The plan this weekend was to meet up with my mate Steve and fish the Monnow for some grayling. It all looked peachy until the rain came, and carried on and on and on. The Monnow ended up being a risk off wash off so we decided instead (with a little help from the local knowledge) to fish the tributary, the River Dore.
Our chosen beat was Abbey Dore Court, unfortunately the most expensive on the WUF books but the only beat available, and after a 3+ hour drive we turned into the grounds of a beautiful house. We met the beats owner, a lovely lady who tends to the massive manicured gardens all winter! and her lurcher. They showed us the lower "garden beat" and we tackled up. An 8'6'' 4# was overgunned here but it is the smallest rod I own, a situation which must soon be rectified!!
This water may look fast and shallow but it conceals wader filling depths right under the banks, careful wading was needed on this small stream.
Steve entered halfway up the beat below a nice weirpool and I made my way right to the bottom so we would not overlap and fish the same water, the stream was too small for that.
Steve fishing the largest pool on the beat, how he missed the shoal of grayling lying at his feet I will never know, but I am selfishly glad he did!
First pool and first fish, a lovely grayling engulfed my size 19 Black PT nymph as i let it drop through the slow water of a very deep eddy. For such a narrow stream the depth of the pools was astonishing, many had to be skirted round as even the edges were over waist deep. The grayling was followed by a few more as I made my way up to the weir pool.
The first grayling and at just under a pound a very good start.
This was very challenging fishing and completely different to the chalkstreams I am used to. There is no sight fishing to be done and the order of the day was short casts with long leaders and heavy flies into deep water. This made bite detection tricky but by keeping the rod high and line short the twitches were registered and fish were landed.
Making our way on to the wild overgrown upper beat we were optimistic, we had 7 fish to hand between us in our short morning session and this water looked mouth wateringly good. Every corner revealed a pool which screamed fish. Ofcourse this was not the case, 3 and a half fruitless hours past and morale hit rock bottom. I tried every fly and tactic i knew but to no prevail and eventually we trudged back to the lower beat with our tails between our legs thoroughly beaten.
I again entered at the fallen chestnut but this time Steve did not fish the weir pool so when i reached it I was able to get into a position and settle in to methodically work the active water. It was a dream to fish with a sweeping current working around my position on a shelf in the inside slack and a massive swirling eddy beyond the fast water. A few casts in and I had the single beadhead working nicely occasionally touching bottom and snagging the odd bit of weed, perfect. A few small brownies attacked the flies at the very tip of the pool, taking them as soon as they hit the water, a change to an even heavier fly soon sorted that problem out and the fly made its way bottomwards in search of ladies.
The weirpool was full of small brown trout but a heavier nymph pushed the flies to the bottom and out of their sights.
Everything came together then and I enjoyed an hour of brilliant sport with a shoal of grayling with atleast half a dozen good fish coming to hand as well as a few more small brownies. There was a true fishermans tale to tell though as one cast went skywards and landed well beyond where it was intended in the back eddy. As the line bowed in the current and the nymph was pulled round my line tip jerked forwards and I tightened into a small brownie, only this time he wasn't so small, a fish of over a pound left the water and my 8x tippet could not cope and parted. Thankfully the hooks were small and barbless so I am sure he is no worse for his encounter and will spawn unhindered.
The best fish of the day was probably just over a pound and fought well in the fast water and 8x tippet.
All in all it was a good days fishing on a challenging beat, casting is tricky and wading essential due to high banks. The fish are not easy to catch and well spread over the beat. It was a very different day to the small stream fishing I am used to and made a pleasant change. This said I do not think this beat is worth its hefty price tag when some of the other WUF waters are considered. Nice fishing but challenging and pricey.