Every now and then you catch a fish and, for whatever reason, the circumstances of its capture stick in your mind. I caught a nice fish a couple of hours ago and the little details are all there in front of me. The barbel was duly returned unharmed and is now swimming in the darkness of the nighttime river.

I took it in the Río Grande on a little nymph of my own tying. It was lying in the current with a couple of others in a smooth glide in water so shallow that the fish find it hard to move without giving themselves away by disturbing the surface. A dorsal fin, if raised, would have sliced the river like a blade.

The sun had set when I came across these fish and I knew that I could not afford to really try to see them without showing too much of myself. So I pitched a nymph upstream and a little to the side of one of the fish. The bulge of the fish seemed to converge on the position of the nymph as it drifted downstream and I gave it a second before tightening.

I don´t imagine that this fish would have been more than about three rod lengths away when I hooked it but in, what might have been only five or six seconds I was looking at the backing on my reel and the fish was wallowing more than 30 metres upstream.

Eventually I drew the fish over a bed of soft weeds and unhooked him as he lay on top. The light was just beginning to fail and the camera reverted to flash mode as I attempted to take a photograph. Photos like this are never quite so good but the photograph is not important. It was a fish that will stick in the mind. The barbel may have been returned, as all my fish are, but this one was a keeper.


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Beached on the soft weed, photographed and then off again!