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Chasing Mirrors

“Tonio Tonio, wherefore art thou Tonio?”
Ghuanna de Choushou de Calle de Huannda
“Can you spell that please?”
“J for.. Indigo, A for Alors, M, no En for Anna……. Third exit right immediately after the second exit left travelling the other way on the M40 from where you started. There won't be any signs but can't miss it. Where are you now?”

It took me almost 24 hrs and three-quarters of a tank of petrol to find Tonio in Madrid, partly because no one in Spain has any concept of distance, time or street names and partly because the road network around Madrid is more complicated than my flybox. But I'm not complaining. I like a bit of a drive and it was nice to see the city from the many different directions.

For the last week or so we've been on the road together; Babus, Marc la Mouche, Tonio, Cherry the Turtle Hunter and me. And it's been great. Cool friends to hang out with, fish and camp, and Spain is surprisingly good for this. We weren't really sure if we were allowed to light fires or not, so we did of course, and we camped on rivers and lakes, just like we do in other parts of the world and without problems. So it was - and still is - great to be on the road.

We went trout fishing in Leon, on the streams there, spending time with new friends Sebastian and Gajsca - who run a flyfishing school in Spain, one of three government sponsored schools. Leon is interesting: for 25 Euros, which is 20 pounds I think and around 40 US but don't hold me to that, you can fish all the Leon region for the season. There are public fishing stretches including fly only, as well as stretches with limited angler numbers which you'll have to book in advance and of course the inevitable private stretches. And there is mucho fishing, they have some nice fish, although we didn't catch any, and it's very beautiful. I could have very happily have spent a few more weeks trout fishing Leon, but we didn't because Tonio thought that it would be more interesting to fish for “Barbs” (Barbel) as well as Carps - although whether this was because we were wet wading very cold water and he's a little shorter than I or out of a genuine desire to catch Carp I'm not certain, but whatever we all agreed it was worth a look and so we headed to some interesting looking lakes.

I've been Carp fishing a few times in Spain before - no hang on, I've caught a few Carp in Spain before, while fishing for Black Bass. And they're great fish on fly - of course everyone knows that - however I was unprepared for what Carp fishing is like when you're not fishing for Bass and catching them by accident. The average fish was between 4 and 7 lbs. There may have been bigger, I think I saw some, Marc definitely saw some. And they were in huge shoals of at times maybe 100 or more fish. Feeding. Heads down, heads up, swimming, foraging, rising… and when you hooked one the water would erupt with a hundred fleeing other fish. On the first evening I took nine to Tonio's eight, not that we're competitive, I only mention it because Tonio asked. They were mostly on Damsel Nymphs as well as a few on dries. Mine were probably bigger too.

On the second day things didn't start too well for me. The previous night I had invented the Pink Damsel which I was sure would be a Carp slayer, but it took away a lot of my capacity to perform in the morning, as well as a bunch of unleaded damsel nymphs which didn't work. My morning session was one fish, which I did well to catch, while Tonio had close to 15, I'm not sure how close to 15 because I disappeared back to the truck at one point to tie some leaded damsels, returning to the lake to catch three very quickly. It was then that Tonio asked how many I had:

“He he he, no really, how many?”
“Really four”
“Ha ha ha, no you're too funny Paul, come on how many?”
“Still four”
“One, two, three, four”
“Nooo! Only four? Ha ha ha, well I've had fifteen!”

And with that he left back to the cars to tell Marc and Babus and have some lunch, while I tried to close the gap. I fished hard, learned a bunch, had some sight-fishing to boot, Tonio returned and caught a few more, and we finished 18-16 to Tonio. Damn it.

Superb fish, great takes, super fights. If they were leader shy we'd have had some real problems. I was using Rio Copoly 8lbs on the dries and 10lbs on the damsel (no idea what that is in Xs or mm - and don't particularly care in fact). Interestingly the fish preferred the fly to speed up for them to eat it - unlike trout which prefer it to stop - at least that's my impression. The easiest fish to catch were in 2-3 feet of water, or right off the top. Fish in the weeds with their heads down were very hard indeed.

I think given good conditions, and a fair run at it, a 40 or 50 fish day would on the cards. You'd have to pull out the stops, but man that would be a great day, lots of intense moments. Huge numbers of fish, I really have to do more of this stuff.

Tonio's off to Portugal now, and Marc returned to France a couple of days ago. I'll be seeing Marc again soon when we go through Southern France and hopefully we pick up a day's fishing. I'll be seeing Tonio again in Hungary late October probably.

So our next destination is for Babus and I to visit an old friend in Valencia, Jose Ricardo, fish for Bass, travel up the coast and then hopefully back to Pamplona to spend more time with Carlos (although it's a bit difficult at the moment since he's busy teaching the deadly flycasting twins how to make aerial snaps - they're one year old) and then who knows? We don't make plans because life is more interesting.

But I think Carp may be involved…


28.07.08 - check out the POD!
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