Archive for September, 2013


Today I caught a carp which was, maybe, the dumbest one in the river. As fish go, carp are generally considered to be pretty smart. But not this one! I suppose there is an exception to every rule. This particular fish was feeding in the shallows and a cloud of silt, produced by its rummaging, lead me straight to it. It was just a few feet away from a snag which emerged above the water surface and I managed to hook the snag straight away. This is a skill I have refined over the years. I make it look easy! There was no sign of my nymph coming out of the snag and so, in frustration, I pulled on the line by hand and the snag was uprooted from the river bed and I managed to drag it over to the side.

Any self-respecting fish would have buggered off  as a result of all of this tomfoolery and commotion, but this dumb carp just resumed its feeding as though nothing had happened. After retrieving my fly I presented it to the fish again. It took a couple of casts to put the fly in the right place and, sure enough, the dumb fish inhaled the fly without hesitation.

Then all hell broke loose before I managed to draw it into the shallows and unhook it. As I fumbled around trying to get my camera sorted out it thrashed around and threw water all over me before working its way into deeper water and disappearing.

I have no picture of this fish, or of the barbel I caught a little later, but I managed to photograph a couple of other carp. I don´t know why the fish failed to show the characteristic wariness of its peers. It was as big as any of the others and can hardly blame youth, inexperience or lack of education. One thing seems pretty clear though: when these carp are feeding actively they can become so preoccupied that they lose a lot of their usual caution.

It doesn´t concern me that I have no photographic record of the dumbest fish in the river.

I will probably catch it again some time

It shouldn´t be too hard!

 

One of the smarter ones

One of the smarter ones

 

Another smart one

Another smart one

 

Pretty things, these. The reflection of my fingers detracts from its otherwise cerebral apprearance.

Pretty things, these. The reflection of my fingers detracts from its otherwise cerebral apprearance.

 

First rain

Last night it rained heavily on the Guadalhorce river valley. This was the first rain in several months and marks the beginning of a seasonal change which will transform the river. Over the next few months its level will rise and it will sculpt new features into the landscape, as it does each year. I wanted to get out today to see how the fish would respond to the cooler, overcast conditions and spend a few hours at the river bank taking in the changes that were beginning to unfold.

There was little change in the river itself. This was not surprising. The campo is so parched now at the tail end of a dry summer that most of the water that fell as rain will be  absorbed into the dry soil rather than run off into the river. It reminded me of one of my Uncles who drank each evening three pints of Guinness. The first, he said, was for his thirst and the others were for enjoyment. In the campo, last night´s rains were for thirst.

The rains will be of interest to the locals who grow crops of olives and harvest them in the autumn. I am told that the amount of rain falling in the autumn is critical to the success of the crop. If too little falls the olives will not swell adequately and if too much falls, or it falls at the wring time, the harvest can be compromised and the olives rot in the mud.

 

Signs of feeding fish -The backs of carp can be seen here breaking the surface of the shallows and clouds of disturbe

Signs of feeding fish -The backs of carp can be seen here breaking the surface of the shallows and clouds of disturbed sediment suggest others are busy too!

 

 

 

I explored a lovely stretch of the Guadalhorce river just upstream of my regular haunt and, as is often true, I had the river to myself. The fish were active  and the carp broke the surface with their backs as they navigated the shallows and created drifting clouds of sediment as they fed.

The foreground will all be underwater when the rains return this winter.

The foreground will all be underwater when the rains return this winter.

 

Guadalhorce 29 September 011Guadalhorce 29 September 008

A handsome carp about to go back

A handsome carp about to go back

Guadalhorce 29 September 009

Of Crocodiles and Turtles

A bad fishing day, in most of our eyes, would normally consist of hanging your best flies in tree branches, catching nothing, getting lost, falling in or all of these things happening.  But it seems that a bad day could, at least in theory, turn out to be far, far worse.

Here in Andalucia, we get the odd report of escaped crocodiles and the thought of being eaten alive is enough to satisfymost people´s definition of what constitutes a bad day.

Last year a nile crocodile was seen sunning itself on the side of a little lake near Mijas. It was a place I had investigated a few years as a prospective fishing site, but its depth and difficult access made it an unsuitable venue for fly fishing. The crocodile, in the end, was found dead and an autopsy revealed the cause of death was an obstruction in its alimentary canal due to something it had eaten. This crocodile was over two metres long.

A few years back at least one crocodile was caught by the civil guards on a stretch of the Guadlahorce near to Cártama. It was quite close to the Crocodile Park which has since moved to Torremolinos. Naturally, everyone thought the crocodiles had escaped from the Park but the Crocodile Park people I spoke to tell me that it is likely to have been released into the wild by unscrupulous bastards who keep these things as pets. It´s one thing getting bored with your gold fish and flushing it down the loo but cute little pet crocodiles that somebody sets free have the potential to become big horrible mean crocodiles that might take a fancy to a guy like me.

This is almost certainly the way the Mijas croc turned up. Apparently, there are plenty of crocodiles kept by individuals here on the coast and the climate is ideal for these things. A few years ago new legislation tightened up  on the keeping of crocodiles by individuals and, no doubt, a few animals may have been released on the quiet. The suspicions of the Crocodile Park bloke I spoke to was that the Mijas crocodile was released by a nearby Russian who was big into the drugs trade and exotic pets.

Now don´t get me wrong. I think that crocodiles are great. Nobody loves them more than I do. I just took a bunch of kids to the crocodile park last Thursday and was greatly impressed by those great lumbering creatures. There is one old nile crocodile there called Paco who is 90 years old and is the father of most of the crocodiles in the park. He is absolutely huge. He impresses his four 25 year old girlfriends by lying at the bottom of a pool and bubbling air out of his eye sockets. My wife does not know this, but I have similar plans for my old age. When I am 90 I want to have at least four 25 year old girlfriends. I can´t do the eye socket thing yet but I´m working on it.

The appearance of crocodiles where they are not expected is a little worrisome. There is, at least in theory, a small chance that I may end my fishing career inside the belly of a great reptile. I don´t particularly want to end it all this way although I guess it beats cardiovascular disease or cancer hands down. No dribbling in an old folks home for me! No incontinence pads, no endless repetitions of fishing stories, no forgetting everything – just a glorious death roll, a muddy thrashing in the shallow water and finally, from the bowels of the Guadalhorce as the ripples subside, a happy, postprandial burp.

 

A nile crocodile swimming in the crocodile park, Torremolinos.

A nile crocodile swimming in the crocodile park, Torremolinos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A crocodile not swimming at Torremolinos Crocodile Park!

A crocodile not swimming at Torremolinos Crocodile Park!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heaps of crocodiles

Heaps of crocodiles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last night on the river I didn´t see any crocodiles, thankfully, but I saw plenty of turtles. These are often heard rather than seen as they tip themselves into the river from rocks and branches if you happen to come too close and interfere with their sun bathing. But last night they gave themselves away when their dome shells broke the surface of the shallow water. I came across four or five breaking the surface in this way and another one 20 metres or so from the river. It was lying on the ground with all its protuberances withdrawn into the shell.  I imagine that it had left the river recently because it was still quite wet. For the hell of it I carried it back to the river to let it go in the hope it would start walking off and give me a chance to photograph it in action. But it had no interest in posing for photos and remained tucked in until I lost interest and wandered upstream where another turtle was more cooperative.

These turtles are native to the river and there are two very closely related sub-species. They are threatened by the invasive red necked turtle from Florida which everyone keeps as pets and which escape or end up being released into the wild, often by well-meaning people. In some areas, like Doňana national park, the red necked turtles are actively eradicated or removed.

I hope that the Florida turtle keep away from my local stretch of the river. And the crocodiles too!

 

The popular Florida red neck turtle. This invasive species is displacing native turtles.

The popular Florida red neck turtle. This invasive species is displacing native turtles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A wild turtle seen swimming in the river last night.

A wild turtle seen swimming in the river last night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new mid section arrived on Thursday to replace a broken section on my 9 foot # 5/6 Spring Creek fly rod. This is a good little rod and the ebay people “tacklediscounts” have always treated me well. This is an inexpensive fishing rod but it casts well and certainly meets my needs quite adequately. I don´t have the casting skills to particularly benefit from a “decent” rod and nor do I have the budget. My wife tells me that putting food on the table and diesel in the car is a higher priority than spending dosh on expensive fishing tackle. If I had known at the time that she had such a warped sense of priority I would never have married her!

This rod puts me back in action again after losing a similar rod in an appalling maritime disaster a couple of weeks ago. This sad event was the subject of an earlier blog entry and I have no wish to revisit it now.

I took my new wand to the Guadalhorce yesterday evening to see if my new middle section was a fish catcher. Thankfully it lived up to its billing and put me in touch with three gipsy barbel, one of which I photographed. Each took a little pink nymph which is a pretty crude tying from the thin plastic of a plastic bag from the supermarket. This fly is pretty much all I use now. The carp and barbel have a soft spot for it and my failure to catch fish seems to be much likely to result from a clumsy cast or noisy approach than the chosen fly.

All was well on the river. It is thinning now, as expected at the tail end of a dry summer and while we wait for the autumn rains. The evening can be a tricky time to fish since the sunlight strikes the surface at a low angle and it is difficult to spot fish unless you are quite close to them. As the evening developed some carp were feeding in the shallow water of the river´s margin but they could not be seen without having to be approached very closely. And, of course, they would have none of it.

On the drive home I kept an eye out for the red necked nightjars which crouch over the gravel road. In the summer I would expect to see a few, even just on the few hundred metres travelled before joining the busy A357. A couple of promising forms were seen in the distance but, on closer inspection, they turned out to be horse shit!

Finally, when I had all but given up hope and was approaching the roundabout which links to the main road, a hawk-like bird took to the air and identified itself with the conspicuous white bars on its wings. It occurred to me, as it swept from the full beams of the approaching car, that this would likely be the last I would see this year and that this bird would soon leave Europe and make its way to overwinter in Africa.

 

Removing the nymph from the beached fish

Removing the nymph from the beached fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About to go back

About to go back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain Man McCann

It´s high time we were introduced to Mark McCann.

 

Mark has the distinction of being one of my oldest fishing buddies. Sean and Mark and I started off fishing together back in our school days in Dublin and have been fishing together on and off ever since.

 

Among the venues we have fished over the last few years is a Lough up in the mountains somewhere that we simply call the Mountain Lough. It is reached after a long trek up a boggy mountainside. I love this place and have written about it elsewhere. It is special, among other things, for giving my son Leo his first trout.

The trout of the mountain lough are really beautiful things and are remarkably uniform in appearance. They are not generally very large. I would guess most are less than half a pound but, every now and then, a much better fish puts in an appearance. Here is a handsome fish Mark caught on a wet fly and which is, by some margin, the largest we have taken.

 

I am hoping to make a painting of Mark´s trout over the next few days and will lay the keel tomorrow. I will post a picture of the painting when it is done. Meantime, here is Mark´s lovely brown trout.

 

Mark´s big trout from the Mountain Lough

Mark´s big trout from the Mountain Lough

 

The next generation

Nancy enjoying a day of fishing

Nancy enjoying a day of fishing

Dan in action

Dan in action

Molly shows how it´s doneMolly shows how it´s done

John fishing the Shournagh last year

John fishing the Shournagh last year

Leo with a Carra trout he caught a while ago

Leo with a Carra trout he caught a while ago

Pippa being cool in the rain on Lough Arrow

Pippa being cool in the rain on Lough Arrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While old guys like me and Sean have quite a few fishing seasons under our belts, our children are taking their first tentative steps into the world of fishing and are already showing great promise.

This summer we had a number of successful outings to the harbour in Valentia in search of elusive shore crabs and little fish and shrimps and Molly and Dan and John all proved to be great fishermen along with their older cousins Leo and Pippa.

There were other notable successes too. Dan also caught a huge wrasse  (what a fish for a five year old!),  and John (8) caught 12 mackerel all on his own – spinning from the beach. The girls Molly (10) and Nancy (3) and Pippa (14) like fishing too and are great at it.  They all caught loads of small pollock and crabs on holidays.

Here are some pictures of the next generation in action!

Leo and Pippa wade the Guadlahorce River in Andalucia in June.

Leo and Pippa wade the Guadlahorce River in Andalucia in June.

Sea Trout Reports

Jake has been chasing around after sea trout recently. I have added a few fishing reports he has sen over the last month or so.

3 September

Tried the Lee last night for an elusive white trout – yet to catch one there. Hooked one on my first cast – about 1.5lbs but he came off. And that was that apart from a half dozen brownies.

29 August

Had three sea trout last night £ 1 lb. All on a small shop bought Kingsmill on the dropper. They steadfastly ignored my new tyings. This proves that sea trout, like so many of their human counterparts, also succumb to the evils of commercialisation. My own flies were size 10 – maybe they wanted something small. Naturally I was too stubborn to put another smaller lad on the point.

The takes from sea trout are reassuringly violent. You can be fishing away, barely concentrating when you get hammered. After the take and the first few moments I thought the 1lb fish was between 2 and 3 lbs. It got smaller by the time I landed it. This proves that catching sea trout allows them to go back in time and become younger. The other two were about half a pound. Or juniors as us sea trout men call them.

This evening I will probably tie a few clouser type things in preparation for tomorrow evening.

21 August

Spent ten hours on a boat on Lough Currane yesterday in the hope of a decent sea trout or grilse. Didn’t touch dry land once and only managed a single brown trout of a pound. Enjoyable day none the less. Moody like most of the big loughs and in a sullen mood like most of the time I fish them. August isn’t the best month for Currane anyway and the boatman I hired the boat from said ’twas hard going so i figured i’b be lucky. I had quite a few half-arsed rises – fish that only showed once. Apparently the lough is a few degrees above normal so maybe that was it. Who knows?  I saw an article today about a competition there last week – the winner had two of the same flies on his cast as I used for a good chunk of the day – a red arsed peter (that most beloved fly) and a fiery brown, a wet I  hold in high regard. I’d like to get back when the lough is fishing well – one of those places where you could get the fish of a life time. at this rate though I’ll need a few lifetimes. 

It is now a week since my fly rod was tipped overboard and begun resting peacefully at the bottom of Davy Jones´locker. At this time of enforced abstinence from fishing, and while the rod´s successor is being procured, I figured it might be a good time to introduce Jake. 

Jake is my brother, although he is not called Jake at all. Somehow or other he just happened to pick up this name and it seems to fit him so well that I have abandoned his usual name (Sean) as well as his actual name (John) during our informal correspondence.

Sean, or Jake or whatever you want to call him, has been fishing pretty much forever and I don´t know anybody else who is more completely besotted with the whole business.

During July we sneaked off fishing a couple of times to fish from the rocks off Valentia Island. The rocks can be quite slippery here, and before the rain had turned the place into a skating rink threatening to deposit Jake´s two boys into the Atlantic, we cast flies out in the hope of picking up a pollack or two. 

Sean had a single cast and the result was a nice fish which we kept for dinner. My own efforts were rewarded only with a tiddler which was returned. Leo float fished with limpet and took a nice ballan wrasse. All in all we had a fine time until the heavens opened and the  and we all got thoroughly drenched.

 

 

Sean with a fly-caught pollack taken at Valentia Island

Sean with a fly-caught pollack taken at Valentia Island

 

Lost Overboard!

Black bass

Black bass

A typical bass from the reservoir

A typical bass from the reservoir

Yesterday evening my fly rod and reel disappeared beneath the waves and into the depths of a reservoir just outside of Malaga. This may not be headline news to anybody else but for me at least this was a disaster on a par with the sinking of the Titanic or the loss of the German High Seas fleet following the scuttling at Scapa Flow.

I had been black bass fishing with a little popper and had taken a few smallish fish when a much larger fish took the fly. I briefly thought I was connected to a really good bass but had, in fact, hooked a gipsy barbel by accident on the gill cover. When the fish was landed and unhooked I left the rod down to take a picture of the fish before releasing it once again. My smirk of self satisfaction was quickly wiped off my face when I saw no sign of the rod and reel in the float tube. 

What I didn´t realise was that it was slowly making its way into the azure depths.

Damn!

It´s all your fault!

It´s all your fault!