I ponder on the fact that I haven’t caught a brown trout for a couple of years. Some of this is due to the COVID fishing restrictions, some of it down to choosing a tricky river to fish, and some of it, well, it must be a lack of skill. For this Father’s Day outing, I’ve chosen a beat on the River Wye, where I’ve some previous success.

The previous day’s promised downpours hadn’t arrived leaving the river low, but fish-able. A few small fish are rising in the lower half of the beat. I’m using my Hardy 4-wt, which is a little under-powered for this river. My father opts for his 1980s Diawa 7-wt. Old technology, but still capable of a long cast. With a little wading – using a homemade wading staff – I’m still able to just about reach the opposite bank with a cast once I get my arm in. My fly casting skills are definitely rusty.

I feel the first trickle of water down my leg. I must find and patch that leak in my waders. Despite the recent run of good weather, today is overcast and with my wet leg, I’m starting to feel chilly.

Sporadic hatches throughout the day wake up the fish, but it is after five o’clock before my father hooks into the first fish of the day: a small brown trout, taken on an Adams dry-fly that I’d given him earlier. I exclusively use the parachute version of the Adams now. The white post on the fly’s back adds to the visibility; there’s nothing more exciting that watching your dry fly being taken.

Lower half the Abernant beat
Lower half the Abernant beat

I persevere in the same spot and eventually a small fish takes my Parachute Adams, just long enough to put a small bend in the rod before releasing. So near, yet, so far. The trout continue to elude me.

A couple of mute swans swim past making their way downstream.

We decide to explore the upper half of the beat. In the shallows I find the remains of pike. The head alone was a foot long. It would have been quite a beast. The top of the beat is marked by the conjunction of a small stream, the River Edw. In the resulting pool, I wade into the amongst the boulders and make a few casts, but we find no fish here.

Esox lucius
Head of large pike, Esox lucius

I take a break and fire up the gas stove for a coffee. A welcome treat as I’m really starting to feel the effect of the cold water.

Rejuvenated, I return to the river to find another hatch of upwinged flies (I’m still no good at identifying the species) and hook myself a six-inch trout on my Parachute Adams fly. The small fish is quickly netted, photographed and released. My trout-drought is over.

The hatch intensifies and I reposition myself to reach some fish rising ahead of a boulder. As I’m walking upstream, the fly line trailing out behind me before I re-cast, I feel a tug over my shoulder. A graying has taken the Adams! Some irony, that the worst presented fly of the day takes the biggest fish. My father has never seen a grayling before, so happy to show him one. I release the ‘lady of the stream’ back into the Wye.

Grayling, Thymallus thymallus
Grayling, Thymallus thymallus

Nymph fishing is meant to be productive for grayling, but despite much investment in this style, all my grayling have been caught on the dry fly.

Three fish between us was today’s total. I’m not complaining too much, but the trout do seem to be small on this beat; those we caught and those we saw rising. As we walk back uphill towards the car, we wonder if this beat is heavily poached, or if the pike are having an impact? Such a fine stretch of water should surely hold some larger trout.

Total Catch:

  • 1 Brown Trout (Parachute Adams)
  • 1 Grayling (Parachute Adams)