The Soner Euro Cup

The Soner Euro Cup thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

After some street fishing in Paris late this summer, we moved on to Spain. We — Becky, myself and the youngest kids — spent a couple of days in Madrid before I fished the Soner Euro Cup on Lake Cigara near Madrid. My partner and I won it! How cool is that?

The Euro Cup was a really exciting experience for me. There were something like 125-130 boats with two man teams in them. As best I can remember there were something like 25 or 30 countries represented, some of them from thousands of miles away.

And, as you might expect, all of those teams were made up of high-quality bass anglers. They knew what they were doing. The competition was as good and as fierce as in any tournament I’ve ever fished.

The whole thing was a really big deal. It was like all the excitement and big-time doings that surround a Bassmaster Classic. The crowds were huge and enthusiastic. The rules were pretty much the same, too. There was a five fish limit for each of the two days of the event with the most weight winning. It goes without saying that we were all looking for the biggest bass we could find.

Lake Cigara
Lake Cigara

Lake Cigara is an interesting body of water, not at all what I expected. The best way I know how to describe it is to call it a desert-type lake. It looks like Lake Meade or Lake Havasu here in the United States. There were flooded canyons everywhere, sheer bluff walls, a ton of rock of every size imaginable and very little wood. I’m not sure how big it is but I’d guess it’s in the 30,000 to 40,000 acre range.

The biggest thing for us was that the water was super clear. You could see the details on the bottom at 10 feet or more. We wanted to find bass that were shallow and feeding. To do that we knew we needed to find stained water.

We found that up in the river that feeds Lake Cigara, but we could only fish about a 2 mile stretch of it. After a day of prefishing — that’s all we were allowed — we found a pretty good bite in that stretch of stained water anywhere the river channel swept up against the bank where there was rock. Big or little rock didn’t matter. It just had to be rock.

Once they moved into those areas the fish were really picky about chasing lures. The lure had to be on the bottom, grinding right into the rock. Running anything close to the bottom or even a little bit above it was a waste of time. The other fish in the river would come up and eat it, and the bass wouldn’t touch it.

There were only six or seven channel swings that met our criteria so we had to use a first bait and then a follow-up bait on the next pass over the swings. We made pass after pass all day long on both days.

Missile Jigs Ike's Mini Flip Flipping Jig
Missile Jigs Ike’s Mini Flip Flipping Jig

Our first rig consisted of a 1/2-ounce Missile Jigs Ike’s Mini Flip Flipping Jig in black-and-blue, actually I think it’s called Bruiser. It falls fast but it’s more compact than other 1/2-ounce jigs so it worked perfectly up in the river. And, just as important, it has a 60 degree line tie so you can keep it down in the rock without it hanging up all the time.

Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw

We used a trailer on the jig. It was a 4-inch, Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw in black-and-blue. We cut it off at the third segment so that it would fit on the jig and we removed the crazy legs. Basically, it ended up being a chunk with some small appendages.

Abu Garcia Ike Power Series Casting Rod and Abu Garcia REVO IKE Casting Reel
Abu Garcia Ike Power Series Casting Rod and Abu Garcia REVO IKE Casting Reel

We used the European version of my Abu Garcia Ike Power Series Casting Rod in the 6 foot, 6 inch medium heavy model. My reel was an Abu Garcia Ike REVO with an 8.0:1 gear ratio. My line was 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. The high-speed gear ratio was critical. When the bass picked up the Mini Flip they’d run right at our boat most of the time. A quick line pickup helped get a solid hookset.

Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Line, Green
Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Line, Green

After we made a pass over the swings the bass started getting used to seeing what we were throwing and so we switched to a followup bait. It was more of a finesse-type presentation.

Berkley Powerbait The General Worm
Berkley Powerbait The General Worm

For starters we Texas-rigged a 5-inch Berkley Powerbait – The General Worm — a soft plastic stickbait — on a 3/16-ounce VMC Ike Approved Finesse Rugby Jig. We used a color called Ike’s Magic. It’s real dark on top, almost black, and has a bluish pearlescent bottom. Just like before, we wanted a dark presentation because the water was stained. That helps the bass find what they’re looking for when they’re feeding.

VMC Ike Approved Finesse Rugby Jig
VMC Ike Approved Finesse Rugby Jig

Because this was more of a finesse presentation we used spinning tackle. We used an Abu Garcia Ike Finesse Spinning Rod. It was 7 foot, 4 inches long with a medium action. My reel was an Abu Garcia REVO Ike model in the 20 size.

Abu Garcia IKE Finesse Series Spinning Rod & Abu Garcia REVO IKE Spinning Reel
Abu Garcia IKE Finesse Series Spinning Rod & Abu Garcia REVO IKE Spinning Reel

I spooled my reel with 10-pound-test Berkley X9 Braided Line as my main line and a long leader made with 10-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon.

Berkley X9 Braided Line
Berkley X9 Braided Line

That’s what we did and how we did it! The lesson here is that quality fishing techniques will work all over the world. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.

Street Fishing in Paris

Street Fishing in Paris thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

Those of you who follow me know that I’m a big advocate for urban fishing. I’ve filmed countless TV shows and posted I don’t know how many videos and blogs about it over the years. The reason I do that is because it’s how I grew up in New Jersey and because there’s better fishing in our cities than many men and women think. It’s a truly untapped resource. 

And, nowhere is that more true than in Paris, France.

Abu Garcia
Abu Garcia

My experience over there started with Abu Garcia. We’ve developed a new series of rods designed just for the European market. They’re part of the Ike Series and they consist of four casting rods and nine spinning rods.

They are three-piece so they transport easily and they have unique actions designed for the way they fish in Europe. That’s mostly from the bank because there are huge problems getting a boat in the water or motoring around in one. In most places, a boat is just not feasible.

Zander

My fishing in Paris was exactly like they do it — from the bank targeting predator species. That’s what they call perch, zander, pike, and bass. They’re all similar to — but not the same as — what we have here in the United States. In case you’re wondering, zander is a kind of like walleye.

Flambeau Ike Ritual 50 Backpacka
Flambeau Ike Ritual 50 Backpack

So anyway, I packed a couple of spinning rods and some other essentials like lures, line and snacks into my Flambeau Ike Ritual 50 Backpack. I grabbed it because it’ll hold everything you need for the whole day and it has hands-free rod storage. All you have to do is pack it, put it on your back and start walking towards the nearest water.

In Paris, the nearest water was the Seine River. It runs right through the center of the city. Regardless of that, I can tell you that there are tons of fish in it, including some really big ones.

Here’s how we caught some of them…

Our first target was yellow perch. However, French yellow perch aren’t like the yellow perch we have here. I caught one that weighed over 3 pounds and another one that weighed about 4.75 pounds. That’s big, and they fight like smallmouth. 

Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer Swimbait

We caught all our yellow perch on a Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer in the 2.8-inch size. We used that small size because the baitfish were really small in the river. And, we selected Rainbow Shad as our color because it matched the hatch. We put the Power Swimmers on a 1/8-ounce VMC Finesse Half Moo

VMC Finesse Half Moon Jig
VMC Finesse Half Moon Jig

My rod for that setup was a 6 foot, Abu Garcia Ike Series medium-light action rod, one of the ones we designed for their market. My reel was a 20 size Abu Garcia REVO Ike Spinning reel. I spooled the reel with 10-pound-test Berkley 5X Braided Line as my main line and an 8-pound-test Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon leader.

We fished for them in the current breaks around seawalls and bridge pilings or anything else that was breaking the current.

Abu Garcia REVO IKE Spinning Reel, Abu Garcia REVO Ike Spinning Reel
Abu Garcia REVO IKE Spinning Reel, Abu Garcia Ike Travel Spinning Rod

Chub were next on our target list. Once again, I have to say that they aren’t like our chubs. They’re bigger, more aggressive and they like topwater plugs. Yes, you read that right — they like topwater plugs.

Our tackle started with a 7-foot, 4-inch medium-light Abu Garcia Ike Travel Spinning Rod. Like before it was one of the ones we designed for the European market. We mounted the exact same reel on it that we used for the perch and spooled it with the same line except that we didn’t use a leader.

Rapala Skitter Pop
Rapala Skitter Pop

Our lure was a Rapala Skitter Pop, size 5. At 2 inches it’s really small which was exactly what we wanted to match the hatch. There was a cicada hatch going on at the time. The chub were attacking them like crazy. Our color choice was Frog because it sort of looked like the cicada, at least to us. But, the color wasn’t the thing. It was the size.

It was an amazing experience. The chub would come up from underneath and absolutely explode on our Skitter Pops. It was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had fishing.

I know most of you will never fish the Seine River in Paris. Nevertheless, it’s important for me to tell this story. I want every angler who reads this to think about the opportunities they have right in their home town or city and to realize that bass aren’t the only fish that are worthy of our efforts.

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