On Monday I fished the river with three fly fishermen from South Africa who were keen to get acquainted with the Río Guadalhorce´s gypsy barbel. One of these, Johan Terblanche, now lives in Luxembourg and is a fellow veteran of a previous campaign on Istán, where we fished for black bass. Yesterday we were also joined by his brother Wian and friend Pieter, who are in Spain ostensibly on business but everyone knows the main purpose of their trip was to have a crack at the gypsy barbel!

Interestingly, the barbel here are not dissimilar to species of yellowfish, which can be caught in rivers within striking distance of their homes in Johannesburg. In the, now-obligatory, “après pêche” beer stop at Café Europa, the boys showed me what the “local” fish looked like. In the Vaas and Orange rivers which are accessible from their base in Johannesburg, you can catch largemouth and smallmouth yellowfish which are lovely-looking fish. Johan also showed me a picture of a beautiful giant trevally he caught in some tropical flat but I can´t for the life of me remember where he caught it.

Out on the river it was clear that all three of these guys are very good fishermen and needed little help from me. The main challenge for visitors is finding access to productive stretches of the river and, during the course of the afternoon, we fished in two locations which were big enough to provide opportunities for three fishermen at the same time.

The river was just lovely and the fish were pretty obliging. By the look of them they are recovered from spawning and we saw the characteristic tubercles on the snouts of the males that develop at this time of the year. We took gypsies initially with nymphs and then switched over to dry fly. Both Wian and Johan caught mullet and the fish were taken on both nymphs and dries. Mullet can be infuriating fish and catching them seems to be hit and miss at the best of times. I was very interested in the flies the mullet took and was particularly pleased with how a couple of dry flies I had tied the previous evening performed on the river and I think I will make these flies the subject of a later post.

When the fishing was done we retired to Café Europa for a celebratory beer. The African Grey parrot there has a modest smattering of words in Spanish and on Monday he would have had an unprecedented opportunity to brush up his Afrikaans by eavesdropping on the fishermen sitting next to his cage. Unfortunately for him, he was asleep. He is unlikely to get another chance given that the locals speak a pretty impenetrable dialect that even the visiting Madrileños find difficult to decipher.

It is always fun to sit around and look at fish photos with other fishing nuts, particularly when the species are exotic and the Café Europa provides a suitable setting. I remember once, similarly being drawn into an exchange of mobile phone photos with a salesman at a second hand car dealership when we were in the market for a new car. In retrospect I should have spent more time looking at the car he flogged me rather that the fish he had caught as the car turned out to be an absolute crock of shit!

After I had written a little something in a copy of my book that Johan had brought and we had downed a celebratory beer or two, proceedings came to an end and we all shook hands in the forecourt of Café Europa. I had a really great day in the company of these guys and hope they enjoy the rest of their time in Spain. Who knows, maybe we will have a chance to wet a line together some time in the future.


Three men on a mission. From left to right Johan Terblanche, Pieter Van Der Merwe and Wian Terblanche.


Johan with the first of his gypsy barbel.


Wian opens his account.


Pieter with the only carp of the day.


The boys caught several mullet. This was the first.


Wian exploring a likely-looking run. In the smooth river downstream we came across several fish taking dry flies.


A few fish sat in shallow runs and were unwilling to take a nymph. Johan is crossing the river here and just left of centre in the photo you can see a good fish. It was slow to spook and I tried to see if I could get a better photo showing how close they came.


Here it is!


A nice fish for Johan taken on a dry fly.


And another for Pieter.


Here we have a fish returned to the water in the seconds before its release.