If you only allowed me one month a year to fish the Río Grande I would probably ask you for March, or maybe April. The heavier rainfalls of the winter are pretty much done but the river holds a good volume of water and, if there has not been a recent shower, the river runs clear. I have never fished a chalk stream but my friends who have tell me that the Grande has many similar qualities at this time of the year. Who could ask for more from a river than that?

Unlike the Río Guadalhorce the Río Grande has very few carp. If you fish at this time of year you will be chasing gypsy barbel and you are likely to see nothing else. I fished the Grande last Saturday and again yesterday and had nine barbel from it. Yesterday I decided to avoid the crowds that had gathered on a sunny bank holiday to find some more secluded parts of the Guadalhorce further downstream from the confluence of the two rivers, and there I managed to catch three more.

The rivers are looking good, both of them. The Guadalhorce is clearer than it has been this year so far but it lags far behind the Grande which is beginning to drop in level slowly week on week. In the absence of rain it will dry up in the summer but for a few isolated pools and the channels and pools where the fish are now holding will become dry dusty ditches. In the six days between my visits the level of the Grande fell by probably little more than an inch or two but in a shallow river an inch in level seems to affect the behaviour of the barbel quite profoundly and areas that were full of fish a week ago are now deserted. It is part of the behaviour of the fish that I find very intriguing.

I took a few snaps as I went along and perhaps they best way to describe the rivers and how they are fishing is simply to reproduce those photographs here and say a few words about them.

The fish are in great condition. They will soon be spawning and the males have tubercles on their heads at this time of year. To the best of my knowledge it is the only way to tell the two genders apart.

Here is a barbel during its release.

This is the Río Grande looking upstream close to its confluence with the Guadalhorce. The drying algae gives a sense of the gradual fall in level. As a result in changes to levels the fish move around quite a lot and places with many fish a week ago can be abandoned.

It is strange that fish with such bright coloration should be so well camouflaged in the water! I realise I have a personal bias but the Gypsy or Andalucian Barbel strikes me as the most handsome of nine species of Iberian barbel.

This is the Guadalhorce where an island divides the river. A couple of good barbel were swimming around the near fork and would occasionally rise up on the shallow shelf to graze on the plants and aquatic invertebrates. I would have estimated one of these fish to be six pounds. I have hooked fish here before and had to jump in the river to follow them downstream to land them. I think the odds would have been better for the six pounder than me and so I just admired it from a short distance!

I think that this was supposed to be a picture of a fish being released but it obviously didn´t fancy having its picture taken! I quite like it though since it shows what the river looks like from the fish´s point of view as they look into the current.

An afternoon´s fishing involves quite a lot of leg work and a highlight is walking through this lovely grove of eucalyptus trees which runs close to the river. The shade and the cool are much appreciated!