Always more to learn….

I’m having a good afternoon. More than a dozen trout have been in the net including four of around 15 inches. Some are a beautiful golden colour and were fooled into rising for a small deer hair emerger and a danica mayfly. Hopefully years from now, days like this is will be dragged back as memories to smile for.

I’ve lost track of time a little and I’m surprised to see that it’s almost an hour later than I think. I decide to fish the slower glide in front of me before heading home and besides, I’ve spotted at least two risers.

An Afternoon to Remember

One trout in particular is rising regularly, ahead and almost in the middle of the river. I edge very slowly to the left and decide that I can get almost level with the fish. The angle of the light has changed and will make keeping track of the fly that much more difficult. I’ve a long leader and the same emerger pattern that has taken ten trout today.

My first cast is good and the fly tracks right over him, so does the second. Nothing. Another rise.

So I haven’t put him down. Fly change time. On goes the mayfly, also successful today. Another two drifts and another two refusals. Perhaps I’m too close and he’s spotted me, but as I prepare to back off there is another rise, more prominent than before. I can’t see what he’s taking so I decide to go small.

A size twenty F fly tests my eyesight to the limit but I’ve developed a lot of confidence in the fly over the years. Unfortunately, I get the same result.

Another half a dozen casts with a small adams and a small wulff variant sees my frustration grow. Each time the trout rises as before sometimes with a splash and sometimes just a sip and each rise is within the same eighteen square inches. Perhaps my drift is not as good as I think, perhaps there is more drag than I can see, maybe I should have tried a terrestrial, who knows…

I decide to leave him to it and as I clamber up the bank I see him rise once more as if to rub it in. Today, one little trout definately got the better of me.

I resolve that there will be other days like this one to commit to memory and that I have some unfinished business on this small stretch of water. I will study harder, learn more and practice until I get luckier.

In the meantime, Scotland’s anthem comes to mind. The bit that goes “and sent him homeward, to think again”.

Mr Notherone

Trout, Compost and Geraniums…

I cannot abide garden centres, although the farm shops which frequently accompany them are very satisfying places.

Conscious of my distance from all other humans, I queue with the hundreds of other escapees. I am able to take advantage of a seat and in the morning sun, my mind begins to wander.

Peering over the bridge the river is as splendid as I’ve seen, perhaps made more so by my time away. From here the water looks clear but on closer inspection there is an algae washing through. I’m surprised I’m not in more of a rush and a little downstream I sit and admire. Obstacles I knew have gone and new ones have taken residence. The water is the perfect height.

A size 16 deer hair emerger is enjoying a coating of floatant as I watch for a third rise. There are trout showing but many are subtle. Today I will only try to catch those who show themselves.

There is tremendous satisfaction in spotting a rise, casting and fooling a fish regardless of its size and my first success is small, beautiful and had thankfully rehearsed his part in the script. Laying just off a faster current and sheltered by a fallen branch, I watch him take two good size duns before landing a gentle cast.

A few more follow, without quite the same precision and then I net a lovely 16″ brown trout on the same fly.

Of course I miss a few (I always do) and given this is the first dry fly day of the season I decide it’s nothing more than rustiness. Like a darts player missing a double to win. No nine dart finish for me today.

The afternoon gets warmer and although there is a good trickle of flies all day, there are a few more intense hatches. The trout are slow to respond and I suspect they are gorging on emergers unseen. As I move up river, there are just enough showing to keep my interest.

Late afternoon I meet two other club members who have enjoyed a similar day and we exchange a few stories with some liquid refreshment. It’s great to have some adult face to face conversation with people outside the family and a surprise how much it’s missed. Keeping six feet apart, we decide to stalk a few more fish together and it’s not long before we each demonstrate that we’ve still much to learn!

“Young man” (I love that)……”Excuse me….excuse me, young man”. The lady behind me in the queue is trying to get my attention. “Sorry to disturb you” she say “but if you don’t move up, you might lose your place in the queue”.

This is my problem with garden centres, everyone is so nauseatingly polite.

Mr Notherone

Struggling in the Honddu Valley

As I turn off the road and onto the track that leads to the river it’s not the sight I am expecting. Looking forward to a remote few hours on the Honddu, I’m confronted by what looks like a well established campsite and the usual array of green, orange and blue tents.

There is the smell of campfire and breakfast on the air. A few early risers (people not fish) are friendly enough as I pass and make my way downstream of the bridge to the bottom of the beat. The campers are as entitled to be here as me, but I’m already feeling out of sorts.

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The Honddu below Llanthony

No reason really, the river looks good with a nice flow and very clear water.  I decide to fish with a pair of nymphs, traditional upstream rather than European style. Nothing for twenty minutes then I hook and lose a small brownie in some pocket water before bringing another to hand. They seem to be in the quicker water today. I hook and lose two more as a spaniel from the campsite follows my every move from the bank. At least he’s not interested in a morning bath.

As I fish past the campsite my mind is wandering. I’m not sure if it’s the smell of bacon but I’m not even looking when the next small trout snatches the pheasant tail. This time he stays on and the fly falls out as I cradle him in the water before he bolts for cover.

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What’s not to like

Back at the car I grab a drink and a rethink.  I’m not fishing well. I’m stumbling around heavily and in this small stream stealth and presentation is paramount.

I resolve to give myself a metaphorical kick up the arse. The early morning sunshine disappears and now the wind picks up with a little rain in the air. I head upstream where I’ve only the sheep and new lambs for an audience.

There is no surface activity but I decide to tie on a dry emerger and prospect. I’ll probably miss out on more of the lovely little brownies in the quicker water but maybe I’ll tempt a better one up. I’ve a rhythm going now and perhaps a quarter mile above the bridge my fly is taken as soon as it lands and a better fish is soon to hand. A good fight, quick picture and he’s back. Unfortunately, my mood uplift is short lived, as I follow this success with two casts into a tree before putting a knot in the end of my furled leader! Time to call it a day.

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Honddu Brownie

As I drive away it’s warming up and this is probably the time I should be arriving. The Honddu is a lovely stream in a beautiful valley. Today I’ve not made the most of this Monnow tributary and I’ve only myself to blame.

I decide to cheer myself up and stop at the Half Moon for a pint. I’m greeted with a warm welcome and a “what can I get you on this beautiful Spring day”?  Not such a bad weekend after all. What do they say about even a bad day fishing being better than a good day anywhere else…

Mr Notherone