Yesterday I spent the morning and early afternoon fishing on the river with Johan Terblanche. Johan and I have fished together several times over the last two or three years and when he pops over to this neck of the woods from his home in Luxembourg he drops me a line and we meet up to see if we can catch black bass or, as was the case yesterday, some gypsy barbel from the river.

The Guadalhorce will produce barbel throughout the year but things do slow down a little during the heat of the summer and it takes a bit of perseverance to get one. Between us we covered a couple of kilometres of water and there were fish in evidence in many places. It is a question of being stealthy and patient and we were both rewarded for our efforts in the end.

I know a lot of fishermen who are really passionate about the sport and Johan is certainly among them. He has done a lot of big game fishing and taken large marlin and giant trevally and many other tropical species that people like me may have only ever read or dreamt about. Last summer he sent me a photo of an enormous black marlin he had taken from an 18 foot boat many years ago. He told me yesterday that he was bent double for hours when playing that fish and that he had done damage to his back from the continued strain. He also said that leaning into a fish like this did not so much result in drawing the fish towards the boat as much as pulling the boat closer to the fish.

Needless to say, yesterday’s activities were altogether less strenuous and the barbel we connected with did not quite manage to cause us any injury. The hours seemed to fly by and I must admit I lost track of time. There were several fish that we presented flies to over and over again and that did not seem to be interested. One of these was a really good fish which I would guess might have gone five or six pounds. This particular fish was holding in strong current and shallow water and we both showed our nymphs to it many times before it drifted off. I must admit I may be tempted to sneak off to the river again over the next few days and see if I can catch it. There is a pretty good chance it will be holding in that same seam of current. It would be a very fine fish to catch that one, and quite probably as close to a marlin as I’m likely to get!


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Here we are, Johan and I (the cool-looking one on the right is obviously me)


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Johan stalking barbel in the shallows


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There was plenty of this kind of stuff


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Ready to go! The water is shallow here. There are fish but they are spooky. Prospects are best where there is more current as can be seen further upstream.


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And back in the day……….

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Johan says his back has never been the same since he came across this black marlin