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Legend has it that the Scottish king Robert the Bruce, having been defeated by the English and driven into exile, found himself hiding in a cave. And there he saw a spider trying to build a web and, for whatever reason, failing to do so. But the spider, to his credit, never gave up and just kept going until he got the job done. Inspired by the tenacious spider, Bruce thinks to himself that you can achieve anything if you really put your mind to it. He never looked back after that. Before you knew it he was triumphing over the English in the Battle of Bannockburn. View full article »

The F word

Thomas McGuane tells a lovely little story in his book “The Longest Silence” about how his family referred to his fishing fanaticism. To the rest of the family his obsessive preoccupation was simply referred to as the “F word.” And so it happened that one evening, when dinner guests had been invited and everyone was sitting around the dinner table, his young daughter appeared and loudly pronounced to all the guests “all that daddy really cares about is the F word….. And if he’s not actually doing it, he’s reading about it!” View full article »

On the river the other day I came across two big fish. The first was a large carp that had been bunkered down in a deep undercut right at my feet. I had been casting to some barbel and had been quite still for a while when this large shape drifted out almost, it felt, from between my toes. Instinctively I dropped my little tungsten beaded nymph in front of it and then everything went rock solid. View full article »

Lockdown

Here in Spain we are confined to barracks and life as we know it has ground to a halt. The prime minister spelled out the special measures in a broadcast on Saturday night and the country is now effectively in lockdown. View full article »

We fly fishermen tend to delude ourselves sometimes and begin to imagine we are gifted observers of nature and that we have, through painstaking observation and craft, infiltrated the mysterious world of our quarry. At the vise we whip up near-perfect impersonators of the little bugs that drift downstream to the waiting fish. It is just a question of showing up at the river and success is preordained. View full article »

Fishing with PR is a good laugh. He is one of the best fly fishermen I know and is one of those guys who has been everywhere and caught just about everything that swims. He also has a touch of that particularly English kind of eccentricity that makes him something of a “fish collector.” He would have made a first rate Victorian. Targeting a “full house” of Mediterranean barbel species is part of his quest to tick off all nine species that swim around here in the Iberian Peninsula. But searching for these fish is part of a wider adventure. It is a means of discovering all kinds of wonders hidden among the nooks and crannies of this remarkable country.  View full article »

One of the problems that PR and I had when trying to catch a Mediterranean barbel is that not terribly much seems to have been written about them, and little specific guidance seems to be available. The sources of information that we consulted included John Langridge´s book on Spanish barbel and a few blog posts and snippets of information on the internet or short film sequences on Youtube. The simple truth was that this was to be something of a journey into the unknown.  View full article »

You may remember me banging on about how frustrated we were on account of failing to get a fishing license for Valencia in a recent visit. Well, Paul Reddish and I went back fishing in Valencia last week and I was determined that we would succeed this time round. In advance of our appointment I downloaded the necessary forms and dotted all the i´s, and crossed all the t´s. I made online payments, secured appointments and then turned up with PR in the right building in Valencia city with every document in my possession, including my great grandmother´s marriage certificate and a certificate showing that both of our dogs had been electronically chipped. View full article »

On Saturday I fished with my old friend Mark McCann. We have fished together on and off, along with my brother Sean, ever since we were schoolboys. Mark was over here in Spain while his wife Nicola was playing with the Irish croquet team against their Spanish counterparts. While all the ladies were out on the lawn the two of us sneaked away to see if we could manage to catch a few or two out of my local rivers. View full article »

Just recently I had been hit pretty hard with cabin fever. We had had a house full of guests for several days and they seem to have decided to attach themselves permanently to the sofa. I had reached a point when I could no longer look at them without being reminded of arctic shorelines where walruses beach themselves. View full article »