CARDIFF (#13)

After a somewhat frustrating morning on the Taff at Abercanaid where I lost three casts and six flies, fished ‘duo’, in trees and bankside scrub, but still landed my first wildie of the season on a lovely sunny morning when wading in a low stream with algal growth on the rocky bed made wading very precarious, I decided to head to an MTAA beat where wading would be easier. Quakers Yard, perhaps.

But driving south along the A470, Tonka Too took on a life of its own, it seemed, and we headed to Cardiff, instead.

I knew that the Ely had some ‘free’ fishing below the bridge on the A48 and that was where we were headed, Tonka and me, that is.

On arrival, I walked the bank, thinking that this was a bigger river than I had imagined, and I spent some time just looking. But not for long, because a rising fish, under overhanging leaf free bushes, on the near bank persuaded me to get my rod. Getting into the water was a downward slide over large angled boulders into a stretch where the bed of small rocks made wading easy.

Some more rises in roughly the same area encouraged me and I waded closer.

I think the attractive, were Large Brook Duns, smaller than March Browns, but tan coloured also and with two (or was it three) tails. The fish, and there were now three or four rising, were ignoring the duns, so must have been taking the emergers.

I had my 10ft, 4-weight rod, rigged from the morning at Abercanaid, and removed the #16 Adams (Gareth Lewis’ tied) and smaller, tungsten beaded PTN, and replaced these with a single emerger from the selection tied by Simon Clarke, which I had ‘won’ in this year’s Monnow Rivers Association auction. Browny/greeny bodied, with spiky elk hair keeping it upright, in the surface film.

First cast and I was ‘in’, then, just as quickly, ‘out’, and never knowing what had grabbed a good offering, obviously.

More rises, more flicks, then, a take!

It was on, but what was it? It flashed, ran, but never close enough for me to determine what I had hooked. Then? Damn! Panic! I lost traction of the retrieved line hooked under my right forefinger against my rod handle, and fumbled quickly not knowing whether having done so, my prize was still attached. (Heh! We have all been there!!)

Stripping quickly, the line tightened and he was still on, which surprised given the barbless emerger he had taken. He flashed left and right, plunged, ran, but tired, and when netted, he would have heard me say, as if he were interested – “You, are my Cardiff trout!”

Quickly photographed and released, and this angler, happy, I flicked again and hooked but lost another, but ‘what the hell’?

Back home I downloaded my pictures and searched Googlemap to identify some reference points to describe my whereabouts.

I was mortified to find that there are two bridges on the A48 just north and west of the City Centre. One near Llandaff, and the next a little further west. I had been fishing below the easterly bridge. I had been fishing the Taff, and not the Ely.

I must have been on the Glamorgan Anglers Club water, and to this Club I offer my most sincere apologies, for I would never, knowingly, fish where I should not.

I have written to GAC, accordingly.

“Dear Mr Turner (Richard)

I am on a personal ‘quest’ to catch a trout from a river in every county in Wales.                 This week, I caught a trout in the County of Cardiff, on what I thought was the R Ely, but I now realise (after searching some detail via GoogleMaps) that there are two bridges on the A48, to the NW of the City Centre, and I was fishing below the wrong bridge, and on what is probably the water of the Glamorgan Anglers Club, where I had no right to be fishing. I am embarrassed by my oversight and would like in retrospect, and with your agreement to, make good a ‘wrong’, presuming that my conclusion is correct. Will you allow me to do this? What will be appropriate? Please let me know

Regards

Tony Mair”

What a good man the Chairman is –

“Hi Anthony and thanks for letting us know.  Don’t worry about righting a wrong.  We have stretches of the Taff, Usk, Wye and Trothy all of which contain trout and can be fished on our standard coarse licence if you”re interested

Regards

Richard”

there Tymor pysgota wedi dod i ben

And for this this itinerant London based, and passionate angler, needy of having goals and achieving them, and currently 68 years old, who has this silly ambition to catch a trout from a river in each of Wales’ 22 counties…it has been a year to remember.

I made seven trips to Wales this season.

I have met such interesting and inspirational folk; learned much of South Wales’ rich history; been DEpressed by what I have observed in towns, once bustling and proud, but now dominated by ‘pound’ shops, charity shops, and empty shops; but IMpressed by just how much the coal black waters of the valley streams of the ‘60’s’ now run clear and clean, and where aquatic life, now prospers.

To all the generous folk who have advised and helped me, and some who have fished with me…Alan P, Tigermoth, Terry B, Ron J, Elliot P, Ade N, Peter A, Tony, Lyn D, Ron S, Dean, Mark R, the WUF, and to Gareth L, who has ‘tied’ for me…my thanks.

Oh! And I caught trout in nine Counties this year, which makes twelve in all so far, and just another ten to ‘net’…the plotting begins!!

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VALE OF GLAMORGAN

Social media working at its best

A lot of people read my blog…and after 90000 hits, every now and then I receive a message enquiring about where to, or how to. I had one a few days ago about the Tillingbourne at Albury in Surrey. And the host of a previous visit of my own, wrote to tell me that the winner of his donated WTT lot in this years Auction, bid ‘after reading of my exploits on his stream’. Lovely!

This time it was my turn, to benefit from social media.

I was web searching for trout streams in the County of the Vale of Glamorgan and discovered that one of my correspondents, Peter Anderson, he of ‘Walks and Fishes’ fame, had fished the Thawe, courtesy of a Monnow Rivers Association auction ‘win’. (Peter has suspended his writings, and I am one of probably many, who hope he will be back – lovely narrative, informed and interesting, and glorious pictures of our countryside, too)

Peter’s response to my email to him, suggested that his ‘host’ might be able to arrange a visit, and emails connected we three, which led to confirmation from Ade Nash that he could and would. Richard Jones, who is Secretary of the Cowbridge & District Angling Club, joined in Ade’s enthusiasm for my project and happily agreed a Guest Ticket, even though as Ade wrote, ‘there is no physical ticket to hand you’. How refreshing! How rare! Trust survives!

Sadly, Ade could not join me, and he suggested that finding my way to the beat he recommended might be difficult, but GoogleMaps work, and my drive to Llandough Bridge proved easy! What did I find? A sign denoting the Cowbridge & DAC rights, embellished/graffiti-ed ‘No English’ .

Hhmm?

Moving on…

Ade advised that his stream was small (I like small stream fishing enormously, but have yet to find a definition for what is smaller than ‘small’. ‘Smaller’, ‘tiny’, ‘diminutive’…all of which could be used to describe the Thawe!) and at this time of year was overhung by branch and much foliage; access , therefore, was limited; casting , ‘tricky’, and a six foot rod was the recommended tool. I have an Orvis Clearwater, of that length but only used it once, and it was still ‘virgin’.

Walking as far downstream from Llandough Bridge as seemed possible, I ‘got it’, and sought pieces of water to cast into on my way back. The walk through muddy, cattle trodden meadow was slow and confirmed what I had been told of heavy rains the weekend before, but the stream ran clear. Very clear, and the wild fish here spook easily, and several tore away ahead of my clumsy treading.

I cast into a few runs with speculative dry fly ‘flicks’, switching to nymphs where I thought appropriate, but to no avail.

Clambering in and out, more than a few times, I wondered if this was to be a futile trip and when I could call on Ade for some local expertise for a repeat visit, for, after all, it took three trips to Torfaen to take a trout from the Afon Lwyd, and if a return was necessary, so what!

Nearing the top of this lower reach, I was sure I saw a small surface swirl. Then another, prompting a slow retreat, and the removal of the weighted nymph and its replacement by a #20 cdc olive pattern.

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I only need one fish, so picture this, and then imagine the pleasure…

Yards below the swirls, in shallow water bathed in sunshine, just behind a sunken stone, was a small trout, holding in the flow, fins flapping, seemingly not feeding. He hadn’t seen me, nor sensed me. My first cast was short, my second, to his right, and he stayed, undisturbed. My third, just beyond his protective stone, drifted over it and just to his left hand side. It passed him, and I watched (in slow motion, it seemed) as he turned, rose, and nailed my fly. Well hooked, he pulled and struggled, but came to hand quickly.

Fishing at its best. Photographs. Safely returned. Bliss…fishing delight.

In the beat upstream of Llandough Bridge, I caught a second in the hole scoured below a fallen tree, and on a weighted nymph, just knowing there was one there!

But my joy was…in the sunshine, where the same fish resumed station, but below where I first spotted him. Or maybe this was another ‘little fella’.

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CAERPHILLY

Terry Bromwell ‘introduced’ me to Ron Jones and said “if anyone can help you catch a Rhymney trout, he can”.

Ron doesn’t do technology, but espouses that wonderful practice we have lost. “I prefer to talk”, explaining that then, “no one can complain that, ‘I never received that email'”  Wise man!

So our connecting was via mobile phone (so Ron is NOT a complete Luddite!) And a couple of phone conversations found me me to Tony’s Tackle again,

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to purchase my second day ticket, but for a different beat, and for the ridiculously cost to my exchequer of just £5.

Ron had chosen the Llanbradach AC beat, one of half a mile or so, and just two miles upstream of Caerphilly.

A cloudy afternoon at the outset but sunny spells too, and with little rising, and with us both dry fly preferees, it was on with Ron’s ‘Orl’ dry, in water which had a hint of colour after weekend rains, until faster waters persuaded us (him) to switch me onto a duo rig, which quickly produced a couple of grayling, for which the Rhymney is better known. And the fish came to his dry!

Wading is easy above the bridge, but becomes a little more challenging, at least on the near bank, further up stream, but not for long. If anything, it is getting into the river which is the most challenging, protected and built up as it is in flood defence by large rock blocks, angled into the water, and overgrown after the years with alder and sundry other tree species and surrounded by ‘nasties’…balsam and bramble (“waders curse”, proclaimed Ron)

I fished two long runs comprising all you would want – faster, slower, deeper (but not by much at this time of year), rock fronted hollows, tempting runs, bankside, and under overhanging trees, where you just knew…but only grayling liked what we presented.

Arriving at a left hand bend, where the waters created a useful pool on our far bank, Ron spotted a couple of rising fish, and I opted to concede the trailing nymph, in the hope that with rising temperatures, warmer air, some hatching might occur. A couple of small rises to the Orl, encouraged, and a splashier one really excited. But no takes.

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My turn to switch and choose, and I went for a Gareth Lewis tied, pink posted para Adams, and smaller (#18) than what had been on before.

A grayling take can be, but is rarely aggressive, in my experience.

They pull, seem moderately irritated that their afternoon appears to have been interfered with, shake their heads, employ that amazing dorsal to try to disengage, using the current to their advantage, but usually yield quite quickly. Until in the hand, when muscles tighten and twitch, prolonging the removal of the fly they are now offended by, and more determined protest is obvious.

On the other hand you know you have a trout on, when the pulls are aggressive, the runs determined, the rod bends, the fish move upstream, downstream, using depth and cover to its advantage, and will often shake the hook with true piscatorial cunning and with a survival instinct unknown to Thymallus Thymallus.

And a Caerphilly trout was indeed, on, but for my hope to be realised, I had to use my 5-weight 8’3’’ Greys Missionary to its full potential and pulled him into shallow water so quickly that there was little time for escape, and surrender was inevitable. For trout are outnumbered by grayling to such an extent in the Rhymney, that this might just be my only chance, at least on this day!

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Five fish in a couple of hours, and another County, to boot. Some learnings from a lovely man who has fished this river for decades (I will not reveal how many!) and ‘knows his stuff’ and has a catch record to prove it.

I now have caught trout in half of the 22 Welsh Counties…but ‘who’s counting?’

Thanks, Terry, and my huge thanks to Ron, for giving me his time.

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I enjoyed his company enormously. Perhaps someone will tell him, for with no computer, he may not read this on my Blog!

RHONDDA CYNON TAFF

OK…so I fish because I want to catch.

But the years have convinced me that the maxim, based on the fact that we have no God given right to catch when we do, that our past time is called ‘fishing’ not ‘catching’, is a reality…but there is more.

The more is ‘where’ and ‘with’.

I have seen more kingfishers than most of our population. I have been startled by deer crashing into the waters I seek to fish, swans (blast them) galore, voles and other aquatic mammals I do not recognise, views to die for, sunsets…I could go on. I have seen parts of England and Wales which are beyond beauty, and only visible away from M- this and A, or B-that. I love hedgerows, too…the Devonian, excel!

Best of all, I have met and fished with the nicest of Homo Sapiens. And I have written before that fishermen are the most generous of species, Homo Sapiens…(Terry Lawton in Norfolk, Mike Palmer in Northants, Peter Ward (RIP) in Lancashire, and my great Buddy, Jimmy Devoy in Powys)

My first connection with Terry Bromwell prompted an unexpected response from him, which began, ‘Hi Butty!”

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Curious, I thought. Does he think I am stupid? What does he think! ‘Butty’! And it was Dave Smith who explained, and when Terry and I met and I took him through my reflections on his note on this, and he chortled. No he didn’t. He roared with laughter, and so did I. Buddy/Butty…why did I not ‘get it’?

It was a lovely and humorous start to a great day together.

For he is very generous, and found a day (actually I think he took a day off) to help me find an RCT trout.

I explained my opinion that competitive fly fishing is at odds with my view of the gentle art that we enjoy. But then I watched, in awe, as Terry , the Welsh National Champion, showed me how to nymph fish a water he knows so well. I was spell bound, but comforted when he told me that it took him years to master ‘French nymphing.’ But to my eye, he makes it an art form, and to a Halfordian, a distant and difficult skill.

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He cast under branches and foliage which would test all who fish the open streams in Wessex, and even most spate rivers. He flicked, pulled, set and the sixteen foot leader and its attractive flies, was magically put exactly where he wanted it. He caught several fish in minutes.

Where were we? For £10 I had a day ticket to fish the Osprey Fly Fishers Association water on the Rhondda (as well as their beats on the Usk, Clydach and Taff) but it was an RCT trout I sought, and it was toward Trehafod that we went.

The Rhondda flows for fifteen miles from an elevation of 1600 feet on the eastern side of Craig y Llyn, through old mining villages with evocative names (Treherbert, Treorchy, Pentre and Tonypandy) before joining the Taff at Pontypridd. For too many years it ran black with all the mine water and coal wash being pumped into it, untreated. Along with very basic sewage disposal arrangement, the river was very polluted and supported virtually no aquatic life. That is, until the 70’s, since when water quality has been improving steadily and today, it is alive with trout, and the presence of grayling is testament to good, clean water. But even today, trickling streams from extinct mines disgorge minerality as a reminder (maybe) of a proud, productive, past. Prone to flooding, much of the bank in the Trehafod area is shored by big boulders, making a very dramatic statement.

I cannot fish/ have not the skills to, French nymph and Terry recommended the ‘duo’ which I can do, and the morning (just upstream of Pontypridd) yielded a salmon parr (quickly recognised by its forked tail) and a ‘lost’ grayling before this brown came to my net. My Rhondda Cynon Taff trout!

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And then some more.

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In the afternoon we ventured upstream to Trehafod, where Terry knew we might encounter rising fish. And we did, and both caught a few.

But the ‘catching’ at this time was surpassed by the chatting, the learning (mine), and the realisation that TB is quite the most talented angler I have fished with, and I thank him, hugely, for his sharing and his time.

Post Script – the Welsh National Fly Fishing team is organised under the umbrella of the WSTAA, the Welsh Salmon and Trout Angling Association. The team, is largely unfunded. Its members have pay (themselves) to represent their country. This seems wrong to me. What a sponsorship opportunity!

Now who’s up for that?