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A trip across the pond: Fishing gear for a variety of European Species with Jamie Sandford

Life is short and the fish to be caught are many! There are so many places to fish throughout this planet.  It’s a fact that has only become more and more apparent in recent years as the global reach of the internet empowers anglers to not just pursue new places to catch the fish they love but to also introduce them to new species of fish that reside in countries far from their own home waters.  With the goal in mind to continue expanding our angling borders here on River King Fishing, I sought out one of my Facebook friends in England to shed some light on what’s available there. We love Carp fishing here and that also applies to my buddy Jamie Sandford.  I came to know Jamie and others through one of my favorite Facebook pages, Carp Champions.  Jamie’s even recently designed a new line of ‘bespoke/alternative’ Carp patterns available on the U.K. market from Barbless Flies.  To learn more about Jamie, I included the below bio on Jamie straight from their page for it’s succinct background provided.

Jamie Sandford is 28 and lives in the North-West of England. He has fished from a very early age and in particular loves Lure fishing. Jamie enjoys fishing for a variety of species both in the U.K. and Abroad and has been lucky enough to catch some very special fish from Flats in Portugal, Rivers in Spain and Lakes in France. In recent years he has taken a real interest (and become a leading light) in one particular method – CARP ON THE FLY.

While we both love and spend so much time on Carp, we also wanted to learn more about the other species and techniques used in Europe to catch them. Jamie was kind enough to share his views and experiences.

Tell me more about your favorite fishing when you’re not pursuing Carp on a fly rod?  A big part of my fishing has primarily been lures. I have been lucky to fish abroad for the last ten years and mostly in Europe. Countries such as France, Spain and Portugal. One of my favourite places in particular is the RIVER EBRO in Spain. Here I target:

PERCH
CATFISH
BLACK BASS
ZANDER


I often take a guided trip towards the end of the year (September) with PRO PREDATOR FISHING ADVENTURES, Run and owned by British angler ‘Lee Carpenter’ who’s details can be found on Facebook.

Travel

Intrigued by Jamie’s mention, I had to find out what exactly is a Zander.  Turns out it’s a member of the Perch family and while not of the same family of fish, Walleye are part of the same Genus (Sander) so they do have a resemblance to Walleye.  Perch happen to be the most represented fish species in Europe and the Zander even has some representation in the United States.  Less foreign of a species is of course Black Bass.  Americans might take offense at their prized gamefish being known as a “coarse fish” in parts of Europe.  Per Wikipedia, it’s not a scientifically based designation but more a perception that developed among anglers from the past.  Much like how Americans perceive Carp as “trash fish”while Europeans hold them in high regard as a sport fish.

“The distinction between coarse fish and game fish has no taxonomic basis.[2] It originated in the United Kingdom in the early 19th century. Prior to that time, recreational fishing was a sport of the gentry, who angled for salmon and trout and called them game fish. There was a view that other fish did not make as good eating, and they were disdained as coarse fish.[3][4] Coarse fish have scales that are generally larger than the scales of game fish,[2] and they tend to inhabit warmer and stiller waters.”

In stark contrast to the above opinions which diverge greatly as you cross the Atlantic, fishing for Black Bass in Spain pretty much mirrors what we do here in the United States surprisingly.  I enjoyed this excerpt from The Essential Guide to Coarse Fishing, titled American Style Freshwater Black Bass Fishing and a Recipe for Success

“Normally a pair of anglers share a small fibreglass boat, which they manoeuvre, using an electric trolling motor to steer them silently near to the bank where they cast to shore using favourite blue or gold Yensen and woodchopper spinning lures. Or they may prefer to troll up and down the reservoir to locate fish using rubber worm wrigglers. This is an exciting way to fish, the bites are frantic and the fight explosive.

After a successful morning, the catch is filleted and barbequed: with the rest of the family lunch is served by the shore with a glass or two of local wine. Angling in Spain at its best is a reflection of Spanish way of life in general and is very much to do with friends and family.”

That last line goes a long way in underlining the universal appeal of fishing.  You don’t need to be in Alabama or Washington to enjoy catching bass, grilling what you caught, and then washing it down with your beverage of choice.  Be it a full-bodied English Ale or an American lager that could be described as beer-flavored water, at the end of the day fishing is a great pastime and avocation to share with those you love.

Back to Jamie’s own experiences in Spain on the River Ebro.  Below is a quick video summarizing some of the Bass they caught there.

Fishing Gear

What does fishing look like on the River Ebro in Spain?  

A weeks fishing from a boat often includes fishing deeper sections of the river as well as shallow, Clear backwaters where bass and perch can be found amongst structure. Drop-Shotting softplastics and jigging weighted shads often scores Zander and Catfish in the deeper water, However, On my most recent trip (Sep 2017) Fishing Crankbaits in water up to 50ft scores many takes from a variety of species – Including a Perch, Zander and a bonus Carp, Which I lost in the snags of a sunken tree!  The picture of the lures above show the style of medium to deep diving lures used by myself and these are brands such as ‘Molix’ and ‘ILLEX’.

As you can gather from my interview, there are a variety of similarities and some differences in our fishing techniques and experiences.  A unifier for sure however is the love of the catch.  The pursuit  and strategy involved as well as the challenge to catch greater numbers and of course sizes of fish.  Much like runners seeking their new PB, we anglers pursue new records as well.  It’s great fun and a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors whether you’re fishing the Thames, the Ebro, or the Missouri!


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Patrick Ritter is the founder of River King Fishing, LLC.  Raised near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, the outdoors, especially fishing, has always been a passion.