I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition. The day started so well…
The River Lugg rises in Powys, and flows into Herefordshire before joining the River Arrow and then onto the River Wye. I’ve never caught a grayling before, and the catch returns for my chosen beat indicated a meeting with the Lady of the Stream was likely.
By early morning the day was already very hot, and looked like getting hotter. From a cloudless sky, the sun beat down on a great looking stream. The water was clear albeit low with a slight grey tinge. The shallows were full of fry which is always a good sign. I put my favoured size 14 bead-headed GRHE though a few deeper runs next to the stone bridge which marks the bottom of the beat. No response; I moved upstream.
The occasional fish was rising, so I tied on a size 18 Parachute Adams, and floated it along the foam line. I was so surprised by the first fish, I didn’t react. I just watched a brown shape come up from the depths, hit the fly, and dive back down without connecting. A second fish rose, and I reacted – or rather didn’t react – the same way. I was going to have to sharpen my reflexes.
Further up the beat, opposite the farmhouse, a small grayling was repeatedly rising. I covered it with my Adams, and it rose to the fly quick as a flash, but didn’t connect. It can’t have been the brightest of fish as fell for the same trick at least half-a-dozen times before I managed to have the right combination of line length and reaction speed to hook it. A quick photo or two and I released the 7 to 8 incher back into the river. Grayling are supposed to smell of cucumber or thyme, but in my haste to release the fish, I forgot to verify this.
A Labrador ran to the water’s edge on the opposite bank. It barked aggressively at my intrusion; however I felt reasonably safe with the river separating us. The dog then swam across to my side. I needn’t have worried. It was a friendly creature and just wanted to play. This, however, signalled the end of any sensible fishing. The Labrador jumped into every pool I wanted to fish.
The top end of the beat is marked by a weir, with a deep pool beneath it. This looked a likely holding spot for fish in the low water conditions. It also makes a great doggy swimming pool, so no fish from here either. I crossed over the weir and back-tracked down the right bank.
At this point, I was challenged by the landowner’s son regarding my right to be on that bank. I showed him the beat map. Shortly afterwards, the landowner’s daughter quizzed me again. Lastly, the owner himself came to the riverbank. He interrogated me at some length about my right to be there and disputed the beat as marked on the map. We both resolved to follow this up with the Wye & Usk Foundation.
The daughter came back to the river and asked if she could watch me. I started to feel a bit uneasy. I couldn’t shake the dog either. At one point I hid in the car. The hound loyally waited for me.
With the challenges from the owners and their dog, this was a disappointing visit to the River Lugg, but with a consolation new species I’ll just accept that these things happen on fishing trips.
I packed up at midday, and continued my journey north to Llyn Bugeilyn.
- 1 Grayling (Parachute Adams)