Yesterday I drove for an hour and a half to catch a single fish that would not have looked out of place in a can of sardines. The reservoir from which I extracted this modest organism was Embalse Zahara el Gastor and it lies close to the town of Zahara de la Sierra in Cádiz which is nestled in the hills of Andalucía in the province of Cádiz.

I was fishing with Steve Lawler and Tom Pool. Steve and I are veterans of several joint operations over the last few years but I had not met Tom before. Tom is a work colleague of Steve´s and yesterday´s outing was his first fishing trip ever.

I´m sure Tom had been subjected to hours of Steve banging on about his fishing adventures and maybe he wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Steve rigged him up with a conventional spinning outfit and some weighted rubbery wormy thing which black bass, not being the most discerning creatures, might be quite happy to ingest. Steve and I stuck to our guns and fished with conventional fly gear although, on Steve´s advice, I attached a sink tip to my line to get the fly deeper.

It didn´t seem to make much difference what we offered. Steve had a fish early on but, like mine, it was nothing to write home about. He did have a very big fish follow his fly though. The fish were having one of those days. The sky was largely cloudless and it was very hot. The bays where big bass often chase smaller fish seemed devoid of fish and the dark silhouettes of fish which can often be made out from the elevated banks against the turquoise water were nowhere to be seen. The fish were not simple playing ball, pure and simple and so, after a few hours of being cooked in the sun, we called it a day.

Despite the poor pickings yesterday, the reservoir on its day provides wonderful fishing. There are pike, carp, black bass and a cyprinid fish the Spanish call boga which I believe is the Iberian Nase (Chondostroma polylepisdon). I have seen some of these but have not caught one yet although I hope to eventually. By all accounts they can be taken on small nymphs.

I rarely regret heading off for a day´s fishing even when, like yesterday, there is little reward in terms of captures. They journey to the reservoir is lovely and yesterday I saw one of those fat acorn-eating Iberian pigs trotting along in a shaded grove of oak trees and later, off a rocky escarpment, a griffon vulture on the wing.

What´s not to like about that?!


The reservoir has only existed since 1995 and is one of three reservoirs on the Río Guadalete which is flows from the Sierra de Grazalema.


The water level is very low right now.


I forgot to take a picture of the three anglers together but here at least is Tom emerging from Steve´s car at the second of the two places we explored.