Category: Fish and fishing


I have a particular soft spot for Mediterranean barbel which is one of our endemic species here in Spain and one that Paul Reddish and I have been chasing in Valencia, most recently at the end of February. Continue reading

The F word

Thomas McGuane tells a lovely little story in his book “The Longest Silence” about how his family referred to his fishing fanaticism. To the rest of the family his obsessive preoccupation was simply referred to as the “F word.” And so it happened that one evening, when dinner guests had been invited and everyone was sitting around the dinner table, his young daughter appeared and loudly pronounced to all the guests “all that daddy really cares about is the F word….. And if he’s not actually doing it, he’s reading about it!” Continue reading

On the river the other day I came across two big fish. The first was a large carp that had been bunkered down in a deep undercut right at my feet. I had been casting to some barbel and had been quite still for a while when this large shape drifted out almost, it felt, from between my toes. Instinctively I dropped my little tungsten beaded nymph in front of it and then everything went rock solid. Continue reading

We fly fishermen tend to delude ourselves sometimes and begin to imagine we are gifted observers of nature and that we have, through painstaking observation and craft, infiltrated the mysterious world of our quarry. At the vise we whip up near-perfect impersonators of the little bugs that drift downstream to the waiting fish. It is just a question of showing up at the river and success is preordained. Continue reading

Fishing with PR is a good laugh. He is one of the best fly fishermen I know and is one of those guys who has been everywhere and caught just about everything that swims. He also has a touch of that particularly English kind of eccentricity that makes him something of a “fish collector.” He would have made a first rate Victorian. Targeting a “full house” of Mediterranean barbel species is part of his quest to tick off all nine species that swim around here in the Iberian Peninsula. But searching for these fish is part of a wider adventure. It is a means of discovering all kinds of wonders hidden among the nooks and crannies of this remarkable country.  Continue reading

One of the problems that PR and I had when trying to catch a Mediterranean barbel is that not terribly much seems to have been written about them, and little specific guidance seems to be available. The sources of information that we consulted included John Langridge´s book on Spanish barbel and a few blog posts and snippets of information on the internet or short film sequences on Youtube. The simple truth was that this was to be something of a journey into the unknown.  Continue reading

On Saturday I fished with my old friend Mark McCann. We have fished together on and off, along with my brother Sean, ever since we were schoolboys. Mark was over here in Spain while his wife Nicola was playing with the Irish croquet team against their Spanish counterparts. While all the ladies were out on the lawn the two of us sneaked away to see if we could manage to catch a few or two out of my local rivers. Continue reading

December has just started and I realise I have never written, as I had planned, about the way another month ended. That month is not the November that has just slipped by but the October that preceded it. The last couple of hours of daylight were, for me, the highlight of the whole month. Continue reading

Things are pretty challenging on the river at this time of the year. The gypsy barbel seem to have abandoned the old haunts they prefer in the warmer months and are sulking, unseen in the deeper water. Continue reading

There are nine species of barbel in Spain which makes it something of a European hotspot. The UK by contrast has only one (Barbus barbus) which is not found in Spain at all. John Langridge and I have fished for my local gypsy barbel on many several occasions on my local river, the Guadalhorce, and his book Fishing for Spanish Barbel is the definitive guide on the subject of Spanish barbel. Continue reading