Today, for the first time, I caught a gypsy barbel on a streamer. It was a very handsome fish and I don´t think it would have been any less than four pounds in weight. The streamer was being used because I had intended to fish for black bass but the bass were not very interested today and, while I managed to catch a few, they were small fish. Interestingly, the same streamer was taken by two carp, both unseen before they were hooked and both taken as I was fishing close to the steep shoreline.

The barbel was taken at the mouth of the Río Verde where it flows into Concepción reservoir which is close to the town of Istán. The river mouth is a favourite place of mine and I tend to paddle to it from one of the very few access points to this steep-sided reservoir. I noticed the water level had fallen by at least six feet since I last fished it only about three weeks ago and the river channel had shrunk to a fraction of its previous width. It runs very clear and it is very difficult to approach it without spooking the barbel.

As soon as I arrived I could make out a few cruising fish and I walked away so that my subsequent approach would position me in from of a bank of rocks and stones and prevent my silhouette from being outlined against the sky. I started reaching into the pocket of my shorts where I had a small box of nymphs only to discover that the box had inexplicably vanished. This left me in a bit of a pickle. I had two options open to me. The first was to quietly withdraw and trek back to the float tube that had been beached some way distant and select some other flies. The second was to persevere with the streamer which is the only fly that I had. In the end I decided to opt for the streamer option but, to be honest, I was not expecting much. A few cruising fish had a look at it but, as expected, showed no interest. Then I tried further upstream where the river flows more steadily and one or two fish were holding in the current in water perhaps a foot deep.

I was pretty confident that those fish did not know I was around and after a couple of offers a barbel took the fly confidently. It is fair to say that it took the fly so firmly that it hooked itself and it immediately turned downstream into the sanctuary of deeper water where we battled it out for a while before it could be netted.

I was over the moon with this fish. It was a real beauty. I am aware that gypsies will take baitfish imitations but I understood that this was mainly in rivers with populations of introduced bleak or other small prey fish. All my fish in the Guadalhorce, the Río Grande and here in the Río Verde have been taken on small dries or, much more commonly, on small nymphs. It really was interesting that this fish should have taken the streamer so confidently.

After releasing the fish I had a few more casts but the river is pretty narrow and clear and, following the commotion resulting from the fish I had landed, those other fish were pretty much on to me! In short order I traipsed off to the float tube and the prospect of a longish paddle back to the car into a stiff breeze. On the way back to where I had hauled the float tube ashore, for whatever reason, I started to glance around me as I made that second inlet crossing. Lo and behold what should I see floating but my little tupperware box of nymphs! Thinking about it now it seems that it simply floated out of my pocket when it was below water level. It is interesting that, had I not temporarily lost that box, I would almost certainly have replaced the streamer with a small nymph. Maybe the nymph would have done the trick with that barbel. Maybe not. Who knows?

There is a very useful fly that trout fishermen use which can be used to imitate a midge pupa. It had a body tied with red wool and a body hackle of clipped deer hair. It is called a Serendipity. That is a lovely name for a fly and it is a shame that this name has been claimed. Otherwise Serendipity would have been a good choice to christen my little streamer this afternoon.

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A happy encounter (for me at least!)

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On his way again

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The river is very clear here and it is helpful to use what ever cover you can find!

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This is one of a couple of carp that were also keen on the same streamer. This fish was a strong as an ox.

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And here is the fly they all fell for – a good size home-tied streamer with dumbell eyes.