Apparently this will be the hottest day of the year so far. Just a few weeks ago I was walking the river banks looking at a torrent of muddy water, now it’s clear and at a height that is inviting me in. The temperature might get to the mid-twenties today, but the water still feels cold and it’s a reminder that we are only just past the middle of April.
I’m still exploring and around each bend is something new. I realise that I don’t know which river bank I should be on for the coming bit of water and I have to back track several times and cross over. What a fantastic place to be on a learning curve!
I catch five trout and a grayling, but what marks the day is that I have my first trout of the season on a dry.
In one of the nicest looking pools I see one of only two rises all day. I take off the small klink and micro nymph that has caught me a couple so far and tie on a little F fly. I’ve only seen a handful of flies coming off in two hours on the river. When I don’t know what fish are feeding on, I often find the F fly to be one of the best in my box.
I’m not going to be able to get my preferred 45 degree angle on the fish. It’s going to be more straight across. I am able to get pretty close though so I’m hoping I can hold the line off the faster water that’s between me and glory. My cast is on the money and I can control the drift, but I’m soon past the point where I expect a take. I’m just about to lift off when the fly disappears in a swirl and I’m in.
It’s a jumper! Three times I’m treated to an aerobatic display and then it’s over quickly as he runs straight at the net. A very respectable 15″ brownie.
I cover one more rise an hour later but I don’t see that fish again.
A nice grayling at around 13″ takes a small hares ear and I mange four juvenile trout to the same fly. I’d trade them all for the one on the dry though.
I twist my knee slightly, slipping off a boulder. Very minor, but it’s the excuse I need to pack it in. I want to get home in time for a drink or two in the garden before the sun disappears over the hill. I don’t celebrate Easter, but I’ll raise my glass to a damn good Friday.
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.
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.
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 twenty five 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 ninety minute drive home that will probably take two hours. Remarkably it has stayed dry although the cold is prompting 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.