Posts Tagged ‘River Wye’

Gromain

June 25, 2018

Gromain and Upper Llanstephan.

Today’s beat was at least easy to find, one of the parking areas demarcated pretty much by a suspension bridge across the river. I managed to locate that without resorting to the cell phone GPS, from there was able to find the specified gate and the old railway track down which I was instructed to drive.

The Llanstephan suspension bridge makes for a fairly substantial landmark.

The sort of riverside track with grass growing high in the middle and suitable only for 4 X 4 vehicles and hire cars. I don’t think one would gladly drive there if it was wet, but it isn’t wet, in fact it isn’t near wet enough and the rivers are low. That makes wandering many of the beats relatively easy, but on contrast can mean that the fishing is tricky.

Parking is along an old rail track, via a gate and combination padlock. Suitable for 4 x 4 vehicles and hire cars only.

Off the track there were “steps down to the river”, that may provide some indication of the steepness of the sides.  A very different type of water to that which I am used to fishing, to my mind a massive river even in the reduced summer flows.

This is a very wide section of the Wye, with a great deal of near un-wadeable bedrock which is not only seriously uneven with fissures and pot holes in it but equally very very slippery even with the correct footwear.

All in all, from the perspective of someone used to more intimate and more easily waded streams the river is quite intimidating. Not least because it is difficult to know where to start fishing with so much water in front of one.

I opted for a shallow riffle section in the lower part of the beat where there seemed like a reasonable chance of finding fish and where the wading wasn’t quite so tricky with a smattering of  small boulders and gravel on the bottom. The smooth sheet rock sections, as mentioned, are dreadfully difficult to negotiate.

A typical view of a low water riffle on the Gromain beat

There was a nasty and troublesome downstream breeze on the day I fished and that made the angling all the more difficult. It isn’t so much that one cannot cast into such a breeze, stiff though it was, but more that one cannot maintain control and get the presentation that one might otherwise be able to achieve.

A feisty downstream breeze causes all manner of problems well beyond casting. One notices every single toggle and zipper on one’s fishing vest, because now every attempt at checking the fly or adjusting the leader results in the line being wrapped around some protuberance or other. Standing in the stream , struggling with 7 x tippet snagged in zippers and Velcro closures , it wasn’t the first time that I wondered if people who design fishing vests have actually ever fished.

I have a new shorty vest, which is better than my previous one, which sported those hard foam formed pockets that became all the rage.  I think that perhaps William Joseph started the trend and it became all the fashion. That vest I grew to strongly dislike, difficult if not impossible to pack into a bag when walking home and on the river, even if the pockets were empty, one felt rather like Mae West after a breast augmentation. At least the new shorty vest isn’t as cumbersome, but I am going to have to do some surgery on all those zip toggles. They exhibit the same affiliation for nylon as most of the bank side herbage here. In other words, any loose piece of leader will find its way around something.

Undeterred however I set about searching out fish in the riffles, fishing with a long leader and a dry and dropper combination I was able to pick up a number of trout and grayling in short order. The fishing remained like this for an hour or so and then seemed to die off. Whether the cold wind was putting the fish down or whether it was the bright sunshine I wasn’t sure. But things went very quiet and after a pretty good opening session I was struggling to find fish on the dry or on nymph rigs.

I did catch both brown trout and grayling , but pretty much all in the earlier part of the morning.

After much hard work and looking over other sections of the beat I decided to take a break and perhaps return later, I had a suspicion that I had been getting things wrong and that I should rather have been on the water in the early morning or late evening. It was the longest day of the year when I fished , which means both extremes, dawn and dusk occur almost eighteen hours apart. To be on the water at dawn I would have had to be driving by 3.30am, to stay until dusk would have seen me out at 10.30pm.

I resolved to stay out late and see what happened, and sure enough as the light faded and that niggling wind abated a little there was a considerable mixed hatch with flies over the water in near blizzard proportions.  For some reason however, even then, not a fish moved, I had no idea of why, and perhaps again it was that chill wind doing the damage but one would have imagined the river coming alive with action.

One interesting hypothesis and one we have discussed related to some sections of water I fish in SA, is that the fish don’t like staring straight into the setting sun. It is tricky to prove if that is the case, but the section I was fishing and where all these insects were hatching faced directly into the sunset and the glare was quite blinding to me. Could it be that fish either don’t like to face into a low angled setting sun or perhaps that they can’t see well in such circumstances? I think that this is something worthy of more consideration. Tomorrow I shall be on the Usk on a section that shouldn’t be facing the setting sun, perhaps if there is more activity on that section in the final hours of the day it could add credence to the theory.

I ended the day with something in the region of 25 trout and 10 grayling, but nothing of notable size and I worked far too hard for them.  Or put more correctly I worked far too hard after I had caught most of them, the first two hours of my fishing was really about it and I raised or hooked very few fish after that.

Of all the waters I have fished during my stay this would probably rate as the least enjoyable, perhaps it was just the day, that niggling wind or maybe I was just out of form.  It was however hard work and I fished for far too long , most likely at the wrong time of day.

 

 

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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).