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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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!