Clydach and the Crai

There’s been so much rain recently the main rivers have been out of order, which has been most annoying as the trout seasons end is nearly upon us. I was gagging to get out and I finally had a couple of hours to spare last Thursday once it finally stopped raining. The only viable option was to check out a small river Taff trib near Pontypridd called the Clydach.
 There was plenty of water coming down the stream at just the perfect height with a good push of water but clear, whilst the Taff itself was chocolate brown and bank high. I set up an 8 foot Airflo fly fishing rod with a 3 weight ridge supple tactical fly line, tied on a 3mm tungsten bead nymphs.  I worked my way in from a road bridge and flicked the nymph into the first pocket. The yellow indicator material I had tied into the leader twitched away, I struck and a tiny brown came flying up and out into mid air! The next pool up produced a nice fish about 11 inches and the small pool above produced 8 fish in as many casts from an area the size of my car.

As I continued upstream into a wooded gorge the sport was hectic with fish after fish from every little pot and pool. They were nice pretty little stream trout and went well on the feather light fly rod. There were also loads of salmon parr which was a great sign for the future. The stream itself was fantastic with plenty of features, If it wasnt for the prams, traffic cones, hoovers and ovens in the ravine I could have been hundreds of miles from civilisation it was so secluded. I only did about 200 yards and ended my little session at the foot of some impressive falls, having landed about 20 fish total which was more than enough for a quick fly fishing fix.

This little outing really got me in the mood for some more small stream adventuring so Saturday morning I picked out one of the Wye and Usk foundation voucher streams nearest to me, the river Crai in the Brecon Beacons. I got to the river in 45 minutes through some winding narrow back roads but the location could have been the wild west, it was in the middle of nowhere.

The river was very clean with a cobbly bed and the flow was strong but the water clear. I fished up through a mile of the beat battling a full on headwind and drizzle. I didn’t see any traffic cones or ovens which was great, but no sign of fish either! I had been expecting a bonanza like the Clydach, especially after de-barbing the hooks as advised by the WUF passport book, ”due to large numbers of juvenile salmon present”. These weren’t there either. I was on the verge of giving up and heading to another river when the wind died down and a few big march brown type duns started hatching out. On cue I saw a fish rise at the tail end of a long flat. I crept into position but as I did I spooked the fish which ghosted upstream were it was joined by two others. To my amazement these were not the usual small stream runts, one was at least 17 inches and the two others well over a foot long. This pool was a featureless big flat and knee deep so one hell of a challenge in the gin clear water. As I moved up all I got was a few refusals to my dry… these fish were picky. At the head of the pool I finally picked up my first one on the a nymph hanging off a klinkhammer.

As I continued up the beat the pools got bigger and held more fish, it was very hard fishing and presentation had to be spot on, most of the water was devoid of fish they were concentrated in just a few pools. I landed some nice browns to 12 inches and spooked some more big ones. At the head of a deep run at the top of the beat I saw a big swirl in the back eddy. The klink dipped under, I struck and the fish lurched round the pool like a mad thing, it was a right lump for a small stream maybe 2lb! It came clean out at my feet and shook its head in seemingly slow motion and the barbless size 16 went flying out… gutted. I rested the pools and worked back through a couple of times winkling out a few more nice browns but the lumps had wised up and had hidden away for the day. The rain and wind picked up again late afternoon so I headed back home with plans to return next season to have another crack at the the Crai giants!

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Ceri Thomas

About Ceri Thomas

Ceri Thomas is the online marketing manager at Airflo and Fishtec. An accomplished fly-fisher and predator angler with over two decades of experience, he can be found casting fly lines across Wales and beyond. Ceri also lends his expertise to several publications including Fly Fishing & Fly Tying magazine, Fulling Mill blog, Today’s Flyfisher, Eat Sleep Fish and more. A member of Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association, he is active in the public discourse surrounding environmental conservation. You can keep up with his fishing adventures on his Fly Fishing Wales blog and twitter account.