Some mornings you wake up and get down to the river and just know, it’s going be a good day. Not often, but when you know…you know!
At Castle Mill Bridge, I slipped into the water, thinking this is a shallow stream and
thigh waders would do, but, stud-less rubber soles and slippery stones just don’t work, so my enthusiasm for what I knew would be, had to wait until I returned to the new X5 to get into the Orvis chesties, and solid and studded boots. They weren’t that much better in truth, but ageing and weary knees need the support of a stick, so booted and supported, I was off!
But there is a prologue to this, which must be told.
Wrexham has a couple of trout streams of note, and probably rather more than an outsider like me can know about. The Alyn was my target for Flint, so this could not be my Wrexham ‘river’, and for reasons I know not, the Ceiriog was on my radar, for its reputation is of an outstanding trout stream. Lloyd George declared that the Ceiriog valley was “a little bit of heaven on Earth” Was he right? Well, from its entry to the Dee, and for the many miles upstream through pretty villages (Chirk, Pontfadog, Dolywern, Glyn Cieriog, Pandy, Tregeriog and Llanarman) it is shrouded and protected from much by a canopy of trees, and mainly the dreaded alder! Until high up in the eastern Snowdonia National park, it is an open stream flowing through the plateau which is farmland. It is a verdant and fertile place, green and lush, peaceful and calming…in the summer! Bankside debris suggested that it can be a little nasty in spate.
Who would not want to fish this splendid stream, but the Ceiriog Fly Fishers website states very clearly – ‘Fishing is by fly only and is restricted to members and their guests’ That means, no day tickets!
My Breconian contemporary, Martin Nicholls (SHR, 63-66) hails from Wrexham, and he intervened and connected me with Secretary, Peter Heath, who was intrigued by my quest, and offered to consider my plea.
So imagine my delight when, after consulting with his directors, he responded with a truly generous offer. Maybe that was what sponsored my optimism? And his was yet another example of the generosity of the angling community, of which I have written before.
But before I tell you of my day, I want you to take a look at Eoin Campbell’s brilliant short ‘youtube’ footage, which is what I watched , and what inspired me, in preparation for this Wrexham adventure – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAFhB5Vsyf8 and note where he states – ’with much of the river treelined, it’s a real test of your abilities and dedication to get at ‘em’
I find that I am preferring to fish lighter than in years past, so my new Orvis Recon, 8’4” 3-wt, was my chosen wand. A Daniel Popp #16 orange post, olive klink was my attractor.
And my first fish came just yards above the Mill Bridge in the first pool I encountered. I blessed him in gratitude and wondered where his Mum or Dad was, for he was pretty wee, and rather like some of Eoin’s!
I moved up stream slowly, casting into riffles as well as the pools.
These were so still, the water low, in spite of recent rains, that only a cast or two would likely entice a hungry fella before they realised there was a threat about and fled. The riffles were a different matter, but on reflection, the fish I took in just a couple of hours, five, all came from the slower, deeper pools. Rises were scarce, so the fly choice, which was right for the day, was important. Real flies…a few olives and some midges, were moderate in number so the fish were looking down that morning.
My impressions of this stream included…the silence. And it is so clean. I saw no signs of human detritus on this river, which is so rare today. And there are some mysteries on this stream, like, where are the grayling that the EA introduced? Washed away in a spate? And…are there sea trout here? I think there are, but those who know aren’t telling!!
But…Wrexham ‘netted’…lucky me !
Back on the B4500 and ready to pursue my N Wales adventure, elsewhere, I stopped in a lay by and parked up when spying another angler getting ready to enter the river, just upstream from where I was happy. I approached him and our conversation went thus –
- “I am a guest, are you a member?”
- “Whose guest are you?” he replied.
- “Peter Heath’s!”
- ‘That’s, me”
How serendipitous, that I met and was able to thank, personally, the very man, who made my visit possible. And what an interesting chat we had. I learned so much about this special stream, and more, the decision to fold the Ceiriog Fly Fishers Club into Corwen and District Angling Club, known, colloquially, as CADAC.
Is this the end or a new beginning? Clearly the latter.
Numbers at CFF are around 68, and the resource to maintain a stream which has a strong spate at times, and the implications of that and the overhanging, present a complicated mix of need which has permissions and regulatory costs to bear, and the time to undertake what over the length of their water, can be over demanding. CADAC is a bigger club (600+ members) with a rich tradition of voluntary time giving to working parties. The completion of the integration is expected in July this year, and it is a friendly takeover which bodes well for the Ceiriog.
The next day, I visited the stretch that Peter was on, just a quarter of a mile or so upstream, and much more open, so no tree snags today.
At 10am I was greeted by huge swarms, of what? Caenis? Micro caddis? Whichever, my fly from yesterday was ignored, too big probably. I was sure that I had to tie on the tiniest fly I could see, which was a pale imitation of, I know not what, and at #20, it did seem to interest, and eventually after quite a few showed, nosed or swiped at it, I netted three more Ceiriog WBT, two from pools, the third from the riffle.
What a stream…I love it.
Two new chums (‘Fennel’, and Steven M) were impressed with my catch. Apparently it is not an easy river to succeed on, but then ‘some mornings you wake up and just know it’s going to be a good day’
Thank you, Peter; thank you, Ceiriog Fly Fishers, and thanks for your intervention, Nick.