A few days earlier, in a more urban part of the Western Cleddau where I had never seen trout before, a dozen or so small wild brown trout were freely rising to insects. And close to the bank, perfectly camouflaged against the stony bottom, a trout of about a pound kept station in the current, barely moving. It was the biggest brown trout, I had ever seen in this river. I resolved to have another go at this tricky river.

I start my adventure near the ruins of Prendergast Mill, a mile or so north of Haverfordwest. I make my way through the chest-high grass of the meadow beside the river. It feels like not many people coming fishing this way. I take a tumble into an unseen tractor rut, baked hard by the sun. I vaguely remember coming a cropper this way on a previous reconnaissance.

I struggle on through the jungle-like conditions, casting a mixture of nymphs and dry flies where I could. The steep tree-lined banks leading to deep water make the difficult to fly fish. I could only really fish the pools, and even then the back-cast presents problems. Throwing a small spinner across the pools might be an easier way to fish, and I understand a few big trout have been taken this way.

The heavily vegetated banks of the upper Cleddau

I force my way upstream. Small fish are jumping, but none I can hook into.

I take tumble in some long grass, and the point of the fly sticks into my thumb. It’s maybe only a size 18 fly; nothing to do but grit my teeth and yank it out.

In a section with a slight riffle, I manage to make a trout rise to my Parachute Adams twice, but neither times resulted in a hook-up.

After a couple of hours walking and casting upstream, sweating in my waders, I reach the pools near St. Catherine’s Bridge. The cattle were further away from the river today, and less aggressive. My prearranged lift was waiting for me.

On the way home, my father remarked, “Do you remember those tractor ruts last time we had a look at the river? They were lethal. Remember falling in them?”