Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A Step In the Right Direction On The Monnow

I got the chance to visit the River Monnow again last weekend and started to get the feel of why this valley is so special to so many. I had only fished it previously during the winter months but on this visit things were definitely on the change.

Buds and leaves starting to appear on trees, flies hatching from the water surface with one or two trout taking advantage and sipping them off the top...and even the sun radiating some warmth on to my face when it occasionally peeped out from behind the clouds.

Another thing that stood out was the amount of habitat restoration work that had been carried out along the stretch I fished. There had been many bank side trees felled in a controlled way which allowed them to fall into the shallow river edges creating an instant sanctuary for the small vulnerable fish fry and even for the larger fish which may come under attack from the many piscivorous birds that are often found patrolling our inland waterways. The stems of the young trees are also only cut part way through so they are still allowed to continue to grow.

Young trees felled and left to grow along the river edges

This old dead branch cut and secured to the bank side which adds cover and diversity to the water flow
 This habitat work which is carried out by the 'Monnow Rivers Association' will reap rewards in securing healthy fish stocks for us all to enjoy in the future.

Water temperatures still seem to be a little on the cool side so I think it will be a couple of weeks before the trout really kick in, although fortunately there were still a few willing to fall for my duo tactics.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Upper Wye Near Rhayader

The course of the River Wye (Afon Gwy) takes on some beautiful scenery from its source on the Plynlimon mountain to some 215 kilometres where it enters the Severn Estuary, but the upper reaches are where you find it at its most dramatic.

There are many sections where it travels down steep gradients causes tumbling waterfalls and crashing white water as it flows rapidly over the large boulders and through bedrock gutters it has carved out over centuries of erosion.

A part of the Wye I sometimes fish below Rhayader runs through some quite rough terrain and creates some stunning scenery but as a consequence the wading is quite treacherous in parts and a wading staff is an essential part of your gear.

I also think these more dramatic stretches of water are where you can sometimes find better quality fish, I think the high oxygen levels combined with deep gutters for the fish to hide and of course a good food source all combine to produce an ideal habitat for the odd specimen fish.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Grannom Or Bust

Year after year the Grannom hatch never fails to frustrate me. The height of the hatch is a short lived affair which peaks normally around the beginning of April. The optimum time during the day seems to be between one o'clock and three o'clock and in that time there can be clouds of Grannom literally like a snowstorm one minute then a minute later they have all but disappeared.

The River Wye around Builth Wells

The Grannom sporadically hatching in 'clouds'

The Grannom Caddis Fly (Brachycentrus subnubilis)
The other problem is that when the trout get tuned on to them they become so preoccupied that nothing else will do and the difficulty then becomes working out at what stage the fish are taking them - ascending pupa, emerging caddis or adult. This can change instantly without any apparent reason why.
Last weekend on the River Wye there were times when the fish were very actively taking the flies either on the surface or just below, then without reason they would just stop feeding off the surface even though there were still many flies hatching.

This bruiser of a Chub gently sipped down my dry Grannom pattern and put a severe bend in my #3

I'm sure someone out there has a fly pattern that works very well during this hatch but I'm afraid it's one that isn't yet in my box. Sometimes I think I have it nailed and I will tie a fly that catches me a few fish then low and behold they decide it's no longer good enough and refuse it every time I put it over their head.

Although Grannom carry on hatching after this peak period I have found that the trout lose interest when they only emerge sparsely and quickly move on to something else. The reality is that unless you are able to fish the rivers daily it is hard to get out more than a couple of times during the peak period and therefore lessons are that much more difficult to learn.