Celebrating Thanksgiving on the Lugg

Once again I take a couple of days off for Thanksgiving.  With so many American colleagues disappearing to consume turkey, it’s a perfect time not to work.  So I give thanks in my own way, by searching for grayling on the beautiful river Lugg.  I get the bonus of knowing that I will come back to no email backlog and no wasted time playing catch up.  An American holiday to which I don’t relate, is something I now look forward to.

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The Lugg Valley

It’s been too many weeks and I’m eager to get on the road, but first thing this morning I’ve got a touch of the ‘grumpy old man’ about me.  The bathroom has more bottles of stuff in it than the local branch of Body Shop, but I still can’t find some simple soap and shampoo.  I don’t want to come out of a shower smelling like a fruit salad, I just want to be clean!  The dogs share my opinion and I swear I can see Ollie screw his nose up as he wonders what I’ve been rolling in.

It should be a seventy minute drive, but traffic in Hereford has me wishing I’d picked a less direct route.  The Lugg rises in central Powys and after meeting the Arrow flows into the Wye ten miles south of Hereford.  I’ve fished it several times but I wouldn’t say I know the river.  It’s a dry day, bright and bitterly cold.  After heavy rain in the last few weeks, the river has fallen but is still pushing through and has a grey tinge.  The low bright sun makes visibility in the fast flow very difficult.  I set up my Hanak Superlight with a shrimp on point and a red tag hare’s ear on a dropper.  I step carefully upstream – there are some deep pools and it’s way too cold to get wet.

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Quick Return For OOST

My first take is at the tail of a deep run, but it’s a 10″ OOS trout, as is the second and third fish, all from the same run.  Funny how fish feel bigger pulling against a strong flow.

An hour in and I find no grayling.  I decide to go back to the car and change gear.  The open ground has given way to overhanging trees and the long nymph rod is proving a challenge.  My 8ft Sage gets the flies to those fishy places and I alternate between nymphs and the duo.  One more small trout and still no grayling.  I’m not convinced by the method and my patience is running out.  I think it’s a myth that anglers have an abundance of patience, I have none.  I constantly fiddle with flies and depth and the grayling don’t respond.

I decide to go a bit old school and fish a couple of lighter nymphs on a traditional longer line upstream.  Cast, retrieve line, a few steps, repeat.  Probably more by luck than judgement, I bring three small grayling to hand in quick succession.  Two take a pink shrimp and one the red tag.  They are feisty for little’uns.

I really enjoy this beat.  It’s out of the way with a variety of water, easy to access and in a beautiful valley.  At the upper limit is a weir, below which there is plenty of promising water.  I explore every likely area and collect two more small grayling and then a better one of about 12″.  I fish for four hours in total before the cold gets the better of my fingers.  On the valley floor the frost hasn’t lifted.  I enjoy Winter fishing and usually don’t mind the chill, but today it’s starting to find a way in and I’m becoming uncomfortable.  Why spoil a nice day by hanging on for an hour.

I warm up in the Land Rover, munch a sandwich and take in the view for ten minutes before driving away.  The sun is already disappearing through the conifers on the far ridge.  Day’s are short on the valley floor.

Tomorrow I’m taking my father to a concert to celebrate his ninetieth birthday.  I may not be that interested in an American public holiday, save for a day off to go fishing, but I’ve plenty to be thankful for.

Mr Notherone

 

Season’s Best….So Far

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The weather has put paid to a day on the Monnow so with the gear already packed, I decide to head for the Usk to see what impact yesterday’s torrential rain has had.  I’m pleasantly surprised, a little colour but fishable and I can see a few small fish topping.  I decide to tackle up and give it a go for a few hours.

At the bottom of the beat there is a fast ripple, deepening towards the far bank.  I run a couple of dry’s along the whole seam but nothing so I switch to a beaded nymph on the point and a spider pattern on the dropper.  Second cast and a small brownie about 10″ comes to hand and I tap the leader and he’s gone.  A few more casts, the sighter straightens and a similar size fish is on. Not a bad start.  One to the nymph and one to the spider.

As I reach the top if the pool, I spot what looks like a larger fish feeding on the surface.  Not big splashy rises but a definite and regular pattern.  There are a few Yellow May’s on the water but I don’t see much else.  I tie on a small size 18 emerger pattern.  My first cast is short; there is that silence that you want to be broken with a splash, but nothing happens.  Second cast is better and almost immediately the fish hits the fly.  I curse as I lift into thin air.  Time to move on up the beat.  I try a few more faster ripples with two nymphs and then the duo with a tiny hares ear and a small klink.  I miss two more takes before the third brownie come to hand, smaller this time, perhaps 8″.  The fourth is another 10″.  Time for a break.  I sit on a welcome wooden bench, throw down a sandwich and decide to move on to another beat a few miles upstream.

IMG_0974A five minute drive and I’m locking the Land Rover and heading down to the river.  Over the last few seasons, I’ve caught well on this short beat.  I set up with two nymphs and fish my way out towards the confluence at the bottom of the beat.

After only about ten minutes, I am hit hard and I’m into a much better fish.  This is a proper Usk trout.  I try to keep him upstream but he runs twice below me and it’s all I can do to bully him back.  I miss the first attempt with the net….success on the second effort.  The PTN falls out in the net.  The fish is 18″ nose to fork and my season’s best.  He takes a few minutes to recover and then slowly glides away and out of sight.  Time for the last of my chocolate bar and a drink.

 

I catch two more smaller fish and then spend half an hour casting a dry to a small fish repeatedly rising in impossibly shallow water.  I try half a dozen flies to no avail and part of me wants to sling a rock at it!  I decide to spend the last half hour back at the pool that produced earlier.  I cast a weighted nymph through the ripple and it hangs in the current below me, as I prepare to use the water tension to cast forwards I feel a solid tug and then something takes off like a train, stripping line from the real.  Then nothing.  The tippet is snapped at the tippet ring.

I don’t see what I’ve hooked, but I’m guessing a salmon.  Certainly heavier than any trout I’ve hooked in a river.

The final count is seven, including my season’s best.  It’s a warm, pleasant late afternoon as I drive home.  Not a bad way to spend a day off.

Mr. Notherone