The turn of the year took our Rhino Black Cat test anglers Stefan Seuss and his friends to the Ebro in Spain.
The group wanted to experience Christmas on the water and to celebrate New Year with fishing rod in hand. Their objective was to outwit catfish in winter and the Ebro is a perfect water for such a project. The delta in Catalonia offers particularly good prospects now that live-baiting and night fishing has been allowed again since summer 2011. In addition, the water in this area of the Ebro reservoir reaches depths of more than 28 metres and catfish congregate there in winter, forming so-called winter groups. While many anglers continue to regard the wels as a summer predator, Stefan’s experience testifies that it is actually the colder season that guarantees large wels hauls.
Catfish eat all year round, feeding at shallower depths in summer and in deeper water in winter. Digestion takes longer in cold water temperatures than in summer meaning the angler can face long waits between bites. However, patience is rewarded. The Team Black Cat winter tour saw over 25 wels catfish landed, of which only four fish were below the two-metre mark. The old river bed of the reservoir at depths between 22 and 25 metres proved to be the winter wels hangout and this was precisely where Stefan Seuss presented his bait. The baits were mounted on a fixed rig, 50 centimetres off the bottom. The closer the group presented their baits to obstacles such as ruins of old houses or olive trees growing out of the river bed, the higher the probability of a bite. With a fixed rig, the hooked wels is held in the swim via a buoy to avoid losing the fish.
The fighting power of the winter wels was savage. Rarely has Seuss seen so much stress on a rod as during this trip to the Ebro – with some fish, minutes would pass without him gaining a metre of line. They simply lay on the bottom like a concrete block.
The highlights of the tour were the catches of two old Spanish specimens measuring 244 and 245 centimetres in length. What better Christmas present for a wels angler?