Coarse Fishing for Welsh Grayling

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They’re big, they’re angry and they’re bloody wild those Welsh Ladies. Well who can blame them?  They hardly get fished for in the areas of Wales that we fish and we turn up and disturb their peace.  Most of the rivers barely see another angler.  That’s the beauty of travelling to Powys to fish for these stunning grayling. We arrived on our first day to find the hills shrouded in mist and low cloud.  We could have just as easily been in the Himalayas.  Later that day the sun eventually broke through the gloom and the hills and surrounding countryside were lit up in a blaze of colour. We have found in the past that late February can be a tricky time to fish for grayling.  They tend to shoal up and become a little more delicate and finicky. Large areas appear to be devoid of fish, even places that have proved very productive previously.

One option is to fish a little more delicately with lighter mainlines, hook lengths and floats, the other is to keep moving and find the fish. Eventually on that first day I located some grayling.  I lost a couple of nice fish and then eventually landed a small one of about a pound.  I did have a bonus chub though of around 3lbs.  My angling companions; Geoff, Kevin and Dan were also struggling.  That afternoon we only managed just a few fish, including one other small grayling.  So it had been a tough start but not unexpected.  Both Geoff and Kevin at least got to try out their new purchases.  They had both acquired a TFG Classic Centrepin after me raving about them for ages and were keen to put them through their paces.  They were delighted with the reels and I’m not surprised.  With a glut of cheap and poorly made centrepins flooding the market recently, this reel puts them to shame.  But there again it’s not a cheap pin, it’s a great quality pin at an exceptionally low price.

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On day two we headed to a Wye tributary, the Ithon to do some trotting.  We had several miles to explore.  The Ithon is more of a lowland river, but a beautiful river to practice coarse fishing.  It winds it way through woodland and meadows where the riverbed is a mixture of gravel and silt.  There are still lots of lovely gravel runs, glides and deep pools to go at, despite the abundance of silt and mud.  It’s a truly wild and unkempt river.  Thick foliage and trees choke the banks and make access difficult in places.

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This river showed no signs of human interference or for that matter any signs of being fished.  I’m not surprised though really, it was a tricky place to wade or to fish from the banks.  Still we found some cracking little spots and were confident of a few fish.  We were wrong on that count.  We never had a bite, despite covering a couple of miles of river and even resorting to driving further downstream for a look.  However we did see 5 otters together in one spot and 2 more a little way downstream.  So maybe this spooked the fish and they were hidden up under the snags. So the following day we headed to a private stretch of the Irfon.

We arrived in the morning and it was a bitterly cold day but at times bright and cheery.  This was a delightful stretch, once again very wild, remote and unkempt.  The riverbed here was mainly bedrock but with quite a few gravel runs.  Wading was difficult but manageable with care.  A word of warning when wading on bedrock, don’t be complacent.  It’s very dangerous to get over confident.  The rock is slippery as hell and very uneven.  It’s easy to get a foot stuck and then slip.

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We worked our way upstream, frog leaping each other as we did so.  By early afternoon we were biteless.  We stopped for lunch and discussed the situation.  We had fished so many cracking swims but failed to so much as illicit a bite.  We decided that despite the beauty of the beat we should move to the town section of the Wye, where we knew fish holed up in the winter. The move paid off.  Geoff and Kevin fished the main area, whilst Dan and I tried down near the town bridge.  I managed several nice upper 1lb+ grayling and Geoff and Kevin really got stuck in.  They ended up with 17 or 18 grayling apiece, nothing huge but certainly to the 1lb 12oz range.  However it was incredibly cold with a vicious easterly wind and we could take no more.  The warmth of the fire back at the cottage beckoned and a warm meal was needed to keep the chill at bay.

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The next two days saw us return to the town section.  Dan and I fished the main swims this time Kevin and Geoff explored the Irfon and the Wye.  To be honest they both struggled.  They did manage a few fish each.  Dan and I both did well.  By using a bait dropper we managed to keep the fish interested and in close.  By running a float along a near bank crease, which then travelled out to mid-river, we kept bites coming all day long. Double red maggot seemed to be the bait.  I think Dan and I were both using relatively heavy floats to deal with the wind and hold the line that we wanted to fish.  Mine was a 10BB Avon, shotted down low.  As usual the bulk of the shot was located around 12-18inches from the hook with a small dropper shot 4-6 inches from the hook.  I prefer to use Kamasan B983s for this sort of fishing.  They provide an excellent hold and even with the barb crushed (makes unhooking fish easier whilst wading) I seem to land a high percentage of fish.

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We ended the day with me on about 23/23 grayling and Dan on 17 or 18 both taking fish to just shy of 2lbs.  Dan also had a lovely bonus chub of 4lbs too.  The next day saw our final fling on the Wye with a rather unusual and interesting finale. Kevin dropped into a perfect swim. The river straightened after a bend and then the shallow water dropped into a deep run, where a crease created a lovely smooth glide.  First run through and Kevin stuck into a very nice fish.  It fought well and evaded capture for a while before I finally slipped the net under a fine grayling.  It had big thick set shoulders and a lovely bright dorsal fin and weighed 2lb 3oz.  There was a small v shaped scar just below its dorsal fin where a cormorant or some other predator had grabbed it at some point and a single scar on the other side.

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After sorting his camera out and re-baiting the hook, Kevin dropped the float in to the same spot again.  His reel tangled whilst his float sat almost motionless in the swim.  The float then seemed to drag under and I informed Kevin that his float had disappeared.  He lifted the rod tip to dislodge the float from what appeared to be the riverbed, when he found another good grayling attached!  Incredibly, despite the lack of a strike, the fish stayed on.  It fought for a while but soon gave up and I could see it was another ’2′.  As the fish slipped into the waiting landing net I saw a familiar scar!  Er it was the same fish again.

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The scar matched and so did the weight.  Well who would have believed it, the same fish in two casts.  That was nothing, believe me. The next trot through got the exact same result and the same fish.  So that was three times on the bounce. I had a go in the swim whilst Kevin watched and incredibly managed to capture the same fish again, on the first trot through the swim. Four casts and four times it appeared.  This seemed remarkable.  The fish was returned again and as with the previous 3 occasions rested for a short while before gliding off silently into the bright waters of the Wye.

 

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Fly Fishing on the Wye for Brown Trout

Having fished on Saturday for the first time in quite while (and with a little success) this past Sunday was meant with some excitement. It had been cold the past week but dry, which meant the rivers were at a good level and clear for this time of year.

Eager to put my new Streamtec Nantec fly rod through its paces I decided I would fish one of my favourite spots, hoping to pull out a couple of good fish.  The river Wye, a beautiful river which runs through the heart of Wales, and one of my all time favourite places to fish. The pool I intended to fish was just below the confluence of the Irfon and the Wye. With the weather being very cold, I layered up and slipped into my Simms Freestone Waders, and met up with my good friend Dan Graham for a few hours fishing.

Wye Irfon Confluence

With the trout season just kicking in and the cold weather still present, the usual sport on the dry fly didn’t seem so apparent. Armed with my 8ft 5# rod, I’d decided to fish the Duo whilst Dan opted for the Czech Nymphing setup for the faster water.

My set-up for the day was to be the Streamtec rod paired with an Airflo sixth sense floating line. Attached to this, a 5ft tapered leader with two addition lengths of 4ft & 3lb G3 fluorocarbon straight to the dry olive klinkhammer on a fixed dropper. Below I attached a silver bead red hot spot nymph. Recent conversations has brought to my attention the benefits of a sliding dropper knot. Something I will be learning and practising a lot. With the ability to vary the depth at which my nymph is fished, could well have landed me a couple of extra fish in some of the shallower water.

Having fished a few likely looking spots (excellent for dry flies when the fish are on the feed) I made my way up river until I was just below ‘Aber pool’. Aber pool is a keen spot for the Salmon boys and also the coarse anglers as the pool has an extremely deep run and holds a lot of big fish. Casting diagonal with a little up stream mend, I let the flies drift down past me and repeat along the length of the pool, covering all likely looking areas.

After wading and fishing my way along a very likely looking crease to no avail, I waded further into the river searching a small depression behind a large boulder. The klink suddenly dipped under the water and I had finally struck into a fish. The fish was very lively and fought extremely well considering it’s early season condition. I finally netted the gorgeous wild brownie, the first of many for the oncoming trout season I hope! Having unhooked the nymph from it’s scissors, Dan took a quick picture before I released the fish back to the water.

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You could tell that the fish had recently spawned as she was slim. However weighing in at one and a half pounds it was a lovely fish to start of the season. You can just imagine what weight she will get too after feasting on the early season files!

With Spring seemingly disappearing back into Winter, I along with nearly every river fly fisherman am looking forward to the mass hatches of Blue winged olives, Brook Duns and hopefully the odd March brown, that adorn our rivers during the day and the sometime spectacular hatch that we see in the evenings.

Check out Craigs blog here: finallyfishing.blogspot.co.uk