Steep and terrifying. One false move and you were into the river. And that was just the parking place. I wouldn’t want to do it without a 4-wheel-drive vehicle.
The Wye is a very wide river at this place. It wouldn’t look out of place in a David Attenborough documentary on Canada. All that was missing was the grizzly bears. And the salmon. (The latter not showing themselves today, due to the low flow I suppose.) The water was running very clear and it really is a lovely looking bit of river to spend a sunny spring afternoon.
In contrast to yesterday’s experience on the River Usk, very few mayflies were in evidence, put off hatching by the bright sunshine no doubt. No fish were seen to be rising either. Never before have I fished such a large river. A long beat too, at roughly 1 ½ miles. To be honest, without any rising fish, I was unsure where to start. Hiring a local guide for the day wouldn’t have been a bad idea. The beat map and information on the pools from Wye &Usk Foundation / Fishing Passport were detailed enough, albeit more suited to salmon fishermen I’d say.
The first job of the day was to screw some studs into my wading boots. This had been on my ‘to do’ list for a long time. Yesterday was slippery enough on the supposedly easy-wading beat of the Usk. I wasn’t going to risk in on the slate bedrock of this beat without extra grip. Buying a life-jacket wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
I set off downstream towards the Llanstephan suspension bridge, listing to the sounds of the Wye in spring: The rush of the falls, the splashing of mallards, a blackbird singing for a mate, motorbikes using the A470 as a racetrack…
Alongside many of the named pools, boards have been helpfully affixed to help with wading over the slippery bedrock. Some were quite stable. Other felt like ‘walking the plank’.
I looked into the gloom of the deep Heirag pool. No fish were visible, so I plumbed its depths with some weighted flies – a cone-headed woolly bugger and a tungsten-beaded shrimp – hoping for a big trout. If any fish were present, they showed no interest in my offerings.
My pink shrimp snagged in a rock. I managed to jerk the line free. I checked the shrimp was still on the tippet, and carried on fishing. It was several casts later before I noticed that the point of the hook had completely snapped off. Note to self: When you check your fly, really check your fly.
I moved upstream and found a likely looking run, and used my home-made wading staff to slowly step out on the bedrock. The steel studs gave good grip on the slimy stone.
I tied on a gold beaded Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear. Ten minutes of casting got no response, but the water here just ‘looked right’ for trout. I persisted. I was just about to lift off into another cast when a fish took the fly. It put a good bend in the 6wt rod, before throwing the hook. I estimate it would have been around the one-pound mark. Next cast, another tug without a hookup. Then nothing. A cold wind started to blow upstream.
I took a break back at the car. I mentally rehearsed the tricky reversing up the steep track and out into heavy traffic.
Back to the river. Moving upstream again, I waded out some distance onto a section of gravel. With no luck here, I returned back to the place where I had some interest earlier. I stuck with the gold beaded GRHE, and cast it out into the run.
With the most delicate of takes, a brown trout took the nymph. It was well hooked and I was able to bring him to the net. A plump little fish of about ten inches. With its large bright red spots, I have to say it was a better looking fish than its Usk cousins caught yesterday. It swam away strongly.
Having found a productive spot, I’m sure I could have brought more trout to net. Unfortunately, I had to be elsewhere later that day, so I followed my principle of finishing on a good fish, and called it a day mid-afternoon.
- 1 Brown Trout (Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear (Gold Nugget))