The western arm of the River Cleddau runs fast and deep in a gorge at Trefgarne. I’d fly-fished this stretch (without much luck as I now recall) many, many years ago. I have wanted to return for a long time. It was an itch I had to scratch.
I have a minor argument with a construction team who are resurfacing the road in the only convenient parking spot. I give in and reposition much further from the starting point. Sweating in my waders I walk uphill, through thick roadside vegetation, to the Angling Centre at the start of the beat. (Later on I find I had been sent a code to open the centre’s padlocked gate, but it had gone to the spam folder).
The Pembrokeshire Angling Association have kindly provided disabled access – a wheelchair-friendly stretch of concrete – giving access to a pool near the centre’s hut. A few small fish are rising under the trees at the far bank. I tie on a Parachute Adams and cast their way. Nothing takes. I try with a nymph with no better result. I move on upstream.
The bankside nettles quickly reaches head-height. If feels that no-one has been this way for a long time. This river is tricky for fly-fishermen; the banks are often tree lined with thick undergrowth, and mostly a steep drop from the bank to the water. For the most of the river, only the named pools are fishable. I struggle on, fishing the pools, as I reach them. I see the occasional rise of a small fish but I’m not connecting with any. I reach the part of the river near where I parked, and decide to make my way downstream a few miles.
I spot of couple of elderly gentlemen – the younger must have been in his late seventies – stood in the middle of the river, casting into a productive looking spot. They told me they were have a red letter day having caught over a dozen fish. “If I count four-inch trout as fish”. I do. At this stage of the day I’d count a one-inch minnow as a result. They were strictly dry fly and I had their permission to “shoot them, if I caught them fishing New-Zealand style”. The chaps guessed that the fish were taking the plentiful mayfly.
I wish them continued luck and head further downstream. A heard of inquisitive, and slightly aggressive, cattle block my way, forcing a chest-deep wade to pass them. Are they Limousin cross? Charolais? They are certainly more boisterous than the Friesian cattle i was more used to.
I wade into a horseshoe shaped pool and cast a hare’s ear into the foam line. A slight tug…and nothing. That was the closest I got today.