Trout in the Town

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.


After a somewhat frustrating morning on the Taff at Abercanaid where I lost three casts and six flies, fished ‘duo’, in trees and bankside scrub, but still landed my first wildie of the season on a lovely sunny morning when wading in a low stream with algal growth on the rocky bed made wading very precarious, I decided to head to an MTAA beat where wading would be easier. Quakers Yard, perhaps.

But driving south along the A470, Tonka Too took on a life of its own, it seemed, and we headed to Cardiff, instead.

I knew that the Ely had some ‘free’ fishing below the bridge on the A48 and that was where we were headed, Tonka and me, that is.

On arrival, I walked the bank, thinking that this was a bigger river than I had imagined, and I spent some time just looking. But not for long, because a rising fish, under overhanging leaf free bushes, on the near bank persuaded me to get my rod. Getting into the water was a downward slide over large angled boulders into a stretch where the bed of small rocks made wading easy.

Some more rises in roughly the same area encouraged me and I waded closer.

I think the attractive, were Large Brook Duns, smaller than March Browns, but tan coloured also and with two (or was it three) tails. The fish, and there were now three or four rising, were ignoring the duns, so must have been taking the emergers.

I had my 10ft, 4-weight rod, rigged from the morning at Abercanaid, and removed the #16 Adams (Gareth Lewis’ tied) and smaller, tungsten beaded PTN, and replaced these with a single emerger from the selection tied by Simon Clarke, which I had ‘won’ in this year’s Monnow Rivers Association auction. Browny/greeny bodied, with spiky elk hair keeping it upright, in the surface film.

First cast and I was ‘in’, then, just as quickly, ‘out’, and never knowing what had grabbed a good offering, obviously.

More rises, more flicks, then, a take!

It was on, but what was it? It flashed, ran, but never close enough for me to determine what I had hooked. Then? Damn! Panic! I lost traction of the retrieved line hooked under my right forefinger against my rod handle, and fumbled quickly not knowing whether having done so, my prize was still attached. (Heh! We have all been there!!)

Stripping quickly, the line tightened and he was still on, which surprised given the barbless emerger he had taken. He flashed left and right, plunged, ran, but tired, and when netted, he would have heard me say, as if he were interested – “You, are my Cardiff trout!”

Quickly photographed and released, and this angler, happy, I flicked again and hooked but lost another, but ‘what the hell’?

Back home I downloaded my pictures and searched Googlemap to identify some reference points to describe my whereabouts.

I was mortified to find that there are two bridges on the A48 just north and west of the City Centre. One near Llandaff, and the next a little further west. I had been fishing below the easterly bridge. I had been fishing the Taff, and not the Ely.

I must have been on the Glamorgan Anglers Club water, and to this Club I offer my most sincere apologies, for I would never, knowingly, fish where I should not.

I have written to GAC, accordingly.

“Dear Mr Turner (Richard)

I am on a personal ‘quest’ to catch a trout from a river in every county in Wales.                 This week, I caught a trout in the County of Cardiff, on what I thought was the R Ely, but I now realise (after searching some detail via GoogleMaps) that there are two bridges on the A48, to the NW of the City Centre, and I was fishing below the wrong bridge, and on what is probably the water of the Glamorgan Anglers Club, where I had no right to be fishing. I am embarrassed by my oversight and would like in retrospect, and with your agreement to, make good a ‘wrong’, presuming that my conclusion is correct. Will you allow me to do this? What will be appropriate? Please let me know


Tony Mair”

What a good man the Chairman is –

“Hi Anthony and thanks for letting us know.  Don’t worry about righting a wrong.  We have stretches of the Taff, Usk, Wye and Trothy all of which contain trout and can be fished on our standard coarse licence if you”re interested




I ‘won’ a season’s membership of the Merthyr Tydfil AA in the 2014 Autumn Auction held by the Salmon & Trout Association. I bid for it after fishing their water on the TAFF at Quakers Yard, which fascinated me, and I determined to fish it again, so what better means to try to?

I sent Tony Rees a write up from my first visit which he published in their Spring Newsletter.

” In the Salmon & Trout Association Auction last Autumn, I bid for a season’s membership of the MTAA…why, you might reasonably ask!

I fish all over the place and want to fish more places than possible. I just love ‘collecting’ rivers. I have notes and calendars over years which remind me where I have been, by state, county, area, region, in Italy, France, the USA, Iceland, Europe and Slovenia, NZ, and more.

In 2014, and impatient for the start of the season, I took a day via the WyeUsk Passport scheme mid April, and fished the Quakers Yard beat, but to no avail. But my appetite was whetted, for the Taff is a remarkable story of restoration! But fishing new waters excites me, and if I fail to take a beautiful brownie, big or small…I must try harder

My bid was modest, but it won. Ha!! Lucky me.

Tony Rees graciously informed me of the possible.

My members’ detail duly arrived, and a passport sized selfie was installed in my adhesive sleeve, almost before the envelop supplying it, was opened.

Impatient? Me!

Enough of this nonsense.

It’s early March. I called Gareth Lewis, who advised the same Quakers Yard beat would be his recommendation. The morning should probably be a nymphing session, but be prepared for a hatch and rising fish around noon.

If, by chance you have seen my Blog ( you will know I am a Halfordian, so after arriving on said water at ten-ish, but on a rare and beautifully sunny morning (March 10) and the water clear, I tied a nymph set up, and even though (stupid bugger) I had packed the wrong rod, an eight weight (I told you I was impatient to get on water again…I stop on September 30, and torment myself, for months but am not a member of the Thymallus thymallus winter fan club) I set off, disgusted that my 5-wt Greys Missionary was at home, 140 miles east, in London.

A bead head pheasant tail on the point with an orange spider type dropper produced not a touch in riffles, glides, tights, or gulleys.

It was getting warmer, though, and a style in a sunny spot attracted. A little rest, a little watch, perhaps.

Izaak was right…I saw my first Kingfisher of the year. I watched yellow wagtails courting…but no they were feeding. On pale wateries, I think, but I am not expert in fly ID-ing. Then at the top of the pool, no more than a coupe of hundred metres upstream from the remarkable Pont-y-Gwaith Bridge, I saw a rise.

Excited I moved towards where I though he was.

He rose again.

I cast twice to where I thought he lay.

He rose again…but this time, to my Robert Hakansson tied parachute pale watery.


A stocked fish, and over-wintered and 17”, so maybe just a pound and a half or so, but my first of 2015, my first from the Taff, and I intend that he will not be my last…love it. I stopped after catching him. I didn’t need another fish.

I fished some weeks later with Gareth who introduced me to the TAF FECHAN.


And what a stream that is,

and I was fortunate to be there on a good day when several small wild fish came to my Gareth tied parachute Adams