It is 10pm and I am sitting in the bar at the Bear at Crickhowell reflecting on our (mine and Rhys’) afternoon/evening fish on the Llynfi…
So many of Britain’s wild brown trout are quite small, but there are some beauties, too, including this fish which came to my net in April when fishing with Rhys Morgan.
We reckoned it to be between 2 and 3 lbs, but it is overwintered and lean. Imagine what it could weigh after gorging on Spring’s olive hatches! It came from MTAA’s water on the Taff in Merthyr Tydfil, quite close to where Will Millard, guided by my friend Dan Popp, caught a cracker whilst filming the lovely series “The Taff: The River That Made Wales” for BBC Wales. It was one of several fish rising to emerging olives mid afternoon that day, and between Rhys and I, we caught two and I lost a third. All were of similar size – remarkable.
The Taff, in my view, is now South Wales’ most impressive trout river, having recovered from decades of the ravages of industrial waste, thanks, in no small measure to the efforts of the MTAA, a club I am proud to be a member of.
Flint is a relatively small county and there are just three rivers of note – the Alyn, Cegidog, Terrig plus the mighty Dee, within or along its boundaries
The Alyn is a tributary of the Dee and rises at the southern end of the Clwydian hills. It is just 25 miles long and runs across a limestone surface which creates potholes and underwater caves into which the river flows through some of the summer, depressing water levels, and creating dry river beds at times. Limestone is unusual in Wales where most rivers are acidic and so less fertile. Perversely through winter the Alyn can flood!
But this was the stream which appealed but how to access it?
Perchance I discovered that the Warrington Angling Association had recently acquired a stretch near to the optimistically named Hope village, and after an hilarious exchange with Club Secretary, Frank Lythgoe (mostly around age and costs) I was soon a member of this impressive club which boasts of fishing on four canals, sixteen rivers and their tributaries, and nineteen still waters. (£5 for a key!)
The Hope(ful) beat is best described as a small stream, which I love.
It had a little colour which was off putting, but that turned out to be no more than the sunny reflection from a silty bed and coloured stones. I was grateful that wading was easy, with no stick required.
It twists and turns often, and mostly covered by a canopy of alder, through meadow, and a few feet lower than said meadow. Muddied banks revealed boot sole prints and dog paws galore which meant the best place to seek my quarry was in the more remote corners. Streamy ranunculus clumps, faster riffles and deeper pools, suggested ‘trouty’ to me, but in the heat of the early afternoon sun, no fish were showing although there was a hint of a hatch of small olives and a few caddis.
Early casting was speculative until reaching a wider piece of water where in the back eddy opposite,
a foolish fish showed himself with a sipping rise. A few casts later he was in my net!
At about 4pm, I arrived at a short glide,
where three fish were rising to a short hatch of mayfly. It always excites when even the smallest fish fool us (me) into believing there is monster in there with a massive and splashy rise to engulf a flittering may!
One came to my net, close to this clump of balsam.
Beware – some ‘bashing’ will be needed quite soon to arrest the spread of this nasty stuff.
My impression of this stream is that WAA members have still to discover it, and I urge the flyfishing community within it, to give it a go. But polish up on your roll casting before you do.
I would love to know what size of specimens it contains and it was suggested to me that there are some good fish there, although my couple were quite modest…however, Flint is now mine!
ps…to WAA membership who happen to read this – does anyone know of flowing water (river, stream or brook) inside the county boundary of Merseyside, where I might find a trout. This is the only one of England’s 46 counties where I have still to net one!
I have been asked where the picture of the wood sculpture on the banner of my Blog, was taken.
I took the photograph in 2014 when driving south on the A470, from Rhayader to Builth Wells. It sits looking down on the road on the left hand side at a point just beyond a lay-by, a few miles south of Newbridge-on-Wye. It is a beautiful carving, but I know not the name of the clever artist who produced it, and if you are passing by, stop and take a close look at it.
It is still there, today….I saw it this morning!
Last month I caught what was undoubtedly my largest wild brown from a Welsh river –
He came from the Taff in the middle of Merthyr, on a #18 olive emerger, and with some expert guidance from my pal Rhys Morgan. We think he was between 2 and 3lbs.
A real cracker from an urban space in April, and on a dry (-ish) fly. He was/is a lean specimen, but who knows what he will look like in June…if you catch him, please give him my respects.
I am energised now, because next week, my ‘quest’ in Wales continues, and I will be fishing in Ceredigion and Merioneth (Gwynedd), and in Wrexham and Flint, too, in coming days!
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.
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.