Archive for June 19th, 2018

Abernant

June 19, 2018

Day Two Abernant

The missing boots are on their way, confirmed by message from DHL, so hopefully today will be the last slipping and sliding all over the rocks. As things turned out, troublesome as it was, I did manage to stay upright for the day. My back feels as though I spent the day on a physiotherapist’s “wobble board”.

So today the designated beat was Abernant, with the low water the two main Salmon pools looked ideal runs for some dry fly fishing, all that was needed was a decent hatch of fly and the chill east wind seemed to put the mockers on that.

The path down to the Abernant Beat

 

I persevered with dry and dry and dropper for some time, taking the odd small trout that had risen within range, but there wasn’t much top water action. Eventually I re-rigged with a Euro-Nymphing line and leader, and fortunes changed immediately. A run which I had fished with a dry and a dry and nymph combination failed to produce anything and convinced that there had to be fish in there I switched tactics to a Euro-nymph set up with immediate results. Four small trout in four casts followed a few casts later by a decent grayling.

Moving on upriver, more laminar flows with the odd small fish rising occasionally, back to the double taper line, long leader dry fly and small nymph, and a couple of small trout taken on an olive parachute. I like that sort of fishing, I like casting, but it wasn’t producing the goods so back to the Euro  outfit at the next run and again success.

In the end I stuck to the Euro-nymphing thing, it isn’t my favourite but it was all that was producing fish. A good many small trout the best no more than 12” long and some reasonable grayling.

By day’s end, or at least when I decided to quit I had landed some 30 trout, but mostly small ones and 20 odd grayling a little larger on average than the trout with the best probably about 14” long. Not as large as a couple from yesterday but pleasing none the less.

An Abernant Grayling

 

An interesting thing was that I wasn’t doing that well on the Euro outfit either until I decided to add a much smaller nymph to the mix. The tiny perdigon accounted for the vast majority of fish, both trout and grayling.

 

These simple nymphs produced the most fish.

The gravel river bed meant that it was hard to get the flies down on the bottom, I have seen this before fishing in New Zealand. Where there is little obstruction to slow the flows the buffer zone where the fish can hold and feed is hard on the bottom and you need more weight than you might think to get the flies down there.

I covered a lot of water and worked hard, switching tactics and flies as the situation demanded but by far the most productive set up was the nymphing outfit.

The weather hasn’t been bad but there is a chill wind and the water levels are low too, something is restricting the hatches and it could simply be that low as the water is, it is equally cold water. I may try staying out on the water later to see if things change in that department.

For now though, I have had some fun and caught some fish, landed some graying which was akin to a goal on this trip and although one always thinks one could have done better I am far from displeased.

My accommodations at Pwllgwilym Cottages is really nice and the “Traditional Welsh Breakfast” proved to be more than I can eat in one sitting. I have ordered simple poached eggs on toast for tomorrow.  (It did cross my mind that I could claim to be fattening up for additional stability in the river, but a somewhat lame excuse, some moderation will be in order for breakfast tomorrow)

I like to try “local” cuisine” where I am, I think that is part of the experience. But this breakfast was too much, I thought I was going to burst at the seams.. Fantastic but too much for me!!

I have also ordered breakfast for later in the morning as I intend to wait a while and see if those cursed boots arrive. It may be the ideal opportunity to be on the water late into the evening.

It is only day two and I have already enjoyed myself immensely, it really is something of a privilege to be able to access such water and really rather easily too. The accommodations I would recommend to anyone and although the weather isn’t exactly playing ball it could be a lot worse. On the stream today the position of the flotsam from previous floods shows just how high the water can get, so low is perhaps difficult but certainly better than the alternative.
Actually the rivers are low,  don’t know how that can be, it hasn’t really rained but I haven’t seen the sun either.. Heavy mist most days with the odd spattering of rain, obviously not enough to keep the rivers at their best.

Hope springs eternal and I am enjoying my stay…

 

 

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Craig Llyn

June 19, 2018

River Wye Day One…. Craig Llyn

This morning I was in Cornwall and this evening I bed down in Mid-Wales after an uneventful 4hr trip focusing more on the road signs than the scenery. I left early so that I might slot in some fishing time in the afternoon. All (or as you will see later, mostly) going according to plan.

There seems to me to be an inverse relationship between the width of the roadways and the quality of the fishing. Some of the best dry fishing I have ever experienced has been on the Bokong River in Lesotho, where one travels until the road stops and is replaced by donkey track

On this trip I started the day driving down narrow and leafy lanes, before negotiating the ubiquitous curse of British roadways, damnable and confusing mini roundabouts. Then onto duel carriage ways, then motorways, speeding along the M5 and M4, crossing the impressive span of the Severn Bridge and eventually ended up back in much the same sorts of narrow leafy lanes I had started with. Even then, each small town still sports at least one multiple mini roundabout, just to keep visiting drivers on their toes. I am currently working on the hypothesis that quality country living can be determined by the Mini roundabout/Country Pub ratio. As I ventured further into Wales the pubs were winning hands down, from my perspective a most cheering thought.

There are some similarities between Cornwall and Wales. Both peoples Celtic and both fiercely proud of their heritage. The Welsh have done a better job of preserving their language than have the Cornish , and each road sign requires a second take as directions are in both English and Welsh.

If you wonder how to pronounce any of the names in the native tongue whilst driving, you are liable to lose concentration and come to a sticky end at the next mini-roundabout. (As an example, my destination ” Pwllgwilym Cottages”, is apparently pronounced something like ‘Poff Gwillam”, meaning  “Gwillam’s Pond” as best I can understand.) Having spent a good part of my life trying to get a grip on the Afrikaans “G”, I don’t see myself learning Welsh any time soon.

Try reading this whilst whizzing around “Mini” Roundabout.

It is self-evident that back in the mists of time the Romans never held sway over the Celtic nations, the complete lack of any sort of straight roadway being proof enough. The lanes wend and wind around a hotchpotch of apparently randomly shaped fields, ancient boundaries of farms and homesteads that have been in existence for hundreds of years.

In Cornwall many of the boundaries would be demarcated with dry stone walls, whilst in Wales profligate hedgerows serve to mark out territory and of course keep the sheep where they are supposed to be (Sheep rarely stay where they are supposed to be even then)..

Green Fields and prolific hedgerows.

 

I drove along these tiny country lanes marveling at the scenery and the lovely natural stone cottages along the way, the greenery is only broken by the white dots of wandering sheep, it is too beautiful for words, enough so that even the drizzle failed to curb my enthusiasm. Even the next mishap didn’t really deter me too greatly.

Now for the “hiccup”: (Fishing trips, like Weddings, always seem to include at least on hiccup).
On every beat description of the Wye there are dire warnings that you MUST have studded and felt soled boots and I purchased some from Sportfish specifically for the trip, couriered overnight to Cornwall.. I don’t like or use studded boots at home, but the warnings were so dire (capitalized and in parenthesis) that I had decided it would be foolhardy to ignore them.

Now when I left Cornwall this morning my “little voice”, which is generally reliable if unspecific with regards forgotten gear, was telling me I was missing something and I wracked my brains to no avail. Eventually putting it all off to “road trip paranoia”. However no sooner had I arrived at Pwllgwilym Cottages and started to unpack the car when I realized the error. I was in Mid Wales whilst my newly purchased boots, with the prerequisite studs and felt soles, were still drying out, 200 miles away in my brother’s garden in Cornwall. 😦

Not good and I was faced with the choice of risking life and limb wading in my shoes or skipping the fishing. I had already glimpsed sections of the Wye and there was no way I could delay wetting a line,  so risking life and limb was really the only choice.

I did battle to wade and wasn’t able to fish the way I normally would, but that notwithstanding, I did manage to catch about a dozen grayling (the goal of the trip in many ways). In fact I got one of close to 2lbs I would think, and I was well pleased with that. They are tremendously pretty fish with bright red fringes on the massive dorsal fin which they use like a sail when fighting in the current. Gorgeous looking fish, and alas I shall have to delay posting this because on top of the boot saga the camera went on the blink and I was unable to take a picture. I shall hope to do so shortly, but of course we all know that when the camera is working the fish won’t be biting. I can only promise to do my best when the opportunity arises and if all else fails I shall have to take the cell phone with me on the water..

Finally a picture of a grayling.  The Latin name is Thymallus thymallus  because they supposedly smell like the herb. Had the originator been trying to photograph them instead of sniffing them they would have been called “Slippery slippery”..

I shall have a day more on the water without the correct footwear, but the family have already been instructed to courier them up to me (Hang the expense) because I need them badly. Tomorrow I shall be on another beat and will no doubt be staggering about or trying to fish the runs from the bank, not ideal but with good fortune the boots should arrive by Tuesday morning and then I will be good to go.

An interesting aside though, forced to fish without the prerequisite boots and the mobility that goes with them I had to adapt. Firstly very little Euro-nymphing  because it was not easy to wade deep enough for that. Secondly , because I was frequently out of position I was required to do a lot more mending of the line and curve casting than I might otherwise employ. In the end I suppose it was an exercise which is of value, no matter that it was born of error and frustration. Back home anglers and clients who find it difficult to wade make the same errors, trying to fish from the same position instead of moving to get better angles and more control.

Today I felt for those anglers , because I had become one of them, being forced to make difficult presentations where a move to a different location in the river would have made things simple, the ability to move and choose the best position for each presentation is a skill well worth learning and the troublesome footwear forced upon me highlighted that point with glaring clarity.

Tomorrow will be more of the same no doubt, but at least that first rush of overly hurried preparation and excitement will have abated and I should proceed with more focus and at a more leisurely pace on day two.

For now it is time for some pub grub, a pint of ale and a restful sleep in the absolute quiet of the Welsh hills. I shall have sweet dreams I am sure, (probably interspersed with short nightmares about missing boots).