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Looking cool

Somebody told me the other day that, before Kim Kardashian decides what picture most flatters her and makes it onto social media, she might go through a thousand or so pouting selfies before deciding which makes the final cut. It is evident in my own photos that I do not engage in this process of whittling down and the result is that, more often than not, I look like a complete moron. PR and I were fishing together last week and I tried to get a snap of the two of us on the river bank. We are both exceedingly cool individuals but somehow or other the photograph does not seem to reflect this reality. Not even close.

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I was a little worried about my local river until recently. The barbel seem to have vanished or, at least, remained well hidden. Paul Reddish and I fished it a couple of times last week and it seems to have recovered to its normal self, at least in two of the three parts we visited. The first stretch we explored was clearly suffering from some source of pollution. There was foam on the surface and the river here smelled “iffy”. Unsurprisingly, there was no sign of fish life. It is sad to see this but it is something, unfortunately, that seems to happen most summers when the flows are weak and the various pollutants become more concentrated.

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The black bass in Concepción reservoir have not really switched on yet but it is only a matter of a little time and, perhaps, a degree or two of water temperature. Today Johan reminded me that soon these fish will be distracted by the prospect of procreation and some more aggressiveness and territoriality will begin to figure in their behaviour.

Johan and I covered the usual bases from our float tubes: the deeps and the shallows, the margins, inlets, submerged branches, drowned stone walls. The bass, however, were having none of it and refused point blank to cooperate. Nobody was complaining, though. Fishing can be like that.

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Not quite pink

My daughter Pippa got it into her head that what she wanted from me for Christmas was a watercolour painting of a trout and that the trout had to be pink.


And in order that the idea would not drift away, she dropped it every now and then, into conversations she was having with her mum. I was privately pleased that, at a time that most gifts come off a shelf or a cloths rack, that Pippa should ask for something that would, in our own particular way, engage us both more personally. It says a lot about her.

And so eight days before Christmas I took out the paintbrushes to make a start on the painting. I had no pink paint but, of course, pink is easy to mix up. I did have doubts, though, about whether pink had the depth to offer strong enough contrast to bring the little trout to life and so, jettisoning at least a part of my brief, settled on another colour when rummaging through my tubes of watercolours: cadmium red.

I have to say the “brown” trout came out looking pretty nice even though it looked as though it was wearing fancy dress. This is no particular credit to me. Brown trout are as pretty as you might hope anything to be and so all that was required of me was to create a plausible likeness. Catriona found a nice frame when she went Christmas shopping down on the coast and now the cadmium trout looks happy and at home inside it.

I hope that Pippa enjoys her little painting and that it should remain a little connection when we are separated in time and space. Who knows where it will end up? Maybe on a wall that none of us now even know exists?

And I hope that little not-quite-pink trout will swim strongly into a future that we will share together and maybe even beyond that into a future that belongs just to Pippa and to people who are not even here yet.

Not quite pink!

If you have found your way to this blog there is a pretty good chance that you are a fisherman. If you are not, that´s no big deal. Welcome! It is likely, particularly if you have a fishing background, that you are familiar with the salmon farming industry and with the impact it has on wild fish. This is a widely known story but, I suspect, among a fairly narrow band of people. It is time that we spread the message a little further and I was hoping you might consider helping with that effort.

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I have just returned from a field trip to the national park of Doñana in the south of Spain with a group of my sixth form Biology students. We were shown around by Aitor who is a guide and friend. Aitor and I have introduced this area to many groups of students over the years, but this time he took me to a place that we had not visited together before and it was quite an experience. It was the highest point around and he billed it as the place where two “oceans” meet.

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I didn´t realise yesterday afternoon as I was driving to Concepción Reservoir, just inland from Marbella, that it was my destiny to reenact a famous military campaign single handedly. Instead, I had had a much more modest plan. I would park at a lay-by some distance above the reservoir and kit up with fishing gear and float tube and then walk down a mountain track to the reservoir below. Of course, at the end of my fishing adventure, I would have the more wearisome task of doing that trek again in reverse.

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I had it in mind to fish surface flies for bass on my recent outing with Steve Lawler. This can be a lot of fun if the fish are well disposed to hanging around close to the surface. For the hotter part of the summer they seem to prefer to stay deep and surface flies are likely, not only to be ignored, but very probably not even seen. But maybe in the autumn, I began to think, might they be inclined to look up?

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They say that, if you have had a stressful day, a stiff gin and tonic could be just the medicine for you. My mum thinks this and so I think it must be true too. So, after work today, I dropped in to the nearest Mercadona to pick up a couple of essentials. When the checkout assistant looked over at what I had added to the conveyor he gave me a knowing look. Behind the rigid screen separating my purchases from the customer in front were my essentials: one litre of tonic, one litre of Larios gin and a kilo or two of ice cubes.

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I don´t think I´ve seen a bigger smile on Steve Lawler´s face than that the one he wore yesterday evening when he was holding up a big black bass. We had been fishing Concepción which, to be honest, has been pretty hit and miss with us as far as bass are concerned. Whatever the outcome, it is a wonderful place just to be, and so we never regret visiting even on those days where the bass decide not to play ball.

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