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

 

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.

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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.

 

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The river is clear and pushing through and I decide to try some Euro style 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, but 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 not 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