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.

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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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