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 seem to 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. Winter day’s are short in this part of the valley.

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

 

 

Autumn on the Lugg

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A Beautiful Lugg WBT

An actual day off work, no one trying to reach me and no email to worry about until much, much later.

It’s proving a longer drive than I thought though, not helped by what I’m convinced are poor directions. I eventually find the lane that leads to the Lyepole beat. This is a beautiful part of the country, rolling hills and a wide, flat valley floor. The entire landscape is a shade of green and ‘picturesque’ does not do it justice.

It’s one of those Autumn days of bright sunshine punctuated with the occasional small dark rain cloud, but they’re just teasing and there’s not a drop all day. I gaze over the bridge near the parking space and I’m hit with two thoughts; this is a smaller river than I remember and there’s not much water in it.

I head off to the bottom of the beat (a decision I’ll regret) armed with a shortish 3wt rigged with a french leader, sighter and a pair of weighted nymphs. In the first faster ripple, I catch a 9” brownie with my second cast and then briefly hook another. Might be a good day after all, in spite of the water level. This is fishing though and it’s an hour before number two comes to hand.

Back at the bridge I ponder the 5 little trout I fooled and wonder what the afternoon will bring. Resuming my efforts, almost immediately I realise my mistake as the top half of the beat is where I should be spending my time. More fishy places and betterIMG_0497 access. Nice pools with heads and tails all holding trout. One or two pools are deeper than they look and even with chest waders I’m lucky to stay dry.

The little trout keep coming and then close to the top of the beat, where the water cascades through a series of faster runs, I see the first surface activity and so on goes a small olive emerger. My first cast is off and I wonder if he’s bolted. Then I get the mend right and I’m rewarded with the best fish of the day that leaps twice before finding the net.

This really is a beautiful beat. I’ve caught around 15 trout and a couple of grayling and enjoyed a day of solitude. The light is telling me it’s late afternoon as I stroll back through the fields and my legs are telling me I’ve waded and scrambled enough for one day.  But what a day!

Mr Notherone

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