Fishing calendar and methods according to species
As every fisherman knows, fishing does not belong to the world of exact science, and although based on biological cycles of the fish and the water temperature we can define certain periods as being better for catching the different species compared to others, we can never rule out the possibility of advances and delays in the seasons, basically due to the weather conditions, which can result in changes in water temperature and consequently alter the entire food chain.
Around the month of December, when the ambient temperature is really very cold, in the river you can fish sea bass from the river mouth right down to the diversion dam called Azut of Xerta. They come in on the trail of elvers and the most frequent way of catching them is by spinning either with the fishing boat anchored or whilst drifting. The lures used are vinyl lures, eel lures, undulating spoon lures with feathers or artificial fish. Poppers are also effective. If you go out to sea at night, you have more chances to catch more and larger specimens. In the dark clear lures work very well. Trolling is also affective, and with this method you can approach areas out of the river, close to the river mouth but out to sea. And of course, you can also do deep fishing using live bait, peanut worms, American caterpillars, etc…. and so it continues until the cold is gone, although sea bass lives permanently in the Ebro Delta throughout the year and can therefore be caught in every season. At higher temperatures they can be caught better at sea, but still close to the river mouth.
During the cold seasons and also during the spring we have Wels catfish. They can be caught from the very river mouth right down to Tortosa. The most popular fishing methods to catch it are spinning with large vinyl lures, or deep sea fishing using pellets similar to the boilies used for carp fishing of various aromas and flavours.
Gilt-head sea bream
As spring approaches, you can catch gilt-head sea bream with deep fishing using bibi worms, American caterpillars, sea or river crabs or razor shells, locally referred to as “canyuts”. The good season goes on until early November, when the first storms stir and cool the water. However, they can be caught throughout the year, although smaller in size and in less quantity.
The best time to fish cuttlefish is during the months of March, April and May. Cuttlefish can be caught by trolling, using a lead on the end of the fishing gear and various bows off of the main fishing line. This fishing gear also works from a stationary boat taking advantage of the current to move the lures.
Since 2010 huge populations of bluefin tuna reaching up to 100 kg have been swimming to the Ebro Delta, where they have by now settled permanently. It is said that they are attracted there by the presence of the tuna fattening cages of the fish nurseries in L’Ametlla de Mar, located right in the middle of Sant Jordi Gulf. This fishery is regulated and therefore you must keep abreast of the current trend of fishing quotas at all times of the year so as to know whether you can keep your catch or if you have to throw back into the water in the best condition possible. However, the practice of catching & release too is a fascinating and unforgettable experience for any fisherman. These populations of bluefin tuna are found in the Ebro Delta all year round, although when the water temperature gets colder they move further deep and seem to disappear. If the normal weather cycles are not altered, then from April onwards they are close by, at most 3 or 4 miles offshore. The first step is to locate with binoculars the shoal coming to the surface in search of food, which in itself is a wonderful sight to see. Sometimes they are accompanied by flocks of birds, some others not. Then you have to edge the boat closer at a reasonable distance without scaring off the fish, yet within casting distance for spinning. Then you can try with large poppers, with big or small jigs (depending on what they are eating at that moment) or with artificial fish. With the practice of trolling it is more difficult to catch the fish, although this opportunity should not be ruled out.
Starting from the month of May we have Atlantic mackerels, depending on the year, since they are very unpredictable as for their appearance. If it is a good year you can fish them until November. For Atlantic mackerels we must navigate across the sea looking for flocks of gulls and black terns busy diving into the sea to feed on small fish, which constitute the same food eaten by Atlantic mackerels. There we turn the motor off and, whilst drifting aboard the boat, we can start fish using a spinning with lures consisting of small artificial fish or undulating spoon lures with feathers. The lures should be ballasted in order to cast out properly as they are very light. Small jigs also work well to this end. Trolling also works with shoals of Atlantic mackerels, using small artificial fish and vinyl octopuses. Atlantic mackerels do not usually weigh more than 1 kg, but they are fun to fish, as once they are trapped they swim at high speed and race vigorously around the boat.
By May we are likely to find leerfish. Leerfish is the biggest fish you can catch with the exception of bluefin tuna (in catch and release fishing); it prowls around the river mouth and can be caught where the sea bed does not exceed a depth of 20 m. They can reach up to more than 20 kg in weight. They also swim upriver along the Ebro and can be found up to Amposta. They bite big poppers and surface lures handled though the spinner or, if you prefer, with the trolling technique, using a dead spike, best if ballasted. By July and August they bite less but from September on and throughout October you can achieve unforgettable captures.
Bluefish swim around the Ebro Delta all year round, but it is from May onwards that their activity really starts and you can catch some large specimens. They are like an off-road vehicle, occupying almost every area; they can be found close to the river mouth but can also swim upriver up to Amposta. They can also be caught various miles out to sea amongst shoals of tunas, Atlantic mackerels, Mediterranean horse mackerels, etc. where they crowd to eat. They can be caught by spinning with large poppers and surface lures or by bait trolling with a spike, but even better dead bait on the surface previously prepared using an inner harness made of steel cable and jigs. This is a spectacular fish and brutal when it bites. It jumps out of the water to free itself, is very brave and, despite putting up a fight from the very beginning, is still capable of saving incredible power for when it is close to the boat.
Mediterranean horse mackerel, skipjack tuna, bullet tuna and pompano
The orgy of species starts in June, when huge bird gatherings form where you can fish Mediterranean horse mackerels, skipjack tunas, bullet tunas, pompanos, etc… Sometimes the shoals form close to the river mouth, with probes 12 to 22 m deep, although sometimes have to go out to sea 3 to 4 miles offshore, where the probe reaches a depth of 40 to 45 m. Spinning is a good technique once you are close to the bird gathering, but trolling isn’t bad either. As lures, small artificial fish, jigs and vinyl lures ensure a smashing success in bird gatherings. Trolling is also good to catch them, with wither individual or multiple feathered lures, with or without an exciter. As a rule, these bird gatherings last approximately until November.
Little tunny, aka little tuna
Their presence is usually detected in June, when they are most likely to appear in large shoals that attract bird gatherings, but sometimes also in small groups. It should be noted that little tunas, usually weighing between 4 and 9 kg, are a really hilarious rival and when they start to be spotted they are crowded into schools. Further on in the season you can catch “loose” specimens when you are least expecting it. The best way to catch them is by spinning with artificial fish approx. 9 cm long and with jigs. Trolling is also good to catch them with small vinyl plastic octopuses. You can fish them until November, although there are periods in which their presence is not detected.
In June they already use to appear in large numbers although they are capricious when it comes to making their appearance. They usually appear in large shoals where they pursue their prey, and it is a spectacular sight to watch them attack on the surface. Spinning jigs work well, as you can cast them far out, which is good as bonitos are easily scared and don’t let boats get too close, otherwise they go deep straight away. They can also be caught by trolling, with artificial fish and small vinyl octopuses.
In July, August and September you can try with squid. You can catch the squid by trolling with a lead that submerges the fishing gear and dragging jigs. You can also catch them in the traditional method, on the stationary boat with a jig.
Common dolphinfish or mahi-mahi
From mid-August, sometimes from September onwards a true marvel comes here to the Ebro Delta, the dolphin fish. These fish always travel in a shoal, and when swimming at high speed they jump above the surface of the water, so that you can spot them if you are handy with the binoculars. Also, they don’t hesitate to hide under any obstacle, natural or artificial, that they happen to find, such as a floating table, a bunch of drifting nets and ropes, seaweed accumulations, etc. Not to mention if they see a buoy: they will be there swimming around, although they don’t often allow themselves to be seen. But they go mad when they see a lure. As in bird gatherings, artificial fish, jigs and vinyl lures never fail. We can also catch them by trolling using feathers and small vinyl octopuses. When you are navigating without knowing their location, the usual practice is trolling with an exciter and octopuses and feathers, followed by spinning once they have been located.
In Autumn, in Amposta and further upstream you can catch largemouth bass by spinning, whether anchored or drifting. It is said that this species comes down the river from the reservoirs further upstream. Artificial fish are usually used as lures.
FISHING CALENDER BY SPECIES
R/F: REGULATED FISHING
C: INCIDENTAL CATCHES
1: ARE CAUGHT
2. ARE CAUGHT ENOUGH
3. BEST PERIOD
Note: This calendar is merely indicative. Please bear in mind that many species move in shoals influenced basically by food and water temperature. Therefore, depending on the season, the calendar may be ahead or behind of schedule. We always recommend our friends and fishermen customers that they get in touch with Julio Bellaubí, who will personally update them with no obligation on the latest news on what is being caught at this time in the Ebro Delta.