Archive for August, 2014

Yesterday evening my son Leo and I went off to the river to see if we might be able to catch a carp. Leo has accepted an offer to study Management at the University of York and will be off within a month. He may well join a fly fishing club if the university has one. If not there is always squash, the gym, or the swimming club (he is eyeing up the University´s 50m breast stroke record and is our school´s record holder for this distance.) Personally, I would advise him to sing in a band. He has a great voice. Girls always seem to have the hots for the lead singers of bands. If I were young and single and was not the owner of a voice box like that of a frog in a swamp I know what I would do!

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A couple of summers ago, before I began to write this blog, I joined a group of bird watchers on a trip into the Straits of Gibraltar in order to see what we might find by way of birds and cetaceans. We left Tarifa by yacht and spent some time in the straits, crossing to within spitting distance of the Morroccan coast. It was during the homeward leg of this trip that I was lucky enough to see a whale spout and when we approached, we chanced upon a sperm whale at the surface and had the rare privilege of taking a close look at it before it sounded and returned to the cold depths where it spends most of its life. Continue reading

My wife unexpectedly suggested yesterday evening that I wander off to the river for the last couple of hours of daylight. The alternative was sitting around watching Doctor Who on the telly and so I jumped at the chance. I was also keen to see if the curse of Madonna, which had destroyed my fishing prospects in the morning, had finally been lifted.

I decided to fish the reach of the river closest to home, very close to the confluence of the Guadalhorce and the now largely dry Río Grande. I was hoping for a carp and knew of a good pool where I had seen them in the past. I was hoping also that the last hour of light might have them throw caution to the wind and settle down to feed and, sure enough, there were several fish stationed at the head of the silt trails which indicate that the carp are not only present but are feeding.

I managed to catch one of these carp and it was a beautiful strong fish. This carp was quite preoccupied with feeding and was doing that curious “mud shuffle” motion where it rocked from side to side,  its upper back sometimes coming clear of the water. Continue reading

I tend to use the car radio as a predictor of the quality of the fishing. If Kiss FM comes up with a string of decent tunes I feel confident that the fish will be biting and things are going to pan out just fine.

Today I slapped on the radio and out came Material Girl by Madonna. I should have just done a U turn there and then.

“Some boys kiss me, some boys hug me
I think they’re O.K.
If they don’t give me proper credit
I just walk away”

For Christ´s sake, what a load of crap! Continue reading

Yesterday evening turned out to be as good as I could have asked for. The shadows were lengthening when I got to the river and I figured on about and hour and a half or so of decent fishing light.

August seems to be the month for carp on the Guadalhorce. I remember making much the same observation last year. The barbel resolutely refused to play ball and, even in shallow runs where they will often grab at a passing nymph, they were nervous and inclined to scatter when the fly landed in the water. Barbel can be like this and so I left them alone and wandered off to see if there were any carp about. Continue reading

I am always hankering after a bit of fishing but extricating myself from domestic commitments is rarely straightforward. So it came as a pleasant surprise when Catriona more or less told me to go to the river yesterday evening. She and Leo had settled down to watch The Hobbit and realised that, having little interest in a watching a film I was likely to get bored and annoy them and so the best thing might be just to get rid of me. Fair enough! And this morning I just got up early, gave the dogs some breakfast and headed back to the river again.

One of the benefits of being on the river at the start or end of the day, apart from not being fried at this time of the year, is that there is always a chance of bumping into something interesting. This morning I came across two young foxes playing with one another just like a couple of puppies. I had been stalking carp in a shallow pool and the foxes just bounded down the opposite bank and played around for several minutes before one of them spotted me and they both vanished. Continue reading

My friend Norman Smith loaned me a couple books last week, one of which was written by GEM Skues. The book is called The Chalk-Stream Angler, Sidelines, Sidelights and Reflections. It is probably not his most important book. That particular accolade should go to “The Way of a Trout with a Fly” published way back in 1921 and “Minor Tactics of the Chalkstream” published even earlier, in 1910. Until now, I have I known Skues only by reputation and through the writings of others so it was quite a treat to be able to read the words of the great man himself.

What was so interesting about Skues? It was Skues who was involved in a quiet revolution whose ripples spread even beyond the esoteric world of fly fishing. A London lawyer, short in stature, Skues may seem an unlikely revolutionary but nevertheless he was one. From 1887 right up to 1938 he regularly fished the Itchen, one of the England´s exulted chalk streams. When he started out the prevailing orthodoxy was to fish the dry fly upstream, a practice followed almost religiously by Halford and his disciples. But then Skues put his mind to it and suggested it might be time to think again.
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Sometimes it is difficult to decide how to use the morning you may have gone to some lengths to secure for the purposes of fly fishing. Initially, I had it in mind on that I might fish for bass from the float tube, particularly given that the forecast was for very hot weather and having the lower part of your body immersed in a reservoir is a pretty effective way to prevent over heating.

But in the end it was the river that won out, as it so often does, and the prospect of some gipsy barbel or, if I was lucky, some carp. Continue reading

Clarinde´s Fish

Teaching Science to secondary students is what I do for a living. This suits me pretty well. I like Science and I like kids and these, needless to say, are the two key prerequisites for this particular job.

Few students ever say thank you to teachers, even though they might consider you to have taught them reasonably well. And why should they you might ask. After all, as a teacher you are only doing your job.

But every now and then a student does seem to appreciate that, in their estimation, you seem to have given things your best shot and might make some kind of gesture to affirm this. Continue reading