It is funny how a fishing trip can take on a whole new meaning after a simple turn or quick change of decision.
This happened recently when we visited the Pyrenees in Spain searching for trout but after a sudden change of weather and rain, the like of which we’d never seen, we found ourselves heading as far up the river as we could in search of fishable water.
The drive was a long one that had us holding up traffic on bridges and making pit stops whenever the path of the river neared the road. We held our breath and crossed our fingers as we neared each vantage point. Eventually we got high enough up the river system to find clearer, fishable water.
We saw the first fish and hoped it was a large trout holding position just off of the main flow in impossibly skinny and easy to reach water no deeper than 10 inches. It wasn’t a trout. It was a barbel.
We quickly learned how spooky the fish were and worked out a way to get a nymph down into the feeding zone quickly enough without spooking the fish and not hanging up on bottom.
We discovered you earn each fish and luck isn’t a factor.
We stalked the barbel in shin deep water like flats’ anglers ready to fire off a shot at a bonefish or permit.
Our pulses raced and hands shook when we found a fish. Sometimes we missed shots but not always.
If this is river fishing for barbel – I’m in.
Read more about this trip in the Winter 2018 edition of Fly Culture