Freezing on the Upper Wye

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The Wye above Newbridge

I’m not prone to feeling the cold, but for some reason this morning is already different.  I’ve the usual layers on, feeling as bulky as ever and yet I’ve got the shiver that won’t go away.  It’s about half an hour after first light and I’m picking my way across the field to the river.  The temperature gauge is only reading 0°C but it feels lower and the frosty landscape is contributing to the mind-games.  It’s the end of the trout season and I keep telling myself that trout like it cold – they’re bound to be voracious for my fly today.

I’m going to split the beat up and start at the top end where the water is faster and explore the food seams and holding areas where I suspect the fish with lay up.  Two nymphs will be the way to start.  Later, when it’s warmed a little I’ll venture down to the slower glides and see if any fish are looking up.

An hour in the river and my feet are cold (surely its lower than 0°).

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Pheasant Tail Red Tag

It’s uncomfortable but bearable.  I’ve hooked and lost one trout and I’m struggling to find fish.  A change to a little pheasant tail with a small red tag on the dropper brings reward.  Three fish in quick succession, all small but perfectly formed. I should have changed flies earlier but I’m distracted and now my feet are even colder.  For the first time that I can remember I spend time on the bank just thawing out.  It’s a chance to pause, take in the surroundings, enjoy just being there (if only it was a little warmer).  I’m joined for a few minutes by a friendly walker who enquires after my success.  “Three small ones I offer”, followed by a detailed explanation of why he can’t see them.  Many don’t understand angling and some will give that bewildered look when learning that I might spend all day standing in a river returning the fish I attract.  He walks off and I’m sure he’s concluding I’m a little bit crazy.

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Small but Perfect

Back to the task.  The pheasant tail lands me a few more trout and two grayling can’t resist the heavier olive shrimp on the point.  Wading is getting tricky and I’m trying to find the good positions without slipping off the bed rock into what look like impossibly deep pools.

It’s not long before the pain returns to my feet and now I’m starting to shiver again. The quieter water lower on the beat can wait for another day.  As I backtrack along the bank, I notice a rise just above a prominent boulder and wait to see him rise twice more.  I figure I can reach him without wading and so I cast out a small olive up-wing that’s engulfed almost as it touches down.  I’m in and it feels like a better fish.  I turn his first run downstream but then he jumps and throws the fly.  He is definitely a better fish – and this day he’s better than me.  He’s not going to succumb to an

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Where the one that got away, got away.

angler who has already given up and is nursing his feet back to life along the river bank.  Any way, I’ll get him next time when I’m fighting fit.

I peel off my wadders and throw them in the Landy.  I discover both my socks are soaking wet and my suspicion that these wadders are reaching end of life is confirmed.  I’ve had better days fishing, I’ve had warmer days fishing, but this one will certainly be memorable.  It’s a frustrating day but not a disappointing one.  Does any day spent in the company of the Wye ever disappoint?

 

Mr Notherone.

The Upper Avon

A Day with the Ladies..

If my first passion is the trout, the grayling is not far behind and it is the off season after all.

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The First Of The Day

It’s still dark when I pull into the little car park in the wood.  I want to get set up but the poor light and chilly air sees me reach for the hot flask and I stay in the Land Rover for another twenty minutes.  I could have ventured to the upper Wye or perhaps the Lugg where I’ve had memorable days with grayling.  Last season I tempted a 19″ beauty (my personal best) from the Craig Llyn beat below Rhayader.  I could have gone west to the Taff but I don’t know the river well and so I’ve opted for familiarity and I’m about to fish the Avon above the little village of Upavon.  Hard to turn down a chance to cast a fly in a chalk stream.

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The Avon at Upavon

 

As my boots crunch through the light frost, the optimism is rising;  I’ve caught well here before.  I opt to head downstream from the bridge that bisects the beat and work up with a pair of nymphs, short tight line style.  The water is up a little and much clearer than I expect after so much rain, so a change of plan.  A klinkhammer with a lighter nymph suspended underneath will hopefully put me out of spooking range.  I catch steadily on the nymph and take a couple on the klink, before a flurry of surface activity around late morning.  Unexpected but very welcome.

I tie on a size 16 F fly and for about 25 minutes I’m trying to hit those little sips above and below me.  I catch quite a few and miss as many.  All the fish today are in the 10″ to 13″ range – no monsters on this trip.

Lunch is the usual hasty affair before another hour or so trying to spot and target fish with a dry from the bank.  I manage a few more before the light fades and I start to contemplate the 90 minute drive home that will probably be two hours.  Remarkably it has stayed dry although the cold is just starting to prompt me to make that last cast.

The upper Avon is a beautiful stream and a wonderful place to spend a day.  As I pull away and head home the first drops of rain trickle down the windscreen.  Sometimes when the gods are shinning on you they do a little overtime.

 

Mr Notherone

Autumn on the Lugg

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A Beautiful Lugg WBT

An actual day off work, no one trying to reach me and no email to worry about until much, much later. It’s proving a longer drive than I thought though, not helped by what I’m convinced are poor directions. I eventually find the lane that leads to the Lyepole beat.  This is a beautiful part of the country, rolling hills and a wide, flat valley floor.  The entire landscape is a shade of green and ‘picturesque’ does not do it justice.  It’s one of those Autumn days of bright sunshine punctuated with the occasional small dark rain cloud, but they’re just teasing and there’s not a drop all day.  I gaze over the bridge near the parking space and I’m hit with two thoughts; this is a smaller river than I remember and there’s not much water in it.

I head off to the bottom of the beat (a decision I’ll regret) armed with a shortish 3wt rigged with a french leader, sighter and a pair of weighted nymphs.  In the first faster ripple, I catch a 9” brownie with my second cast and then briefly hook another. Might be a good day after all, in spite of the water level. This is fishing though and it’s an hour before number two comes to hand.

Back at the bridge I ponder the 5 little trout I fooled and wonder what the afternoon will bring.  Resuming my efforts, almost immediately I realise my mistake as the top half of the beat is where I should be spending my time. More fishy places and betterIMG_0497 access. Nice pools with heads and tails all holding trout. One or two pools are deeper than they look and even with chest waders I’m lucky to stay dry.

The little trout keep coming and then close to the top of the beat, where the water cascades through a series of faster runs, I see the first surface activity and so on goes a small olive emerger.  My first cast is off and I wonder if he’s bolted.  Then I get the mend right and I’m rewarded with the best fish of the day that leaps twice before finding the net. This really is a beautiful beat. I’ve caught around 15 trout and a couple of grayling and enjoyed a day of solitude.  The light is telling me it’s late afternoon as I stroll back through the fields and my legs are telling me I’ve waded and scrambled enough for one day.  But what a day!

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Mr Notherone

Kingfisher Dilema

I have lost count of the times I have shared with this magnificent bird, have you?  Often the first indication is a flash of blue in my peripheral vision and I’ll do my best to track it hoping to catch the landing.  I will watch the bird on it’s perch, often to the detriment of my angling.

kingfisherAs our rivers have generally improved in recent years I suspect kingfishers have benefited.  I ‘feel’ my sightings are increasing but I can’t be sure.  I’m no ornithologist and can’t claim much knowledge and yet the kingfisher mesmerises me and makes me feel privileged.  Paradoxically, I’ve also come to take these encounters for granted.

This was reinforced the other day when my partner casually commented, whilst watching a clip of a kingfisher on TV, that she’d never seen one.  I was genuinely surprised.

The conversation evolved and she was equally surprised that I’d watched so many whilst fly fishing.  (There’s a side point here about the obvious poverty of communication between us and our respective interests, but best not go there).

Turns out, my partner has a significant ambition to see a kingfisher.  The obvious solution is for her to accompany me on a days fishing to the Monnow or Usk.  Well, perhaps not so obvious as now I have to wrestle with my desire to help her fulfil a heartfelt ambition and the potential intrusion into my private retreat that is fly fishing.

For the first time in perhaps twenty years, I sense that neither of us is now looking forward to the approaching season with the usual gusto!  I think we’ll work it out… without too much drama.

Mr Notherone

Welcome to ‘Fishing For Trout’…..

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I have a passion for fly fishing for trout.  Mostly this involves a relationship with the beautiful rivers and streams of Monmouthshire, but occasionally I venture further afield.  I will write about my fishing, experiences and what I learn.  Sometimes I will throw in some personal anecdotes and when feeling bold perhaps even offer a little advice. 

My blog is purely for my enjoyment – and hopefully yours.  I’m not an expert but I am an experienced angler.  Each time I go fly fishing I learn something new.  I’m just getting started writing,  so as it grows and develops I hope you stop by from time to time, and please do share your thoughts.

Thank you,

Mr Notherone