Johan and I spotted a good barbel in the river the other day and I couldn´t resist the temptation to have another crack at it yesterday. When Johan and I we came across it on Tuesday this was one of three fish holding in fast flowing shallows just below a broad pool. In fast skinny water like this fish are difficult at the best of times.

On that day we both showed the fish our nymphs many times but it was always going to be a long shot. The one advantage of fishing spots like this is that the fish can be quite forgiving of a relatively close approach. The big disadvantage though, is that the nymphs sweeps towards and then away from the fish very quickly and the fish grubbing around on the bottom has only a fraction of a second to spot the drifting nymph and respond to it. Often it may not be time enough.

Yesterday there seemed to be only two fish present and they were a few yards upstream of where they had been on our previous visit. So how did I get on? Nothing! I tried to be careful and approached from different angles but all to no avail. I think both of these fish had a chance to see the nymph several times but neither seemed to turn to it. But nor were they frightened and so I persevered until I felt I had given it a decent shot and decided to leave the fish alone. To be honest this is more or less what I expected and I was in no way disappointed. Initially I came up from downstream and crawled on my knees. The benefit of this of course is to keep a low profile but I was also secretly hoping that maybe God, looking down from on high and noticing that I was on my knees, might be duped into thinking I was engaged in some kind of act of worship and that he might just decide to cut me a little slack and instruct the big barbel to hoover up my little fly. Clearly though, he saw through this little ruse. Nothing gets past him!

It was hot as hell on the river and I took to wading through the relatively unproductive stretches just to stay cool. Despite the heat the fish were reasonably active. I had one from a little group of rising fish that took a little dry fly. I managed to fool three others and these, more predictably, took nymphs. One of these fish did something rather unusual in taking the nymph as he was swimming downstream in a steady current. He clearly saw the nymph flowing past him and said to himself “I´ll have that!” This is something that happens very rarely in my experience and if fish are cruising around in any kind of current I have found they will only take when facing upstream. Those that follow a fly downstream may overtake the nymph but tend to turn back into the current to take it. I will not normally tighten until they have made this turn and had enough time to take the nymph. In the case of my “downstream” fish yesterday I tightened earlier as he seems to have accelerated to the position of the drifting nymph.

When I arrived at the river there was some commotion and I was very excited to see an otter in a pool. It looked for all the world like a floating log in a back eddy but then it arched its back gracefully vanished back into the water with scarcely a ripple. The water was too deep and turbid to track it underwater but there were signs from time to time that fish were being chased down on the opposite side. It is great to see otters around and to know that generally speaking they are making a comeback on this and many other Spanish rivers. I can only take off my hat to them. When  it comes to catching barbel in the Río Guadalhorce they are in a class of their own.

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Here is my “downstream” barbel which was probably the best fish of the day. I wonder how many fish the otter had?