The fish on the Río Grande must have nerves of steel. On the face of it, theirs might appear a pretty chilled existence, but things are not always as they seem. The world seems to conspire against them. Not only does the protracted summer heat suck most of the water out of the river, marooning the barbel in isolated pools, but even in the good times they are subject to noisy intrusions on their lives. Not only do you get guys like me sneaking up on them trying to ruin their afternoons by fooling them into taking a little artificial nymph, but there are cars and farm vehicles motoring across the shallows and goats being driven from one side of the river to the other.

Last Friday my chosen pool was disturbed by a flock of sheep driven across the river by a man on horseback. There was a brief moment when only the top of the horse and the rider could be seen when tightly surrounded by the sheep and they looked fleetingly like a boat floating on sea of wool.

Of course this might have been a fine spectacle in its own right but such river crossings are not generally conducive to good fishing. But, to be honest, the fishing was not likely to be great anyway. The river had flows bolstered by overnight rain and probably had just a little too much water pushing through. Unlike the Guadalhorce which colours horribly after rain, the Grande can remain clear, at least for a while. A little way downstream from where I fished yesterday both rivers join together and the difference in the water clarity was striking.

Despite the relatively clear water in the Grande there was not a fish to be seen, or at least I didn´t see any. Despite this I managed to take a fish, my first of the year, on a little nymph fished under an indicator. The winter rains have been working to re-sculpt the river and the shape of the pool has altered considerably. To be honest, I don´t know where the fish will be holding up now although the deep stretch tight against the rocky outcrop along the far bank is a good holding spot and there are usually fish in the sill where the shallows spill into holding water. The barbel are comfortable in shallow water where currents conceal them but the seem to like to have deeper water nearby.

One fish seemed like a pretty reasonable return on a hard day. I fished on but there was nothing else coming my way. Upstream from where I had my fish there is a promising run but a JCB was doing noisy things on the river bank and so I decided to leave those jittery fish alone. Whether they have nerves of steel or not, there is only so much annoyance they should have to put up with.


The horseman dismounted while the sheep climbed the rocky outcrop. If undisturbed, the fish are often tight to the rocks here.