Angling: Leeds lads like cats that got the cream

Darren Starkey with the first of the group's six personal bests from the River Ebro, weighing in at 141lb.
Darren Starkey with the first of the group's six personal bests from the River Ebro, weighing in at 141lb.
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The river’s too high or water’s too low are excuses all Yorkshire anglers use at some time for indifferent catches through the season on our area’s flood-affected river system.

Everything was put into perspective on our latest trip to Aragon’s mighty River Ebro.

Rising at Fontibre (Cantabria) up to one mile wide in places and travelling 577 miles before discharging to the sea at Amposta, the upper lake section took us by surprise with levels a staggering eight metres lower than on my last visit in May – a little daunting to four lads from Leeds who can complain at a rise or fall of a few inches on our own Ouse, Wharfe or Nidd.

With temperatures previously reaching the upper 40 centigrade bracket and the river known to have evaporation levels higher than the average rainfall, shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops were quickly put back in the cases as our early sessions were greeted with a 15-degree drop on the thermometer, a biting wind and rain that came at us sideways. Using four carp rods with traditional English set-ups and four beefed up Cat rods, we settled on a bite rotation, with Darren Starkey given the honour of first strike at any pull.

The first two-foot tap, twitch and drop-back saw Starkey glad that 200lb braid and a size 2 hook were attached to what was pulling him down the gravel bank.

And, after a 25-minute tussle, his personal best was set with a first-ever European Wells Catfish, easily longer than him but not quite as heavy! It weighed in at 141lb.

After another cat of around 80lb it was obvious that our week was going to be a tough nut to crack and the decision to boat the baits out to distances of up to 170 yards paid off, with Kirkstall’s Paul McBrinn beating his PB twice with commons of 36-8 and 38-10.

Starkey did the double with his best-ever common weighing a thumping 46-08 and, after a number of other twenties to mid-thirties for the rest of us, a sight we all will remember for a long time to come.

Last drop in on our final day, a stop-start bleep on a carp alarm and Birkenshaw’s Paul Clark doing a slow-motion interpretation of a coiled spring before hooking in. As the sun set quickly over the tiny village of Chiprana and the fight went into darkness, only brief glimpses through head torch beams of a huge paddle-like tail fin gave us any clue to what was about to hit the net.

Weighed in an extra large cradle and bumping the scales to just under 60lb, the weight was agreed after deductions at 56-08, the second-largest-ever witnessed from the peninsular by our host and resident of 14 years, Jason Toye. Personally, I’ve seen catfish approaching 200lb and some massive artificially fat lake carp, though none came close to the sight of the huge true wild river common that had probably never seen a hook before.

The few minutes it took for weighing and photographs gave me the tingles, and all four of the lads from Leeds felt it was a privilege just to be in its company.

If you see any of us on the river bank this coming winter and we moan about river levels, a slap across the face is acceptable!


Park Piscatorials Redwood Arc: 1, A Roze 70-07; 2, C Broadley 48-01; 3, D Gunby 26-08.

South Leeds Mushroom Pond: 1, M Jackson 45-14; 2, M Brayshaw 27-08; 3, H Oward 24-04.

Fox & Hounds Brafferton: 1, B Whitehead 49-11; 2, A Faithwaite 49-06; 3, D Scott 33-14; 4, C Child 32-02; Juvenile H Sandham 61-08.

White Horse Birkwood Molly’s: 1, I Day 26-08; 2, D Brier 13-04; ,3 G Greenall 11-04; 4, G Raper 8-06.

Yorks Winter League Beal: 1, M Doyle 25-00; 2, D Pollitt 15-02; 3, J Jordan 13-15.

Yorks Winter League Hunters/Linton: 1, P Bennett 12-01; 2, N Thewliss 10-01; 3, J Mills 6-03; League to Date: 1, Mirfield; 2, Anglers World; 3, Tackle 2 U.

Leeds Liverpool Canal Redcoat Lane: 1, R Thorne 7-05; 2, B Mason 6-01; 3, G Reeday 1-12; 4, M Paton 1-00.

JT Rodgers Brafferton: 1, K Richardson 138-13; 2, M Pearson 68-08; 3, A Jackson 64-06.

Moor Monkton Cyprio BSR Bobco: 1, D Wright 92-12; 2, S Rodgers 83-12; 3, J Wake 50-04; 4, M Pryke 48-08.

BSR Bobco Raker: 1, J Wake 100-10; 2, E Smith 88-12; 3, A Barker 74-02; 4, S Rodgers 73-12.

Bradford No 1 Raskelf: 1, E Wright 28-04; 2, F Prudham 25-11; 3, B Scott 21-04; 4, C Pitman 17-02.

Listerhills OB Aldwark Bridge: 1, E Harrison 2-00; 2, D Jackson 1-13; 3, J Harrison 1-11.

Kippax Park Lapwing: 1, B Rymer 98-12; 2, S Pearson 74-08; 3, P Carter 48-14.

Armley AC at Forest Lane Furlong and Oaklands: 1, D Fish 41-02; 2, D Wilson 35-10; 3, M Cooper 35-05; 4, C Greenwood 33-06.

Viking Saturday Open (Deer: 1, P Long 62-15; 2, P Jennings 37-09; 3, K Sykes 24-14.

Match Diary


Kippax Park: Winter League starts November 5 through to March, £10 entry, £20 pools, contact 07967000746.

Viking Saturday Open: Deer Pond, 24 pegs, £16, contact 01405 785206.

Poppleton Saturday Open: pools, £15. draw cafe 10am, contact Roger 01904737279.

Birkwood Farm Fisheries: Emily’s or Oscar’s, draw 8.30am, contact 01924 892251.

Woodlands: 72 pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Oaks at Sessay: 50 pegs, tickets £17, contact 01845 501321.

Langwith Lakes: 60 pegs, tickets £16, contact 01904 431874.

Moorfields Farm: 54 pegs, tickets £16, contact 07710817150.

Fleets Dam: 50 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01226 292579.

Birkwood Farm: 60 pegs, tickets £16, contact 01132 80609.

Tollerton Ponds: Open Match all ages, (Kingfisher 20 pegs, Coot 18 pegs, Heron 32 pegs), contact 01347 838115.


Leeds DASA: Moor Monkton Pools Winter League starts November 13 through to March, £10 entry, pools £20, contact 07967000746.

Leeds & Liverpool: Kirkstall, contact Roger Movley 01132 772215.

Listerhills: Leeds & Liverpool Canal, contact Eddie Harrison 07518721051.

Woodlands: 72 pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Oaks at Sessay: 50 pegs, tickets £17, contact 01845 501321.

Langwith Lakes: 60 pegs, tickets £16, contact 01904 431874.

Oak Tree Leisure: 50 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01347 810686.

Poppleton: Sunday Open, 50 pegs, draw 11am cafe, contact 07425 146677.


Woodlands: over-50s, 30 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01845 520110.

Langwith Lakes: over-60s, 30 pegs, tickets £10, contact 01904 431874.

Tollerton Ponds: over-50s: tickets £16, contact 01347 838115.


Kippax Park: over-50s, draw 10am, tickets £10, contact 07967000746.


Leeds & District: Moor Monkton Pools, draw 10am, contact 07967000746.

Birkwood Farm Fisheries: draw 8.30am, contact 01924 892251.

Woodlands: 72 pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Fleets Dam: 50 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01226 292579.

Tollerton Ponds: open match, all ages, contact 01347 838115.