My season is over…

In 2017, I added just four Counties to my ‘Collection’ – Isle of Anglesey, Cardiff, Denbighshire and Conwy. And, five new rivers – Cefni, Clwyd, Elwy, as well as the Ewenny in Bridgend, and the Honddu in Monmouthshire.

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My thanks are due to ‘Sewin Basher’, Paul King, and Alan Cuthbert, to ‘Diawl Bach’, Sion Edwards, and to Ade Nash, for expert guiding. And for forgiveness, by Richard Turner of the Glamorgan AC !!

I had hoped to add two counties this month, but the rains put paid to that, so the plotting to net the six Counties needed for a ‘full house’ begins in earnest.

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Monnow Rivers Association

Peter Dawson recently wrote…”The Monnow Rivers Association was formed to bring together those who had an interest in protecting the river Monnow and restoring it to its former status as “one of the best trouting rivers on the border or beyond it”

Whilst I first fished it in the early ‘noughties’, I learned to appreciate it more, and its catchment, after a day with Dave Smith last season. And that was a lot win, on the MRA Auction, so why not bid again this year, and show support for such a remarkable organisation…so I did!

Lot 12b – the Brue

There was only one Lot 12, but I underbid and missed it, but I was so eager to fish this stream, that I asked Patrick Lloyd if the offerer would accept another bid!

A good man, Luke (Kozak), did.

The second week in June was to be my MRA week, and it began with a “I will pick you up at 5 am…” What! But Luke insisted that fishing his private stream in June was best, as the sun came up, or in the evening, and given that my body clock is better than any alarm clock, I was ready at 445am…but had not slept much as a result. But it was worth it. Transpiration clouds hung low in the folds of the Somerset countryside as we made our way to the headwaters of the tiny River Brue, as he educated me about the countryside he loves, en route (did you know you can take a train from Castle Cary to London? Beeching missed than one!) A short stroll in the chest waders he recommended I wear, to a small stream set between tree lined banks set down below fertile corn filled fields…what a gem! And small fish were rising, although rises were subtle, the sipping type. At least I thought they were small, until netting one of eatable size…and another. Wild life abounds. We saw three mink (unfortunately), kingfishers, roe deer, and the biggest hatches I have seen this season (midge, olives and sedge)

We only fished for a three hours, but what a joy! And the chest waders were needed, for the Brue is a spate stream and the pools were remarkably deep. I stayed at the White Lion in Bourton (recommended), and we breakfasted at the Chapel in Bruton (also recommended)

Now…on to South Wales!

Lot 35 – the Ewenny

“Fishing (the) Ewenny with Adrian Nash”

Take a look at the Pencoed and District Angling Club (PADAC) website and if you fail to be excited, shame on you! I was first alerted to this, one of South Wales’, only two limestone streams, by Dan Popp, and was determined to fish it. This is why I love auctions!

Ade is a colourful character, and right from the start of our time together, I was impressed by his commitment to PADAC, and his love for his stream. It is just as the web pages show it. Tree lined, castellated in parts as a flood control measure to protect Bridgend just downstream, interspersed with lateral stone mini weirs (but no inhibitor to movement) which create holding pools, producing fast runs, tails and so many secure places for the wild fish which flourish here, to lie in and feed from. It is truly a beautiful stream, and I think I have fallen in love with it.

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It has an intimacy which appeals to me enormously. It is not necessarily easy fishing for in its intimacy, there is a need for careful casting, and some may feel, it requires a more technical and thoughtful approach, which improves our fisher skills.

The fish, Ade advises, rise spasmodically, and he recommended a ‘searching’ fly, of an Adams type, but modified by Dan Popp, to include a little sparkle in the thorax…and Boy! did Dan’s flies work? My first fish came on my third cast, and Dan’s fly attracted many takes, and a few came to net, but many did not.

Ade, a keen observer of technique, put some of those lost to mine, or rather the bits which were missing, and for me this was most helpful, and once I had come to terms with what he saw, my catch rate improved. We are never too old to learn, so long as we listen!

The fish in the day ticket water reaches upstream are all of modest size. Perhaps, 8”- 12”. Ade would like to hear of the odd 2-lber being caught here, and our chat about ‘why are they not’ suggested that the grayling numbers might absorb much of the foodstuff available, forcing the braver trout to move downstream, and PADAC has a ‘members only’ reach closer to Bridgend where bigger fish, browns and grayling, are caught regularly, along with the odd sea trout, too.

PADAC is some club. Only thirty members, many of whom give their time to work parties which keep this most valuable of assets in great order. Three miles of wonderful fishing…I would love to fish it again, and if anyone reading this and thinking of supporting MRA could, you will not be disappointed by the Ewenny! It is full of wild trout, and will feature in the August edition of ‘Total Flyfisher’, Ade told me, proudly.

I also ‘won’ two lots of flies tied by Neil Hotchin and Simon Clarke…their flies have all worked for me! Looking forward to next years auction, now…if it is run the same as in previous years, it will be found, here, on FlyFishingForums.

Two Counties in one day! Conwy (#16) and Denbighshire (#15)

In the Autumn of every year, the Salmon & Trout Conservation Association hold a fund raising auction. I enjoy the thrill of auctions and tend to participate in this one, as well as those of the WTT and the Monnow Rivers Association, in the New Year, for all offer opportunities to access private waters of renown.

In the autumn of last year the generous offer by the Vale of Clwyd AC of two rods for a day on the Clwyd looked tempting because a hosted day on their waters suggested a tutored way for me to add Counties in North Wales to my Welsh ‘collection’, which suited. (It’s a bit like having a caddy let you know there is a stream over that rise to catch your tee shot, “so, put your driver away and hit a 5 iron, Sir”).

The VCAC has a remarkable eleven rivers in its portfolio, following the merger of the Denbigh and District AC and Clwyd AC clubs in 1991. Waters, from Snowdonia in the west, to the Dee on the English border in the east, and therefore in five counties! The exchange after I was notified of my ‘win’ connected me with Paul King,

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who I had met before after a day with Dave Smith on five Black Mountain streams, and that day, a ‘win’ on the MRA auction. Dave and I were enjoying a pint (probably a Wye Valley ale) at the Bell at Skenfrith, where Paul and his companion that day were doing the same. Paul readily embraced my quest, and was delighted to help me achieve more, and mindful of water levels after the most welcome (sic) rains of recent days, had plans ‘B’ and ‘C’ in mind if GaugeMap suggested ‘A’ might not work.

Paul surmised that the upper Clwyd, a lowland river, and highly susceptible to rain, would provide fishable water as levels were falling, and there was some colour in the river, but to an extent this was normal, so the effect of the heavy rains of previous days had washed through. Locally, the beats are referred to by the bridges which span them, and we headed to Pont Perfa near the village of Llanynys,

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where on a bend just one hundred metres or so below the bridge, Paul had me cast into his ‘go to’ pool.

Under such pressure (!) my early morning casting into the cross steam wind was a little embarrassing, but ‘Damn me’ if a scrapper did not grab the #18 PTN drifting underneath my Foxon’s Klinkhammer, and once netted,

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produced an exclaimed “mission accomplished!” from Paul, pleased with such early success, and expert guiding!

Actually this Denbighshire trout might have been netted even earlier had we not engaged in so much chatter! During one exchange when I revealed that I learned to fish as a schoolboy in Brecon, “A Christ College boy? One of our enemies”, it transpired that we were contemporaries, with he, down the road, so to speak, at Monmouth School. He captained the 2XV from the front row, and I was CBB’s 2XV scrum half, and we wondered whether we played against each other, all those years ago! Small world. A true countryman, with a proper, dirty Range Rover to boot, I learned much from his explanation of the technical aspects behind deer cull, ten-pointers and high seats. It helped put the annual cull in Royal Richmond Park, nearer to home, into perspective. And I enjoyed hearing about how his club is now using catch data, to understand the impacts of reducing the introduction of stocked fish. He hopes that eventually, the VCAC beats will be entirely wild.

Believing that we might be fishing another river in another county in the afternoon, we parted company so he could return home to feed his Labrador puppy, but I thought I had another Clwyd trout or two in me. “You might see Alan (Cuthbert) on the river” and I did.

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He is VCAC’s General Secretary, so knew of my visit, and quest. He was after an early season sea trout, that morning and eager to stay out, for he had not fished for a while.

I asked about the river above Pont y Campbwll, (the lower Clwyd) and he offered to show me his favourite lies.

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And these produced the two more I hoped for, and prompted my invitation to Alan to join me for a beer at the splendid pub in Bodfari, the Dinorben Arms, where I was to meet Paul before our next target. The banter between these two old chums was a joy to listen to! They are passionate about their fishing, their club and their river, and both do much to promote all three, as well to try to engage younger anglers, for their club, like so many has too few. But their efforts may pay off, for a special event just weeks before attracted sixty young hopefuls. A lesson for others, maybe?

Paul was not satisfied.

I had only added one County, this morning, and he knew that more were on offer, and so it was off to Conwy we went, and to the Elwy! This is a spate river and a tributary of the Clwyd, but rising high on the eastern fringes of Snowdonia.

Around the City of St Asaph (it has a cathedral), and onto the narrowest of country lanes, eventually we turned downwards and in the direction of Llannefydd, and toward the ancient Pont-y-Gwydell (the Irish Bridge) where we parked up.

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The sun shone, spinners were dancing in the bright light upstream of the bridge, and in the wide pool below it a fish or two showed…and quite quickly, one avid feeder came to my net, on a klinkhammer.

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I did not stay long, for the rains promised for the late afternoon, did…but, I did not care.

If I lived in North Wales, I think my home club would be VCAC, for it offers such splendid fishing, but its real attraction is the opportunity for an Atlantic salmon and sea trout, and many of these are caught each season. But it has beautiful WBT, too, and they are what excite me more.

To Paul and Alan, thank you…now don’t you have fishing in Wrexham and Flint, too!?

I stayed in the most comfortable place, which is Tan-yr-Onnen, where hosts, Patrick and Sara, go to great lengths to make all their guests feel most welcome (the bed linen is divine!), and they succeed. Breakfast is sublime, if you like the finest bacon and sausage, and the best black pudding, I have ever eaten, and all are locally produced.

And finally, if the S&TCA feature the same offering in their Auction this Autumn…please bid (and high) because I promise it will be worth it.

ISLE OF ANGLESEY (#14)

Social media users sometimes prefer to use nicknames.

My searches to determine how I might find fishing on the Isle of Anglesey, revealed one such moniker, Diawl Bach, which appeared against uploaded footage of stream fishing on this Island on YouTube, and it also appeared on posts detailing the same on FlyFishingForums, and I sought to connect with him.

 This Little Devil was not hard to find, because generous fisher, he, who had read of my quest, was more than willing to help me ‘net’ on his Isle!

Him (and Her!)

Diawl Bach is teacher of technical ‘stuff’ I do not understand, but after an evening with him, I now know that programming a 3D printer, means it is possible, from a spool of some plastic ‘stuff’, to produce, impossibly, a fishing reel…and he has!

And he teaches, but only in Welsh…and that amazes me, and for so many reasons. ‘Is that lawful?” I ignorantly enquired? That Welsh is a used language, is to me, one schooled in Wales, important. It may be useless outside the Principality, but that is actually the reason to ensure its prosperity.

I stayed with Sion, and his lovely wife, Siwan (pronounced ‘Shoowan’)., in their Cosy Cabin, in Rhosneigr. They live an active and exciting and varied life, they work hard…and travel is a key interest and motivator for them both. They are ‘givers’, and I like and admire them both. They are great hosts, and Siwan, a great cook!

Fishing on the Isle of Anglesey

It is largely free. In fact, with the exception of one small stream in the North which is syndicated, all the freshwater fishing is! And there is so much to explore.

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But on an island where flatness is more prevalent than hillsides, tactics for trout, which Sion advises are abundant, have to be adjusted.

But our target stream was one of Sion’s favourites where he has had success and caught remarkably large trout (they are all wild), and the odd sea trout, as well as the last known salmon caught on – the Cefni.

To fish, or not to fish

My journey to Anglesey was a wet one, thus slow and tedious, and made longer by motorway road works. It rained much of the way, and as I approached the island, the rains seemed to intensify. On arrival at Sion and Siwan’s home, the conservative in me suggested we took a look at the river and if it looked fishable in the rain, return home to kit out and have a go! Sion was confident because the river is fed from a lake Llyn Cefni, and not enough rain would have fallen to affect the flow too much. But we thought again! Why make two trips when one could suffice…even though it was still raining. We went!

The fishing

We arrived at the town of Llangefni at 5pm, and parked right by the river.

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The height was just a little higher than normal, Sion advised, and there was a bit of colour, but it was fishable, so we started, with a duo rig. Be bold with the weighted nymph he suggested. That is, not too small.

My first cast attracted the interest of a small fish which came off. I don’t know what you think, but I believe that to catch a fish with ones first cast can be a disaster, and I hate it, if I do. But this tiddler shook the hook – a good thing.

And so it transpired, because afterwards, takes were numerous, and several came to my net.

We were soaked, but the rains eased, then stopped, and some small upwings hatched, and fish began to rise, attacking the emergers. So it was off with the nymph, and on with a shuttlecock emerger.

I have to say that some of my casting was a little sloppy, but nothing deterred these urban scrappers because as Sion explained, they are used to seeing humans all the time. One fish rose just feet in front of us and we both marvelled at what may well have been a 2-lber. Try as we did, we could not catch him, though. That’s probably why he’s a 2-lber! Which surprised because Sion explained that many fish are killed, or fished for illegally (poached?) with night lines by those maybe trying to land a sea trout.

Overnight the area was hit by torrential rain, and our beat was unfishable, so thank goodness we fished, for there would be no fishing on Anglesey this next day! And it’s a long way from London.

Mission accomplished, and Welsh County #14 added.

Thanks, Sion…sorry, I mean Diawl Bach!

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”