Just recently I had been hit pretty hard with cabin fever. We had had a house full of guests for several days and they seem to have decided to attach themselves permanently to the sofa. I had reached a point when I could no longer look at them without being reminded of arctic shorelines where walruses beach themselves.

And so, in order to avoid making comments which would not have contributed to domestic happiness, and certainly gotten me into trouble with my wife, I told everybody that I was off to the river. It was my birthday and nobody begrudged me the few hours I would spend on the river bank.

At this time of year the gypsy barbel can be hard to locate and difficult to see and it is best to consider your outing to be a pleasant riverside walk with the outside chance of a fish or two.

It took me the guts of two hours to spot my first fish and I am pretty sure that a fairly long stretch of the Río Grande held no fish at all. The water that I couldn´t see into I was prepared to disturb to see if an unseen fish were to give itself way when it turned tail.

In the end I decided that a visit to the “goat pool” on the Río Grande was in order and, sure enough, there were a few fish in residence. I spotted them from an elevated position but this was quite exposed and I struggled not to show my silhouette against the grey sky. A fish or two looked at my nymph but were spooked by it and so I took a page out of Paul Reddish´s book and went down in size to something smaller and a little more drab. That change seemed to do the trick and I hooked and landed my first fish of the year in pretty short order. That fish was down a couple of feet but lifted to approach the sinking nymph and, gratifyingly, when I tightened everything went solid.

I crossed the river downstream of the pool to try my luck from the other side and noticed a fish rise to a dry in confused water close to the inflow. There were few fish with him, maybe four in all, and they were high in the water. I switched to a dry and hooked a fish that came off after a few seconds. That seemed to have put the fish down and so, with nothing showing on the top, I switched again to the little nymph and prospected the pool. After a few casts I was rewarded with another spirited fish.

Those two fish did me no end of good. The river had given me not one, but two beautiful birthday presents and those fine fish were quickly admired and returned to the water without undue ceremony.

Not only had the river given me those two fish but, more importantly, it had given me a shot in the arm. When I returned home I found that the walruses slumbering as they had for the better part of the afternoon. Not unexpectedly, they showed no curiosity about my adventures. I get that. Walruses have no time for fly fishing.

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When I fish in the winter I always figure that I may catch no fish and so take a photo of something else as a kind of insurance policy. This is a horse.

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This is not a horse! This fish is no monster but it was my first of the year and very welcome.

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He was shortly followed by this one from the opposite side of the river.