Archive for November, 2014


For the last few days it has been raining pretty hard. The track outside is muddy and rutted and a trip to the river this weekend seems a little pointless as far as fishing is concerned but I may be tempted anyway if only to see the swollen river.

This is the rain we have been waiting for. It is not the first of the autumn and the rivers are not low but this sustained rain will bolster flow in the Río Verde which feeds Concepción and it will raise the levels of the other major reservoirs. Continue reading

I have just returned from a trip to the national park at Doñana where I spent a couple of days with some of our senior Biology students, my colleague Dr Jan Walker, and local guides who know the place like the backs of their hands. And even though I am several hours drive away my head is still full of the sights and sounds of that extraordinary place.

Every day I have been there I have seen and learned new things but today was really extraordinary because I was able to see, for the first time, one of Doñana´s iconic animals – the Spanish imperial eagle. Continue reading

I spent a good spell yesterday stalking fish along a pretty exposed section of the Río Grande.  It was pretty tough going. The sky was overcast and on my bank there was almost no cover and so I was forced to stand well away from the river to avoid breaking the skyline. To make matters worse there was a pretty steady downstream wind with gusts strong enough to blow my hat off.

All of these things – the overcast skies, the strong wind and the scarcity of cover mean that you really have your work cut out for you. I realised this even as I was tackling up at the car but fishing is just one of those things. I will always sign the consent form regardless of what is written in small print! Continue reading

I guess that the Scottish rugby supporters might have felt they were in for a long afternoon on Saturday. The All Blacks were in Murrayfield and Scotland, like Ireland, has never beaten them.

This game was on the telly and I figured I might squeeze in an hour or so on the river before kick off and, if the fishing was good, I could even give the game a miss. In the end I caught the second half, not because the fishing was slow, but because the daylight gave out on me.

We have had a bit of rain recently and I didn´t know if the river might be carrying too much colour to fish well. Sure enough it was a little coloured and the level had risen just enough to open up shallows in the margins for the carp to explore. They were in and among the plants that had, only a week ago, been ankle deep. Continue reading

Murray Thompson´s trout

In the high tussock country of Otago in the South Island of New Zealand there is a little retreat to which I have been offered an open invitation. The invitation was kindly given by Murray Thompson and the little oasis, just spitting distance from the lake shore, is Murray´s fishing hut.

About a year ago Murray was good enough to send me a few pictures of some trout from the lake because I wanted to have a stab at painting them. The trout from Onslow are, not unexpectedly, varied in size and appearance and I realise that a typical “Onslow” trout does not exist beyond what we might imagine or can remember if we were lucky enough to have been there. Continue reading

Off with you!

An odd thing happened today. Catriona said “why don´t you head out to the river? It´s a lovely day. I bet the fishing would be good!” In our house this kind of thing is pretty much unheard of. My hours at the riverside are stolen and often there is a price to be paid later. And yet today golden time was bequeathed to me by my better half!

It was only as I was heading towards the Guadalhorce that I began to figure the motivation behind my wife´s magnanimous gesture. Today was an afternoon of international rugby fixtures and there was beer in the fridge. Suggesting that a fishing trip was on the cards was a cunning strategy to secure the telly and preventing the old man from sequestering the sofa and generally making a nuisance of himself. I have to take my hat off to that woman. Like they say, she wasn´t born yesterday! Continue reading

Mark´s Trout

for some strange reason I seem to spend a lot of time painting pictures of trout. Some people say painting is therapeutic. Who knows?

A former colleague painted a beautiful bird some years ago. She brought it into the lab to show me. It was a great painting and I told her that she was a gifted artist and should stick at it but she said that painting the damn bird, far from being relaxing, drove her mad with fury. Maybe the supposed therapeutic value of painting depends on the subject. Trout might be relaxing and beneficial but birds should be avoided! Continue reading

About three weeks ago I wandered off to the river for the last couple of hours of daylight. I was hoping there might be a fish or two around and there were. I managed to catch a small barbel and saw a few carp nosing around in the margins but, in the failing light, I was struggling to present a nymph without spooking them, and they were able to continue eating their dinner untroubled by me.

But what was memorable about that evening was, not the fish but the sight of three wild boar on the riverbank. I suspected that they were around.  I had seen the deep imprints of their feet in the mud and heard noisy crashing among dense banks of canes but I was not expecting to have a chance to see them in the open during daylight. Continue reading

Yesterday was the last day of October, Halloween, and in the morning I found myself sitting on a hotel balcony in Marbella reading Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Monthly. And then the thought dawned on me that there were going to be a few hours before I was needed by anybody and if I had any brains I could get out to the river fool around fly fishing myself rather than just read about it.

I rang Mark McCann to see if he fancied a stint on the river but, in an appalling lapse of judgement, he said he would spend some quality time with his wife rather than take a spontaneous fishing trip. Of course the fishing gods were pretty pissed off with him and pulled a few strings to make sure he would regret his decision. Imagine wanting to spend time with your wife! Whatever was he thinking of? So the gods tinkered with the fundamental laws of nature, pulled a few strings here and there and, more or less, rigged things so that the river would fish exceptionally well. Continue reading