It’s Sunday evening and I’m slumped in the chair. I’m aching all over, my feet are sore, I’m hoarse from laughing non-stop since Friday evening – oh, and I smell like a wrestlers jock strap. There’s no other explanation needed, as I’ve just returned from the annual Monnow Rivers Association Social.
This is my second year attending and in-spite of my exhausted condition I’m hoping for many more to come.
There are those for whom fly fishing is a solitary pursuit, but even if it is, there is always room for a gathering like this where the friendship, banter, fun and fishing is served up in spades. I’m richer for the experience even if poorer in the pocket. Once again I’ve returned with a few “essential bargains” from the infamous auction, including a book from the 1980’s on still water trout fishing; something I don’t do and have no intention of starting. Last year I was naive; this year I have no excuse and Patrick and Rob prove equally adept at removing my cash.
There is a lot of talk about the rivers being late this season and that appears to be true. Some excellent anglers are made to work hard for their fish. The conditions aren’t quite there yet, perhaps another three weeks? None the less, I catch 16 fish in two and a half days, I learn a lot and I’m very pleased. I experience two Monnow beats new to me in stunning surroundings and in the good company of Dave with whom I’m buddied up. I also revisit a favourite beat of mine on the Honddu. There is fly life (particularly under the stones) but the trout don’t look up much yet. They can be tempted and the patient angler is rewarded. A few very good fish are caught and returned.
In the evenings, the conversation and alcohol compete for which can flow fastest, with the inevitable winner. Stories and anecdotes are shared with a passion and I now know what it means to literally ache with laughter. I indulge more than I have for a while and eventually retire, fortunately to the same tent I put up earlier. The mornings start with a procession of disheveled individuals armed with mugs, fresh from a night in a tent with varying degrees of discomfort, looking for caffeine. A good breakfast revives the spirit and with fishing partners and beats distributed, the pursuit begins.
A lot of folk put in a lot of work to make the Social successful, something for which all us participants are very appreciative. I’m already looking forward to next year and have worked out that there are only eleven and a bit months to go. As a proud social (small s) media luddite, I’ve even been moved to join something called Facebook, so that I can keep in touch with MRA gossip – whatever next!