Because of this we now spend some four months of each year fishing this wonderful river, and in consequence we have a spread of experiences that are far too great to cover in one article. Over the next three months I will endeavour to pass on to you some of the magic of the Ebro, and for this, the first instalment, we will cover the lower Ebro from the Village of Aldover, some seven kilometres upstream of the town of Tortosa, forty kilometres downstream to Amposta then the Mediterranean sea.
If you drive south down the N230 from Mora D'Ebre, you will follow the Ebro travelling along its left bank. The journey is a very attractive one with many beautiful views but none compare with the breathtaking vista that greets the traveller as he approaches the highest point of the journey, shortly before reaching the village of Benifallet, about twenty five kilometres west of Tortosa.
The road is about one hundred and fifty metres above the level of the river and the stunning view takes in several miles of the river from the new road bridge that has replaced an ancient ferry, downstream to where, after winding through orange and lemon groves, it vanishes into a magnificent gorge from where it flows eastwards towards the sea same fifty kilometres away.
It is an all too common fallacy that anglers fishing havens such as the Ebro only have to bait a line, cast it in and the fish, both large and numerous will duly oblige! There are those amongst us who know better.
The river Ebro is extremely large and in many places the flow is so great as to make fishing almost, if not completely, impossible. In addition, access to the river is restricted by dense impenetrable stands of bamboo, rock faces that fall sheer to the water, and most of all, by private ownership and horticulture of most of the bank space.
For all of these reasons it is strongly recommended that on your first trip, especially if it is just for one week, you seek help in finding out where and how to fish. There are several professional guides on the river, but Val and I have been badly let down in the past and we would urge caution when making your choice of guide. We use Dan and Peter Sales who are based in the village of Bitem only five kilometres upstream from Tortosa. I(n addition to offering advice they run two boats for cat fishing and will arrange holidays for their clients. You can contact them an the Web at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the next article I will give same information about the area in general, availability of accommodation and prices in the local shops, but for now I would add that whilst the fishing in this area can be marvellous, there are those who like to take an occasional break, and for them the town of Salou with its night life and beaches is only a thirty minute drive, north up the N7 from Amposta!
When planning your trip, there are a few hints and tips that you may find useful.
The Ebro is a rocky river, and in many places both fish and tackle can be lost because of line abrasion. The use of a braided hook length can help to mitigate this particular problem.
Most anglers tend to fish for carp using ten to fifteen pound line, and because of the rocky nature of the river it pays to use a weaker line to attach your feeder or lead. In this way it is possible to avoid loss of anything more than the lead or feeder if they get caught in the rocks.
Popular baits for Carp, Barbel and Mullet include sweetcorn, luncheon meat and maggots, all of which can be purchased in the area but you should be aware that the maggots and luncheon meat are considerably more expensive in Spain.
In Catalunya fishing regulations are enforced by the local police, and they can be very strict - under no circumstances should you start fishing until you have obtained a licence! These licences are inexpensive and can be organised in advance by the travel company that arranges your holiday; alternatively you can order it on arrival from the local tackle shop (by the monument in the river at Tortosa) who can now sell licences over the counter.
Early in our fishing career on the Ebro we visited the Wall at Amposta, experiencing fishing that illustrates beautifully just how fickle the sport can be.
Arriving on the first of two days, we started catching fish in the two to five pound class on a very regular basis. At that time neither Val nor I had ever done the magic ton on the Ebro, but by lunch time I reckoned that I was well on the way but unfortunately the Crucians moved into the swim and bullied the Carp out, a not uncommon experience at Amposta. I did however continue to catch fish on a regular basis, and with most of them in the one to one and a half pound category the weight was still mounting. At five o'clock we weighed in and I had achieved my target, putting back one hundred and ten pound of fish. Val had caught well but was nowhere near the ton so we agreed to fish the same pegs the following day.
Arriving at about eight-thirty we gave the swim a good feed of crumb, heavily laced with corn, and before I had even started Val was into a really good fish that I netted for her. The next twenty minutes were hectic and in this short period of time she netted four fish for twenty four pounds, a couple of hours of this kind of fishing and she would soon have her first Ebro ton! We packed up in mid afternoon by which time she had struggled her way to about fifty pounds and I had barely made double figures, ah well.
Something Extra Special
Val has always had this thing about big fish. It doesn't seem to matter how beautiful they are, bigger is better, and when we arrived on the banks of the Ebro she had an opportunity to cross swords with the mighty Siluro, Wels, European Cat-fish or whatever!
Contacting a local ghillie was easy and for a reasonable fee we were able to arrange for her to spend a day on the river trying to catch one of these leviathans. Her first attempt was in early May 1998, but proved unsuccessful. We returned to Spain in July of the same year and Val decided to have another attempt.
Fishing out of Aldover with the same ghillie, she moved upstream to a swim near Xerta, and was soon into a good fish. It took some twenty minutes for her to boat her catch, and when it was brought to the shore it weighed in at a princely eighty pounds. We had never heard of such a fish being caught by a woman before and we wondered whether it might not be a womans' record.
There was only one way to find out so we contacted I.G.F.A (The International Game Fish Association) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, only to be gob-smacked by their response. According to their records the official world record for the Wels Cat-fish stood at seventy two pounds and twelve ounces, and subject to confirmation Val was the new all-tackle record holder for the species. The record was duly confirmed in November of the same year and Val held that record for over twelve months, although it should be said that it now stands at over two hundred pounds, and I believe that this record will go over three hundred pounds in the near future.
Nevertheless for more than a year Val was an official world record holder and nobody can ever take that away from her.
Although I have strongly recommended the use of a guide, there are a few venues that are relatively easy to find whilst at the same time offering the chance of good fishing.
The village of Aldover is seven kilometres upstream from Tortosa on the right bank. From the centre of the village follow the signs (PIAJA) to the river. The road forks just before you reach the river and the best swims are to the right beyond the landing stage, although the landing stage itself is a goad peg.
This venue is good for carp, crucians and mullet; it is also one of the prime catfish venues. In addition, the water is quite shallow with almost no flow near the bank, so that the opportunity exists for the angler to get out his waggler rod. A reasonable head of smaller fish, including Roach and Rudd offers the chance of good sport on light tackle.
There are three good venues in Tortosa.
The right bank opposite the monument is gravel and fishable for well over two hundred yards. This is a popular local match venue and should be avoided at week-ends.
On the left bank, starting some two hundred yards above the monument is a grassed meadow that offers good fishing for over fifty pegs.
Also on the left bank, but about half a mile downstream is a landing platform. Just below this platform is a gravel bank, then a meadow that offers several hundred yards of comfortable fishing.
All the Tortosa pegs can produce good carp, are prolific mullet swims and are well stocked with bass and zander. Equally important, they all offer safe parking close to the river.
Amposta - The Wall
If you drive into Amposta over the old Bridge from the north, you will see the wall on your left hand side. After crossing the bridge take the first main road left, then the second side road left down to the river.
The wall extends downstream for over half a mile but the best pegs are at the far end downstream of the Club Nautica.
Species here include good carp, crucians and countless mullet, with the chance of a catfish as well! Parking is right by the pegs and fishing is from a concrete pathway, so comfort is the order of the day!
Until next month, tight lines, David and Val.