Fly Fishing River Ebro
A short situation report from the late 80s when the black bass fishery at the Riba-Roja Stau experienced its heyday.
by Günter Feuerstein
A die-hard fisherman who hears the name Mequinenza inevitably thinks of the capital catfish that have made this small village on the Riba Roja Stau famous. The number of catfish anglers who fish this river is also unmistakable and their buoy fishing has already reached such proportions in some parts of the valley that the image of a substation immediately shoots into your head. But while the catfish fishermen almost step on their toes at the mostly cloudy Riba-Roja Stau, the Mequinenza reservoir, whose dam is only five minutes away from the village, is crystal clear and almost deserted. There is a reason for this, because a boat is essential on this tens of kilometers long lake with its countless bays. Of course, this lake is also home to big catfish, but what made it interesting for me as a fly fisherman were the stories about the big black bass (large mouth black bass to be precise) that my friends Wolfgang and Fred, who have been in this area for almost ten years, told me about travel regularly for years, told. The high temperatures in Spain allow these fish, used by the Americans in the traffic jam, to grow into impressive specimens. I was intrigued as we launched our boat just above the dam and made our way to a bay ten kilometers upstream that Fred discovered years ago as ideal for perch. Along countless bays and imposing rock formations and cliffs where eagles and vultures nested, our journey led us and suddenly it was in front of us - Fred's Bay.
Fishing for Black Bass
I couldn't wait to do the first casts. Fred was right, because it smelled like fish. While my friends were fishing from the boat with spinning tackle and various American smallmouth bass lures, I made my way to the end of the bay towards some sunken trees, flapping my float tube and fly rod. My approx. 10 cm long red and yellow Zonker went to the diving station in the immediate vicinity of the shore between tree tops sticking out of the water. It only lasted a few minutes, and there was already the longed-for blow in my rod, which was immediately followed by a first strike. The rod began to bend and almost at the same moment a large black bass broke through the water surface to get rid of my streamer with various aerial capers. Again and again he shot out of the water and tried to reach his shelter in the branches of the sunken trees. What a fighter I thought as some time later I freed him from my zonker with a typical jaw grab and returned him to his element.
This was the start of a fantastic week. All bays were full of smallmouth bass, which were easy to spot in the shallow water close to shore. Then all you had to do was cast as close to the bank as possible (0-15cm) and the perch was there. If the first throw was successful, a rapid attack would almost certainly follow. The belly boat was perfect for situations like this, as it allowed me to fish parallel to the shore as I could easily reach it without arousing much suspicion from the perch. With the boat, this strategy was impossible. It should turn out that a crab imitation with rubber legs guided in the manner mentioned should be the non-plus-ultra bait for the capital perch, with which no bass lure guided on a spinning rod and none of my many streamers come close could measure. Of course, we enjoyed some of the tasty perch in the evening with a drop of wine while we reviewed the day. The Mequinenza traffic jam is an absolute Eldorado for every fly fisherman in spring and autumn (dragonfly time), when the perch are in shallow water. The size of the fish there is between 1-2.5 kg, but the biggest perch caught there weighed between 5-6 kg! Zander can also be caught in the bays if the bait is sunk deeper.
Pike-Perch at Riba-Roja
Especially smaller zander up to 60 cm are very numerous there, but big zander (see picture) can also be expected. The quiet areas mentioned but also trickle stretches can also be fished well with the streamer rod. A sinking line, in deeper areas also a teeny line, is a good choice. However, the shallower areas also allow for a dry line. Yellow and white zonkers are ideal, but it is advisable to attach a small treble of monofilament freely at the end of the zonker, otherwise you will get a lot of missed bites. You can also fish well from the shore at the Riba-Roja Stau, but a boat is a prerequisite for reaching really good spots there too. The waller camps have boats, but these are only rented out to camp residents. If you want to spend a different kind of fly fishing holiday, you can of course also stay with the fly rod in one of the numerous waller camps, otherwise it is advisable to bring your own boat and spend the night in Mequinenza. Please clarify in advance whether fishing with your own boat is permitted in the respective area. Of course, if you feel like it, you can also try dry flies or nymphs for one of the millions of carp (many with butts) that populate the traffic jam. With the exception of the weekend, when other boats from locals and Americans also come to the lake, the bays of this reservoir are practically deserted and a top recommendation for a relaxation-seeking and peace-loving fisherman. In any case, Mequinenza will see me again at some point, but then I'm supposed to go with ultra-heavy fly gear on the big catfish that hunt on the surface there during the summer nights...
Accommodation and Info
The waters of foreign countries are not self-service shops! Only take fish that you will eat yourself during your stay. Freezer bag fishing is endangering black bass stocks in the Mequinenza backlog. It's also better to buy zander at home in your supermarket! Or do you want tour groups to come to your home waters and leave with freezer bags full of fish???