Stark Raving Mad!

It’s not often that I’m startled at 7.30am by a stranger shouting at me. The piercing shrill is coming from a large lady on the footpath who doesn’t break stride as she follows up the “Are you stark raving mad”? with a loud laugh and exuberant wave. 

I almost lose my footing and all I can manage is a rather lame “quite probably” in reply.  Then her and her Labrador are gone and I’m still waist deep in the Monnow searching for grayling, perfectly convinced that my sanity is beyond question.

IMG_0643

A Frosty Message To The Family

The day starts with me scratching a message on my partners car hoping our daughter might find it amusing. I’m going to defy the forecasters and their over excitement about the coming storm. It even has a name, “The Beast from the East”.

Everyone is busy stocking up and preparing for the 4″ of snow that will paralyse the country for days. It will probably amount to nothing much, so 7am finds me tackled up and walking across the fields to the bottom of the beat.  Although I’ve all the layers I need it’s one of my coldest starts to a fishing session at -4C on the gauge and as I continue my walk, ice is forming on my waders below the knees from crossing the river.

Today is also the first outing for my new Simms G3 boots, bought a while ago in a sale.  So far so good, actually they feel fantastic and my confidence is up.

IMG_0548

The river is clear and pushing through and I decide to try some tight line nymphing so out comes the Hanak Superlight and my new Sunray line. I choose a shrimp for the point and a lighter PTN on the dropper and go hunting.

Usually I don’t fish fast but today I’m not hanging around and I try to get a balance between getting a move on and keeping quiet.  Although I’m searching every likely haunt, I find nothing. Two little bumps (that I’m convinced are fish) keeps me optimistic. The first take comes at the end of a short drift just as I’m lifting and I unhook a small 8″ grayling with the fish still in the water. This is not a day for the net or pictures of my catch and it’s too cold to mess about. I take a few snaps of the river.

Two more similar fish follow but I’m not finding a shoal even in the deeper pools. Eventually the 4th grayling, a better fish of about 12″ takes the pink shrimp and shortly afterwards I’m in again to what I hope is a really good grayling but turns out to be a 14″ OOS brownie who is particularly feisty.

It’s hard to beat the Monnow. After four hours on a cold late February morning I have chalked up five fish and I’m satisfied. If spending a morning here in Winter makes me ‘raving mad’ then so be it – I’m don’t think I’m alone. If you’ve found this post and read this far, you probably understand.

I warm up in the car with a sandwich and some chocolate. I’ll be home in half and hour.  My partner phones and wonders if, with the storm coming, she should make an extra trip to the supermarket. No, let’s take a risk and live life on the edge I tell her…we’ll probably survive.

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.

IMG_0266

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.

IMG_0267

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.

Mr Notherone