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?

 

 

 

 

Caerphilly

I am sure that there is a trout with my name on it in the Ebbw near Risca, but that eliminates the Ebbw as far as the county of Caerphilly is concerned because already, it has featured in my ‘Quest’ as my Newport ‘win’ and I try to find new rivers in all of my searches as I seek to add to my counties’ list.

So the Rhymney it was most likely to be.

But this tale is not about trout..!

It started with a visit to Tony’s Tackle Shop in Caerphilly, a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of a place, but mainly for coarse fishers. His shop is within a well struck four iron of the Castle, which on a sunny day as it was when I visited, is just a splendid monument and with many a tale to tell, no doubt. Tony issued me a day ticket after enquiring delicately whether I was entitled, a senior, you know! But where to fish? He suggested the Caerphilly & District AA water below the Industrial Estate at Pant Glas, but I was none the wiser. The local postie was delivering and he enquired, “would the post code help?”…what a Star, and what a lovely attitude.

The beat is pretty.

It was a blissfully hot and bright day, and looking down onto the stream there were many enticing places. “Fish the runs below the weirs”, Tony advised, and for good reason. For whilst sheltered from the bright light by overhanging trees, the fish would be disturbed by the many late morning walkers and dog exercisers, and would be less likely to be feeding, if at all, in the silky glides.

And there were so many perambulators, two and four legged, on the Rhymney Riverside Walk,

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I thought…it’s nearly lunchtime, so why not wait until hunger pains and noon plus traditions kick in, and they all go home, or to the pub! And they did, and at 1pm I was alone.

It was not the best of fishing conditions but I had driven from London and was on a mission, was eager, so did.

And on my third cast, fishing a duo of an Adams and a #22PTN, I felt the tiniest pull at the end of the swing, and this was the culprit!

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I didn’t know what this was and Terry Bromwell (of which much more – see Rhondda Cynon Taff) suggested an FB enquiry, which via the WTT, Merthyr Tydfil AA, and Gwent AS (to all of which I subscribe), produced a series of suggestions, and to all who did, my thanks. Because I was baffled, and whilst I thought on magnification, there were signs of an adipose…the general consensus was that I had caught ‘phoxinus phoxinus’…a minnow! But what a specimen!

“That’s a proper minnow” said Paul Dale

“That’s a massive minnow” said Oliver Harrison

“Tony did you weigh it? The British rod and line caught record is less than 1oz Your one looks like a contender it must be more than 3 inches in length” asked my chum, Paul Jennings!

James P Hutton was far more practical. “Great bait for a predatory trout” he suggested.

But blimey! I may, unwittingly, have broken the British record!!

In any case this is for me a ‘PB’, and, a ‘first’

Ho! Hum!

Anyway, no trout, but half a dozen grayling later, I retreated, and began to reconsider how to ‘net’ the Caerphilly trout I seek.

SWANSEA

‘Fortune favours the Brave’…(also the Stupid)

The WUF offers anglers the chance of fishing the Loughor, a classic salmon and sea trout river, on the Pontarddulais AA beat between said town, and Ammanford, some seven miles upstream. And where there are sea trout, one imagines there are brown trout, too. So perhaps this was to be my best means to ‘net’ a wild Swansea brown trout!

The beat map accompanying the documentation from WUF revealed the name of the Secretary and who better to ask, where I might fish, given I knew nothing of the river nor its five miles on offer. “The easiest access and fishing I’d say is on our Ynys Llety stretch” suggested Lyn (Davies)

He also said, encouragingly, that “The water is down, so the usual parachute dry, spider or gold head should pull you out a pretty little brownie”, and setting off from my overnighter, I was confident that the morning rain which greeted would pass, because Metcheck told me confidently, that it would, by Noon, when the sun would shine, too. And Metcheck is never wrong, and is certainly more accurate than the MetOffice.

The drive to Pontarddulais was wet, but SatNav found me Garnswllt Road, on which stood Ynys Llety. This ‘road’ is the prettiest drive and seemed endless because it is so narrow, and luckily I met no other vehicles. It was raining when I arrived at about 10am, but it would stop in just two hours. The river was out of sight at this point, so I decided to drive upstream and toward Ammanford to find a stretch where I could appreciate where I was about to fish.

Salmon and sea trout rivers have a ‘grandeur’ of their own. They may be narrower than say, the Wharfe or Usk, but they have depths and pools and darkness which might intimidate the trout man, and the stepped river at Ammanford was thus. But in spite of the rains, the river ran clear, so I was relieved.

What now, at about 11am? I know, I reasoned, I will buy a picnic lunch, and at about 1pm when the rains have passed, I will fish.

So with victuals purchased, it was back to the small car park, for a read of Salmon & Trout magazine to get me in the mood, a bottle of delicious SanFran Steam Ale (but never before Noon), and shrimpy, porky, fruity nibbles!

It was still raining, but it didn’t matter, because it would cease, shortly.

The Hungarian Grand Prix featured on BBC Five Live and at the start at 1pm, Lewis beat the spoilt German to the first corner, and at lunch, England were doing rather well at Old Trafford, so all was well, even though it was raining.

I had read T&S from cover to cover by 2pm, and began to wonder about Metcheck.

The cloud cover was omnipresent. Visibility was a couple of hundred yards at best. I swiped the wiper blades for a better view of where the river might be. The cows in the reedy, boggy pastures were down, and as pissed by the weather as I was. They no longer trust Metcheck, and who can blame them?

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But I had driven a long way to be here, and if I cover up and tackle up, perhaps by the time I find the river, it will have stopped. So I did.

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A walk through pastures, a clamber over gates, a railway line, and more gates, and to the river a few hundred yards away, revealed a flow, some fifteen feet below where I stood. A red muddy bank above a succession of depths, turns, shallows, a little flowing weed, some fallen trees, and I wondered where my quarry might be lying.

Did I say that it was still raining? Well it was, and the descent waterside was slippery, the wet mud filling the indentations of my wading boot soles in an instant.

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But heh! I was on a mission!!

It was pouring now, and Lyn’s ‘usual parachute dry’ was not a goer, and it was on with a weighted PTN on the point, and a #22 PTN on the dropper, but my imagination was fired in case a sewin decided to take a liking to this offering so the leader was 5lb. An Optimist, or what?

First cast.

Second cast…a pull, a wriggle, and ‘dammit’ one of Lyn’s pretty little brownies came to my net.

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So did two more, short!y afterwards. I guess their Mummy and Daddy were probably lurking in the deeps around the outside bends of this stretch with some of their seaside friends, but I had caught what I sought, so after just an hour I retreated to Tonka Too.

It was still raining!

But…mission accomplished. And Welsh County #9.

And Lewis (a fine Welsh name) won….!!!

ps…these sewin fishers must be noisy lot!

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NEATH & PORT TALBOT

The Neath & Dulais Angling Club website suggested that day tickets could be bought from a local pub, but it is an old website, and they cannot, but a further search advised that  ‘Bait & Tackle’, the Neath angling shop would, and a call to them confirmed that this was possible via a season ticket, which for someone experienced, like me (I prefer the word, ‘experienced’, to the acronym, OAP), there would be a small discount.

The proprietor of said tackle shop, Ron Stevens, is a local legend, and could not have been more helpful. And it seems to me, that to secure a season ticket to fish for salmon, sea trout and brown trout on established game waters for £50 only, is quite remarkable.

The Dulais  rises below the slopes of Mynydd y Drum and flows south-west passing the settlements of Seven Sisters and Crynant before cascading over the Aberdulais Falls below which it joins the Neath close to the tidal reaches of the river.

On a hot and sunny afternoon, last Saturday, and with temperatures around the mid 20’s celsius, I set off to seek out the beats I might fish, and with sunset and dusk in mind, when I might do so. But the Dulais sits in a valley well below grazing pasture-land; it is tree lined, giving shade and shelter, and an afternoon flick or two, seemed likely. The water ran clear below the winding lanes I drove, tumbling over rocky ledges, and between, rock and small boulders, which were revealed by a stream, rather bereft of water after a very dry period.

Members of NADAC will recognise where I started, which was into this pool which is just below what I took to be a quarry on the (true) right bank, maybe a mile or more, upstream from the Aberdulais Falls, A ‘duo’, comprising a #16 parachute Adams and a #22 PTN would do the business, I hoped!

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But the fish may have been distracted by some teens, who chose that spot for some sunbathing. Heh! Its public space, and the outdoors is more fun and better for them than the gadgetry to which most are addicted. At least they were not dog-walkers, or canoeists…

Nothing in that pool, but I was encouraged by a ‘pull’ close to the tree roots just downstream, and realised that in this low water, I just had to wander further and deploy upstream casting to have any chance of a fish.

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The banks are four or five feet above the water, and covered in moss, lichen and ferns, not to mention bramble and other sundry plants. Exiting the water gets one into a wild jungle, so no Hampshiresque and manicured footpaths here. Just a slippery, prickly stumble through years of dried climber shoots and the journey of a couple of hundred yards to reach the end of a series of really fishy runs, pools and riffles, took at least twenty minutes, or so it seemed. And I was alone…

I used the same rig. But not for long, because the overhanging branches and clinging overgrowth was over magnetic for my enthusiastic casting. And in such a confined space and shallow stream, I tend to fish with the finest leader I can, so trying to release what is caught, bank side, has a fair chance of producing a snapped cast, and did, several times.

And slippery! Much of the stream which I was enjoying was over bedrock, of which I have

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fallen foul on the Usk and the Irfon before. Wade slowly, I repeated to myself.

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When my line tightened for only the first time after a couple of hours, I pulled in this little critter, quickly and netted him for security.

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The tiny nymph on the point attracted him – my Neath trout! A beautiful little wild Dulais trout. I was sated!

I saw surprisingly little fly life. The odd olive, but nothing else.

The Dulais is a fun stream, and I wondered when is a productive time to fish it? Spring would be my bet, when all comes to life.

For good measure, I searched out access to the River Neath, after that, and waited until 730pm before setting out on this bigger stream, in the hope that there might be an evening rise.

I fished just upstream of the village of Tonna, and it was only at 915pm, on an attractive and long pool that I saw my first rising fish of the day. A few pale wateries, and a sedge hatch might have brought them on, but it was a short hatch. A few more fish rose, but too few to excite me, and my dries failed to excite them either!

I am a season ticket holder, now, and I might return, for I am intrigued to see what I could eke out of the Neath!

And I have also discovered that the NADAC Facebook page may be the favoured means for communication between its members. Its address is here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRIDGEND

I envy all you fishers who, when ‘times is right’, flip down to your local stream, fish, catch, and then, post pictures of your great catch.

Be aware that when you do, I am in London where my local stream, the mighty Thames, looks brown, because it is mainly, and I envy the local fisher here, too, the cormorants, who float by, on the ebb tide, one with a dab in mouth, another a small eel, both shaking their heads madly side to side, in their attempts to swallow their catch, for even these marauders must eat.

I have to plan my trips, and having plotted and planned many, it is a harsh reality that some are shortened by the inclement. Often my pre season intention to fish at least this many days, is constricted.

I had surfed the net and discovered almost by accident that a tackle shop in Bridgend sold day tickets for the Ogmore Angling Association‘s water on the Ogmore and a call to them, connected me with a very enthusiastic, Dean, who confirmed “yes, we do”, so it was a “see you tomorrow, then” from me.

A bit like golf, when ones confidence is high, you just know that this would be a good day. And so I felt when I set off, and according to my weather App, the Gods were likely to be on my side, too!

Coming off the M4 at Junction 36, it proved easy for my SatNav to find Keens ’Tackle & Guns’, where I was greeted by Dean, and he proffered that there was a “ Bit of rain coming…should be good, you will ‘clean up’ “

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The whole team in this traditional store, a rare Aladdin’s Cave of a shop, was helpful and whilst there were fish in the stretch just behind the shop, the recommendation was that I drive toward Bridgend and park in the Tesco car park, walk downstream toward the Ogmore estuary, albeit seven miles away and walk back up and fish the various pools. But I couldn’t easily wrap my mind around this bit, but then the Welsh adore sewin!

My first view of the Ogmore was from leaning over the town bridge, where I noted rocks and stones, riffles and pools…deep pools…which resonated of salmon and sea trout, the local ‘delicacy’!

Back into the car I headed for Tesco, but I was distracted by a narrow turning to my left, and the explorer in me took over. In the narrow lane I found a wide layby which was obviously a fly tippers’ delight but the only litter I saw were signs advising prospective tippers not to, with suggestions that if they did, the security cameras hidden in the foliage would surely spot them!

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I peered through said foliage and spotted likely looking lies and no Theo Pike, since I prefer the solitude and leaves, to shops, concrete and people, I was persuaded into this slippery rock arena, by what I saw.

And I was pleased I did. Running a duo down a fast run, a tug on the weighted nymph reminded me that this was to be my day! Turning to move upstream with the same rig, I rose a small fish close to the bank, and continued upstream.

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It was to be my day.

My first Ogmore and (County of) Bridgend trout came very soon, after I switched to a parachute Adams.

And then in the middle of a longer pool I noted several fish swirling and managed to connect with some more, from under some large trees canopying the far, true left bank. One was an absolute ‘corker’, too.

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I felt so confident, that I was sure that a drive to the Ebbw in Newport would be productive, but I have already written about that, because it was.

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Funny thing, confidence!