Category: Folks I know


Sean and Mark and I managed to extract a few barbel from the Ríos Grande and Guadalhorce last the weekend but the pick of the bunch was taken by Mark in the unlikeliest of circumstances. Sunday was the Romería and the river banks were overflowing with horse riders and carriages and families picnicking in the shade of eucalyptus trees. And somewhere in the middle of all this commotion we found a little stretch of river which seemed relatively undisturbed. Above it a couple of dogs bounding around in the shallows, and below a couple of people were wallowing downstream. I cannot call them swimmers really as there was insufficient depth to swim. They simply sat in the river and took some respite from the heat.

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My brother Sean and our friend Mark have been fishing together on and off since we were kids and this weekend we went fishing together and were kids all over again. Mark often comes out to spend a few days in Marbella but Sean has not been out here for years but he contrived to add a few days to a trip to attend a science conference in Sevilla and jumped on a train to Málaga. This was the first time that all three of us wet a line together in Spain.

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Steve Lawler and I are experienced fishermen. Both of us understand that it is not worth embarking on a day of fishing without a very clear sense of purpose. A clearly identified aim must be established at the outset against which the success of the day can be measured. I don´t think either of us clearly articulated this but yesterday we both set out with the same unspoken aim which was to catch absolutely nothing and we can each feel fulfilled in having succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.

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Steve Lawler forwarded me a remarkable photograph of a peregrine falcon having just struck down, midair, a short-toed snake eagle. Like most people, I am aware of the peregrine´s extraordinary diving speed (the maximum recorded was over 240mph) but I was not aware that it would take on a prey species of the size of an eagle.

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Towards the end of last month I got an email from Ed Booth who is a series producer with BriteSpark films. He is working on a series for Channel 5 on scenic rivers of the world. He had come across me through reading this blog and was kind enough to say some very nice things about it. He was even kinder when he invited me to participate in the programme currently being filmed on the Guadalquivir river. Needless to say I jumped at the chance!

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Paul Reddish has been fishing all over the place and has been adding one species after another to his tick list. He pointed out to me one time that he had managed to cross paths successfully with all the salmonid species of North America except for one. That elusive critter was the pink salmon. There is no shame in that since pink salmon elude everyone every other year since they only run upriver to spawn every two years. Curiously, independent populations spawn in even and odd years. In southern parts of their range they spawn mainly in odd years. Odd indeed!

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Yesterday there were three of us launching our float tubes in the reservoir at Istán. This is the largest conglomeration of tubers that I have ever seen. I have often fished alone, sometime with a companion. But three?! It seemed such an occasion that we decided that we should launch ourselves as a brand new organisation before we launched ourselves more literally into the reservoir. Thus was born, in a moment of high drama, the International Float Tube Association or some such thing.

We even had a photo taken to commemorate the occasion. Sadly, I had decided to wear a pair of my wife´s cheap reading glasses so that I wouldn´t allow my proper pair to accidentally sink into the depths and so I am quite embarrassed by my own image in our inaugural photograph. Not only do my glasses look silly but I have a particularly confused looking facial expression which is entirely the result of me being particularly confused, in this instance about how the three of us could squeeze into a photograph taken at arms length.

I am pleased to say though that Steve Lawler standing to my right and Johan Terblanche on my left both contrived to look effortlessly cool. Here is the photo. You can judge for yourself.

Oh God

The aim of our expedition was to extract a few black bass from the reservoir and then to put them back in again. Many people ridicule activities like this and I can sort of understand why. But such an outcome is entirely laudable in the the eyes of a float tuber, or better still, an international float tuber.

Anyway, we all caught a few fish. There are big bass in Istán and the reservoir provides all the necessary ingredients to grow them big but we had no particularly big ones yesterday. But that´s the way things go sometimes. Nobody was complaining.

I can never resist hopping out of the tube and stalking the shallows where the Río Verde, now little more than a trickle, spills in to the reservoir. I was rewarded with a gypsy barbel and a little carp and a half dozen little bass that inhaled the nymph so fully that each had to be disgorged by forceps before being popped back, quite unharmed, into the water. The other guys however stuck with the bass tactics which was the stated mission. Fair play to them.

After the outing the international float tubers transformed themselves effortlessly into international beer drinkers as we pored over the events of the morning and the wider events of the world at large.

Here the boys are having a natter shortly before we packed it in for the day.
It´s always worth a look in the shallows
It´s ages since I had a carp. This was just a little one but maybe a sign my luck might be changing?

The skipper of Impi is out on the water most days but every time he leaves the the marina he never knows quite what to expect. Every outing is different. The sea is full of surprises.

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I normally fish a four weight fly rod on a river you can wade across without getting wet above your knees and so fishing for marlin in the ocean was unfamiliar territory for me as well as for many of my fishing friends who have not experienced fishing of this kind. Needless to say, this is a specialised business and I was very interested in the tackle and the whole approach taken by the boat.

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I managed to catch a blue marlin on my second day aboard Impi. I had hooked one the previous day and it was lost close to the boat after an exhausting battle. The marlin I succeeded in landing was a very obliging fish and did not put me through the torment of the previous day. It struck the trolling lure on the far right and the reel was steadily paying out line against the drag as the rod was handed to me. It was then a matter of finding my way to the chair and clipping the reel on left and right and placing the but of the rod into the rest.

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