Out there in cyberpspace the word seems to have gotten out that my willy is nowhere near as big as it is supposed to be. This seems to be common knowledge!

I am aware of this because people who I have never even met, and who are, no doubt, decent and well-meaning, have been busy offering me treatments to enlarge my manhood. And they are keen to improve my performance in the bedroom too! (how the hell do they know?!)

The truth, of course, is that the cyberspace people don´t actually know who I am, but they do know exactly what I am: I am a man! And men, like all those snake oil salesmen out there will tell you, are deeply insecure about themselves. They feel they just don´t measure up!

It can be a bit like that for us fishermen too. Deep down, they are afraid that, when it comes to a particularly favoured species of fish, everyone has got a bigger one than they have!

Down on my local river, the Guadalhorce, there are only two kinds of  fish that are taken on the fly; gypsy barbel and carp. Both grow to a size which offers wonderful sport, but neither reaches anything like the maximum size they can reach elsewhere. I suppose the size limit is determined by population size and the food the river can provide.

Under optimal conditions carp can reach weights in excess of 80 pounds. John Langridge is an expert on carp and his book “Aphrodite´s Carp”, is a fascinating account of the fish´s history. He is also a very keen fisherman and and sent me a picture, which I have reproduced below, of himself with a beautiful common carp. John believes that, here in Spain, there are carp of 100 pounds in weight. They may not have been caught yet, but they are out there!

Unfortunately,for people like me who fly fish and target individual fish by sight, catching one of the whoppers is always going to be a bit of a long shot. The biggest fish tend to be wary and are likely to spend much, or even all of their time unseen. In the river, it is likely to be the deepest reaches where the better fish are lurking.

The same might be true of trout. Giant brown trout are elusive creatures (or, at least, they have done a bloody good job of eluding me!) I am a great fan of brown trout but it is likely that the really big boys rise infrequently to the surface where they are most likely to see our flies. It might take a good hatch of large flies to tempt them up and the largest of these trout have probably switched to a largely fish-based diet and are more likely to be taken by fishermen trolling lures at depth. This seems to be the case in Ireland, at least, where the largest “ferox” fish, some of them enormous, are invariably taken on lures.

The gypsy barbel, though not Spain´s largest growing species (that distinction belongs to the comizo barbel), can grow pretty big too. Tomorrow I am hoping to go to the river with my friend Norman Smith, who has fished the river for more than thirty years, and taken Guadalhorce gypsies to five and a half pounds and carp to almost ten pounds. He and his wife, Maureen, have fished widely throughout Spain and taken exceptional fish of many species. Maureen caught one of the heaviest gypsy barbel I have heard of  (nineteen and a half pounds) and Norman knows of only one that was heavier. A picture of Maureen´s fish is shown below.

So how do I feel about having all these people taking much bigger fish than me? I can live with it!

Everyone knows I don´t measure up.

Just ask the cybermen!

This is as big a carp as I have taken from the Guadalhorce

This is as big a carp as I have taken from the Guadalhorce

He´s got a bigger one than me! Author and fisherman, John Langridge with a beautiful coomon carp.

biiig carp

Norman´s first fly-caught fish. Things can only get better!

Norman´s first fly-caught fish. Things can only get better!

One of the biggest gypsy barbel ever taken. Maureen Smith with a fish of nearly 20 pounds.

Gypsy barbel