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.

Before I knew it I had taken six nice barbel, all on a modest little nymph with a bead head and one or two were of a pretty decent size. The fish seem to have moved around a little and it was a question of finding out where they had taken up residence. One pool in particular seemed to have a quite a few fish in it. Most were gipsy barbel but here and there a carp would show up. After I had released the sixth barbel I though that a carp would turn this into a red letter day and those old gods contrived to have one swim into view. It was happy enough to take my nymph and the two of us slugged it out for quite a while before I finally managed to beach it in the mud .

There are some pretty horrible snags on the far side of the river and I had to really clamp down to prevent a couple of the barbel from getting into them. The carp, despite being a larger fish, stayed in the middle of the river. He was strong as an ox and it took me a few attempts to beach him. Every time I drew him into the shallows he would find a second wind and charge out into deeper water.

Interestingly, the carp was closely shadowed by a companion fish of almost identical size and it accompanied him throughout the fight, often swimming alongside it at such a close distance that it sometimes became unclear which fish I was attached to!

I was delighted with the carp, a beautiful wild thing and after a few photos he swam off strongly, no doubt to re-join the companion fish from which he had become separated. I realise that I could be carted off to the funny farm for even suggesting this but I think that fish of certain kinds, like carp, have “friends” with which they remain in close contact over long periods of time.

I likewise re-joined my own companion Mark later in the evening. He and another angling friend Eamon, was in the Plaza de Los Naranjos in the old town of Marbella when I showed up with my tales of adventure. He took it well. Mark is more than a fisherman. He is a gentleman. Just ask his wife.

Sometimes the released fish hang around in the shallows for a bit. It´s almost as though it does not dawn on them that they are free to go!

Sometimes the released fish hang around in the shallows for a bit. It´s almost as though it does not dawn on them that they are free to go!

I think this was the best of the barbel. It is a while since I had a bigger one!

I think this was the best of the barbel. It is a while since I had a bigger one! Unusually, it had taken the nymph quite deep and needed to be unhooked with forceps. I fish barbless hooks and so it was not difficult to remove.

Another nice fella

Another nice fella

And another one

And another one

I was delighted with this lovely carp. It took the same little nymph (size 14) as the barbel. It was closely shadowed throughout the fight by a companion fish of almost exactly the same size.

I was delighted with this lovely carp. It took the same little nymph (size 14) as the barbel. It was closely shadowed throughout the fight by a companion fish of almost exactly the same size.

The carp and three barbel came from this pool. If the fish had gone into the snags on the far side I would have been in real trouble.

The carp and three barbel came from this pool. If the fish had gone into the snags on the far side I would have been in real trouble.