After a special Tuesday, when feeling lucky after netting in Bridgend, I returned to the Ebbw and to a good afternoon hatch, and netted in Newport. Wednesday was special too, after a great day with Dave Smith in the Monnow catchment, courtesy of a ‘win’ in this year’s Monnow River Association auction.

And I was still feeling ‘lucky’ on Thursday morning when I arrived for my third attempt at netting a Torfaen trout on the Afon Lwyd, an WUF ‘wild water’, at Llantarnam Abbey.

An early cast mid beat in quick water below a fallen tree, produced a rise from a small trout which was encouraging, then a few casts later, I hooked but quickly lost a second. My excitement that today was to be ‘the’ day increased, but patience was required. Time to let that run ‘rest’, so I moved upstream still using a duo rig. Another fish showed interest, but nothing was taken. The day has started promisingly but weather which started well, became cloudy and the temperature dropped a bit. Fly life was scarce and I guess that the odd emerger was all that excited what rose, and I stuck with the ‘duo’. The spot along a grassy meadow was where I saw fish rise on my last visit and was where I hoped for something but there was no activity.


So I returned to where I started to see if I could entice what I sought, but that first run delivered nothing. Above it is a flat pool of some fifty yards, and where I knew that a landing line would spook anything, but there were three fish coming up to what, I knew not, for there was nothing on air. Switching to a pink parachute Adams failed to attract what I imagine were small fish did not work, so on with a larger version of the same to try the faster waters at the head of the pool and the runs above, for the second time.

Still nothing, and feelings of anxiety increased, and I began to wonder if my luck had run out, and yet another visit would be required!

Onwards and upstream I cast until I reached the same meadow side glide I fancied.

It was brighter and warmer now, and…

Was that a swirl, I just saw? It must have been for there was another close by, and I wondered whether there was a fish moving sidewards to pick off emergers. I tied on a #18 orange parachute Adams and had a take with my third cast. It pulled and fought hard and felt like a good fish and it was.




On netting it, I glowed, satisfied, and marvelled at this fish with few, but large black spots, on pale creamy flanks. It is easy to over estimate the weight of ones catch, so I guess this chunky fellow was less than 2lbs, but more than 1 1/2lbs, but to say I was thrilled is an understatement, for all the reports on the WUF webpages suggest fish are few and far between (to which I attest) and most that are there are small.

Torfaen…my 7th Welsh county!

nb…Gareth Lewis flies work!!

nbb…this beat is just downstream of Theo Pike’s description of the Afon Lwyd in his iconic, ‘Trout in Dirty Places’.


Tuesday (April 5) morning was bright and sunny, but cold, although the temperature rose to 11c by lunchtime. It stayed dry.

The sun shone into the Abbey woodlands which enhanced the colours of the wild ground flowers, where wood anemone and buttercup dominated, and competed for the eye with the lime green foliage we yearn to see after the grey wintery months.

It was truly lovely.

The sounds of pre-mating birdlife filled the air, and was far more attractive than the Arriva turquoise rail stock dashing by, en route to Newport. I wish I could identify more birds than I can, but many species played in the trees above me.

I had fished up from the bottom of the beat, last time, so started at the midpoint. The river had a hint of colour after recent showers. Fly life was sparse, so my starting ‘rig’ was a ‘duo’ of parachute Adams and PTN.

Nothing was moving, but after an hour I spotted a rise, and my excitement and anticipation multiplied, but to no avail. And it was all I saw in the morning…sadly abandoned supermarket trolleys were more abundant than fish.

I offer a word of warning to anyone fishing this ‘wild beat’.

Beware approaching its top end, for the seductive smell of cookie dough, emanating from the Burton’s Biscuit factory nearby is quite off putting, and my juices started flowing and lunch called.

Resuming from the bottom of the beat shortly after assuaging my appetite, produced ‘rien’.


And my hopes off ‘netting’ Torfaen will have to wait until I try here again, in warmer times, and I will, so WUF will hear from me again.

I am an optimist by nature, but a reading of Anglers’ Feedback on the WUF website, reveals that seventeen visits/reports have yielded just two fish. Make that eighteen visits!!!


The Afon Lwyd (Grey River) rises in the Black Mountains and flows through Pontypool and Cwmbran before entering the Usk at Caerleon. Once filled with the effluent from coal mines, steelworks and urban development, it has been cleaned, but it remains, essentially, an urban stream.

The ¾ mile beat at Llantarnam Abbey water is made available to the Wye Usk Foundation which how I found myself on it on September 19th last year (2015) on a bright and sunny Saturday morning.

The river here flows through deciduous woodland and is characterised variably by gravel beds, riffles and deep pools at its bends. On my day, the water level was low, and days of sunlight meant that wading the shallower parts was over algae covered rocks and stones…and slippery!

Fly life was sparse and I saw only one rise, but still persisted with dries! No fish, then but I saw enough to encourage a return visit, to try to net Torfaen, and I will, early in 2016.