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?

 

 

 

 

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