Is predation spoiling your fly fishing?

Everyone who every fishes will have a tale to tell about predation, whether they have caught a bird marked fish or saw a family of goosanders working a pool, taking their feed.  This year, more so than ever, this issue appears to be affecting where I fish, It’s never been so noticeable but until recently things have changed…

We see specimen fish coming out of the rivers down South fairly regularly, large brown trout up to 6lb in weight are caught every year, and the fish seems to be in tip top condition almost from the start of the season. My local waters however, have been strangely quiet.  The weather has had its part to play certainly; one problem we do have to put up with is the waters released from the ElanValley reservoirs.  With the heavy snow that lingered around, the melt waters have been running down the Wye for a significant period keeping the temperature of the water very cool and slowing the fishes usual ‘wake up’ cycle.

With the exceptionally fine weather start of the season and even more decent weather of late we’ve seen vast hatches of Olives, Mayflies and Sedges which leave you asking the question if the fish are actually there as no feeding activity can be seen in a haze of fly life, you’d expect the fly fishing to be immense!

The AC in Builth has stocked twice so far this year with Brown Trout.  On the second stocking, roughly 60 were stocked in the Irfon.  These 60 fish swam up stream, down stream and when two cheeky Goosanders landed on the water, they went round in circles and were easy prey.  In a couple of mins, easily 10 fish were no more.

Goosander watch

Goosander watch

The cormorants are also doing damage.  On our waters, a private syndicate lake and Llyngwyn lake there seems to be resident birds happy to take their fill.  The worse thing about it is they don’t appear to be bothered by humans.  A report earlier this year from Rhayader AC, an angler at Llyngwyn hooked a Rainbow but before he could net it the Corm has swooped down and taken the fish – after a 15 minute aerial battle the line finally gave and the bird flew off, fish and all!  Personally im fully behind the Angling Trust campaign Action on Cormorants – check

From what I can see, most deadly are the Otters.  A number of years ago, Pant Llyn Pool on the back road from Builth to Brecon was brimming with good size coarse fish.  An Otter was introduced over the hill and now the lake is all but empty.  This year, we have had reports of a family of Otters re-introduced to the River Wye locally.  Since their introduction, our newly redeveloped coarse fishery has been ravaged – 60 kill sights were found including that of a 9lb Carp.  There are very few good size trout coming out of the river and the recent arrival of the Shad for their yearly spawn has seen them heavily targeted.  The Shad had been seen in our waters for 3 days and at least 8 dead Shad were found on one of my fav fishing spots.  Stomachs ripped to expose the roe and then left – certain signs of otter predation.

On a lighter note,  I have been fishing a few times and the Aber pool has been performing constantly. The fish tend to be laying deep, holding close to the bottom due to the cool water and the majority of the fishes food still bound to the bottom. When the fishing’s like this, usually I opt for the french leader and a couple of heavy nymphs to trundle close to the bottom. But, with the odd fly coming off I setup with the Duo method with a silver bead head nymph a couple of feet below.  Strung together on 3lb g3 leader, the Duo method can be fished almost static in the slower sections and also fish the deeper sections well too.

After a couple of runs through the pool the Klinkhammer which suspended the nymph suddenly shot under the water and the Streamtec Nantec rod doubled over as I struck – a Shad.  After a lengthy battle and several hard runs, a shad of 2lb+ was gracing my Airflo scoop net. Arm wrenching!

However, as I was recently told better otter than mink as they are a natural species and things will settle down and even themselves up eventually – sooner rather than later I hope.

At least there are some small brownies left in the water!

At least there are some small brownies left in the water!