On saturday afternoon I fished the Guadalhorce river. The fishing was good and I managed to coax a fair few barbel out of the river. Most of these were taken pretty conventionally – one on a dry fly and the rest on nymphs. The one fish that stood out was one that was not in the river at all but swimming around on the grass outside.

When I first came across this fish I assumed it was a carp. Carp have a habit of swimming right up and often into the backside vegetation in water so skinny that it doesn´t even cover them. But my fish was not a carp but a gypsy barbel. Much of its back was exposed to the air as it swam nonchalantly among the grass stems, rooting around for something to eat. I just stood and watched it for a while. Its nose was so close to the stems that it could barely see in front of it. And then after a bit of shuffling around it inched into a narrow channel that gave it a few inches of clear water. It was too much of a temptation to resist and so I lowered my nymph in front of it and it moved towards it and took it.

As soon as it realised something was wrong it headed for the river dragging my fly line behind it and into some of the weeds. I followed it and disentangled the line as I went. These fish have a very powerful initial run and getting the fly line caught up in vegetation is an occupational hazard. In my experience it is just a question of letting the fish continue to run if it needs to and then get to grips with sorting out the line.

I got scuppered by a good fish a few days earlier when fishing with my son Leo. This one swam in and among some cane stems and I had to wade in to try to extricate it. It carried out a nifty trick of transferring the nymph to the stems without my knowledge. It was a decent fish that one, perhaps four pounds and I would have loved to land it.

Some you win and some you lose.


Here we are the two of us.


As soon as I had released our friend I took a look back at where he had been hooked and took this photograph. The flooded shallows just left of centre is where the fish had been wallowing around, several feet from the main river channel.