December 13, 2022 Last Updated 3:09 pm

*Spain – Salt & Fresh!

Atun España -CHASING BLUEFIN TUNA – Warm water fishing is only a hop skip and jump to Spain. STAN RYAN gives his usual forthright assessment.

Fishing the Med near Barcelona… Very accessible fishing!

It all started around January 2021 when a good friend Steve Guest rang me and  “ Stan this is the best fishing I’ve ever had.” When he said that the seed was sown and after an email to a few friends the trip was organised.

Erik Ouwens runs a boat called “Chasing Blue” just 25 minutes from Reus airport. His boat can accommodate  3-4 anglers. So I needed 3 to join the trip. There was a problem as 7 of my fishing buddies immediately said “we will go”.

Miami Platja is where Erik is situated and it is near the mouth of the river Ebro estuary. So it was decided that we would do a double trip. One group would go for 3 days chasing bluefin and the other would fish the Ebro for giant catfish, carp, zander and whatever else was there. Then the groups would swap.

Steve reckoned that 3-4 days catching bluefin was enough as it is very tough fighting these brutes.

I emailed Erik and booked the 3rd week July 2022.  Covid matters were a little bit up in the air but we were hopeful that the trip would go ahead.

Erik organised  everything  for us. We had an apartment with stunning views at the harbour where he kept his boat.  He contacted his friend Bruno who runs the camp on the river Ebro at Mequinenza .

Stunning View from he appartment!

Time passed by quickly and Covid restrictions were lifted. The fact that Ryanair flew to Reus was great even if the price was around €400 each. Car hire was booked and was also expensive. However, we were lucky to even get a rental car.

How often had I heard the saying “ the Med is dead”? Nonsense, it is alive with fish. There are leerfish, dorado, bass, tuna, sharks, ray and lots more there.

Peter, Eamon, Ger and I decided to join Erik chasing bluefin for the first 3 days. We met him at the harbour and he brought us across the road to the apartment. Parking at the harbour was free for those using the marina facilities.“ Better again there were several restaurants right beside the harbour and they were all reasonably priced.

Up early the following morning we had breakfast in a local café and also had a roll made up for lunch. Then off down to Erik’s magnificent boat, “Chasing Blue” which is a Wellcraft 252 Fisherman Scarab powered by two 200HP Suzuki engines. The electronics onboard are top of the range.

The boil!

 In no time we were on the water and Erik spotted birds working, on his radar.  Like a rocket the boat was flying over the water towards a shoal of tuna chasing anchovies along the surface.

Why not just throw a popper or a plug or a lure at these brutes? Well when they are feeding on these small fish they are not interested in anything else. Small rubber lures like those used for perch  are cast out behind a large bubble float into the shoal. Sometimes a tuna attacks the lure immediately. If not, after a count of three wind and this may cause a  hook-up. Really once the lure is cast there is only a few seconds before the shoal moves off and Erik is on the chase again.

A little lure for a big fish!
A bubble float is used to get the lure fishing

All equipment is supplied by Erik and is in excellent condition.  Shimano Saragosa  reels together with extra strong spinning rods will manage nearly any fish hooked……although I did break a rod. The line is a high quality braid with an extra strong fluorocarbon leader.

Eamon, who was to have an astonishingly good trip ,hooked the first fish which turned out to be a little tunny. The name is a misnomer and he had a fish of about 17Kg……maybe a world IGFA record.

Eamon’s super tunny!

Then it was my turn and I had a bluefin of about 50Kg. It was like being in a ring with Mike Tyson.  When hooked these fish take of at a speed that I never met before. 80 minutes later the tuna was at the boat and I was a shaking sweaty wreck.

 Next up was Peter who battled with a bigger fish that took him 100 minutes to land.  Around 1pm the tuna seems to stop chasing bait.

Peter getting stuck in!

 We went to another area near huge cages that housed farmed tuna.  Ground fishing with pilchard while at anchor  we targeted bigger tuna. 600lb fish and bigger are not unusual. These brutes tend to make a dash for the cages when hooked and the skipper drives the boat in the opposite direction until a suitable distance is put between the fish and the cages.  It is a stand up battle for the angler who wears a harness and this is tied to the boat to prevent the anglers being dragged out of the boat.

Eamon excelled again with a tuna of around 300lb. Remember all tuna are catch and release

All tuna are Catch, Photo & Release

and so weights can only be estimated. However, Erik with his experience would be fairly accurate in judging the weight.

Each of our 3 days was a similar brilliant experience.

Big fish!

On the last day Erik gave us a tip on how to land a tuna more easily than our method. Let’s look at the normal way that I would land a big fish. Fish hooked drop the rod quickly before taking several winds of the reel. Lift the rod slowly and drop quickly while winding fast.  The little problem is that on the drop the tuna turn and take off at great speed. They take more line that the angler has gained. Also, the angler is bending forward on the drop and lifting up against the fish constantly and this is hard work on the back. The trick is to lean backwards and drop the rod forward a little while taking just one or two turns of the reel handle. Then the tuna doesn’t get enough time to turn. So while the angler only gains a bit at a time at least progress is being made and also there is less strain on the back. Using this method on the last day I landed a tuna in around 20 minutes.

Here is a link to a video of Bluefin fishing:

After 3 brilliant but punishing days our group  set off for Mequinenza for another challenge.

The other group: Paul, Willie, John and Martin arrived. Their bluefin experience was at least as good if not better than ours. Unlike us landing our tuna individually they shared in the fight against each fish.

Fish Farm!

You’ll find more about Erik and Chasing Blue here:

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