Over the past few weeks the Large Dark Olives (Baetis Rhodani) have made their appearance on the River Taff in what can only be described as plague numbers. LDO’s have been the main diet of the Taff trout for the last couple of weeks with the odd Brook Dunn (Heptagenid) thrown in. Each insect provides a mouthful for any trout and soon each and every fish in the river will latch onto them.
The unseasonable weather has brought some species of fly on early, such as the Brook Dunn’s which were popping up in early March! Spring has certainly made a stern impression over the last couple of weeks with greenery and white buds blossoming on the trees around the river. The morning and evenings are still cold, with temperatures dropping drastically around 4pm. The wind has been making things difficult, not only for presentation when casting but physically as the biting wind really get hold of your hands when wet.
The cold and clear nights usually produce a fair amount of ground frost, expectedly killing fly life early morning. The brisk winds also delay insect activity until later in the day and the sun rises high producing sufficient heat.
My last few trips to the Taff have produced some exciting and memorable fishing, with many fish two pounds and bigger being netted. The last section of river I fished gave up some exceptional fish on the last two occasions I’ve been there. The middle section of the river holds a lot of water, with many streams and the River Rhondda joining in Pontypridd, the volume of water is drastically increased and pools are wider, deeper and more powerful. Perfect big fish territory.
At around 2pm, the whole river switches on and the LDO’s and Brook Dunns start to hatch, producing waves upon waves of activity, and the fish, they know it’s coming, their on the feeding stations within seconds of the first few minutes of the hatch starting. As the hatch starts to increase more and more fish start to rise and you can really see the potential that the river Taff holds.
I was sitting in one pool watching a couple of fish rise to the mass of dunns on the water, picking which one to target wasn’t easy as the fish weren’t settled on one area, they were moving back and fore the pool picking off a dunn hear and there. Casting at fish rising when their unsettled isn’t easy as most cast usually miss them. There seemed to be ‘to many’ flies on the water for them to pick yours out. The ideal time to target these fish is when the hatch is dying off, the fish are still feeding and active but with less numbers of actual dunns on the surface you can target these fish much more confidently. But their not impossible.
Something I noticed when these fish were feeding was they were sitting just a foot below the surface and moving around the run. I managed to pick the four that were rising off using a Klink and Dink method. The reason I chose this was to suspend the fly in the feeding or resting zone of the fish. I chose to use 8inches on nylon between my dry and nymph, which I had connected both the mainline and the dropper from the eye of an olive dun pattern. The nymph proved successful and took each out of the four fish within minutes of putting it on. Two of the fish were over 2lb in weight and measured 35cm+.
As the hatch was slowing down I noticed a fish dimpling on the far bank. Between a run and a big stone, this fish wasn’t in an easy lay. The bulge from the rock was pushing the duns upstream and out into the main flow, out of sight to the fish. The cast had to be in the crease between the slack and fast water otherwise the fish would have no chance of intercepting the fly. The dimples were created by the fish laying so close to the surface, supping in each fly which successfully made it into its path.
Leader greased and fly ginked I set about fishing, my first few cast were short to give me a picture of where the fastest currents are and ones which I needed to avoid to get the fly to drift naturally. The main current was making things hard, swiftly taking control over the fly line and pulling my fly our of the area. I waded further into the run so I could raise the rod and line off the current and keep the leader in the slack above the fish whilst the fly travels down first.
First proper run down over the fish, it looked but spooked, the nylon may have been showing or maybe it started to drag just over the fish, but it had spooked and didn’t return for another 20 minutes. This fish was a weary one, with the slightest of breeze on the surface it would stop rising, and leave all succulent morsels pass only when the conditions were perfect it would rise.
Half an hour passed and it rose a few more times, first cast over and it took! The line started to pour from the reel, shooting upstream into a deep hole, it stayed deep and dogged around indicating it was a good fish. It rose to the surface and showed it sheer size, a fish I estimated to be around 4lb! It wallowed about in the run for a few minutes, with my Airflo Streamtec Nantec fly fishing rod holding the strain of the fish and flow impressively. The trout jumped once and seemed to give up only to be netted by my fishing buddy Jonathan. The biggest river trout he’s ever seen, which measured 58cm and an estimated weight of 4.4lbs.
Written by Kieron Jenkins