Up in the Ebro you can catch catfish that weigh a couple of hundred pounds and must be the best part of 10 feet long. They have mouths that could swallow a football.

The prospect of catching these great lumps draws people from all over Europe and, for many freshwater fisherman, they represent the ultimate catch – the ultimate catch, that is, if you want to catch something bigger than you are, or if you want to brag to your mates.

I don´t.

I have often been asked if I wanted to go after these giant catfish and am acquainted with many fishermen who have caught them. They are certainly impressive and fascinating creatures but, somehow, the pursuit of these behemoths contravenes some simple principle of fishing which is a little difficult to pin down. Maybe it would be better to say that it contravenes the spirit of fly fishing which is, ultimately, not about catching monsters, and may not even be about catching at all, as ridiculous as that might sound.

Steve Lawler tells me that some of the boys who fly fish from Málaga go up the mountains behind the city in pursuit of some little wild trout that eek out a precarious living for themselves in skinny little streams. These fish are right on the southern limits of the natural distribution of brown trout. These fishermen are not particularly forthcoming when it comes to disclosing the location of their quarry but this is to be expected. I would guess we are talking about well oxygenated little streams at high elevations. Finding them would doubtless involved a great deal of hiking around.

You might get little more than sunburn and blisters for a day of chasing these little trout and you may have little to show for your efforts. But those brief moments when a speckled form appears from nowhere to snatch at your dry fly on a tumbling stream, or the cold river reclaims it from your open palm, might just make all the effort worthwhile.

It´s just a personal thing but I will leave the wrestling with river monsters to others and settle instead for chasing little wild tiddlers if I ever find out where I can find them.


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This Ebro catfish weighs over 240 pounds. It probably makes sense to keep it in the water. The little “close” box was not actually attached to the fish but I seem to have picked it up! I pinched the image from: http://www.gofishing.co.uk/Angling-Times/Section/News–Catches/General-News/Catch-Reports/September-2009/World-Record-wels-catfish-caught-from-Spains-River-Ebro/