I don’t know about the rest of you but I enjoy my fishing a lot more when I have someone to share the experience with, that is not to say I do not enjoy the solitude of lone angling with only the wildlife for company, but to share the memorable moments with a friend is surely special. Over the bank holiday I fished with two good friends of mine, Steve and Nick, both I met purely through fishing as we all share a passion for fly fishing for grayling in the winter and are all crazy enough to tackle the “butt clenching” wading that is the middle Taff when she is a foot or two high.
Nick and I fished all three days of the long weekend whilst Steve joined us from Sunday, missing some tricky but rewarding fishing by doing so. We spent the morning on a river I have not fished before, the Rhondda, a small-medium sized tributary of the Taff which joins at Pontypridd. The Rhondda is one of those rivers with a real schizophrenic character, starting in pocket water with a strong thigh deep flow and large submerged boulders and debris ready to trip the unwary (we both took a dunking at some point). After less than a mile she changes almost becoming chalkstream-esque with long shallow glides and beds of ranunculus easily visible in the clear flow, here she is kind and peaceful lulling you into a false sense of security before the next section of rapids when yet again she will try to make you look a fool as you stumble on slippery footholds in the strong current.
For Saturday morning we chose to do things the hard way and fish the pocket water. Our logic was with the river a bit high the fish would be concentrated in the numerous slacks behind boulders and in the eddies. Our weapons of choice were similar setups of 10’ 3# weight rods with 9m of tapered leader and no fly lines, a bastardised form of leader to hand nymphing I suppose. Heavy jigs (3.5mm tungsten) were flicked along the creases of slack and although concentrated turned out to be an exaggeration a good number of fish were caught between us. The jigs we use are fairly similar with both of us agreeing on some key triggers, I will cover these in a separate post on early season flies soon.
Nick into a nice little trout from one of the weirpools
Those long floppy rods are spot on for close range work, protecting light tippets and allowing you to reach over currents with no drag.
Must remember to check my hooks after snagging, this one cost me a good few fish before I realised, live and learn.
The best of the day for Nick at just around the 2lb mark.
The afternoon was spent on the Taff proper, we met up with Kieron Jenkins (rons blog thing) who is an awesome young fisherman who competes at the international level for Wales. I was amazed at how open he was with his secret (not any more) flies and fishing spots. He pointed us in the direction of some decent fishing and left us too it. Annoyingly I started dropping fish and after the fourth shook the hook after a few seconds my language became somewhat blue, a check of the fly showed that the point had dulled after snagging a rock, nothing the hook sharpener couldn’t sort out and business was soon resumed with some more fish caught.
We travelled a bit further afield on Sunday to fish on the upper Usk, higher water had kept us from the lower beats but we were told of the chance of some monsters lurking at Pantyscallog. The river couldn’t be more different from the Taff, it tumbles over waterfalls and through bedrock gullies in beautiful countryside, there was not even a trolley or BMX anywhere and not once did someone’s dog jump in my swim! The water was relatively clear but still slightly high so out came the long bugging rods and heavy jigs again, slack water was the order of the day with the increased flows with most of the fish found off the edge of the main current at the heads of the pools.
One memorable instance which really highlights the experience of fishing with a mate is a lovely fish we (definitely a team on this one) caught below a bridge. Looking over the edge (you simply have to when crossing a river don’t you?) we spotted a nice little trout leisurely taking nymphs just in front of a rock. I stayed up on the bridge and kept my eye on him whilst Nick climbed down and got below him. After a few casts and some directions from me Nick plopped his nymphs 3’ directly in front of the trout and with no hesitation I saw a flash of white and shouted at Nick to strike, the fish was quickly released but the smiles on our faces showed the brilliance of the brief moment. Nick says he never saw an indication of the take from where he was and struck solely on my shout, how many fish take and reject a fly without any indication on our lines I wonder?
Me using the long rod to reach over the fast water in front of me and fish the slack on the far side, this simply would not be possible with my 8'6'' loaded with fly line.
The lucky bugger poaches yet another 2lber from my swim.
A little more picturesque than the Taff, but the old girl certainly holds her own when it comes to the fishing.
Monday the three of us fished the main Taff again, I caught my first ever fish on a streamer pattern and Nick and Steve both caught plenty on nymphs. Unusually for the Taff the fish did not seem to be rising at all this weekend and I managed to tempt only 2 fish up for the dry in the 3 days, Steve did better with 3 on the dry and Nick doesn’t believe in fishing anything without tungsten (just joking mate).
Steve had to leave us early and the rain was coming so Nick and I decided a quick trip higher up the Rhondda was a better bet than struggling on the Taff with ever increasing flows. We headed up to the calmer smoother section and fished tight under far bank trees where incoming creeks were causing small eddies and slacks. We had an amazing hour with 6 fish caught up to 2lbs. Every slack we found held multiple fish and if it had not been for the rain we could have had a really good afternoon. Unfortunately something must have been flushed down from higher up the valley as the river turned the colour of off milk and the only thing I hooked after that was a used Elastoplast (second most disgusting thing I have ever caught, dead and I mean very dead lamb is still the first).
We called it a day then but in testament to the quality of the fishing on this litter filled, powerful urban trout river Nick is coming back next weekend to do it all again.
Steve starts the ball rolling with a nice fish to the duo.
My best of the weekend from the Rhondda, the fish was tucked away under a tree at the back of an eddie, an induced take was the downfall of this one, I will remember this spot and hope to meet the trout again after it has put on another pound or two.