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An adventure of a lifetime: The Wels Catfish of Mequininza

For many anglers there’s a goal. It’s a reoccurring dream of catching the fish of a lifetime. A massive Swordfish, Halibut, or perhaps a Goliath Grouper. Another fish species that grows to giant proportions is the Wels Catfish. Known for not only their size but also their fierce nature and impressive strength, the Wels reigns supreme in many European waterways.  Anglers also seek out the Wels for the pure physical challenge that is fighting and bringing them to hand. The below video Dino Ferrari's exceptional catch from the Po River in Italy, tells an amazing story. More than an hour was spent to get this truly amazing photo opportunity.

At first glance it may appear that this is a truly rare feat. To break a record yes, however if you want a triple digit photo opportunity of your own with a Wels Catfish, it’s a regular occurrence on Spain’s Ebro River in Mequininza. Catmaster Tours is the guide service to make this happen.  If you’re also hesitant thinking the long trip maybe for naught, the odds are strongly in your favor of landing a truly massive Cat.  Per the Catmaster site:

"The size of Catfish you can expect to catch on our tours would be in the 70-250lb range with the majority of anglers catching Catfish over the magical 100lb mark. Normally you can expect one in three Catfish you catch to be over 100lb in weight.”

I had the chance to interview with John Deakin who has been a guide with Catmasters for over 15 years.  He's had the opportunity to guide for anglers from all over the globe and has helped land record fish in Spain.  The great fishing and beautiful landscape draws travelers looking for a unique travel adventure.  "We have had several American and Canadian customers over the years and we have also been filmed for Canadian TV”  

How did you get started and why do you guide? I went for a family holiday in Spain in about 16 years ago at the same time my friend Glen Patterson was fishing on the river Ebro in Spain with he did very well and caught the new Spanish record Wels Catfish weighing 192 pounds (see photo) Colin Bunn recognized Glen was a good fisherman and offered him a job as a guide for his company unfortunately Glen had too many commitments in England so he recommended that Colin spoke to me l came to visit Glen while he was fishing in Spain and spoke to Colin and after some negotiations Colin offered me a job as a Catfish guide with Catmasters.  We have had several American and Canadian customers over the years and we have also been filmed for Canadian TV

Your favorite memory or story from guiding?
I have caught THOUSANDS of Wels Catfish for my customers at an average of 400 per year during my 15 years as a guide on the River Ebro and l have had many memorable moments during that time  l think my most memorable moment would possibly be when l pulled the river record fish into my sling l looked at the fish and my breath was taken away the fish was laying on its side and it was over 3 feet wide from the top of it,s head to the base of its belly i told the customers it was the biggest fish l had ever seen and they where all very excited we zeroed the sling and scales and weighed the fish what an incredible fish it was weighing in at 235 pounds a record for the river at that time (see photo) we photographed the fish and released it to fight another day.

If you truly have luck on your side, you could break a record. Breaking a record has more incentive than just bragging rights by the way. Per the Catmasters site:
“We at CatMaster Tours have held the unofficial Spanish record for Catfish for a number of years for both normal and albino Catfish. If you beat one of our records you will be entitled to a free trip back with us.”

When is the best time to seek out and catch these Wels Catfish?

When the weather conditions suit you best, as we catch plenty of Catfish from March until December. We have caught 200lb+ Catfish every month from February until December.  June to October are the best months to catch numbers of Catfish as the weather is most stable.  The best chance to catch a 200 lb+ Catfish?  We have caught 200 lb+ Catfish in every month except for January, But the best times are March/April and September to November.

Wondering what’s included for this expedition to Mequininza? You can fish from 6am to midnight included. Accommodations and food can be delivered to you right on the shoreline. Bait is additional and not a negligible cost averaging around 100-150 pounds.

If it's your dream as well to land a Wels Catfish of a lifetime, take a look at Catmasters for an international adventure you will never forget!

Carp and Catfish fishing in Spain

Facebook: @catmastertours

Paul Duhig

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