Try as I might I just don´t seem to be able to catch carp on my river any more. I have consulted the Guinness Book of Plausible Fishing Excuses for Failing to Catch to try and find some justification for my repeated failure but there really isn´t anything suitable among the 150 billion entries in that compendium.

In my defence there are some mitigating circumstances I can weakly offer up. Firstly, the carp seem to be far less abundant recently than they have been in the past. During my outings to the river this year I have seen only two. And both of these amused themselves greatly by vanishing from view just as soon as I appeared on the scene.

A second mitigating circumstance is that I have now hooked two or three on the trot that have played an even crueller trick. They have taken my nymph and remained on the end of my line for what seemed like an eternity before returning my nymph to me. In one case it had been bent enough to slip out but in the other cases they were not. So it is sort of the carps´fault not mine. I have done my bit but they have not kept up their part of the bargain.

This lack of success began to become a psychological burden. I lost sleep. My marriage fell apart and I have been drinking bottles of single malt while looking over old copies of carp fishing magazines. Actually none of this is true. I just made it up. But it does sound quite plausible (all were taken from the Guinness book previously mentioned).

It is a well known fact that all really successful carp fishermen have disastrous personal lives. Their wives rarely see them and are hardly delighted to welcome them home when they push open the front door reeking of mud and slime after a succession of sleepless nights. Carp fishermen have that hollowed out look of people who spend their lives obsessing over just one thing. In fact single-minded focus on catching carp, and on notching up big ones in particular, is not something that can be described as a hobby. It is more like a mild pathology. It is not yet listed in the Compendium of Recognised Neurological Disorders which, interestingly, has the distinction of being the second longest book in the world after the Guinness Book of Plausible Fishing Excuses for Failing to Catch.

While it has yet to be recognised formally as a form of mental disturbance, it is surely only a matter of time. I am going to steal a march on all those medical and psychiatric people by proposing a name for the condition: Chronic Carp Obsession (CCO). Thankfully I only suffer from MCO (Mild Carp Obsession) which means I can successfully socialise with other human beings, remain in a long term personal relationship, and hold down a steady job.

When I felt in danger of being overwhelmed by my awful recent record with carp I decided to head to the Guadalhorce with the single purpose of catching one. Even at the best of times this is easier said than done. I decided that my best bet was to focus on a stretch where I had seen several carp in the past.

So how did I get on? To make a long story short there was not a carp to be seen despite lots of careful stalking and close examination of the river margins. Not only were the carp not willing to open up the door of opportunity to me it looked like they were not even home.

Was I disappointed? Not a bit of it! The river was beautiful. There were plenty of barbel around and I managed to catch a few including a couple of nice ones. The sun was shining. Everything was perfect.

As for the carp, the wait will just have to go on a little longer. Never mind. At least I can take some comfort from the thought that when I get home my wife will be pleased to see me.

I think this is the last carp I caught on the river. These fish are so strong! While the barbel go like rockets, the carp slug it out like heavyweights.

Don´t laugh! This is one of a couple of experimental carp flies I tied up. The tungsten bead makes the fly sit on its arse and the buoyant foam lifts the remaining part so that the fly angles up and will be visible in soft sediment. It is supposed to look like some kind of wormy thing. Unfortunately I have not had a chance to see if carp will consider it anything more than a joke.

Working my way back from the pools which refused to yield, let alone reveal a carp, I came across a little grass peninsula with a little slack water to one side. You can see it in the picture above. It looked like a likely spot for a fish and after looking closely for a few minutes it became clear that it there was a single barbel in it. Thankfully it took my little nymph and then shot off downstream through some shallows to the safety of a deeper pool. Before I knew it I was looking at my backing and jogging downstream after him. Here he is:

The fish below came from the Río Grande. Again, there were no signs of carp. This was one of a few fish on the shallow edge of a fast run as it spilled into a pool. These fish were on the opposite side of the river. The water was so shallow and fast that it was possible to get reasonably close, but the cast needed was upstream and beyond the fish and then mended upstream to allow the nymph to lead the way and to have enough time to sink. I worked my way through a lot of casts before I got it right but was well rewarded in the end.