Every now and then I get a real hankering to get out and catch a carp. There are a few in my local river and, in the warmer months, I catch them pretty regularly. So far this year I have seen very few and caught none.

Yesterday the carp fever hit me pretty hard and, instead of doing the things I really ought to have been doing, I chucked my fishing gear in the car and headed out full of misplaced optimism to Conde del Guadalhorce, my closest body of still water. There are carp swimming around there and I go every now and again to try to catch one. Returns have been modest, quite honestly, and more often than not I do not even see one.

Conde del Guadalhorce is one of three large reservoirs which were built around a hundred years ago and well before the great spate of Spanish reservoir building in the middle of the last century. If you are not a local it probably means nothing to you but it does have some fame as the source of the outflow at El Choro that runs through the Caminito del Rey. The Caminito is a walkway that runs along spectacular cliff edges and is extremely popular with visitors here. (If you are interested in this extraordinary walkway I have written about it here before and you can find the article (April 2015) by doing a search using the term “Caminito del Rey”).

Conde del Guadalhorce is a place of half chances for me; either half chances or no chances at all! I have often headed out there brimming with confidence and returned home with my tail between my legs. I am a slow learner but now accept that the best way to prepare for a visit here is to think about it as going for a walk somewhere pretty with a fly rod in your hand. That makes it a little easier to cope with frustration of the likely outcome. Maybe you will see carp but maybe not, and maybe you will catch carp, but more often than not you won´t (or at least I won´t!). This place reminds me of one arm bandits that you know are going pay out less than you put in but that hook you by offering an occasional success. A sucker like me will just keep coming back for more.

The reservoir was pretty yesterday. The levels were well above where they had been on my last visit and squally rain showers had kept people away. When I walked the muddy track on the way to the elevated shoreline that I favour, I noticed that my footprints were the only marks of any kind on the surface of the track that had been smoothed out by the rains.

Catching fish can be tricky here. The way I approach this particular game is to walk slowly around a couple of hundred metres of the shore from as far back and as high up as I can. The reservoir slips quickly into deeper water than you can see into and the hope is that a fish or two will cruise into the shallows where you might have a shot with a nymph or something similar. It often pays to scan for clouds of muddied water that the fish create as they forage on the bottom and to study these clouds closely to see if you can make out any fish and figure out which way they are facing.

Yesterday Conde lived up to its billing as the half chance capital of Andalucía. I did, however, see one fish that had drifted into the margin and was feeding in the shallows. I was standing some way above it under the cover of some pine trees and dropped down to get close to it. The carp would periodically up end and wave its spade tail under the surface. This was a good sign. Thankfully I had managed not to disturb it when I arrived within range.

It was an awkward spot to cast from. The pine trees gave me no back cast and so I simply pitched out a little weighted rubber worm. I knew that the plop of the fly landing close to the fish would spook it in such shallow water and so, like Baldrick, I hatched a cunning plan. I would cast beyond the fish and simply draw the fly along the surface before dropping it in front of the carp.

Unfortunately that carp had a plan of his own which was even simpler. His plan was to simply to bugger off! I managed the cast, I drew it along the top, and then I dropped it in front of where the fish had been facing. It landed onto a patch of nothing. The carp was gone.

Then the rains came down and I waited under the cover of the pines for some clearing weather before wandering along to another bay to see if there was another fish. Nothing much happened after that. I was subdued and my optimism had waned. I figured that the local river, if it has not been too discoloured by the rain, might hold brighter prospects. And so I buggered off myself.


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It´s beautiful here.

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The rain was coming my way!


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Returning to my home river was a good call!