There was a hint of autumn in the air as our 4x4s bounced across the already mushroom-dotted field. We parked on the bank, in the shadow of the A40 road bridge, and surveyed the water before us. The mighty Usk was looking even lower than my last visit to the Dinas beat last year. The water was barely moving in large sections of the beat, and due to the amount of algae present, looked like it could benefit from flushing out. The recent rains hadn’t been enough.
We started on the faster water in the lower half of our beat, where it meets the Abercynrig beat. I saw a few small fish move, but we couldn’t connect with any. We moved up under the bridge. Very few fish were rising. I flicked my bead-headed GRHE through all the likely spots with no result. The fish were easily spooked in the clear water. My father caught a nice wild brown trout in a riffle. I did the netting. A quick photo, and the fish swam off strongly.
I believe the majority of this fish were in the top pool of this beat. I could see quite a few fish of a decent size under the trees, close to the bank. The wooded sides make casting difficult if not impossible. Maybe I should have spent more time fishing up here where the fish were, rather than where I wanted them to be. Sitting motionless and waiting for a fish to come in range and jerk a nymph in front of its nose, would possibly be a winning technique eventually, but is far from what I’d consider fly fishing. I tried a little of this, and had a few follows, but no takes. I guess in the still and clear water, the trout got a good chance to inspect the nymph before taking an exploratory bite. Maybe the gold bead put them off, and something looking more natural like a shrimp pattern might have worked better?
At the far top end of the beat, the mud was deep I needed a hand to get out out. The mud sucked the sole from my wading boot. I made my way back downstream, boot flapping away.
My size 14 nymph wasn’t interesting any trout today, but shoals of minnows swarmed around it. Like piranhas they gamely attacked their prey, huge relative to their body size.
Maybe there is a way to avoid the blank? Yes, I’m going there. I tied on my smallest, barbless hare’s ear, and dangled it into the water at my feet. The tiny fish swarmed around it until one individual was big enough to take my offering fair and square. So yes, I’d intentionally targeted a fish whose name is a synonym for ‘small’ in the English language. Certainly one of the smallest fish I’ve ever caught. Blank avoided and a bonus new species for me. And I’m not even sorry.
- 1 Minnow (Hare’s Ear Black Barbless)