I fished the river the other day and concluded that the fish, or at least most of them, were fast asleep. They were not remotely as wary of me as they normally are and with a stealthy approach I could get quite close to them. At one point I waded up to a fish to see if I could actually touch it. I got pretty close with the fish turning when I was perhaps three or four feet away.

All of this happened in the afternoon and, of course, at this time of the year in southern Spain it is pretty hot. Most fishermen with half a brain more absent themselves from the river until the temperatures fall again but then nobody would suspect that I had even half a brain and so I was outside trying to tempt these snoozing fish with a little nymph.

The barbel here will spook when even a small nymph lands in shallow water and so my usual tactic is to cast beyond the fish and draw the nymph across the surface before allowing it to drop just upstream of the fish. It is important not to let the leader touch them as this is going to be a deal breaker. That, at least, is the theory and, while I presented the nymph to fish after fish, not one of them would oblige. I found myself behaving as I did when my two kids were babies during the messy business of spooning food into them while they sat in high chairs. As often as not they would resolutely refuse to open their mouths and the food went everywhere. Instinctively I would open my own mouth to encourage them to do the same. That trick rarely worked for the kids and in desperation I tried it as the nymph drifted under the noses of the barbel but they would have none of it. I did foul hook a barbel on the tail by accident and I let him go none the worse for wear. When he glided from my hands he just rested on the river bank and allowed me to take his photo. He couldn´t even be arsed to swim off until I gave him a little nudge!

The barbel on the Guadalhorce can be difficult to catch at the best of times and easy to spook but I never was as convinced that they were actually sleeping as I was with these siesta time barbel. As I write this my dog Paris is lying prostrate on the tiles. She is out for the count. She snores and farts during her sleep and only comes to life when she is hungry or in the very early morning when we walk together in the relative cool before sunrise.

The snoozing barbel in the river do not give the game away. They continue to face into the current but they seem to loose their characteristic alertness and nervousness. There is no snoring or farting as far as I can tell. Without eyelids they cannot shut their eyes and they do not look noticeably different but they are quite inactive and show little sign of their feeding behaviour.

After I had been ignored by no end of fish I found a little seam of clear water entering the main river and there were a few fish active. One of these rose a couple of times to take something off the surface and so I took off the little nymph and floated a dry over them. The fish that accepted it was my only fish of the day.

But at least somebody was awake!

This fish was happy to hang around

This is Paris who sleeps her way through most of the day. She snores and farts like there was no tomorrow.

This modest barbel was my only reward for sweating it out.