"Dam of my dreams"

The skin peeled of my nose the third time in a very short while, but we did not wanted it any different. But lets start at the beginning. A few days of holiday were at plan. Seven days of fishing and our women agreed. So, the question was were to go. We wanted it to be warmer than in Münster. And the fishing pressure should not be so harsh as on other lakes. So soon we came to the conclusion to go to the Ebro. We got some information from the InterNet and very remarkable was the internet site www.wels-camp.de, from a camp near Fayon/Spain. A German telephone number was listed and I called the owner of the above mentioned wels-camp, Berthold Wak. He told me that there were plenty of carps and nearly no carp-hunters. What do you want more? We booked a Camper in his „Wels-Camp Matarraña“. So this question was answered. A phonecall with Klaus Broxtermann from KB-Products helped us a lot. He knew the Ebro and promised us to create the right mixture of boilies for us. The day of departure came nearer. On the 27th of May the journey began. We drove toward spain at 9 PM. We did not know what to expect. And exactly that feeling drove us and we reached the in mountains lying Ebro, after 16 hours of Autobahn. Its Size was overwhelming. Totaly outpowered we reached the Ebro at 1 PM. A stone way led us through the mountains. Old olive trees every were and the sun burned down on us. And another twenty minutes later we reached the “Matarraña”. In the camp Alex was awaiting us. Alex emigrated from Germany and is now working in the camp as a guide for  over four years. We received our first beer in a small restaurant in the camp. But then Alex announced us some bad news. In October 2001 Spain was caught with many heavy rain storms and the Ebro was now full of tree chunks. And the last winter was one of the coldest ever with temperatures down to minus 15 degrees Celsius. What did that had to do with our visit? Alex answered with hesitation that the carp were in the middle of breeding. We were frustrated. Was everything in vain. Alex tried to build us up again and invited us to a trip on the Matarraña. After he showed us many good locations we were sure, that without the perfect knowledge of Alex, we would have been busy for several days only to find a suitable location. Alex showed us big reed banks and beautiful bays. We were hopeful again. After approximately 5 km we found three promising places. But before we went back Alex wanted to show a big Catfish. Alex already had observed it for a couple of days.
The water was so clear that you could spot smallest stones in meters below. Alex stopped the motor. We stood up in the boat and floated towards a large reed bank. Near it laid  a large tree root. And beneath it we could see a large fish tail. Stephan and I were immediately wide awake again. Alex struck his flat hand against the boat. But the Wels did not move. Alex had to touch the fish tail gently with a paddle before it moved slowly away from his place. I held my breath – I had never seen anything alike before. We followed the fish until it hid beneath another sunken tree. We then went back to the camp and loaded the boats. We left everything, that we did not need at the water, in the camper. At half past four we drove back on the Ebro and twenty minutes later we reached our selected place. At first site the place did not look any special. But just in front of us was the old riverbed and the carps were breeding at the far side of it in a large reed field.

With help of an Sonar we could follow the path of the old riverbed and we fed both sides of it. Experience held us from overfeeding. The evening was very calm. Our euphoria could not hold back our tiredness any longer, so we creeped inside our sleeping bags very early. Against 10 PM the first micron alarmed. The fish easily pulled of several meters of the role. I increased the pressure. But it took ages until I could get some string back. I knew that this could be a very good caught. But sadly we never came to see how good it really was. A strong shake went through the rod and then it was gone. I rolled up the cord and it was clear to me that the fish had pulled the cord into a shell bank. Approximately 15 meters of the cord were scratched. 30 meters of impact cord shall prevent further losses. We went back into our sleeping bags and hoped for no more action. But this wish did not come true. At 2:30 a splash sound woke me out of my dreams. The swinger moved one centimetre up and down. Again and again one lonely “Peep” sounded through the night. I was fishing with two 20´s HIMBEER cream boilies. But because nothing was happening, I picked up a rod and felt a  slight twitching in the cord. Immediately I pulled the rod upwards. Got him. Short but very strong pulls on the cord did not help me to estimate the size of this fish. I asked Stephan to pass me the Ke. The Ke served us as a fridge hours earlier and so it laid next to the pod in the water. Stephan called that the Ke was stuck somewhere. A few meters next to the shore my fish came to the surface. Stephan got the Ke loose finally we could land the fish. It weight was 13 Pounds and it had a tail as big as mums cooking pan. I quickly made photos. I took the hook of the fish and put the assembly besides. In the torchlight I saw a large reed stem and wanted to remove and grab it. God, I got frightened. The stem was a snake... and I jumped backwards. Stephan could not hold back himself laughing about me. We quickly realised that the snake was in a hopeless situation. In my eyes the snake had already gone to snake heaven. Its head got caught so badly in the Ke that I had cut the snake in half or I had to cut the meshes around the head. My first idea seemed disgusting, so I started to cut through the meshes of my Ke. After four cuts the head was loose. Now I only had to cut the tail out and get rid of the snake. I threw the snake in front of me and examined my Ke. I took the rare opportunity to make a few close up photos of the snake. We moved the snake into position and turned the head towards us. I took the digital camera 10cm towards the dead body... Suddenly the snake started to move again. I do not want to repeat here what happened then and we are glad that nobody saw us. God, how was I frightened, again. We knew that the snake was must have been pretty harmless and it was probably more frightened than we were. But we are all allowed to be frightened now and then, aren’t we?

This adventure deeply interrupted our sleep and so we reinstalled the rod and laid it out again. Stephan and I drank a cup of tea, and were talking as suddenly a flap-splash sound was heard. What was that? We could not see anything.

The water moved slightly. It sounded like someone jumped belly first into the water. We searched the sea with the torch, but nothing was to be seen. And then we heard it again. Flap – splash. We had no idea what this could be. We heard a few more times that night, but we already got used to it.
On the next day we had another clear blue sky and the early temperature already promised a very hot day. We were just finished with installing the rods, as Alex came by to visit us. We told him about the last night and he got very interested about the sounds we heard. Alex taught us about the behaviour of hunting Catfish. I asked Alex to borrow us two Catfish-Rods the next time he comes round. After a very long and warm day Alex returned at around 9 o’clock. We put down one rod 50m left from our place. With the boat we drove the second one out to the rear side of the river.
We then listened to the many stories Alex had experienced over the last four years in the camp. Not even an hour later the left rod alarmed. A Catfish had taken the eel and was escaping into deeper water. Before I knew what was going on I already sat in the boat with Alex chasing after the Catfish. God only knows how many meters of string I had to pull in before we were over the Catfish with our boat. I had never experienced such a drill ever in my life before. The fish did with us what he wanted. He pulled is right across the Ebro. I was feeling like in a rollercoaster. My arms began to hurt. And what did Alex say? “Big Game on the Ebro!” He was right. Please do not laugh now, but I was just about to give up. Meanwhile I had placed the rod between my legs, so I could rest my arms a little. So now other parts of my body began to hurt, which later even turned colour. I can not remember how long the spectacle out there took. Sometime later air bubbles came to the surface. Alex said that it would be over soon now. The Catfish emptied the air out of his gill, to use its weight for advantage. I did not help him. Our material was stronger and Alex could manage to pull the fish in the boat. I could not believe my luck. We hurried to get back to our camp. As we arrived we heard Stephan calling.

Stephan had never ever before held a rod in his hand, neither did he ever caught a Carp. He only wanted to rest a few days of work and watch my hunting carps a little. Alex tied the fish to the boat and I ran to help Stephan. In the meantime he really had managed to catch a carp himself. It was for sure now the we were luckier this night. Alex went back to the camp, to return the next morning together with a scale and a measuring band.
I really did not know how big or heavy my Catfish may be. Later that night we caught a few more, but smaller carps. We were not sleeping any longer than to hours in our sleeping bags, as some noises woke us up. They did not stop. We could see the water at the reed was “boiling”. We were already watching this spectacle for a while, as I could not hold back myself any longer. I got in the boat and drove to the other side. For about 100m the water was bubbling. I enjoyed watching a carp marriage. I could see a lot of Commoncarp and a few Mirrorcarp. I returned to our place as Alex arrived. Nervously I was listening to the orders of Alex because this was my first big Catfish. We had to tire the Catfish or else we would not have any peace trying to take a photo of the fish. It took a while and then I saw the Catfish the first time in daylight. What for a fish! Adrenaline was pumping in my veins. A few Catfish-Hunter heard of my catch and came to the photo shooting. Together we spread out a 2x3m big plastic sheet and wetted it with a few buckets of water. Alex and I carried the Catfish out of the water and laid it on the sheet. The measuring band showed 192cm. The scale stopped at 94 pounds. Alex said it was a slim Catfish.

What could be better than this. We really enjoyed the rest of the day. And the marriage also seemed to come to an end. It got quieter. The following night went by without any alarm peeps. There was absolutely nothing happening. For the first time we got a good nights rest. I smelled fresh coffee and a Bauernfrühstück. Stephan was already awake and made us breakfast. Some body ... and a good cup of coffee brought me back to life. I took a fork full of Bratkartoffen and backed salami. But what was that – there was something wrong. Did you know that ALDI Salami had plastic skin? No? Well, Stephan did not know either. So, we sucked the rest of our breakfast. Stephan promised improvement. We only had two more nights left. And so we tried to get carps back out of their reserve. We know played with open cards. The breeding situation of the carps did not promise anything more and I drove to the other side and there I could see many carps in the water. I now trusted in a big feeding. At all I fed 5 kilos of boilies and nearly the same of pellets. I have not fed before with bought pellets and I was suprised of Flavour and Wirkung of the different mixtures. Until now the normal Forelli did its work. Ok. - we did not catch any bigger carps. At all we had 15 carps with weigths up to 17 pound. All but one were caught on sweet boilies. “Himmbeer-Sahne” and “Dirty-Banana” seemed to have an equal powerful attraction to the carps.

At last a few information to the water. The Ebro was created artificially 34 years ago. The old villages were flooded. The new Fayon was build up again few kilometers away. The citizens still receive fiscal advantages from the state. The old Fayon church tower, which still raises a few meter out of the water, is well known and became sort of a tourist attraction in the past. Behind it lies a large bay with large reed banks and shallow waters. It can be seen that nobody has been carp hunting there before. You can lend yourself a shovel in the camp and create your own fishing place there. The Erbo stretches itself 30 kilometres from the Riba Roja dam to the Mequinenza dam. In addition to that the Rio Matarraña has another 7 km. If some of you now want to start a session at the Matarraña, you can be assured that you will find competent guides with great experience. Alex and Frank are there the whole day for the guests and the camp. The camp owner comes from Germany. The carp hunters can buy everything to feed or for their tackle in a small shop. Ada is responsibly for the kitchen and the cleaning of the campers and the sanitary. (The meals were outstandingly good)

All campers are equipped with an air conditioning. Also who wants to travel with his own camper or only with a tent, are very welcome in the Catfish-Camp Matarraña. To our equipment: We had 12“; 2,75 lbs rods with 32´s cord and 12,5“; 3 lbs rods with 40's cord. One thing obviusly became clear - never use under 40's cords. Besides, take plenty of AMNESIA with you. The shell banks were problematic at times. Twisted impact cords had few chances. Do not let you get us wrong with our carp catches. We simply were at right place at the wrong time. Carps up to 24 Kilos were catched provably. Continuously I hear of not growing carps. This could not be confirmed by the present guests and guides. The average weight increased permanently over the last years.

For reservations, info-folders or personal information call or write Berthold Wak, Aartal-Angler Zentrum, Frankenbacher Straße 1, 35644 Hohenahr-Erda, Telefon: 06446/588 or under www.wels-camp.de. At this point we want to greet the whole camp team and the crazy people from the camper Nr. 1. Your photos are ready. More information about the Ebro and a totally unbelievable Story of our home travel, can be read on cipro.de.

A fantastic vacation at the probably most beautiful place of the Ebro are wishing you

Heinz Kersten and Stephan Reese