Tivenys is a village of about one thousand people, some of whom commute to work in the towns of Tortosa and Tarragona, but most of whom make a living farming the fertile soil of the river valley. Alongside the river, the main crops are peaches, harvested in May and June and a wide range of citrus fruits which are harvested in winter and spring. As you get further from the river and the land becomes more rocky and less fertile, the dominant crops are almonds and olives. One of the great attractions of this area for Val and I is the friendliness of the Catalan farmers, but it pays not to take liberties. When passing through orchards in order to get to the river there are a few rules that must be observed:
Unless you are sure that the farmer does not mind you using his orchard, always seek permission. Park your vehicle in such a way as to avoid any obstruction.
Never help yourself to fruit, unless you are invited to do so!
Only use an orchard to gain access to the river if there is no alternative.
A good illustration of the problems that can be caused by selfishness or laziness is demonstrated by some events that took place a couple of years ago. Close to the weir at Tivenys there is a meadow with ten or so good pegs, and it is most easily approached through one of the orchards. The entrance to the orchard is on a narrow lane, and yet British anglers persisted in parking in such a way as to block the access, causing all kinds of problems for the farmer - the result was that he chained the entrance so denying access to any anglers. Perhaps the saddest part of this story is that there are adequate parking facilities only two or three hundred yards away!
About eight kilometres upstream from Tivenys is the similar sized village of Benifallet where there are two good areas to fish.
Driving from Tivenys you will see an island in the river just before you get to Benifallet. In front of the island is a brick built pump-house beside a large Carob tree. Park by the tree and walk downstream to the first two pegs which are only about fifty yards away, there is a clear path that leads on to two or three more pegs about two hundred yards further on. This venue is particularly good in high winds or very hot weather, because they are well protected by large trees, however the fishing can be patchy. The main quarry here is carp but it is also a productive venue for catfish.
Benifallet - the Meadow:
Drive out of the village and cross the river over the new Llagutter Bridge. After about three hundred metres there is a lane on the right going through orange groves. Follow this lane keeping always to the right and you will drive under the bridge and past a farm. After a further two hundred metres you will see a meadow on the left with two or three good and comfortable pegs. This venue is an enormous slack, and is particularly useful when the river is running high. Although fishing can be indifferent it is a good mixed fishery and over the years that we have fished it, Val and I have caught almost every species that the river has to offer. When you finish fishing there is no need to turn your vehicle around, just continue down the lane and you will come back to the main road at a point opposite to where you left it.
If you travel along the Tortosa to Tivenys road, about one mile beyond the village of Tivenys you will see a lane to the left signed for Restaurant La Graella and L'Assut (the weir). About five hundred yards down this lane it forks, and for those pegs around the weir you should take the right hand fork, parking near the footbridge that crosses the canal by the weir. For all other pegs take the left hand fork and cross the canal by the old mill, parking alongside the mill.
Above the weir:
Follow the river upstream from the weir for about two hundred yards and you will come to a clearing. To the left is a floating platform, big enough to take two anglers. Fishing here is into almost twenty feet of water that has virtually no current. This peg can be prolific on its' day but somewhat surprisingly it rarely produces big fish. A major advantage for those of you who fish for predators is that this swim is alive with sma11 roach, rudd and bleak. Just to the right of the platform is another swim that looks very good, but be warned that this swim has a fierce current, is difficult to fish and rarely produces good catches!
Below the weir:
The gravel beach below the weir at Tivenys is probably one of the best known and popular venues on the river. There is an island just below the weir and the best pegs are the two behind this island and the two immediately below it. When there is a little water in the river, the slack at the bottom end of the beach can provide excellent fishing. This stretch regularly produces big carp, good catfish, and enormous numbers of mullet.
By the caravan park there is a pool of slack water that can only be fished if there is a reasonable amount of water in the river. Because of its' proximity to the caravan, this pool is used by Val and I when we want one or two hours of lazy fishing, but this approach does not do the pool justice. On its day this pool can be prolific and produces large numbers of carp in the two to four pound category, with the occasional fish into double figures, along with numerous crucians and mullet. When the river is very low and the pool is not fishable it is usually possible to walk out into the middle of the river and fish directly into the deep water channel. There are eight to ten pegs exposed in these conditions and the best of them are the central ones. These pegs produce good carp, catfish and black bass.
About two hundred metres below the caravan site is a meadow that offers up to ten comfortable pegs. These pegs can be reached by wading along the river when water levels are low, but the easiest approach is via a path that runs through the bamboos, unfortunately this path is not easy to spot for the newcomer and my advice is that you ask for directions from somebody at the campsite.
All of the pegs on this meadow will produce good bags of fish, and when selecting a peg the main consideration will be the amount of weed in the swim. You will notice that the near side is fairly slack, and the best way to fish here is to cast to the edge of the current. The pegs at the upper end of the meadow require the longest casts.
There is a good head of Carp here and some of them are good fish, doubles being not uncommon. In addition, there are a large number of crucians and vast numbers of mullet. This meadow is probably one of the prime zander venues on the river, and it also produces quality catfish on a regular basis.
In the autumn of 1999, our oldest son, David, came to spend a week with us at the caravan. Although he had not done any serious fishing since his 'teens he said that he would like to spend most of the week that he was with us on the riverbank, we were happy to oblige.
On the day after his arrival we decided to fish the meadow at Tivenys simply because it was so convenient. We had not been fishing for more than an hour when David called for me to fetch the large landing net "And you'll need the camera as well." Cocky eh! A few minutes later I netted his fish for him, and he was right, we needed the big net and the camera, he had landed a common of fifteen pounds and fourteen ounces!
I do not believe it!
In the spring of 1997 we paid our second visit to the Ebro. At that time the biggest fish that either Val or I had caught was a seven pound common that she had taken at Benifallet, and I was determined to better that fish.
We were fishing with a friend, Bryce Henderson, on the meadow at Tivenys when I got into a really good fish. It took me an age to land it but when I saw it in the net I knew that I had murdered Val's seven pounds. I got the scales out but try as I might I could not get them to register more than five pounds eight ounces. I knew that the scales must be faulty and so I borrowed Bryce's and sure enough they confirmed that my fish weighed five pounds eight!
Ebro Carp are long and trim and can be very misleading so before you go boasting about doubles make sure that you have weighed them.
More beginners luck?
The Ebro valley has more to offer than just fishing, and we have a friend who visited us in the spring of 1999 in order to walk the local hills and generally enjoy the area. He had never held a fishing rod in his life so we were very surprised when he asked if he could have a go at fishing. I set up a light feeder rod for him and showed him how to use it in the pool. In two hours he managed to catch five fish including one roach, one mullet, one crucian and two carp, he was a happy little camper - well done Kev!
Mini bag up?
I mentioned earlier that Val and I sometimes treat the pool at Tivenys with a certain amount of disdain and the following story will illustrate the error of our ways very well indeed.
We bad been into Tortosa shopping and after lunch Val suggested a couple of hours in the pool but I was feeling lazy and left her to it. After a short time I started to get bored so I walked down to see how she was getting on. She was catching on such a regular basis that I just sat and watched, fascinated that out of such a small pool she could catch so many good fish. In a two hour session, using only a tin of corn and a handful of bread-crumb, she netted fifty four pounds of carp, with fish up to eight pounds - wonderful.
You do need help:
We noticed two elderly chaps fishing in the pool, but although they were obviously Brits (you can tell) they were fishing very poorly. I went to talk to them and was surprised when they expressed immense satisfaction at the fact that they had each caught four Carp during the three days that they had been fishing. The only advice that I needed to give them was to show them where to cast, and to persuade them to throw in a little ground bait. Unfortunately it was getting dark but in the time available to them they caught a dozen or so fish.
Sadly that was the last time that we saw them because they returned to the U.K. the following day, but what a pity that they had not had the benefit of local knowledge earlier in their holiday?
As this is the last of our trio of articles on the Ebro, Val and I would like to extend an invitation. Our caravan is an Elldis Mistral and is sited right by the entrance to the caravan site. If you manage a days fishing at Tivenys check to see if we are about because if we are, we will be happy to trade yarns and provide you with an ice cold beer - the ideal end to a days fishing!
Until next time - Tight lines!
David and Val.