DESTINATION SPAIN!

After numerousl long haul trips already this year I am starting to appreciate short haul flights. In my last blog post I wrote about a bluefin tuna fishing tournament I had fished at Beaulieu Sur Mer in the south of France, a short drive from Nice which is less than a two hour flight from Bristol. A few weeks later I was again seated in the departure lounge at Bristol Airport, this time waiting for a similarly short hop with Easy Jet down to Barcelona, Spain. The flight went like clockwork, and a couple of hours after landing we arrived at our base for the trip, Riumar, a small holiday town located at the mouth of the River Ebro.

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One of the boats operated by Roned Sportfishing out of Riumar, Spain. Perfect for two or three anglers.

The news on arrival from our host Ron Niewwboer was both good and bad. That day Ron’s clients from his native Holland had boated three very nice bluefin tuna in the 80-140lb class, and he had confirmed that there were a lot of fish around: this was the good news. The bad news was that the weather forecast for our all-too-short three fishing trip was bad, very bad, so much so that Ron had to rush off to relocate one of his boats at a marina on the opposite side of the bay, which he hoped would provide some shelter from the unseasonably strong offshore winds that were forecast for the next day. As it turned out that was a very smart move, a great decision that absolutely saved what could easily have been a total bust of a trip.

Sure enough the following day we woke to find the wind rattling the trees in front of our villa, and the bay in front of Riumar was flecked with white caps for as far as the eye could see. We met Ron after breakfast and he told us that the wind was forecast to ease by lunchtime, and that he was confident we could get out, albeit inshore. A few hours later we did manage to go fishing but in all honesty it was little more than a token effort, which resulted in nothing more exciting than a couple of small stingray.

Day two also dawned with strong winds, but every forecast we checked was confident things would settle down appreciably by midday. So once again we slipped out of the sheltered marina, and headed out into the Mediterranean hoping to reach an area that had been especially productive in recent weeks.

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Fresh fish, some type of sardine, perfect for chum.

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Especially when cut into chunks.

For the first few miles we slogged our way through horrible seas, but gradually as we progressed into deeper water conditions had started to improve, just as forecast. By early afternoon the wind had eased considerably, and eventually we had reached the area about 12 miles offshore Ron had hoped to fish. Most anglers who fish here use spinning or jigging tackle to target tuna, but the conditions were totally against this. Consequently we fished on the drift, and started chumming with a steady stream of chunks of sardines. A pair of larger scad were rigged as hooked baits and were suspended beneath balloon floats to fish within the chum trail .

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Scad make a great hook bait.

There were plenty of birds in the area and we were confident there were fish around, and sure enough after about an hour of drifting one of the balloons suddenly disappeared beneath the surface, the rod bent, and line started screaming off the reel: fish on! I grabbed the rod and did my best to attach myself to a badly fitting harness rig, and eventually brought the first tuna of the trip alongside the boat. A nice fish  that Ron estimated at weighing around 45kg,100lb, about average for the area we were fishing. After a quick photo session the fish was released, as all tuna are.

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My first fish of the trip is welcomed aboard.

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And held for a brief photograph or two before being released.

It was immediately apparent that the second fished I hooked was considerably bigger than the first. Several long blistering runs preceded the usual circling deep within the water column beneath the boat, which is so characteristic of all of the tuna species. Luckily I was using tackle that was up to the job, and the better part of 50lb of drag applied courtesy of a Shimano Tiagra 80 meant that a little under 15 minutes after hook up Ron grabbed the leader. Between us we somehow managed to pull the big tuna over the side of the boat whereupon it slammed down onto the deck with a loud thud, as if someone had dropped a sack of cement. Clearly this was a new personal best bluefin tuna for me. She measured 2.01m, which computes to a fish of around 140kg, 308lb; I was delighted!

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Fish number 2 was much bigger!

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And was a struggle to pull aboard the boat.

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She measured just over 2m,and we calculated she weighed 308lb, my biggest bluefin tuna to date.

On our third and sadly final day at Riumar the wind increased to the point where our only option was to troll inside the lower reaches of the River Ebro, hoping for one of the many bluefish or big leerfish that are caught here earlier in the year, especially in April and May. It was an enjoyable though fruitless couple of hours, but thankfully Ruimar has plenty of excellent restaurants where regardless of wind strength a great lunch or dinner can be guaranteed. And so ended my first but certainly not my last trip to Riumar, a full report of which will appear in Sea Angler Magazine very soon…

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You’ll find over a dozen excellent restaurants in Riumar, many specialising in local Spanish cuisine.

Trips to Ruimar to fish with Ron Niewwboer at Roned Sportfishing can be organised through Anglers World Holidays. In addition to those species mentioned, dorado are abundant during September and October, and huge wells catfish weighing over 100lb are caught in the River Ebro not far upriver from Riumar. For more details contact Anglers World Holidays on Tel: 01246 221717 or visit: http://anglersworld.tv

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