoon to try for largemouth bass again. We had successfully avoided the morning's heavy rain, were hopeful that the remaining cloud cover might improve our chances and at the first bay Martin was in almost straight away. After that though the bites dried up quickly.

Martin's white bodied red tailed Berkley Ripple Shad proved deadly once again. 

At the second bay we fished my first cast produced a fish. It was clear however that the resident largemouth bass very quickly became much more cautious once a few lures had been cast into their midst. 

A bit bigger than my first one the previous day. 

After catching a second largemouth bass, that was almost as small as the one I caught the day before, we moved down river again to try a third spot, the one where we had seen the fish sunbathing the previous day, but couldn't locate any of them. In the afternoon we targeted perch and zander but things were tough and we only managed a few perch between us. To the west the sky was still dark grey and we could hear thunder and see the odd lightning strike. More heavy rain was forecast for later in the evening so we headed to a bridge to fish for zander that we could shelter under if the rain did start and was particularly heavy.

All our efforts were rewarded eventually. 
A small black Lunker City Ribster nose hooked on a drop shot rig and given the odd twitch is a good leech look alike.
The rain in Spain is mainly a couple of bends up the river.

As light faded later that evening we had high hopes but the fishing was pretty hard going. On the bright side the forecast rain didn't materialise and whilst I hooked two zander frustratingly both managed to throw the hook. 

That night I was in two minds about what I wanted to do the following day. Despite Lee working very hard to put us onto fish and plenty of them regularly showing on his fish finder, Martin and I were really struggling to catch them. I felt that I needed a break and the draw of the coast and the prospect of some relatively easy fishing was quite appealing. I ran this idea past Martin after a few tapas and beers in the hotel bar that night and got the green light to bugger off on a solo mission the following day while he persevered on the Ebro with Lee in the hope that he would be rewarded with a big zander.

In the morning I said goodbye to Martin and Lee and made the drive to the coast. I headed to the rocks down the coast opposite the harbour breakwater at L'Ametlla de Mar. 

I liked the look of this area when Martin and I had fished from the end of the breakwater opposite. 

Starting off with the idiot proof Angleworm on a drop shot rig I was getting plenty of bites and catching fish from the first cast. All of them were the same species though, rainbow wrasse. 

The area was full of these. 

Working my way along the rocks trying different areas I kept catching them, my bait rarely being on the bottom for a few seconds before being attacked. To try and catch something else I tied on a small metal which I cast out and worked back towards me, jigging it as close to the rough volcanic rock sea floor as I dared. This eventually produced a take from a greedy common comber. 

Using an assist hook helped minimise snagging although I did still loose a couple of metals. The crystal flash dressing on them is also probably an added incentive for fish to bite. 

Moving around to another spot I tried some other soft plastics on a drop shot rig. This produced a few more bites and as well as a few more rainbow wrasse I caught my first painted comber of the year. 

IMA Trilobite, another strongly scented lure, is always a good choice for wrasse and comber species. 

Switching back to Angleworm for a while then saw me catch a goby from close in amongst the boulders. 

At first I thought this might be a red mouthed goby. I'm now pretty sure it is the closely related slender goby. 
Highly defined black lines of sensory papillae on the face can be used to identify some species of goby which is useful. 

By the middle of the afternoon it was very hot and the action slowed down so I jumped back in the car, turned up the air conditioning and headed further down the coast to the next big harbour in L'Ampolla. Fishing from the rocks at the back of its breakwater saw me getting lots of bites and landing a few small but feisty fish. The ground out past the rocks was very clean and all fish came from close range although this meant I lost a fair amount of end tackle. 

I'm pretty sure this is a juvenile gilthead seabream.
This common comber swallowed an Aquawave Ami. 
A common two banded seabream. Even these fairly small bream gave a good account of themselves on the tackle I was using.

After a while a shoal of small bass came along from my left. They were hugging the rocks and I soon caught one on a small paddle tail fished on a jighead but it managed to flip out of my hand as I took a photo. Switching to a 10g Savage Gear Sandeel and working my way along the rocks casting it out and retrieving it slowly up through the rocks saw a second caught before I decided to pack up and head back to Caspe. As I left a barracuda appeared and cruised along the rocks. Perhaps that's what the bass were avoiding. I was tempted to rig up again but it disappeared out of sight and I had a long drive to make.

My second bass of the day and my last fish from the sea. 

Over dinner Martin told me about his day, another tough session unfortunately in terms of numbers but his efforts had been rewarded with a 6lb 6oz zander which was a new personal best for him so in that respect his perseverance had paid off.

Martin's new PB zander.

Enjoying a few more drinks we discussed our final session on the Ebro the next day and decided we would focus on zander again making an attempt to refine our approach slightly to maximize our chances. Launching the next day, feeling quite relaxed after my day on the coast the day before and ready to face another potentially difficult day's fishing, I jokingly said that my expectations for the final session were to enjoy a day out on the river, top up my tan and if we caught any fish it would be a bonus. We fished around a bridge and along a rocky shoreline that is a known zander holding area but it was quite windy and things were tough again.

I relaxed and let the motion of the boat do all the work. 

Despite my lazy approach I managed to catch one small zander, my stinger placed right in the tail of my lure doing its job. Plenty of fish were showing under the boat but they just didn't seem to be interested in anything we threw at them. Martin retained his focus a bit better than I did and using a Gary Yamamoto Swim Bait that Lee gave him eventually hooked a couple of zander only for them to throw the hook. The second one was a big fish, perhaps even into double figures. Martin vented his anger with a short colourful outburst that echoed under the bridge. This would have been a rotten way to end the trip but I was glad when he hooked a third zander and this time it didn't come off. 

Martin hooks a third zander. 
It had engulfed the lure and was well hooked on the jighead. 
At just over 6lb it was a nice fish and it would turn out to be the last fish of the trip. 

Meeting up with Lee later that night in the hotel bar we reflected on a hard week's fishing over a well earned drink. It may have been difficult at times but it had also produced some nice fish and good memories. I don't think I could be a guide. Lee knew the river like the back of his hand and worked extremely hard, gave us great advice, the use of his catfish gear and the odd lure too. Most of the time plenty of fish were showing on his fish finder. It wasn't his fault that the fish didn't want to throw themselves onto our hooks or threw our hooks once they were on them. It must have been very frustrating week for him too. He's a lovely guy and whilst my holidays are all used up for the foreseeable future I'd definitely go back and go out fishing with him again. I think next time I'd like to mix it up and do some pellet fishing for carp and catfish from the bank too though, especially if lures weren't tempting the fish. Martin on the other hand will no doubt have a few nightmares about the zander that got away and as he has his heart set on a double figure fish he might be going back later in the year. All in all it was a great trip (late night mountian road ibex close encounters and embarrassing baitcasting setup mishaps aside).

Here's a summary of everything I caught, new species are in bold.

From freshwater...
  1. Largemouth Bass x 3
  2. Perch x 22
  3. Wels Catfish x 4
  4. Zander x 4
From saltwater...
  1. Annular Seabream x 10
  2. Bass x 2
  3. Black Scorpionfish x 1
  4. Common Comber x 3
  5. Common Two Banded Seabream x 1
  6. Damselfish x 3
  7. East Atlantic Peacock Wrasse x 1
  8. Gilthead Seabream x 1
  9. Lesser Weever x 1
  10. Painted Comber x 1
  11. Rainbow Wrasse x 15
  12. Ringneck Blenny x 8
  13. Saddled Seabream x 7
  14. Slender Goby x 1
  15. Striped Red Mullet x 1
As ever fishing with Martin and watching him have the odd meltdown was a real pleasure and I'm looking forward to fishing with him again in the near future with a day afloat out of Port Logan in the pipeline and an evening targeting three bearded rockling also on the cards a bit later in the year.

Tight lines, Scott.


  1. It's been great reading about you and Martins trip, it might have been hard fishing but you both got some cracking fish for your efforts!

    1. Thanks Brian. At the end of the trip we both had a few more fantastic fishing memories to take away and treasure. That's what it's all about really. :-)