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Fishing Dreams Come True on the Ebro

What a Stop Over - By Dick Handscombe, columnist after a three day break graduating from small gudgeon and bleak to giant carp and catfish


Knowing that there are many frustrated fishermen or ex fishermen in Spain thought theyb would be interested in my recent experience on the River Ebro in southern Cataluña. It is a reasonable journey by car or train and an interesting stop over if driving to or from the UK.


Like many kids back in the 1940’s I made a rod from a couple of garden canes and fished for small roach, dace and perch in the Grand Union Canal , River Coln and Thames. Just occasionally would one hear of larger bream or carp caught in reservoirs or near the warm water outflows from power stations. But I never had the time or money to equip for such adventures. During secondary school and beyond until retirement fishing was not a priority except for an occasional outing with young daughters to catch similar tidllers.

Eventually retirement to Spain in the mid 90,s opened up new possibilities both in time and venues for there were several naturally well stocked rivers and lakes near home in Valencia Province. Good days could be spent, often not seeing another angler for weeks, and tiddlers grew to 1 to 10lb carp. Then the numbers of anglers increased and the activities of catch to eat fishermen spoilt the ambiance so I did not fish for a few years except for a few outings to fish on the beach and an annual trip to trout fish near Cuenca.

Then a chance visit to Riba Roja del Ebro in Cataluña to give a gardening talk led to trying out the Ebro from a friends garden. A couple of nice fish were caught, but it was obvious that for bigger regular catches one needed to know more about the river and have tougher equipment. By chance, as a result of his wife Mandy attending the gardening talk, I met Nick Shattock  a fishing guide with some ten years experience of fishing the Ebro and who had been a guide on the St Lawrence River in the USA. He suggested that I fish with him for a day before going home. I did and have since been back for two three day winter sessions.

The amazing fishing – at least for me!

The one day taster session was last October. What a success that was. Four carp to 26lb and five catfish to 56 lbs were landed. Now being hooked I contracted with Nick for him to guide and coach me for three days in March when 14 carp to 32 lb and two catfish to 50lbs were caught. I couldn’t wait for another go so agreed to come again during the quiet carp spawning season should the catfish start to bite.

Early in April Nick phoned out of the blue from the river bank to say that he had just landed a rare 150lb golden coloured Mandarin catfish and that if possible I should join him and soon as possible.

Gardening was put aside, especially as my wife Clodagh said ‘Life is too short to miss such an opportunity’, you’re 75 next birthday.

Within three days I was fishing with Nick for three days with a personal objective of catching a 100 lb catfish and should one wake up a 35 lb carp. Amazingly both objectives were achieved! After a long fight a 110 lb catfish was landed, the biggest of nine, and two beautiful 36 and 34.5 lb carp were the best of seven carp. In total over 600 lb of fish were landed and returned to the river to grow bigger. Yes a lifetimes dream became a reality and having purchased river licenses for the year I will be back for more time with Nick who knows so much about the river and has all the equipment for hire and his magic baits.


If you want a similar taste of some of the best fishing in Spain you can contact Nick Shattock , Dicks fishing guide and mentor, on 680-820-728  or via Nick offers guided one day, weekend, midweek and weeklong fishing trips on the River Ebro, with a base in Riba Roja del Ebro , for individual or groups of experienced or learner anglers. Nick stays with his clients throughout the fishing sessions and has just one objective – doing all he can to ensure that clients catch good fish.

© Dick Handscombe August 2011.


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